Why IOC and ISAF decisions affect amature sailors - Part III

Continuing with the list of decisions made by the ISAF equipment committee and how they will affect local sailors.

5) Introduce a high performance skiff class for women.  There will be an equipment trial for this event that will possibly result in new skiff designs that can be sailed by mixed husband and wife teams.  As this new boat gets exposure and becomes more popular, it may start turning up at our local club races.  A new toy toy to play with can only be a good thing.

6) Introduce a new kite boarding medal event for men and women.  As more people see kite boarding on TV in the Olympics, more people may want to come out and try it.  There is a local windsurfing school.  This school may take up teaching kite boarding as it increases in popularity.

7) Keep the 49er for the men's high performance skiff.  This decision affects local sailors similarly to the 470 as the 49er has a youth development boat that leads directly to the adult version in the 29er.  Keeping the 49er won't have much affect locally as there aren't many 29ers or 49ers around locally.  It's still a cool boat though.

8) Keep the Laser full rig for men single handed sailors, and the Laser radial for women single handed sailors. Both of these boats have served our sport well.  They are all affordable and sailed in large fleets locally.  They are also an awfull lot of fun to sail.  The introduction of a dinghy that filed the same niche could only be counterproductive at both a national and local level.

9) Keep the Finn for single handed heavy weight men.   The Finn has served international sailing well as a more technical boat to sail than the laser that is suitable for a more average weight man.  The laser requires a crew weight that is slightly below the average male.  This is the one decision that I am not sure about. It seems a bit odd to have both a light weight single hander and a heavy weight dinghy.  This class may be vulnerable for replacement with a boat that better meets IOC criteria.

And that brings me to the end of how high level political decisions in the sailing world governing bodies affect local sailors  Did I give you some information you didn't have?  Was this post useful to you?  Should I continue with such long wordy posts?

Why IOC and ISAF decisions affect amature sailors - Part II

Here's the first 5 decisions made by the ISAF equipment committee regarding medal events for 2012 and how they will affect local sailors

1) Remove the Men's keel boat competition that is currently sailed in Stars.  There are some local Star sailors, but they are unlikly to be affected by this change.  They will still happlily sail against each other in their own events.  Less CYA resources will go to Star sailors nationally, but they aren't getting much now anyway.

2) Keep the Woman's match racing format that will be first sailed at the London games in 2012.  I predict that since match racing meets the spectator and media friendly requirements of the IOC, the men will want to get in on the action as well.  This may result in a mixed keel boat match racing event with both men and women.  Locally I hope this trickles down to a local match race event.  It seems like something the M242 fleet would be interested in.

3) Reintroduce a catamaran event.  This event will be sailed with mixed teams of men and women.  The concept of mixed sex events is unique to sailing.  No other sport can do this on a level playing field.  This is one of the things that will help keep sailing in the Olympics  A lot of local fleets have mixed crews already, but this may result in some more respect for the crews that do this.  Hopefully this will influence the high performance classes like the Volvo 70s.

4) Change the 470 event to a mixed teams event.  The national level sailors are not happy about being required to break up the teams that they have spent years developing, but it will probably turn out for the best.  IOC is not going to allow more medal events for sailing, so there have to be some changes.  The athletes will probably accept this decision because it is better than having your event removed from the games as first the cats and now the Star have had to deal with.  The 470 class has a direct effect on local sailing. The 420, its development class, is very actively sailed locally.  I think it will be mostly positive as the class will probably get more exposure as they are breaking new ground and trying new things.

Continued in part III...

Why IOC and ISAF decisions affect amature sailors - Part I

First off some definitions.  IOC is the international Olympic committee.  They make the rules governing the Olympic games.  ISAF is the International Sailing Association of Federations.  They govern the rules of the sport of sailing for all participating national sailing organizations and classes of boats.  Each national sailing organization is set up essentially to develop Olympic competitors. In Canada this is CYA.

Now, the first decision that affects us as sailors is the IOC's criteria for a sport to remain part of the Olympics.  Early last year the IOC updated its criteria to keep the Olympics relevant and interesting to all nations.  My understanding of this extensive document is that In order for a sport to stay part of the Olympics they must: be accessible, affordable, played by the majority of countries in the world, and spectator friendly, and generate media interest and coverage. IOC also decided that sailing would be required to stay with the same number of medal events.

