Sunday, June 20, 2010

Party killer

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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At 6:14 PM, Blogger Gregory said...

One solution: at the start of the regatta all crews are weighed. At the end of the days races the top 10 - 15 crews are weighted again. Over weight, each 1lb. over is a 1 minute add to the finish time. -USA 989

At 6:28 PM, Anonymous Alex said...

Kills the race parties? Are Etchells (having never raced much less sailed one) such an elitist boat that teams put together a crack crew just for regatta? Or could the trend be that Americans are getting fatter (which they are) and more of the racers have become more portly about the beer gut?

At 11:53 PM, Blogger Buncha said...

Well welcome to the world of 4up Etchell crews Craig!
Not sure I feel sorry for you, at all, missing the buffet and open bar. The advantages that a well sailed 4up crew have over a well sailed 3up crew are huge and I don’t mind putting it out there. For too long now it’s been one of the dirty little burning issues in Etchell’s that’s been discussed in hushed tones in the marina or at the bar after another regatta presentation cleaned up by a 4up crew.
Don't believe me, that 4ups have an advantage? Troll through the results of the last 3 years of major worldwide regattas and see which combination has dominated.
4ups get a extra set of hands and eyes, not to mention a weight advantage (insanely they get the same clothing allowance as a 3up crew) giving them an extra 2.5kgs. When you factor that against 3 ups having to average 95kgs (avg male 85Kg) you don’t have to be Einstein to see that 4 light and fit crew are going to for the most part out hike and out sail a fat, 3up crew. Why do you think so many of the top skippers are going for 4 up campaigns? It's heavily skewed to 4 ups, thats why? Try and find 3 big guys (2 even!) that can swing Straight legged for a 3 mile beat. Oh, that's right, John Bertrand did, but he had to recruit 2 current Australian Olympians to do it and they are still 5 kg's below the weight limit! Its insane in the Etchell’s right now.
The guys I sail 3up with are 10 & 12 kgs over their ideal healthy weight and I’m 14 over mine. And before your readers all bleat “find another class”, see the trend here? The average person has to dip (unhealthily) to sail 4 up OR maintain obesity to compete 3up. It’s completely nuts.
They need address the real anomaly and drop the overall weight limit to a more indicative 275Kgs or penalise the 4ups via the clothing allowance/overall weight.
One pre regatta weigh-in won’t do it as the dip some crews take can be as much as 12 kgs. Where do you think their weight will be 24 hours after the weigh in?
Until then enjoy your salad and mid regatta weigh-ins girls and boys. I'll be the fat guy at the sparsely attended buffet hoping a coronary doesn't take me out before the last heat.

At 1:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The following (shortened version) was proposed to the Sydney fleet for consideration. It was supported by a strong majority of the fleet.
Current Rule:
7.1 Crew — There shall be three or four persons on board when racing and their total combined weight as measured wearing light clothing shall be no more than 285kg.

This was introduced after DC won the 1991 Worlds. It’s best remembered by the fact that DC sailed with a combined crew weight of 371 kg – an average of 123 kg per person…Nice!
Against this backdrop, the weight limit (rule 7.1) of 285 kg (95 kg x 3) was put in place, significantly reducing the size of the top crews at the time but never reflecting normal average weights.
Is Racing at Maximum Weight Essential:
Being up to (or at) maximum allowable crew weight is one of the key ingredients for success in the fleet. Underweight crews always struggle, from harbor racing to world championships. The requirement for full weight is amplified in higher level regattas.
The international One Design Technical Committee’s report in relation to weight reached several clear conclusions - Among their findings:
“Heavy does not ensure good performance but light ensured poor”
“Weight distributions are very tight. Always pushing the upper limit” ….and in the reports final summary:
“Weight always is a significant factor in performance”
So given “light weight ensures poor performance” and that weight is “always a significant factor in performance”, it’s clear why we aim to be at the maximum allowable weight.

In setting a maximum, the fleet rules are clearly defining what the weight of average competitors will be. This is currently 95 KG per person.
Weight / Height Averages:
Focusing on the male weight numbers in the most applicable (and highest) weight range – that is for adult males under 60. This discussion will focus on male weights in the applicable age (others are lighter anyway).
Sources for height vary slightly. The US National Health Statistics Report has the average height for white males as 176 cm (5’ 10.4”) . The Australian Bureau of Statistics report “How Australians Measure Up” records the male average at 174 centimeters, very similar.
For the following discussion an average male height of 174 cm will be used.
BMI (Body mass Index) is currently the most widely used body weight diagnostic tool. It’s used as the standard tool for physicians worldwide. The scale’s applicable regardless of age, gender or build. The the most common interpretation is that a BMI of between 18.6 and 24.9 is healthy. BMIs of 25 to 30 are overweight. A BMI over 30 is obese.
Our “average” male 174 cm tall, bulking up to the required 95 kg (209#) to sail an Etchells will have a BMI of 31.4…..he is, in accordance with all medical thinking, damaging his health to compete.
There’s not the space here to spell out in detail the potential issues caused by being overweight. They’re extremely well documented. World Health Report 2002, approximately 58% of diabetes and 21% of heart disease and 8-42% of certain cancers globally were attributable to a BMI above 21 kg/m2 - remember that our average height target weight crew is running a BMI above 30.
The mid point of the healthy BMI range (18.6 – 24.9) is 21.75. Working a height back from a weight requirement of 95 kg and a BMI of 21.75 has our healthy crew each at 210 cm or 7 foot tall!
We can be sure that for those of average height that decide to make max weight will be risking serious health problems. However we also know that many of us are overweight anyway, so what are adult average weights.


