Sunday, November 28, 2010

Rules conundrum

There was commentary last week in Scuttlebutt regarding how certain one design classes include a crew weight rule. The intent of such a rule is to allow boat owners to sail with the same crew regardless of the wind conditions. A classic example is the Etchells class, which had allowed crew weight to be unrestricted. But when Dennis Conner dominated the 1991 Worlds in San Francisco with a combined crew weight of 818 pounds (818/ 3 crew = 273 average), they soon instilled a 285 kilo maximum (628.3 lb).

It was noted how competing teams in the Melges 32 class might diet before the crew weigh in, and then gain the body weight back during the regatta. Since the performance of a Melges 32 is closely connected to its crew’s hiking ability, being a heavy crew is a bonus. On the surface this practice of sailing over the class crew weight maximum would seem unethical. But what last week’s report did not note was how the class rules do not deem this practice illegal. Here are the two relevant sections in the Melges 32 class rules:
Section C - Conditions For Racing
The crew and the boat shall comply with the rules in this section before the preparatory signal and, when applicable, whilst racing. These rules may not be checked as part of fundamental measurement. It is the Owners responsibility to see that his boat complies with the class rules and relevant RRS at all times and that alteration, replacement or repairs to the boat do not invalidate the measurement certificate.

C.7.2. Weights
The total crew weight on board while racing shall not exceed 629kgs. This weight shall be taken with the crew dressed in normal underclothes only. Crews shall only be weighed during the registration period prior to racing. Re-weighing shall only take place if a valid protest shows that the pre-race weights were false. The Owner shall be allocated a weight of 104kgs., the Owner may choose to weigh in.
As was noted last week, the 2010 Melges 32 World Championship allowed for crew weight to be measured as far as nine days before the first race, allowing teams with the opportunity to increase their crew weight before racing began. However, based on the rule, as long as the crew weight information was accurately recorded, and the scale equipment was not found to be faulty, the time of weigh in was the ONLY time a crew had to weigh no more than 629kg.

There does seem to be a conundrum in the rules, as on one hand the class says there is a crew weight maximum, but on the other hand it states that it is in place only when the crew is weighed. As to one design regattas without a weigh-in, perhaps this rule is amended in the NOR or Sis. How PHRF handles it is less clear, as a Melges 32 using a class handicap would be expected to follow its class rules.


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At 5:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

failure to comply with the rule throughout the regatta is not only a violation of the rule, but is also a violation of rule 2 and is prosecutable under rule 69. There is a remedy!!

At 6:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The boat is only weighed once also.
Does any one think changing the weight of the boat after weigh in is OK?

At 11:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree with all weight rules, but prefer the one-time weigh-in before the event to those which require a duration weight.

I can't be convinced that enforcing weight limits through an event will cause people to undersize their teams. Duration weight rules, in my mind, are stupid and negligent. Instead of having people under-nourished and dehydrated to step on a scale, you end up with the same potential but exherting themselves in the heat and sun.

I personally feel that all weight rules are foolish. Ultimately teams are a compromise of weight and skill. I'm sure DC wasn't dominant only due to mass, I suspect the guy also knows how to race sailboats.

I'm on the light side at 160# and have found that often my skill and physical fitness can compensate for my lack of weight. I don't mind not being the ideal size for certain venues of sailboat racing, just as a 280# person may not be the ideal candidate for other venues.

-Matt Kreuzkamp

At 2:11 PM, Anonymous David Foscarini said...

The references to the Melges 32 rules in Scuttlebutt 3228 and the line "do not deem this practice illegal" I think is wrong.

C.7.2. Weights
The total crew weight on board while racing shall not exceed 629kgs. The words are "while racing".

That would indicate that any crew that intentionally gains weight to be over the "weight limit" after weight in, and "races" that way is breaking the intent of the rule.

David Foscarini
Ontario, Canada

At 2:16 PM, Anonymous Peter Hinrichsen said...

With regard to the Melges class rules concerning crew weight, the first sentence is crystal clear "The total crew weight on board while racing shall not exceed 629kgs." That surely means that if the crew mass is more than 629 kg while racing this rule has been broken. The rest of the rule deals with how the crew is to be "weighed" and it should be noted that 629 kg is a mass and NOT a weight, which is the force with which the earth pulls on them. Therefore the jury can put the crew on a jolly jumper (suspend them on a spring) and measure their oscillation frequency to get their mass. That would not be weighing, as the force of gravity on them does not come into this measurement, which is used in the weightless environment of space.

As an international measurer, I have both controlled wet clothing weights and crew weights at a number of Olympic Games and now sail on an Etchells. I think that to most sailors, anyone exceeding the wet clothing limit would be justifiably disqualified, so it seems disingenuous to allow added weight by eating after weighing.

