Electronic Compasses

Discussion in 'Laser Class Politics' started by Deimos, Aug 5, 2007.

  1. Deimos

    Deimos Member

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    Is it time the rule about electronic compasses was "relaxed". I ask only as, I was looking for a new sailing watch the other day and was surprised how many included digital compasses. Not all and it is certainly not difficult to find a watch without one. However, given how common they are and, in my opinion how useless the compass part really is, I wonder if the Laser rules should allow integrated compass/digital compasses. I bet some people are sailing with them anyway.


    Not suggesting that the class adopt hi-tech digital tactical compasses. Myself I would still prefer a good traditional style compass.


    Ian
     
  2. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer Member

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    The relevant rule says, "One compass is permitted mounted on any part of the deck or the cockpit provided that the hull cavity is not pierced by anything other than the fasteners. Compasses shall not be fitted to inspection ports. Electronic and digital compasses are prohibited."

    Like so many rules that have been drafted poorly and changed over the years, this is somewaht ambiguous. Is it saying that, "You may only mount one compass on the boat....but you can wear as many as you like attached to various parts of your person? Or is it saying, "You can have one compass but if you do you must mount it on the boat and not have it attached to your wrist, ankle, ear or other appendage"?

    I can't believe that the authors intended the second meaning. After all a compass attached to your wrist is of absolutely no practical value while Laser sailing, so why state the obvious? So the rule must have the first meaning of my two alternatives.

    So now we have establised that you can legally wear as many compasses as you like, we have to question whether the last sentence of the rule applies to the one compass mounted on the boat or to the multiplicity of compasses attached to your person.

    Is the fact that this sentence refers to plural compasses relevant to this question? Probably not, as the previous sentence also refers to plural compasses which in this case would be attached to inspection ports and the rule has already stated that only one compass can be mounted on the boat.

    (By the way, why was it necessary to have a rule banning compasses on inspection ports? I can't imagine.)

    Once again the rule is ambiguous. It's not clear whether the ban on digital compasses refers to the deck mounted one or the body-mounted many. As far as I know there is very little restriction in the rules on what one may wear. I don't think it even mentions that you can or cannot wear a watch, and if so what functions that watch may have. There is no ban on chronographs or wake-up alarms, or count-down timers or calendars or address books or digital egg timers. So I would say there is a strong presumption that the rule does not apply to electronic devices that you wear on your person.

    So there is no need to relax the rule. Feel free to wear a watch with a digital compass. I can't imagine how it could possibly help you on the race course other than finding your way home in fog perhaps.

    I am not an official measurer. My opinion has no weight. Believe me at your own peril.
     
  3. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

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    If you search the forum with 'digital compass' as the entry, you will see that this issue has been discussed several times in recent years.
     
  4. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    I think this is an annual discussion for the ILCA Technical Committee... In the beginning the electronic/digital compasses were not allowed because they were considered too expensive (in comparison to analog compases). Prices came down but electronic/digital compasses added tactical functions... Now you can buy electronic/digital compasses without tactical functions that are only a little more expensive than analog compasses... well, I guess not everywhere since enough objection remains (still in terms of price) in other regions to keep them from getting approved.

    OG is right to add a disclaimer to his post... the current ILCA Chief Measurer does take it literally that you are not allowed to have a compass as part of your digital watch (though I'd dearly love to know how you use such a compass to make tactical decisions). This used to be posted at www.laserinternational.org as part of the web pages for the various world championships but I don't see it there right now (with just a cursory look).

    One day it will happen...

    On the other hand... I really prefer an analog compass myself, especially being able to site things from other angles. But that is off topic, really.
     
  5. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    I think this is an annual discussion for the ILCA Technical Committee... In the beginning the electronic/digital compasses were not allowed because they were considered too expensive (in comparison to analog compases). Prices came down but electronic/digital compasses added tactical functions... Now you can buy electronic/digital compasses without tactical functions that are only a little more expensive than analog compasses... well, I guess not everywhere since enough objection remains (still in terms of price) in other regions to keep them from getting approved.

    OG is right to add a disclaimer to his post... the current ILCA Chief Measurer does take it literally that you are not allowed to have a compass as part of your digital watch (though I'd dearly love to know how you use such a compass to make tactical decisions). This used to be posted at www.laserinternational.org as part of the web pages for the various world championships but I don't see it there right now (with just a cursory look).

    One day it will happen...

    On the other hand... I really prefer an analog compass myself, especially being able to site things from other angles. But that is off topic, really.
     
  6. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    Tracy you are repeating yourself
    Tracy you are repeating yourself

    OG>> The answer is always the same. If the rules don't say you can do something...You cannot.
    You may have one comapss.

    The rule never says you may have multiple comapsses. The rule does have redundancy in that it says you cannot have "compasses" fitted to inspection ports.\\

    and

    , what would that fitting be like?

    Would the tailor ask the compass whether it's needle hangs right or left?
     