At 1:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To take a sampling:
The average weight for an adult male in the United States is: 189.8 pounds / 86 kg
Halls, 76 to 84 kilograms, depending on age.
In Australia, according to the ABS “Australian Social Trends 2007” the average weight was greatest in the 35–44 years group at 87kg.
The average weight in the general Etchells age range is close to 87kg. This is not the “healthy athletic person” average but the general average for the adult male population.
Should Etchells Racing Promote Good Health:
Indicate to a medical specialist in any field that you’re actively gaining or maintaining an unhealthy weight to participate in a “sport” and you’ll be met with the commentary that if such unhealthy action is required you aren’t engaging in a “sport”.
“But Etchells Attract Big People”:
This is the chicken and egg argument. Etchells skippers are constantly on the lookout for oversize people – because of the weight rule. It’s the 95 kg limit that’s led the fleet to the oversize crews. The majority of people reading this will be in the heavy weight range…because they’re Etchells sailors.
How Should An All Up Weight Be Chosen
Statistically the way to allow for the broadest competitive participation would be to multiply the average target weight by 3. Such a weight for males is about 87 kg (so all up 261 kg).
The current weight rule has dictated that many of our current participants are heavier than average and therefore this (261 kg) would be too light for consideration.
The weight number chosen therefore should be above average weight, but pitched at a healthy level more closely reflecting the population and one that promotes good health amongst competitors.
It’s proposed that 7.1 be amended to read:
7.1 Crew — There shall be three or four persons on board when racing and their total combined weight as measured wearing light clothing shall be no more than 270kg.
Such a move represents an individual crew average weight of 90 kg, an overall reduction in total crew weight of 15 kg, or 5.2%.
Such a move would have many benefits:

A weight closer to average covers a much broader section of sailors allowing a wider section of the boating community to join the class.

The move makes the lighter weight crews in the class more competitive, by bringing them closer to maximum weight.
It encourages competitors that might currently be overweight to drop 5% to reach the new weight.
It does not exclude larger individuals. Right in the medium range, two “average” weight sailors still require a 96 kg partner to make weight.
It begins to promote Etchells sailors as being healthy individuals while still allowing for the inclusion of 100 kg + individuals, although in the company of more modest size crew.

Most importantly, from an administration point of view, it helps to ensure we’re engaged in, and promoting, a sport that encompasses healthy weight.

Impacts on 4 Up Crews:

Lowering the overall limit, bringing it closer to average weights will make it significantly easier for under average weight individuals to team up with others to make competitive weight 3 up crews.
It can be argued that the requirement for, and the move to, 4 up crews is a direct result of the high limit currently in place. The change proposed would see some of our heavier weight crews available to join up with others to form full weight 3 up crews.

An average weight female (age 20 – 40, National US Health report 2008) weighs in at 67.75 kg. Team her with 2 x 100 kg crew (and we currently have plenty of those) and you’re right at weight in a 3 up boat.

Alternatively, 3 “average size” females (3 x 67.75, 203.25 kg) can team up with a 66.75 kg (statistically broadly available) crew for a 4 up team at full weight.

In considering this proposal, individual’s decisions should be based upon how the fleet should look in a few years time, and not how it fits with current arrangements, as dictated by the rule as it stands.

Mark Johnson
Sydney Fleet – Roulette AUS 1377

At 10:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW! What alot of overthinking. Can I ask the forum a question? It would seem that every Olympic class boat shows a bias towards smaller sailors. Actually, I belive this to be self evident. All Olympic classes favour smaller athletes.I think that we should stop talking about how big you can get and start giving penalties to underweight teams! Especially in the little boy's boats. I m,ean, in the Kentucky Derby, all horses carry weight if the jockey is too small, right? Why do we let our sport be ruled by the little people? AN ethcells sailro should be a robust manly man! As should the star sailor et. al. Weight limits are for 49er boys that want to play with the men. I say emphatically, "boys should sail with boys" and "Men (especially of the larger size) should sail with men" on boats designed to accomodate>

At 12:33 PM, Anonymous Alan Ouellette said...

An alternate solution for weighing crews: Make the official scale available throughout the regatta. Weigh the crews of the top ten boats at the end of each day of racing. If you are over weight, you are scored DSQ for all the races that day. This puts the onus on the crews to sail below the weight limit for the entire regatta.

At 12:34 PM, Anonymous David Munge said...

As we all know the weight issue has been with us for a long time. The worst aspect is skippers choose their crews based on the weight factor, so you end up not being able to sail with your mates.

Or perhaps it's my halitosis:-)

At 12:34 PM, Anonymous Leslie Valmadre said...

Does measuring overall crew weight for any class promote a type of discrimination against competent sailors who dont fit the weight profile? If it is set too high it prevents "underweight" crew from participating, if too low from heavyweight crew participation. If it is discriminatory I wonder if there is a better solution that would allow all sailors regardless of their weight to be considered for crew inclusion? I dont have one but someone may!

