Monday, 3 March 2014

Rule 8 discussion, the facts

PJ posted an article on Catsailing news: with the official DNA view.

It is important to have the right discussion in the class and to be honest about the pro and cons of rule 8.

The history
Rule 8 was introduced after the no hydrofoil rule was implemented earlier. The no hydrofoil rule had little meaning as there was no definition of a hydrofoil.
Rule 8 was developed to prevent foiling and consists of two sub rules;
8.1 The distance between the tips of the daggerboards may not be less then 1,50m
8.2 Daggerboards must be inserted from the top

Rule 8.1 tries to minimize the area which can provide lift, as the tip cannot be any longer than (230-150)/2= 40 cms. When is was suggested it looked that nobody could fly with such a small tip. It was a compromise as it did not want to ban it completely just make it more difficult to accomplish.

Rule 8.2 was implemented for the sake of simplicity and to ban L boards. People felt that is was important to be able to lift the boards easiliy.

Current situation
Boats are flying within the rule. L-boards are possible with cassettes.
That means that both rules have lost its function and its sense.

Dangers of rule 8
Rule 8.1 forces builders/designers to go to more extreme solutions to get enough horizontal foiling area on the boards.
We already see three developments:
- Bigger J-boards with the vertical part more angled outside. The boat flies earlier but at the expense of heave stability.
- L- boards in cassettes. People lift the L-board and sail on three foils. The lifted board is dangerous to the sailor with high speeds. The L-boards suffer in floating mode due to extra drag
- The J-boards have an exit in the boat very close to the outside of the hull. The result is better and earlier flying at the expense of extra drag in floating mode.

All these 'solutions' try to work around the rule and would not have been developed without rule 8.

As the foils cannot be optimized sailors will have to  choose between early but unstable flying or for stable but later flying. Sailors might even need two set of boards.

The L-boards do work in a certain range but are complex and you need systems to raise and lower the boards and  impact pants, impact vests and a helmet are needed by the helmsman.

There is already a revolt in the class. In Australia a few top sailors have started to work on the Open A-class and are developing foils. They have already planned the first Open A-class Nationals.

Some people may think that they still can be competitve without foiling, but then they are dead wrong. Even the best non-foilers did know that they had no chance. Stevie thought after Barcelona that he could beat the J-boards but once he saw the ETNZ guys foiling like a Moth (his words) he was immediately convinced that the podium was out of his reach. He is now one of the guys promoting the Open A-class.

Concerns I heard about recent developments are more about foiling itself and do not give arguments to maintain rule 8:
- Boats will be more expensive and we will see pro-sailors who can spend more and win all races
- Saling will become less tactical
- Raised boards are dangerous
- The boats are more diffcult to sail and become dangerous
- We will see active foils (is extra cost and complexitty)

These are all valid concerns but will keeping rule 8 take these concerns away?
Rule 8 makes boats more expensive as you need to have more then one set of boards. The J-board boats were not more expensive than the C-board boats. The pro' s put the longer rudders on, which was a big improvement, but these were delivered by A-class builders and developed within the class. The pro's did sail standard stuff but just knew better what to use due to their knowledge about foiling.
The boats will become faster, but that does not mean that it is just boatspeed. The boats react even more agressively on pressure differences and windshifts. The possibilities to pass the leaders will therefore be bigger and not smaller.
Raised boards are dangerous and complex. We already did see it it with rule 8. If rule 8 is abolished we most likely will see a dominance of the four foil solution, wich is more simple and more allround.
Foiling reduces nose dives, which increases the sense of safety and control. The boats can make jumps if not sailed right, but more at the expense of race results than that it is dangerous initself. Higher speeds can be dangerous that is true, though it is not likely we will see 30 kts speed while racing.
Active foils are more likely with rule 8 as you need extra lift due to the small max tip length. Without rule 8 active foiling is not likely as the A-class can have a higherlift off speed than the Moths due to its more efficient  floating mode.

All the concerns can happen with rule 8 and most of them are more likely to happen with rule 8.

With rule 8 we stop nothing and do nothing to solve the turmoil.

The opportunities without rule 8
The A-cat builders will introduce J-boardswith which the boats can fly in 7-8 kts and can be stable flown up to 24 kts.
Boats will be pretty similar and older boats can be retrofitted.
There will be consensus about the state of the art foils and we will see only incremental change.
Focus will be on improving our sailing skills instead of finding workarounds.
Sailors will have more fun and the class will attract many new sailors.
The A-class will be a much more acessible foiler than the Flying Moth, it will be the state of the art foiling cat class.
Boats will keep their value.
Boats will become more monotype and become more durable.
We will see the older sailors fly too as the boats will be quite heave stable and the older sailors will sail in conditions in which they did not dare to sail with straight or C-boards.

The information in this posting is based on 2 years experimenting with J-boards and by looking at the developments in the Moths, the America's Cup, the C-class, The flying Phantom and the S9. Many designers have given their input and we learned heaps from others.
All sailors wo did foil do promote it. Both Pro's and clubracers.

The class only got into trouble by first introducing the no hydrofoil rule and later by rule 8. The extra rules were based on fear. We should have had more faith in our class and its boxrule. It is the only catamaran class which knows how to remain state of te art, to keep existing sailors happy and attract new sailors.

I sincerely hope we can have an extra AGM/WGM and that the IACA knows how to take the right measurers. In Takapuna a majority voted for abolioshing rule 8 and the no sayers based their opinion on old information and should re-consult their local members.

Let's fly! See you in the air.


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