  7. Deimos

    Deimos Member

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    Personally I prefer an ordinary analogue compass. I'd also be quite happy for others to have digital compasses. Those using wrist watch compasses would probably find them less useful with regard to completing the course as quickly as possible. I'd love others to have devices with loads of buttons as these often prove a complete distraction and people being preoccupied with pressing buttons might give me a chance to catch-up a bit.


    I mention it more to allow people greater freedom in choosing a sailing watch rather than changing the rule to allow digital compasses. I'm no expert on expressing rules but something like "personal wrist watches that include a compass function may be worm" (and if people want to wear 20 then good luck to them as one of the 20 might "point north").


    Ian
     
  8. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer Member

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    Quite right gouvernail. I have been as vocal as anyone in drumming home this point to newbies who don't get it.

    However.... does this principle really apply to what the sailor wears? As far as I can see the rules don't say you are allowed to wear a watch. They don't say you are allowed to wear hiking pants. They don't say you are allowed to wear hiking boots. For that matter they don't specifically say you are allowed to wear any specific item of cloth. If you applied the principle that "if the rules don't say you can do something...you cannot" absolutely strictly, then we would all be sailing naked.

    Strangely enough, and once again an example of how the rules are ambiguous, the rules do specify the maximum weight of clothing, even though no specific item of clothing is specificially authorized and so any given item of clothing must be illegal under the principle enunciated by gouvernail.

    I'm not sure how we can get an official ruling on this. Do I have to sail every race at the Masters Worlds naked and then file protests against the other 417 competitors for wearing clothes in clear violation of the Laser class rules in order to establish a test case? Don't make me do it. You don't want me to be the first naked Laser Master World Champion.

    Clearly the above argument is total cobblers and bollards. This is what we used to call reductio ad absurdam in Jesuit maths classes. So the opposite must be true. You can wear anything you like, including ear rings, navel rings, nose rings, watches and compasses.

    I am not an official measurer and my opinion has no weight.
     
  9. Dr29er

    Dr29er New Member

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    Just to add a bit of confusion to the discussion... I have been playing with a Garmin GPS-72 on my boat. Jury rigged a compass-type mounting so it is displayed in front of the cockpit. Large readout - I can read it easily while hiking out. I usually display electronic compass (analog), speed, and VMG, all at the same time.

    (For those who are thinking I should be banned from the Laser Class Association for all eternity, please note that I have been using this in practice, not in regattas.)

    Cost of the unit: $130, which is $90 LESS than the conventional compass I see on APS. My point is that GPS needs to be included in the discussion since these days a GPS unit is considerably cheaper than a legal compass.

    On a related note, a question. I attach one of the big Ronstan start watches to my mast for racing. Have always assumed that was OK, but now that I look in the rules, I do not see anything allowing it. Am I violating the laws of Nature and the LCA??

    David

    * Note that, if you are willing to spend $400 (less than a new sail), you can get a unit from Velocitek that is a GPS, start watch, and has the capability to tell you your distance from the start line (http://www.sailgps.com/news.php). Come to think of it, with a little creativity, I might be able to do that with mine...
     
  10. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    Right now I am about half a mile from (where) the start line (should be set) .....fpor spome lame reason none is set right now...We had lots of fun races last night. Why are we having none tonight?
    Whose idea was this day off from sailing?
     
  11. LaserBen

    LaserBen New Member

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    Yeah just do a MOB on each end of the line set up a route between the two and then look at the XTE. However - you can probably be more accurate just using a transit and your eyeballs ;)

    On another note I think the velocitek is really over hyped...

    The only thing it gives you over a normal GPS is the VMG, which relies on a preprogrammed wind direction and is therefore meaningless. Oh well!
     
  12. GBR 134

    GBR 134 Member

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    I use a programmable Tactick in my other class and theoretically can see no advantage over the analogue compass I use in my Laser. In fact I didn't fit it for 2 years, as I couldn't see any advantage. Now it is in I find it that so much easier. You glance up and it says 10 degree header and you know you gotta consider a tack. Now all our competitive boats have got them and guys who haven't picked the right shift for years are getting 3 or 4 right in a row. It is easier - well that's a great advantage if you’re the only one using one. If everyone has one that is one less skill to master. Ban the things forever! Anyone who is convinced they are no advantage won't mind the ban; anyone who thinks they are an advantage will accept the ban if no one else is using them!
     
  13. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    I would ban coach boats before I would ban compasses. Coach boats cost lots more and have a much more profound impact on a sailor's ability to compete.

    Consider the guy who brings his own Laser to the regatta, loads it with supplies for the day and heads out from San Diego YC. The sailing day at SDYC can often begin at 9 am and end at five PM.
    A sailor with no coach boat must supply himself for teh entire day and carry those supplies around all day. The coach boat less sailor must stay on his little Laser deck for the entire 8 hours.