At 12:35 PM, Anonymous Jeff Borland said...

Actually Craig, I think that all those teams who have spent a week or more doing crazy diets to get below the weight limit and now have to abstain due to re-weighing are the ones missing the point.

The teams who have worked to get a group of people together whose "regular" weight allows them to race and enjoy themselves at the same time are the ones who are competing within the rule AND the spirit of the rule. Having to dehydrate oneself of a couple pounds to make weight (only to put it back on with the first glass of water or beer) is clearly not the intent of the rule. If you have a team whose total weight will fluxuate that much in two days, you need to ask yourself if you are cheating. The rule states the crew weight must be less - all the time. How can you as a team think you are abiding by the rule when 20 minutes after weigh-in you are above the weight limit?

It is the nature of competition that people will push the rules to their limit, and the Etchells class is doing what it can to try to manage that push.

Don't blame the class for your decision to be too close to the limit that you cannot afford a small fluctuation.

(and remember, a person typically weighs their least early in the morning).

At 3:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In response to Mark Johnson: Mark, I think you are missing the mark!

I was the on the Etchells Class IGC during this period. In order to get some data, I proposed that crews be requested to provide their sailing weight, and their thoughts on a maximum weight, at the sign-in for the 1990 Perth Worlds (actually January 1991).
Of the 55 crews, 38 gave a weight, with 35 stating a preferred maximum. The stated crew weights ranged from 210 to 377 kg and averaged 267. If the outlierd, Ian Gibbs at 210 kg, and Dennis Conner at 377 are removed, the average is 265.47.
Peter Gilmour and Michael Manford were 295, Gordon Lucas 294, Colin Beashel 290, Cam Miles and Ian Brown on 285. Noel Drennan was one of the lightest at 240.
None of Chris Law/Bob Billingham/Aran Hansen or Jim Hardy/N.Hyett/J.Stanley or Michael Coxon/E.McCarthy/J.Cook gave their weight. The Chris Law team would probably have qualified as an outlier!
So even the heaviest of the crews could, without too much difficulty, have made weight at 285 (except for DC and crew).

Interestingly, the average of the preferred maximum figures was 285.86kg. There were 8 'preferreds' at 300kg, and the lowest figure (270) was preferred by 3 entrants, one of whom was Noel Drennan! And that, effectively, is where the 285 figure came from, when the matter was proposed as a Class Rule change.

The first five skippers at that Worlds were: Chris Law, Dennis Conner, Peter Gilmour, John Bertrand, and Colin Beashel...Hmmm, maybe being skipper through an America's Cup campaign helps? And so does being mainsheet-hand!

The weight limit was discussed, without any real dissent, at the Worlds in San Francisco (won by DC, with Peter Isler second). The Class' mail vote was 397 to 32 in favour, with the Oz contingent 114 to 8 in favour.

The lightest quarter of the Perth fleet (averaging 245kg) gave an average of 281.5kg for their max preference.

I don't think Class has any need to reason to change the weight limit. It may be a little high for 3 biggish guys, but it is NOT too high for 3 smaller guys and a girl.

In the summer of 1990, Don Buckley commissioned a VPP v weight study of the Etchells. It appeared in the August 1990 issue of 'Offshore'. It was provided to me by Jim Annand. I never discovered who the author was.

The study showed that, relative to a 250 kg baseline, a 290kg crew would have an advantage above 8 knots true windspeed, of up to 4 seconds per mile, at 12 knots on an Olympic triangle course. The advantage did not increase above 12 knots. The advantage in time would probably be theoretically less for Windward-Leeward courses where the extra weight means more drag while running, but in practice, getting to the weather mark first is more important!

The regime below 8 knots was not investigated, although the slope of the curve suggests that 290kg is slower than 250kg below that windspeed.

Four seconds distance is about the minimum loss from one tack...actual loss is more like 6 seconds worth which is about 2 boatlengths So 2 tacks extra on a 2 mile beat equals the theoretical advantage of 40kilos on the rail. VERY small difference.

And if you have to plan ahead to manage your weight, then do it. Planning too close to the limit is just bad planning.

And a final point: there is nowhere else for us (fat) old farts to go, to sail in tight exciting one design racing, whatever our age and physical shape. Our Class is NOT an Olympic Class for a good reason: I for one, do not want the IOC type-forming our crew size for politically correct reasons. The IOC has far to much influence over the ISAF aleady and ought not to be encouraged.

And I for one will oppose any weight limits imposed for 'for my own good physical health' nanny state reasons.

(I submit that I AM in shape: pear IS a shape!).

Geoff Newbury

At 3:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Alex

Yes, and unfortunately, yes.

At 6:20 PM, Blogger Buncha said...

With the greatest respect Geoff, Mark is not missing the point, but merely reflecting what is being talked about in 2010 in Etchell land.

I agree with the thrust of Mark’s comments but I'm taking the debate a step further and saying that the 4up v 3up issue has taken this to another level again, by unfairly distorting the results due to the skewed weight limit, not to mention, the other previously mentioned advantages the 4up crews have.

It needs to be discussed in a open forum, instead of being whispered about behind the scenes and causing all kinds of angst.