This raises some issues for sailing.  We have some classes such as the Star boat that do not meet any of these requirements but are an Olympic class.  (  We also have several classes that only meet most of the requirements such as the Laser.  Lasers as you know have an international following, are popular in many areas of the world, and are affordable when compared to other race boats.

Now we get to the ISAF decision that affects sailors.  ISAF must keep sailing as an Olympic sport in order to justify its own existence.  If there is less international sailing competition, there is less need for the ISAF.  So the ISAF equipment committee wrote a recommendation in November that will make some major changes for the classes and formats that compete for medals in the Rio games in 2016.  Here are some of the changes that were recomended in november and how they may effect local sailors.  These changes are not official and will be voted on in the spring.  I will detail these in part II.

Clarification of rules question in pre start

I posted the following to Matthew Knowles, a US sailing Racing Rules Committee member who writes a blog called Unruly at

Hi there

I have been enjoying your blog.  Discussion of the RRS is improving my overall rules knowledge.

Anyway, I have a rules question that came up when I was discussing pre-start with a member of the local Tasar fleet that I race with here in Vancouver BC.  Here's the situation:

In the last minute of the start, two boats are approaching the start below a close hauled course on parallel courses aiming to start about 1/3 of the way in from the boat end.  Boat W continues to slowly approach their chosen start point, but boat L accelerates and drops to leeward and obtains an overlap, then heads up and calls for room.

Is W required to give room because she L is Leeward, or is she not required to give room because L is the overtaking boat?

Thanks in advance

Joel Taylor

I got the following response by email.

Hi Joel,

Glad to hear you are enjoying the blog.

There is no provision concerning an "overtaking boat" in the Racing Rule of Sailing. That concept from the COLREGS does not carry over.

In your scenario, W must keep clear of L under rule 11. However, L must initially give W room to keep clear at the time the overlap begins (rule 15) and must also give W room to keep clear of her each time L alters course (rule 16). To put it differently, W must do everything she can to keep clear, but L can't do anything that makes it impossible for W to do so.



I like this explanation and will be using it in my Learn To Race teaching.

Armchair sailing

With the off season setting in, some of us will be sailing less and spectating more.  There is now some excellent web coverage of large events. 

Personally I will be watching several interesting sailing events that are taking place this winter.  The first is the Velux 5 oceans.  This event is raced in open 60's that were built before 2003 and are designed to minimize their environmental impact.  As I have previously mentioned Derek Hatfield, racing "Active House" is the Canadian entry.  As I type this the two leading boats have entered the trade winds on the southern side of the doldrums and are powering away from Derek, who is stuck still stuck in light air.  Two other boats are behind Derek, further North in the Atlantic.  Here's the link for the race viewer:

 Another interesting race that is taking place this winter is the Barcelona World Race.  This one is in Open 60’s, but with double handed crews.  The advantages and disadvantages are explained in the magazine section of the website.  The end result is that the boat can be pushed harder with two crew than with one.  In fact, in the last race in Alex Thompson and Andrew Cape set the 24 hr speed record for open 60’s, Including those raced with full crews.  It was an interesting race last time, and probably will be again this time out.  Here’s the link:

Down in Australia the 18 footer season has just started.  This is an annual tradition in Australia.  The boats race every Sunday on Sydney harbor, dodging ferry traffic pleasure boats, and the occasional freighter.   They are 18 feet long and have three trapezes and an enormous spinnaker.  There is excellent video shot from the 18 footer .tv website’s dedicated camera cat.  They have completed two races already, and more to come.  Check it out at:

Good video coverage of the Extreme 40 catamaran series that finished in September is available on the class website.  The class is quite possibly the most exciting, spectator friendly sailing event around.  The boats are fast, the courses are short and wipeouts, crashes, and close racing abound.  With both on boat and multiple off boat camera’s the action is always well documented.  Check it out at:

Hopefully that will keep your sailing itch scratched without having to get cold and wet.

