When Bill Hardesty asked me to join his team for the recently held Etchells North Americans, we knew our crew weight would be near the class maximum of 628.3 lb (285 kilos). However, we were not alone, as the weigh-in list from the event showed that over half the fleet was within 10 pounds of the limit.
With its narrow beam, an Etchells needs help staying upright. An athletic hiking crew at max weight has proven to be fast, such that 13 of the top 15 boats were all within 10 pounds of the limit. Given the relevance of crew weight, the class has onerous rules to manage the issue. During the four day regatta there were two weigh-ins, otherwise known as ‘Party Killers’.
The first weigh-in was from 7 am to 9 am on the FIRST day of racing. This schedule effectively crushed the party the night before, as a welcome reception of good eats and drinks was not conducive for managing crew weight. Additionally, there was a line of people ready to weigh at 7 am, as the two hour window would provide just enough time in the sauna to make any adjustments. Are we having fun yet?
The second weigh-in was from 7 am to 9 am on the THIRD day of racing. You want to know what was scheduled the night before. Yep, another poorly attended party, as the bulk of the fleet was likely seeking out salad rather than enjoying the full bar and buffet that was included in the entry fee. Even more teams arrived early for the second weigh in; the practice of complete nudity during weigh-in was held in check by a clothing rule requirement.
So, after all these weigh-ins and poorly attended parties, I have to wonder whether we are missing the point. Are we so concerned about crew weight that we are willing to sacrifice the social part of the sport, particularly now with participation numbers down. Would a weigh-in between 3 pm and 5 pm the day before the event been enough to insure the rule is being met? I know it would have absolutely allowed everyone to relax more after the races, and would have given me a couple more hours of morning sleep. - Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt editor
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