I love VPP studies as much as the next man ;( but..... that result of a 290kg crew having no advantage over a 250kg crew in over 12 knots is just not borne out in my experience nor, I would suggest, the experience of the top 20 crews sailing around the world at the moment. They are nearly all at, or near, the 285Kg limit.

Do you think the opinions gathered in the early 90's would have differed if the 4up scenario was factored in? I would suggest you'd get a different result entirely.

It’s time to revisit this issue as nearly 20 years has passed since the gathering of the original data. When you throw in the 4up conundrum it puts into perspective how skewed the Etchell weight limit is. The whole thing needs to be seen in that new light, not to mention the perfectly obvious one of average weights.
Nothing to do with nanny states or the IOC for gawds sake.

At 7:13 PM, Anonymous Plug said...

Mmmm, memories. I have sailed in Etchells since the '90 ('91) Worlds and last competed in the Chicago Worlds. I have been fortunate enough to sail with an owner and crew with whom I have won heats of World Championships. We have always been right on the weight limit. I recall in Moloolaba (2004) they had a raffle system...then you knew the afternoon before if you were on the scales the next morning...this reduced the "drain" on Social events.

In heavy air the 4 up combo's in Perth ('06) had trouble trimming the Spinakers down breeze...our 105kg middle man was upto it for the whole leg...At 95kgs (184cm, Rugby player build) I would struggle to get three other adult males to sail with...but I am looking forward to sailing with my three daughters!

When we have not managed our weight well and had to sweat to get under the limit we have performed badly...dehydration, fasting does nothing for your endurance (Etchell's are very physical at the fron of the fleet)or you ability to concentrate.

Extra weight off the centre line upwind in any breeze over 8 knots in my experience outweighs (pardon the pun) having that weight central, low and the boat in the right pressure down wind.

A good crew combination close to the limit with good sails and a well prepared boat will beat a boat whose crew does not work well together, has off the pace sails and a boat that breaks - every time IMO whether 3 or 4 up.

At 7:57 PM, Blogger Buncha said...

Plug. I strongly disagree with your final comment. I think a good 4 up will beat a good 3 up the majority of times all other things being equal, i.e. sails, trim, hull, etc.

An interesting but salient point being in the fresh last day of the just completed 2010 Etchell Australasian Mid- winters in Mooloolaba.... the extra set of hands came in very handy for the 4ups just pumping the water out of the boat and maintaining a full hike.

That numerical advantage alone was a massive advantage that day with everyone shipping boat stoppers all day. Also the 4up Kiwi crew of Alastair Gairs had absolutely no problem giving the brace and the sheet the big ones downwind in 25 knots and large swell. Guess who won the regatta? Though Clarky's boys did throw it away! :0

Gair did that in the fresh stuff at the Australian Nationals in Adelaide in 2009 as well. On fire downwind.

At 7:58 PM, Anonymous Bruce said...

I have been in the Etchells class for six years now and have sailed both 3up and 4up. I sail with friends and hope that the Etchells class never changes the crew weight limit to effectively eliminate a 4up team sailing with regular size people. By doing so, the class, which has it's roots as a family class, would lose the ability have have women and kids sail with adult males of normal size. This would be against the original principles of the Etchells class in my opinion. We just won the Etchells NA'S sailing 4up with normal size people including a 42 year old gal (in light to medium air conditions). Two other boats in the top five sailed with adult women. In past Jaguar Series regattas, I have sailed with several 12 year olds (boys and girls) as part of a 4up team and finished in the top four in each regatta.

Let's not lose the ability for women and juniors to race in the Etchells class.

Bruce Golison

At 8:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bruce. I think Mark Johnson addresses your concerns well in the later part of his posting........

"Impacts on 4 Up Crews:

Lowering the overall limit, bringing it closer to average weights will make it significantly easier for under average weight individuals to team up with others to make competitive weight 3 up crews.
It can be argued that the requirement for, and the move to, 4 up crews is a direct result of the high limit currently in place. The change proposed would see some of our heavier weight crews available to join up with others to form full weight 3 up crews. "

.......... I can't fault the logic there.

Sean Leonard AUS 876

At 8:40 PM, Anonymous Plug said...

Hi Buncha

I respect your opinion. I was not trying to suggest 3 over 4, more importantly it was the combination, sails and boat. Having never sailed 4 up I can not argue with you.

I just know that we have beaten 4 up combo's and been beaten by them too.

The stratgies and tactics employed by winners is what gets them across the line "first".

I reckon there will always be "3 Fat boys" who want to yacht together, as there willa slo be 4 "not fat boys/gals/youths" too.

It is a great element of the Class that we can have AC grinders competeing against Opti World champions...Perth 2006. Bring it on...:)

At 12:35 AM, Anonymous Ron said...

The 1990/91 Etchells Worlds were sailed in windy conditions off Fremantle. The regatta was won by Chris Law with a combined crew weight of about 360kg. Dennis Conner and John Bertrand had crews with similar all up weights. The dockside joke was that only two sports required 'athletes' of this shape and the other was Sumo wrestling. At the Class AGM held during the regatta Willy Packer of the Swan River Fleet proposed a weight limit of 270kg. Others countered with 300kg arguing that their current crews would otherwise be excluded from the Class. The resultant motion that was put to the Class later that year set the figure at the compromise of 285kg. The logic behind the figure of 285 was that it would be acceptable to enough members worldwide to be voted in. The logic was compromise - otherwise there would be no weight limit and only the fat boys would win.