Canadian Ocean Racer starts Velux 5 oceans race

Our Canadian ocean racer has started the Velux 5 oceans race.  The race is run in 5 ocean sprints.  From La Rochelle France to Cape Town South Africa, then to Wellington New Zealand, Salvador Brazil, Charlton Carolina, and back to La Rochelle in June of 2011

It's been a long hard road for Derek to get where he is.   Here's the short story:

First he Built an Open 40 at his parents home on the east coast of Canada.  He funded the build from his own money, but was unable to secure a title sponsor for the boat.  To pay for gear and racing expenses he solicited donations from Canadians.  In exchange he gave donors a piece of branded gear and painted their name on the hull.  He campaigned the boat under the name of "Spirit of Canada"  In 2003 he entered the "Around alone" race.  Unfortunately he was dis masted rounding cape horn.  He spent several months in Brazil acquiring a new rig and installing it.  Then he went back out and finished the race.  What I found remarkable about this was that when the race finished, Derek was still at sea.  He attended the closing ceremonies virtually, and when he did finish he was awarded 3rd place in class II.  From this success he started fund raising to Build an Open 60.  The fund raising, and the build wasn't complete until 2008, when Derek entered "Spirit of Canada" in the Vende Globe race, again with funds raised from Canadian sailors and yacht clubs.  The Vende is the single handed ocean race with no stops.  Derek was dis masted in a vicious storm shortly after the start, and along with several other competitors returned to the start to make repairs and restart the race.  He was able to make good progress and catch back up with some of the fleet when he again suffered rig damage.  This time a spreader and some shrouds failed.  He abandoned racing, jury rigged a repair and sailed into Australia.  He made repairs and sold off the boat to cover the loans he had taken out to pay his expenses to a Canadian Consortium who renamed her "O Canada" and are expected to race her in the next year or so.

That brings us up to the present.  Having been bitten by the ocean racing bug Derek didn't give up campaigning.  He entered the current edition of "Around Alone", now called the Velux 5 oceans after it's new sponsor.  The new innovation in this edition is the Eco 60 class of Yacht, which consists of open 60's built before 2003 and requires skippers to produce the smallest ecological foot print possible during the race.  Derek is going around with electricity generated by wind and solar and is caring no diesel fuel at all.  This time around Derek has a title sponsor, "Active House"  They have provided Derek with the funds to ensure the boat is in excellent shape and to pay for new sails immediately before the start.  In the past Derek has raced with the gear and sails he could afford and didn't always have the best of equipment.  As the boat is now painted in the Active House colors there is not a place for the names of the donors on the outside of the hull.  They are now painted on the inside of the cabin roof where Derek will see them daily and remember all those who have supported him.

As I write this Derek and Active House are headed for the equator and the Doldrums.  He didn't have a great first couple of days at sea and made a couple of tactical errors that placed him to the east of his competitors and in lighter wind.  The Duldums should slow the other boats and hopfully Derick can play his cards correctly and make some gains.

Here's some links for more info

America's cup goes in a new direction

I have written a bit about some of the happenings in the America's cup.  I think things have solidified enough for me to venture an opinion on the prospects for the 34th cup.

First, the boats look really cool.  The goal seems to be to contest the America's cup in the most advanced sailboat available.  They will run 40 foot cats with rigid wing rigs for the first year, then up to 70 foot cats, again with wing rigs for the rest of the lead up events and the final event.  The boats are expected to be the fastest and most powerful boat available.  They are designed to be very very fast, but also may be hard to control.  They will definitely be different from what has been sailed in the past.  They look interesting enough for me to start thinking about sailing cats in 2011.  My club has a Nacra 570 and an F 18.  Both cool, fast cats but not nearly as crazy as the big boys.  Last year I thought Tasers were the coolest thing around but I am now looking forward to playing with cats.  I think other sailors who are exposed to the wing rigged boats may think about moving away from mono hulls and into cats as well.  Some of the pro teams don't seem to feel the same way though as they have decades of experience and time invested in mono hulls and don't want to play the new game.  It looks like it will be a draw with some teams leaving and new teams forming to replace them.  

The racing format will be designed for T.V.  This can only be a good thing.  T.V. coverage of a sailing event with fast, exciting boats?  Close to land, with Formula 1 style camera work?  I'll be watching that!  I don't see how this could be bad, but some of the existing teams do.  They say the format is unproven, and is unlikely to economically viable.  From the example of the VX 40 cat series that has good T.V. coverage and is run in an accesable venue I think it will work out just fine.

