Discussion in 'Sailing Talk' started by RobKoci, Jul 29, 2009.
Re: Big guys in Radials
I'll buy that, if and only if there is a min weight of 165 for full rigs.
A weight limit might be fair and a good idea if weight was the major factor affecting performance, but it isn't. Yes it does have some impact, but so do fitness, age, skill, experience, equipment, training time, etc.
Compared with weight, fitness has a much greater impact on performance. In 20 knots in a radial, I'd much rather be a fit 165lb sailor than an unfit 185lb sailor - I'd have my money on the lighter guy every time. If I was the unfit 185lb sailor, I would really resent being told I should be sailing a standard rig that I knew would be too much work for me and would therefore lessen my enjoyment. Isn't the fun the main reason we all do this? Winning is nice, but if it was the only motivation, how many of us would still be sailing?
Sadly, I'm 220lb and unfit at the moment, so I'll just keep grumbling about those 200lb lightweights who keep beating me.
While a few extra pounds might help a competitor upwind, assuming you are in the competitive weight range for a regatta's average wind velocity, weight will be one of many factors that contribute to success. I agree with some of the other posts that fitness and technique are equally as important, if not more so.
The example of Mike Matan is fantastic. Mike took matters into his own hands and changed his weight. I remember reading about a Michael Blackburn doing a similar thing to gain weight. In the end, we all control our own weight and fitness level. If you are not up to par for the expected conditions, you have/had the opportunity to do something about it.
From what I have been told, there is documentation showing the average size of the full rig sailors since the Laser became an Olympic Class. My understanding is that it shows the average weight of the top sailors in the class has been dropping over the last 15 years. What does that tell us? Is this due to a decline in the average wind velocity at major events over this time period? Would the best full rig sailors today not be competitive in heavy air with those who sailed 15 years ago? I highly doubt either of those statements are even remotely true. It suggests to me that sailors are probably more fit on average and that sailors have concluded the downwind benefit of less weight results in greater net gain throughout the duration of a race. Over time, I suspect we will see a similar change in the radial.
Let's not forget that many sailors come to regattas like the Masters Worlds knowing they will not win. They are primarily there to relax, enjoy the atmosphere and spend time with friends on and off the water. That is a BIG part of these regattas. Does the class really want to tell the Average Joe that he must spend his vacation suffering in 25 knots of breeze in a Standard rig when he does not think he can handle the boat? I suspect Joe will go find another singlehanded class that actually wants him to participate.
As my friend 49208 said (and regularly demonstrates on the water), the cream is going to rise to the top, regardless if it's heavy cream or light cream.
WOW! This sounds like the discourse that occurs in the handicap racing fleet, people constantly pushing the rules, playing the rating game. Then you hear from people with one design keel boats (J24's or whatever) that one design is the way to go.....a level playing field, and this is correct. You cross the line first you win, no corrected times, all the boats are the same. Granted some one design classes have a maximum crew weight. So whats the big deal with big guys sailing smaller rig boats? The rules allow it. It's always a gamble, same as the keel boat racer who opts to be rated with a smaller headsail because he is banking on heavier airs for the duration of a race series. Often the complaining fails to address the real issue, and that is skill usually prevails. You might be a heavy weight sailing in heavy air, therefore at an advantage over your light weight counterpart, but if the heavy weight is tactically out to lunch he will have his ass kicked.
Hello all, here's my 10 cents on the matter,
I am a heavy (around 180 pounds) radial sailor, as a female sailor in the UK sailing radials is the only option if you want to compete against other girls. To put this into perspective at the recent U.K nationals approximately 1/4 of the helms in a 90 boat radial fleet were female whereas in the full rig there wasn't a lady single entry. As i am around 5ft 9 i simply cannot handle a full rig in moderately strong wind and I'm far from unfit. If there was to be an upper weight limit on radials i would be forced to sail an alternative class of boats or undergo a serious fitness regime to sail a full rig. Even then i would have no women to sail against. It should be down to the individual sailor to choose which rig to sail as even within a single race the wind could drop by 15 knots making those who's extra weight was advantageous upwind at the start of the race then end hindering them in the last upwind leg. Really weight doesn't play as much of a part in laser results than fitness, boat handling or racing tactics
Having just got back from a windy UK nationals weight is not the be all and end all of good speed in strong winds. I'm around 70kg at the moment and I was very happy racing in the 20knot winds we got most of the week (even the 35knot squall that came through briefly one day). Our UK national champion is not a big guy (Jon Emmett) but he has the technique and fitness to sail the boat well in breeze. There were several smaller people (mainly youths and juniors likely to be no heavier than 65kg) at the front of the fleet who will have been there through technique and putting the hiking effort in. There were also a lot of full rig sailors (around 80+kg) who downsized in the breeze - most of these were down the back of the fleet.
I've been a heavier radial sailor (95kg at my heaviest) and I can honestly say I'm more competitive now I am lighter.
Thanks for your input. I happen to think that 180 would be an acceptable limit to the Radial, so you would certainly be able to continue to compete with other women.
Even if weight is not as big a factor, there is no doubt that it IS a factor. The problem for me is that the bigger guys in Radials (and I am now feeling sheepish for calling them "babies." My apologies) is that, at the Masters Worlds, they have a perfectly good alternative fleet in the big rigs for each of the age classes (except GGMs), yet insist on sailing in the rig that gives them an advantage (albeit small, perhaps. I still don't think it is that small) for no other reason than that they are heavier. In the absence of an alternative, sure, go ahead, sail a Radial. But there is an alternative. They should use it.
I will admit to a proprietary feeling about the Radial. At 160lb, I call it MY rig. I can sail it in anything and have fun. The big guys have a rig. It's a full rig and is a good fit for them. They should stick to it.
Thank you. Geesh. finally, someone on my side.
Are you also going to suggest height limits? Leverage makes a big difference too. Even when I was heavy enough for the full rig I was too short to make use of that weight. The short heavy guy and the tall light guy could both be quite happy in the same rig.
Weight limits in the radial are just not needed. Weight is a factor but not a big enough factor to have any real impact on performance unless you are massively over/under the range. Fitness, training, skill will have a much much bigger impact.
Personally I feel you should pick a rig and sail it 100% of the time, irrespective of conditions. This should be whatever rig the person feels comfortable with throughout the wind range, not necessarily what the weight range states.
I'd love to sail just the Radial, but as a Master in North America, I have to have two rigs and switch when conditions suggest it. All the guys I race with at the Water Rats sail Full Rigs on Tuesday/Thursday club races. When I sail Radials at regattas, unless they are Catagory 1 regattas, I race junior club kids mostly, which is okay, but weird. I have to race bigger guys in Fulls all the time in wind to get good racing. It's frustrating but I'm okay with that as long as I can have my own little party with guys my size at the Worlds. But, I can't because, when it suits them, they come down to the Radial, and kick my ass again!!
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