At 7:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You misread my post. The VPP study showed that a 290kg crew is the same speed as a 250kg crew at 8 knots true, but has an advantage above that wind speed, increasing to 4 seconds per mile at 12 knots true. Above 12 knots the advantage remained the same (did not further increase).

4 s/mi on course made good, is about 4 seconds of track on 1.25 straightline miles on a beat, or between 36 and 40 feet ( 11-12m). Not enough to tack and cross. A very small advantage. More likely the skipper will pinch or miss a wave to lose that amount of distance. On a full beat, it is about 2 tacks worth.
Methinks you are whining about the wrong thing.

If you are whining about having to make weight, that is a failure of planning. If you are going to play near the limit, plan to be inside the limit.

Ron is right about the 'size' jokes at Perth, although considering that everyone knew about the Fremantle Doctor there were not a lot of superheavy crews. But it is worth noting that the 'pros' were all reasonably heavy. Chris Law's crew was big. John Bertrand sailed with Bill Browne and Ernie Lawrence. I have no idea if they are big guys, but I suspect so. The number for DC and co. could be fancifully light too.
Ignoring those who did not state a weight, the top quarter of the fleet averaged 290kg. There were 16 who did not give their weights.

So what is the beef? That 4up crews are better than 3up? Maybe they go out and practice, so that they get the choreography right when everyone is moving.
That 4 sets of hands are better in some situations than 3? Well duh!
That the limit is "too high"? NO EVIDENCE FOR THAT.

To Mark/Buncha. The argument that "the requirement for, and the move to, 4 up crews is a direct result of the high limit currently in place" is false. There is no requirement to move to 4up. I agree that it may be easier to find 4 crew who fit just under the limit, than it is to find 3 big guys just under the limit.

"The change proposed would see some of our heavier weight crews available to join up with others to form full weight 3 up crews." This makes no sense to me. *Lowering* the limit would make it *easier*? for big guys to make up crews?

Just *why* is the weight limit skewed? You make that statement but make no effort to sustain the point. Please start by explaining that point.

To be clear, I do not think there is any need to revise the present limit. There may be a need for better procedures on weighing/re-weighing to avoid unpleasant surprises. Maybe there should be a 2.5k reduction on 4up's to adjust for the extra clothing. That is fine-tuning at the edges.

Geoff Newbury
(guess I could register or something so I don't post as anon. Oh

At 2:36 PM, Anonymous Ken Womack said...

It is my belief that the Etchells Class would be well served in having a single weigh-in at its major regattas. Although the Class bristles with pros, the Class relies on the armatures across many fleets in many countries to keep the Class going. It is the amateurs who help give the Class its critical mass and financial means to exist. The Class needs to work had to make its events fair and competitive as well as fun for all involved.

I am an amateur by every measure. I am attracted to the Etchells Class for many reasons, including not in small part its ability to attract phenomenal talent, its great venues for major events, top notch race committee work, and the fleet comradery. It is also a boat that can be well sailed by crews that often consist of two or three sailors well over fifty or sixty years in age.

If my amateur crew and I can not enjoy the wonderful venues the class affords, because of quibbling over a pound or two gained during the regatta, perhaps Jeff and others are right in saying shame on me for not being a hard bellied 24 year old. Unfortunately the multiple weigh-ins negatively impacts my experience in other ways. If there are many top teams fighting the weight limit throughout the regatta, I am also missing out on the opportunity to share time with these top sailors of the world, who also need to abstain from the post race functions. Spending a little social time with these fellows is one way I can improve my skills on the water and they are a major motivator in my remaining active in the Class.

At 2:36 PM, Anonymous Art Ahrens said...

Sacrificing the social part of the sport. I too used to race in the Etchells class during the period that the weight limit was instituted. The main attraction for me was that it was a 3 man spinnaker keel boat. When the weight limit was created, they also allowed 4 person crews if the weight limit was met. This spoiled the class for me, as I felt that the 4 person crews had an extra pair of hands, and eliminated the challenge. I am also not convinced that the weight limit in an Etchells is as effective as a weight limit on a boat with more beam, as the moment arm is less. It does seem that class weight limits have reduced class participation in many of the one design classes.

At 2:39 PM, Anonymous Bill Munster said...

It sounds like there are alot of "pencil neck geeks" who would like the sail Etchells.....Having been the class President and also part of the 1991 Worlds winning crew in San Francisco I would sugest they sail a 420 or beef up....We also finished the light air race {6-8 knots} in the top four and Hank Easom was the first to say how we deserved to win. . Can't heavy people also sail a boat of choice.....the new rules were done after much study so there could be a choice for more people sailing the best of Skip Etchells designs.....Alot of people should do what is best for them and stop knocking a great boat.....Bubba

At 5:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill, I wouldn't have considered myself a "pencil neck Geek" who would "like to sail an Etchell"....I own one now and sail it 3 up at maximum weight. I go OK.

I don't see anyone here knocking a class I choose to race competitively.

The "new rules" are now almost 20 years old - the fact that I'm proposing a small change to them (5% reduction in the overall weight!) isn't taking a swipe at those that put them in place in the early 90's or enjoyed success in the fleet under previous rules.
I wrote the full weight proposal as a submission to the Sydney fleet with a view to considering the class's future, with an eye on it's history. With all points considered, a full fleet AGM of current Etchells sailors voted overwhelmingly to support the proposal. That doesn't take it anywhere, but it does confirm that there's strong support amongst current Etchells sailors for a small change.
Let's not kid ourselves that this great class is booming. The NA's just completed (Congratulations Bruce - well done) had 42 boats racing at worlds venue 12 months out - the 42 contained a disproportionate number champions with incredible depth, it was a great quality fleet...but 42 boats for an NA's...are things really that good that this rule can't be altered?
Mark Johnson
AUS 1377

At 6:17 PM, Blogger Buncha said...

Gee thanks for clearing that up Mr Newbury.
Having re-read and re-read your post its clear to me (I think?) that I did misread your post with respect to the advantage not increasing any “further” over 12 knots, (sorry), ....... aannnyways.... I still maintain “that” result is not borne out in real world experience. Ask anyone at the pointy end of the fleet these days.
This debate inevitably gets bogged down with minutia or displays of intemperance and slowly wanders its way off track. So in an attempt to get it back there..... this is a simple debate, its about whether 4 v 3 is fair & equitable in light of the current weight limit and if altering said weight limit would actually cater for a broader range of body types of both genders.
Now, Mr Newbury, whilst alluding to comprehension, perhaps you could go back and re-read some of the previous posts. The unfair advantages that 4ups have are as clear, and as simple, as your not inconsiderable comprehension skills.............. you said,
........."That 4up crews are better than 3up? Maybe they go out and practice, so that they get the choreography right when everyone is moving.
That 4 sets of hands are better in some situations than 3? Well duh!
That the limit is "too high"? NO EVIDENCE FOR THAT"............
They go out out practice? Gimme a break..... that’s disingenuous at best...... 4 sets of hands better then 3....well you got that......weight limit too high? NO EVIDENCE FOR THAT" (btw YOU do know UPPERCASE is considered YELLING in these parts right?).
I’d respectfully suggest the evidence is there for all to see.
As previously posted, troll through the results of all the major regattas for the last 3 years, worldwide, and see for yourself what crew combinations are winning these regattas. Hell, knock yourself out and go back 5 years. When you express the 4ups as a percentage of the total fleet, then discount the results of some of the less skilled 4up combinations it truly gets disturbing how the 4ups are dominating. If that isn’t evidence based I don’t know what is.
There are many advantages 4 ups have but for now, lets just talk about the obvious weight based ones.
The first and most obvious one is clothing. Each individual crew gets a 10kg clothing weight allowance, so.... 3x 10 = 30, 4 x10 = 40. Hello!! 10kg advantage to the 4ups straight away. Ask any top Etchell crews if they’d like an extra 10kgs on the rail whilst trying to hold a lane in 20 knots, then you’’ll be part of the way to understanding what is going on.
End of Part 1------------

At 6:18 PM, Blogger Buncha said...

Part 2

If you don’t think all the crews are pushing the clothing weight limit then you are dreaming. We sail 3 up and push it as hard as we can. All the time. I know the good 4ups are doing the same. It’s quite the sight, 4 runty Michelin men. They even purchase lifejackets based on the jackets ability to hold water. Geez, we saw top ten 4up crew members in the 09 Melbourne worlds with multi-grips and spanners in a upperbody pouch on their life-jackets and battens in their hiking pants. We even saw one top 4 up crew with a loose sheet draped around his neck so he could maintain & support himself in a harder hike. Don’t tell me some of these people don’t know they have a advantage and are going to juice it for all its worth. And please don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting the 4ups are the only ones doing this, it’s just that they have the most to gain from it.
Next, the weight dip. Which way do you think the weight goes for a 4up crew after the weigh in? Up? Correct. When they know the next weigh in is the next day they dip again (accommodation close to sauna is crucial) and so on and so on. Do you think its a coincidence that 4 up crews rarely make the weigh-in comfortably? I recently overheard a top skipper of a 4up crew bemoaning that they had overshot their weigh-in target by 2 kg’s, i.e. 283kg’s. It was hard to feel sorry for the poor emaciated insect. Us? We sail 3up and are all above average size and actually have massive difficulty holding our weight close to the weight limit during the course of a long regatta. Clinically, 2 of us are considered obese on the BMI and 1 overweight. We are over 6 feet. We are as much as 6 kgs off max at the end of a regatta sometimes, particularly if its a tough windy series.
Start factoring the numerical advantages that 4ups have and it starts to go off the dial. Try maintaining a full hike and pump a boat out for 5 minutes. One guy 100kgs pumping and not hiking fully vs one 65kg crew pumping and not hiking fully. Don’t even get me started on 4ups putting a crewperson on the bow in big fleets for the start. Its easy to be dismissive of the numerical advantage but, it is a real, and unfair advantage, these few amongst many.
Ask any of the top skippers why they are going down the 4 up road? It’s “usually” not for anything as altruistic as getting the young kid down the road out from in front of his computer and out sailing I can assure you.
Mark Johnson’s argument is well thought out and based on fact. The counter argument that reducing the the weight limit will preclude, smaller people, girls, boys, dogs & cats from sailing Etchells doesn’t stack up. Do the math at 270 or even 275kg’s. The combinations are more and varied then the ridiculous corner we find ourselves painted into now.
If the powers that be want the Etchell class to continue down this road then it will end being sailed, in ever dwindling numbers, by below average sized people, that spend an inordinate amount of time hanging out at the salad buffet drinking soda water and wondering when the sauna opens. Yay.