    The guy with the coach boat brings nothing, does not put on his hiking pants because the wind for the first race may be light, and after that first race he ties his Laser to the coach boat, reclines on soft cushions, possibly changes his clothing, snoozes a bit, listens to the weather reports, listens to wha tehe coach saw others doing, eats and drinks stuff he did not have on his laser for that first race, and then , after putting on his hiking pants, heads out for the next race.

    I have gone well past the obvious. A coach boat can cost a few hundred thousand dollars and be just fine...A $100 digital compass gives an unfair advantage...

    Yeah ...Right.
     
  14. GBR 134

    GBR 134 Member

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    Gouv, as ever I agree with you entirely but haven't sailed at the dizzy heights of 'Coach Boat' aid since my windsurfing days more than 20 years ago so its not an issue for me. I reiterate that it isn't the cost of the programmable compass for me but the erosion of skill required to get round the course quickly.
     
  15. Deimos

    Deimos Member

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    At the Open Meeting this weekend the "coach boat" was invaluable. We were racing on a lake with a fleet of Optimists as well (same course and starting 5 mins before us). Fortunately the instructor was using a rescue boat to wizz round telling the Opis what to do. She even towed one out of my way. I thought it was excellent. A fantastic opportunity of the kids to experience decent racing (with a lot of boats at close quarters). They could all have great fun learn loads and come away feeling positive having not been involved in any "incidents" with another fleet.

    Don't seem to be "club racing" here, just open meetings/regattas (no "Spring Series" or "Wed eve series") and for kids to get started its a much bigger step into a open meeting/regatta (more boats, hotter competition, etc.). Thus the "protected" idea struck me as excellent. I don't think this was what was intended but its the way it worked in the end (1st time I've seen it, but the 1st time I've shared a course with Opis).

    We need the Optimist sailors coming through enjoying the sport and I was well impressed with the way last weekend was done. Plus all the Opi sailors got a prize and went hope happy and positive.

    (All of which was a bit "off-topic").

    However, in terms of the coach boats helping specific Lasers (between racing) and buzzing around during the race then I agree they should be banned. Whilst they should keep out of your way, you still have something else to keep an eye open for (I believe there have been very serious incidents). Basically the examples above - having a floating rest and recovery room at your disposal has got to help when on the water for 8 hours. Trouble is that my next comment is that those with the money have an advantage as they can recover between races. And then we end-up banning people who have to drive too far to a regatta because they might be more tired and at a disadvantage - it gets difficult.

    I just think they sound like a real pain.

    Ian
     
  16. powergroove

    powergroove Member

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    In working in Healthcare for 20 years, we have learned that you can really "over policy" things, making it much more difficult for people to do thier work. If you write a rule for everything, then you have shot yourself in the foot. You will always have someone else who will pose another rule bending question/part/sail/coach boat/compass dilemma that just absolutly has to have a rule. This type of behavior is detrimental to this class. The rules are way too strict as it is(IMHO), and they(the rules) still dont make it "The fairest one design class" by any means.
    I sailed my first Laser regatta this weekend, and all the boats were different. Old rigs, new rigs, heavy boats, light boats, new sails, old sails blah blah blah. For those who say this is "strict one design", I say BS. Do you not think some of those boats have an advantage? The poor guy with the old vang has the same advantage as the guy with the 07 Laser Pro?

    Quit Killing your/my class with rules! I know its a strong class, but it could slip just as Hobie did 3 years ago. They banned all non Hobie boats from competing in thier regattas, the class has almost folded, and there are only a few all Hobie regattas left in the country! NACRA, Capricorn, and Blade got a boost in sells.
    I was sent the APS email today with thier sale items and clicked onto the new Laser/Vangaurd boat page. Do you know how many new single hand hot boats are out there waiting to grab the Laser's place as "THE" boat to race?
    Boat people like to fiddle with stuff, not necessarily trying to bend the rules, but to make thier boats easier, safer, and funner to sail. Do we really need all these rules to keep it fair? I had to print 21 pages of rules to compete this weekend, thats just wrong.
    My suggestion....
    Hull, one manufacturer
    Spars, specific rules for material, length, OD and ID
    Sails, Certified from the factory as computer cut and sewn per the class specs(Class legal from the factory or you lose your priviledge to build these sails). Open to any manufacturer, materials class approved.
    Boards, class measured, limits on materials.

    There you go, thats it, why else would you need more...oh yeah, to be fair.....BS again

    Flame away!
     
  17. Ross B

    Ross B Guest

    powergroove, your my hero!
     
  18. powergroove

    powergroove Member

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    Ross my friend, we are the minority, most people want to keep it the way it is, you know, fair
     
  19. Ross B

    Ross B Guest

    It's true, I hear it all the time.

    we tell it like it is, but no one wants to hear it....
     
  20. Merrily

    Merrily Administrator Staff Member

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    No flaming here, plenty of debate. :D
     

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