A class has to make the serious decision as to whether the social side of their events takes precedence over the crew weight rule, and I see both sides of this, but then if the rule is there the class must enforce it. Lax application of any rule opens a can of worms. Although time consuming and boring to implement, the Yngling class rule, which requires weighing each morning before racing, is the way to implement a crew weight rule at World Championships and the Olympics.

At 9:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would argue that "added weight by eating after weighing" is minimal; weight added after weighing is most effective through hydration, much like weight lost before weighing is most effective through de-hydration and a couple weeks of strategic eating. I know, I've weighed in for regattas at 135# and 5'-11"... young, dumb, and competitive. I haven't sailed on a boat with a weight limit in probably 4 years now.

Not speaking to a specific class rule, but generically a pre-event weigh-in will give all teams a base line, and an equal opportunity to re-gain. This is not the same as the old days of putting on ten sweat-shirts and "accidentally capsizing".

I still believe that an equilibrium will be found between talent, athleticism, and mass; also depth of teams... sure you can shuffle a team for conditions, one-design dinghy classes always have that potential. In fact, I'm guilty of such shuffling. It's all part of competition, so long as one stays within the confines of the rules. I just disagree with the rules, and am amazed that the rules haven't hurt people yet.

-Matt Kreuzkamp.

At 1:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This plain bald fact remains Matt. It is not, as you put it, playing within the confines of the rules.

Crews that dip as much as 12 kg's for a pre regatta weigh in, then stack it all back on during racing, are not playing by the rules. Whether the weight is put back on via eating or hydration is moot.

It simply isn't fair to the crews that manage their weight and fitness to be at or near the weight limit without starving or desiccating.

We've seen it numerous times in Etchells. People are dreaming if they think an extra 12kgs is not an advantage trying to hold a lane out of the start. Often its the difference between top ten and ducking lots of sterns.
Random regatta weigh ins and/or mid regatta weigh ins will stop it. The tools are in place to stamp this practice out, why they are not used is beyond me. After all, what's to worry about, unless you are flouting the rules.

Sean Leonard

At 9:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sean, I believe you misunderstood me.

My discussion of "...within the confines of the rules..." was in regard to optimizing crew members for a venue. Even then you are making presumptions, which is risky, I'd rather sail with a consistant well-practiced team.

My discussion of weight rules in fact had a disclaimer that I was not speaking directly to a specific class rule, but a general philosophy.

Furthermore, I believe that the differentiation between weight from food and hydration is not moot as people can severely injure themselves through dehydration. I have been part of professionally organized teams where weight management is a thorough and healthy operation; I have also seen professional sailing athletes running miles in dry suits or black garbage bags. I've also been part of more corinthian teams where finding available members is a big challenge then whent the team is set, people start trying to fit the weight. Then you have some who are not honing into their target weight and others have to lose more for the sake of the "team". I just don't think it's good community health policy. Nor is it healthy for 3 people to gain 12kgs (over 8#/person).

I stand by my primary argument that there should not be weight limits. If you aren't physically competitive in a particular venue, a different venue should be searched out.



At 11:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matt, please exscuse my perceived presumptuousness. I meant no inference. With respect, I don't think I misunderstood you, (for the most part anyway :)) just disagree with your “general philosophy”.

Abolishing crew weight limits is not an option, I think. I’ve seen serious unrestricted lard on the rail and it ain’t pretty, either on the water, as they blow by you, or in the showers after, yeeech :{

Your comment..... "I disagree with all weight rules, but prefer the one-time weigh-in before the event to those which require a duration weight".... is fine in a ideal world. In practice it doesn't work fairly when a class calls for a maximum crew weight while racing, not just for the weigh in.

You said..."Not speaking to a specific class rule, but generically a pre-event weigh-in will give all teams a base line, and an equal opportunity to re-gain"... this disregards body types, age and gender and the rate they regain weight. More importantly, it disadvantages crews who have managed their weight and fitness effectively. Again, in practice this way of policing the crew weight generally does not work.

You are right, rapid dipping is not healthy, but people will continue to do it to gain advantage.

I come back to my previous comment that it is not fair to those that do play by the rules and manage their weight and fitness correctly. It is perhaps those exponents of dipping that should be finding " a different venue" as you put it. Random weight checks through regattas would help stamp dipping out.

The passive system of policing weights, which most weight sensitive classes seem to have adopted, is, I think, flawed.

If a class calls for a maximum crew weight of, say, 285kgs while racing, then it is 285kgs while racing, not just for the weigh in. End of story. Sailing over the weight limit is cheating. Period.


At 4:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If a rule says "while racing" those are the rules, I never wrote otherwise. I don't appreciate being painted as a cheater, with or without smiley-faced punctuation.


At 1:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one is painting you as a cheater, directly or indirectly. Merely an observation of what is happening, now, in numerous classes. Moving along now.


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