At 6:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually Buncha... at this rate the predicted dwindling numbers may be more due to the fat boys mortality and their tickers going off like fire crackers in a concerted but ultimately futile attempt to keep at the weight limit. Scary really.

Sean Leonard

AUS 876

At 10:43 PM, Anonymous Plug said...

Well I got the wrong end of some tails. Given that you could have a 195cm/155cm person weighing 85kgs and a 170cm/210cm person weighing 105kgs and that big guys can be fit...just look at the Finn sailors or AC grinders or TP 52 maintrimmers...and hike out for the whole leg...well the physics is uncalculatable I reckon as to whether 4 can hike harder than 3.
If you need to move in to pump then you have got a system that needs up dating.

The clothing allowance is an could the Tech committee make an allowance for that? If the day is going to start light and get heavy then those 4 up boats will (may) have to carry "all that extra" gear around for the light race.

Newton suggested that you do not get anything for nothing.

Is the current system broken? Can it be fine tuned - yes. Does it need to be changed? Are there people who can not live with it?

As I said earlier it is a true testament to the class that it can have AC grinders sailing against current Opti champs.

I recommend subtracting 2 kg's from the 4 up crews. Raffle 15% of the fleet the night before weigh in the next morning at continue with the excellent competition, which whilst not PERFECT has been transparent for all - who choose to look - to see.

3 up boats will still have their day - just ask Kenny Read.

At 8:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plug I would defy anyone to hike at 100% efficiency no matter how fit they are or "updated" or ergonomically correct their pump setup is. You just can't hike correctly and pump when constantly shipping water for any length of time.

The current system isn't broken, just deforming, severely. It's time to really address the 2 issues of max weight and the 4up's and get a level playing field back.

The problem is, now, the 4ups are so entrenched and so successful it could be a futile exercise. They won't give up their edge without a fight.

I also acknowledge that 3ups will have their times. We nearly had ours 2 weeks ago at the mid-winters but were beaten on a countback. The fact we lost to a 4up didn't hurt anywhere near as much them being bloody Kiwi's!:) Well done Alistair!

Personally, I think the big advantages 4ups have over 3 ups in no specific order (apart from the 1st one) are:
- a extra 10 kgs of unpenalised weight on the rail
- a extra set of eyes, particularly if those eyes belong to someone tactically or strategically oriented.(ask Jason Muir or Bucky Smith)
- a extra set of hands for trimming the brace & spinnaker, particularly in heavy surfing conditions (ask Alistair Gair).
- a person on the bow for starts
- on average tend to be, lighter, fitter therefore hike harder, longer.
- extra set of (light) hands to assist in setups and cleanups while the remainder hike their skinny asses off.

Also I'd like to add my congratulations to Bruce on winning the recent NA's but would can't let his "family boat' comment slide without comment.

He said - "By doing so, the class, which has it's
roots as a family class, would lose the ability have have women and kids
sail with adult males of normal size."

Looking at Wiki re: Skip Etchell - "The International
Etchells Class, originally called the Etchells 22 because it had a
22-foot waterline length, was designed as part of a competition to
select a new three-man keelboat for the Olympics."

In my time sailing Etchells I've called it many things but never a family boat, nor I'm sure, would the majority of the Etchell sailors I've sailed against and with since 1990.

The 270kg weight limit seems ok. It allows for a real mix of different weight combinations. I could drop a ton of weight and prolong my competitive sailing life....and life period.

Just my 5 cents worth.

Sean Leonard
AUS 876

At 11:05 PM, Anonymous Plug said...

Hey Sean

I agree with the dropping weight bit. I have found that if you are shipping a lot of water that you are hiking safely, and I have been able to continue pumping...granted if only one smaller person were off the rail (if you had to have someone off the rail) is better than my 95 kgs.

Similarly if (if being the operative word) you needed someone off the rail to finish off a kite drop then a smaller person is better. A three person boat that did a better drop would have all their weight on the rail...better IMO.

I have not experienced the thought of 4 being better than three with out qualification...tell me I 'm dreaming!!!

I have not read about the advantages of a 100kg gorilla pulling up the kite (or down for that matter) over a 70kg person...

But ultimately 4 pairs of eyes has to be the winner I suppose....I know lets just gouge out one set!!!

No really...if it is real, ie the advantage of 4 over 3 then the statistics will begin to show it and then there will be some quantifiable measure to consider.

I appreciate that often times groundswell supercedes statistics, and that may be the case here.

I am sure that the appropriate people have been ruminating on this for a while and change will happen.

270....ummm 90kg's....:) Good for me.


At 12:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

G'day Plug.

It is showing in the results, has been for a while.

(As an aside, and this is not a shot at you, just a general observation, why do we need result after result to confirm what we suspected when anyone with any sailing nouse would have figured this out as soon as 4ups came along??)

Don't take mine or others on this forums word for it.

Rummage through the results over the last 5 years and see for yourself how the 4ups have dominated the major regattas. Its illuminating.