The defender has tried to set up the series with a mind to controlling costs.  They have done this by including a lot of services in the initial entry fee.  You pay one fee and you get a 40 foot boat to race the first year, a base at each venue and weather resources at each venue.  They are also making rules to limit support staff and the size of the sailing team.  Makes for a steep entry fee, but lower operating costs.  Previous additions of the cup required an enormous budget and huge resources to run a campaign.  I think its a positive sign that they are attempting to address the issue at all. 

So far it looks like a few teams have chosen to take their mono hull experience and compete in the Audi Med cup in TP52s rather than run a cup campaign.  This can also be a good thing as it keeps a good series of races in very high performance mono hulls, and allows the America's cup to develop into a venue for extremely high performance catamarans.  I think the commentator who said that the teams that don't get in this year and balk at the cost now may never go back to cup racing latter as the cost will be even higher as teams start to develop and the standard of racing goes up.  If they chose to enter the cup in its current format they will likely get the most level playing field there ever has been.  At this time there are only a few sailors with experience designing, building and racing these boats.  Admittedly they all work for the defender right now, but at least all the challengers are all in the same boat.  They all need to go find cat sailors and get them on board asap. 

All in all I think that the event will be good for the sport of sailing.  Anything that gets T.V. time is going to get exposed to more people.  More exposure that can only result in more interest in sailing.  Especially if people see sailing as being a fast paced, exciting sport rather than as as dull, uninteresting and hard to understand.

This month in sailing...

I found some interesting sailing stories while randomly surfing this month.

The most interesting one for me personally is that Derick Hatfield has sailed "Active House" across the Atlantic and has made it to the start of the Velux 5 oceans race.  This time he even has funds to get some new gear and give the boat some TLC before the race.  Check out this link at:

I also saw a story about the 470 Canadians, on the CYA website.  That was interesting to me because The Learning Facilitator I took my first level of dinghy instructor from was in the event.  While I was there I read an interesting race report from the medal race of the paralympic 2.4mr class.  The event was won by Canadian, Paul Tingley. 
The major sailing news story of the month is the boat selection for the 34th America's cup.  The defender, BMW oracle, has chosen large multi hull with a rigid wing sail.  This is good because the boats are much faster and can race closer to shore, making the event more spectator friendly.  The bad part is they have chosen a boat that none of the other teams except for themselves have any experience sailing.  This could be an entirely self centered decision designed to ensure they keep the cup for as long as possible in the same way the American teams manipulated the rules to ensure they kept the cup through the 80's.  It still remains to be seen if the other teams buy in to the format and choose to pay the entry fee to play.  This time the fee is bloody steep, but it includes a 40 foot version of the boat that teams will compete in for the first year of the preliminary competitions.  Should be interesting to see how it works out.  Here's the official site:

Cool multimedia coverage of 505 worlds

The 505 world championships are on in Aarhus, Denmark.  505's are a high performance dinghy with 1 trapeze and a large spinnaker.

The class association is doing an excellent job of providing up to date coverage on there website.
Check out the multimedia "Mash Up" on the event website.

They have really embraced the whole social media thing.  They have coverage through Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and others.  They have tracking of the boats, with live updating from the race course, video updating, pictures, you name it.  This may be the first sailing event with enough info available to make it worth watching live as it happens over the net.  Yay internet!

Video highlights are also available from (Video on Demand sailing TV site)

Personally, I think I'll mostly watch the highlight video podcast.

English Bay Scramble - The craziest race on the bay

A unique local race called the English Bay Scramble is coming up August 14th.

It may be the only race where it pays to take a different course than your competitors, because there is no set course!  You can sail around any two marks in any order, then through the start/finish, then around the rest.  The winner is usually determined by their strategy, rather than having a good handicap rating.  The race has been won by little boats like Cal 20's or M242's or on windy years by bigger cruisers.

It's all up in the air after the start gun, with boats dispersing all over the bay, coming together at the marks, then scattering again.  Makes for a very chaotic day.  Totally un spectator friendly, but cool and really fun for the racers.

See the link below for info: