Rig-swapping vs. separate Radial fleet

Discussion in 'Laser Class Politics' started by torrid, May 13, 2009.


At Masters events, which would you prefer?

Poll closed Jun 12, 2009.
  1. Rig-swapping

    10 vote(s)
  2. Separate Radial fleets

    15 vote(s)
  1. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    I think its a geometry thing and it works well for the 5o5's but not so well for the Lasers... 5o5's must be at least twice the speed upwind of a Laser (more if they plane?) so their first beat, after the gate start, is 2 miles which is a large distance even if the gate is "big" (though I understand they stop the gate moving after a certain length of time and the gate becomes a fixed start line).

    Contrast with the first beat in a Laser World Championship which is about 1 mile. For the same number of boats as a 5o5 fleet the gate would be approximately the same length which would be a significant fraction of the weather leg distance. Then think of a more typical Laser regatta where the first beat might be .75 miles... The issue here is that where you start in the gate can change the distance sailed by a significant fraction, which is much less an issue for the 5o5's with a longer first beat.

    As I recall, a gate start was tried at the '99 Laser NA's and it was not considered a success.

    Anyway, it seems that in major Laser regattas the solution is to split the fleets and try to keep the start line down to the range of 50 boats or so.
  2. aroy

    aroy New Member

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    Don't know if you ever heard this legendary Laser gate start story from either the 1976 Worlds in Germany or 1977 Worlds in Brazil (I think it was the latter). John Bertrand, winner of both regattas, would be one of the first boats to start through the gate. After a quick tack he'd be crossing the fleet and within a few minutes be passing the rabbit! Pretty discouraging if your plan was to start late through the gate and you look to see the rabbit sailing along in Bertrand's dirty air.
  3. Eric

    Eric New Member

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    This topic seems to be back in the spotlight, at least among the Masters Committee. There is discussion of taking (another) poll.

    Goal: To build participation in Masters events.

    Theory: More Masters would participate if there was a separate Radial fleet, and rig-swapping is preventing that.

    Fact: Rig-swapping is currently allowed in N. American Masters events.

    My opinion: We do not have a "problem" that needs solving.

    I have observed Masters regattas that offered a Radial fleet, and none of them were sufficiently subscribed. Thus, there is insufficient "demand" for a new "product".

    I have observed a Masters sailor, who almost never beats me in a full rig, blow me away in his Radial in 22k. That is my problem, not a problem with the system.

    I have observed record participation in all 3 February events in Florida, and almost 100 in at the Masters NA. Yes, the Worlds were in NA, but the trend is steadily up.

    IMHO, we can build Masters participation more with publicity and consistent Sailing Instructions than by adding a second fleet.

    Your response is most welcome!

    Eric Robbins
  4. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

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    When I started this poll six months, ago I proposed the question from the point of view of those who do sail Radial rigs. Here is what I see now.

    Those who do sail Radial rigs prefer rig swapping. They want to sail with their friends, not off by themselves in a fleet or three or four boats. It's like the kids having to eat Christmas dinner at the card table away from the adults.

    The people who prefer separate starts are those who sail stanard rig only. They think rig-swapping gives smaller sailors and unfair advantage.

    I think we need to keep in mind the low-key/social aspect of Laser Master's sailing. Consider the age handicapping system. I could name a few great-grandmasters who don't NEED a three point handicap every race. They do just fine on their own. But there are lots of other great-grandmasters out there who like it. Age handicapping is an important tradition in Master's sailing.

    I propose looking at rig-swapping from the same viewpoint. Yes, there are a handful of sailors who can exploit rig-swapping to their advantage. At certain regattas with specific conditions. However, there are many other sailors for whom rig-swapping makes the difference between sailing or going home.

    At one point I favored a separate fleet, but now I favor rig-swapping. And I don't favor a lot of convoluted rules attached to rig-swapping which get away from the low-key nature of Master's sailing.
  5. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

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    As several have pointed out, this is a non-issue.
    Let's keep the status quo and be happy we old geezers can sail a Laser at all (ouch, my back....)

  6. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    Whatever makes more people come play should win...most of the time.

    Here's how I see it. I believe the addition of the radial gives a huge advantage to 160 pound sailors and causes the overall competitive size range to close significantly.
    For me personally?? I am about 50 pounds overweight and can lose weight to be "perfect sized" for the swapping rule. The swap rule would be a great personal motivator to be a healthier person.

    I suppose selfish me could like the swap rule.

    Regardless, here is how I see the impact>>>

    1. Everybody in full rigs
    lard wins in breeze and gets clobbered in light to medium
    runts win in light stuff but suffer in breeze
    Just right sized guys have a hard time winning at all but average well

    2. Rig swapping
    lard sailing full and just right with radial duke it out in breeze
    runts win in light stuff
    Just right guys sail at the front in everything but light air

    Summary: I really don't care what game we play. I come to sail and see friends But the game is significantly changed by allowing swapping..
  7. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

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    How long has the rig-swapping rule been around?
  8. Muzza

    Muzza Member

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    There are some excellent comments here. I like Eric's and Gouvernail's views in particular.

    I agree that there is no real problem to be fixed. For any single regatta I think the rule should be applied one way or the other. But I can see the appeal of certain regattas being "no swap" regattas and others being "swaps allowed". As noted by others, each has its appeal. I tend to think that at the very top end of the sport, rig swapping should always be out of the question. You pays your money and you makes your choice. But for the great majority of events for masters it is about bums on boats and fun on the beach. As a mid weight guy it is great to know that if I turn up at a predominantly light air location with a standard rig and it unexpectedly blows 20+ on the second day, I can still throw on a radial and at least get on the water and spend some time upright.

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