Its truly disturbing when you factor in that 4ups represent a smaller percentage of the fleet and then for giggles discount (as someone else suggested) out the 4up crews that don't really make the top tier, for want of a kinder description.

You would like to think that the appropriate people have been ruminating on it, but I fear misinformation, self interest and the glacial pace at which change seems to happen in the Etchell class has effectively stymied discussion and progress.

Some people think 20 year old data and opinions still apply and as such the "new rules" they formulated and introduced in the 90's are still current. There really not. Its kinda depressing.

I hate sticking my neck out like this but I hate the whispers and secret squirrel nonsense that goes on in the background and its time to get the issue out in the open and properly addressed.



At 5:46 PM, Anonymous Plug said...


I will acede to your more intouch info and accept that I may be part of the "head in the ground" brigade.

Glacial change does have some benefits. For organisations to survive in the world they need internal tension to keep their "perimeter" firm.

You advocating change, the powers that be resisting, is in my opinion all part and part of the parcel of what has been, is (as far as I can see) and will be (I hope) a great class.

Bring on the discussion and maybe if two Aussie's sharing thier thoughts gets into the right person's ear then we have done what was needed - helped to facilitate active evolution.

I shall now stand on the sidelines and cheer all good plays!!

Out - to the Gym!! :)

At 12:48 AM, Anonymous Plug said...

Hey All

As usual I had forgotten that some one else has probably had a similar problem....How do the Melges and Farr 40's for example go? I appreciate that 3-4 is a greater differential than 4-5 or 9-10, but surely there must be ideas there?? Just a thought (after I caught up with a mate who weighed into an event and then gorged himself...NOT in Etchells).


At 3:16 PM, Blogger Buncha said...

Silence from the 4ups brigade? Hmmmm.

At 4:43 PM, Anonymous Bruce said...

Much of this discussion is really based on the big breeze conditions you have "down under". Most of the weight issues (more wet clothes,etc)are not an issue in the moderate conditions generally found in North America and in parts of Europe. The 4ups and 3ups have generally split the major regattas here in the US. In fact, if I am not mistaken, our 4up team is the first 4up North American Championship team.

Perhaps the crew weight changes that Mark proposes could be done on a local level in Australia where the weight issues are more of a concern due to sailing in the big breeze.

Just a thought.


At 4:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bruce said...Much of this discussion is really based on the big breeze conditions you have "down under".

With respect, the discussion is about a lot more then that.

As other posts have alluded to, when the 4ups weight advantage is negated in lighter conditions it is more then compensated for in numerical advantages, i.e. extra sets of eyes and hands to assist strategically, tactically, getting off the line, etc, etc.

Look at the results combined with the conditions and fleet number and quality.

Melbourne 09 worlds, for example, had 1 race with 20 knots plus. The remainder were 6-11 knots. 1st, 2nd & 4th places were filled by 4ups. Interestingly, of the 85 boats, 12 were 4up. and 7 of those were in the top 20.

Chicago 08 worlds , very similar. 4ups 1st and 2nd and 6 in the top 20. 83 boat fleet. Predominately light conditions.

My thoughts.


At 2:16 PM, Blogger Laurence said...

Hello All, as a dedicated Etchells sailor who has sailed 3 and 4 up my take is that it makes no difference, other than the additional clothing issue. I do think we need the class to deal with that. 2 things from reading all of the above however. Whoever was sailing 4 up with 4 sets of spanners in thier lifejackets was cheating and should have been protested or at least shamed into stopping the practise. Second, I was in Melbourne at the worlds and if you check the tracker system the winers did less tacks than anyone else yet also sailed the shortest distance.....hhhhmmmmm sounds like a winning formula to me. I doubt that had anything to do with having an extra set of eyes in the boat. They were either damn good or damn hot that week. We must have some sort of weight limit and if it were less than it is now people would push that limit. We must have a mid week weigh in to keep people honest so lets all just accept that this is a competitve class (its why we all sail in it) and stop worrying about having to be modest at the party's. I assure you we all party more than enough..... Best regards, Laurence Mead, GBR1339.

At 12:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finally a smart comment! Thanks Laurence Mead GBR 1339.

Sean the way you guys sailed at the worlds in 2009, was nothing to do with weight, but all to do with going the wrong way, sailing in bad air, etc, etc. Ask your coach.

If there is a trend, I'd say the 4 up crews train more often, take it more seriously, and don't drink during regatta's- it all adds up.

If all you guys are so worried about weights how about addressing the pre-1998 keel weight issue, or address the terrible build quality of some boats.

If you make it harder for 4 ups, then kiss your class good-bye. It will be a pack of retirees & rich guys left...there will be no new blood in the class.

At 2:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for that last courageous and well thought out contribution to the debate...whoever you are....see what I mean about the debate getting personal. Good grief. And well done on not having the huevos to identify yourself.

Getting back on track.... a lower weight limit would, I think, better represent the average sized person and actually allow a greater combination of body types, ages and genders. Mark Johnson is onto something. I think it would be better for the class.

Whether 4up is better then 3up is always going to spark the inevitable emotional response or personal opinion, and that is totally fine, but one thing is for sure, the results over the last 5 years and in particular the last 3 reflect that the 4ups indeed do have an advantage in all breeze conditions. Do with that what you will.

Sean Leonard


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