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ISAF to interpret Laser Class Rules (too)


Hi, all,

For Your Information: The following message by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) President Paul Henderson was published in the corner titled "The President Speaks" (dated 18 February 2004) on the ISAF website. It was also reprinted in ISAF's electronic newsletter "Making Waves" (Issue 185) dated 23 February 2004. It deserves some attention.

REFERENCE: http://www.sailing.org/Article_content.asp?ArticleID=6442

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ISAF will perform very intense measurement at the 2004 Athens Olympics. ISAF will make rulings and interpretations of class rules.

These may be in conflict with what has been the custom at Class Championships and in most classes will be more comprehensive than procedures at World Championships. ISAF intends to ensure the One-Design concepts of the Olympic classes.

The ISAF Olympic Measurement Committee shall have the sole and final responsibility of interpreting the class rules for the Olympic Regatta.

It is ISAF's intention to inform all Olympic sailors of what they can expect at the Olympic Regatta and not spring something unknown when they arrive in Athens. To this end ISAF will publish the Measurement Regulations on the ISAF website and will publish all class rule interpretations. ISAF will be involved in the measurement at several of the final Olympic Qualifiers, so as to ensure the sailors understand the Measurement Procedures which will be used at the 2004 Olympic Regatta.

These 2004 Olympic Regatta Measurement Regulations will be published on the ISAF Website and in Making Waves. Sailors registered on ISAF Sailor may sign up to receive notification of the publication of the Measurement Regulations via ISAF Sailor Email Services – www.sailing.org/isafsailor

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Noteworthy are the strict and detailed "measurement procedures" (see ISAF website) already in effect for some of the classes, such as "Europe" or "420". It is obvious that the forthcoming system may cause some headaches for the Laser Builders and ILCA.

Shevy Gunter
Member, ILCA-NA


Re: ISAF to interpret Laser Class Rules - GETTING TOUGH

The following Paul Henderson message was posted on the NA Laser Mailing List by Mr. Michaelsen. It spells out ISAF's concerns more clearly. The language is tough.

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ISAF is charged with the responsibility of all technical aspects of the
Olympic Games ensuring the integrity and Fair Play of the Games. ISAF is
intent upon not having the scandals which have infested other sports.

The 9 classes chosen are only the equipment used, and all have signed a contract saying that ISAF can alter the class rules if appropriate. If a Class does not want to allow this, they should not apply for Olympic Status as they lose some of their autonomy and have partners ISAF, MNA's, IOC and the
NOC's. In most classes the class measurer will be in Athens paid for by
ISAF and the IOC.

The Olympic Games is totally nationalistic with a "win at all cost"
mentality, and the wealthy countries will use any means to obtain Gold.
Please do not say that your country or class is the only one playing within
the rules.

ISAF must ensure a level playing field. Some of the measurement
procedures which will be implemented are as follows:

- Sails will be impounded: Many countries bring fully equipped containers
with complete sailmaking facilities which allow sails to be altered during
regattas - which happens at all class Worlds. This will not be allowed after
measurement, and if repairs are needed they will have to petition the Jury.

- Swing Tests: Sailors know that light ends make fast boats and have
sanded the hulls to accomplish this against the class rules. The classes
have not tested for this, but ISAF has produced a very sophisticated
measurement device to ensure that this is not allowed.

- One-Design: One monopoly class has had very bad manufacturing
procedures using defective molds. The sailors have been allowed to
customize their equipment against the class rules, and ISAF will ensure that
all boats are according to the one-design concept.

- Class Rules: The sailors are always ahead of the class rules analogous
to the chemists always being ahead of the dope testers. ISAF is insisting
that if a sailor has some unique new rule beater, that they ask for a ruling
or be subject to having their boat rejected. Any request for a ruling will
be published along with the decision so that all Olympic sailors are fully
aware of it.

- Entries: The classes allow crews to be from different countries. The
Olympics demand all crews be from the same country and that switching
countries must follow a very strict procedure. The National Olympic
Committee selects the competitors and the class entry system, especially one based on fleets and districts, does not fit this nationalistic mold.

There are numerous other examples, but the above gives the flavor of what
ISAF must do. It is ISAF's challenge and mandate. If a class does not
accept this and wants autonomy and to be above these obligations, they have the complete right to revoke Olympic Status by not signing the 2008 Olympic Contract. It is the classes choice and ISAF will in no way impact that

Paul Henderson
President, International Sailing Federation

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Considering our unclear, ambiguous 2001 Rules and the equally unclear and incomplete 2003 Interpretations, ISAF may find some room to make the Laser Class feel its regulatory power, too.

Shevy Gunter
Member, ILCA-NA


Steve, Chris, and others:

I would love to hear if you had any SPECIFIC concerns regarding either the Class Rules or the Class-approved parts and fittings that (in your opinion) could make possible targets for ISAF to study and regulate with an eye towards "integrity and Fair Play" at the Games.

I generally would not defend any top-down intervention, especially by "outsiders", but in this case, given the state of the Laser Class Rules and the various reported manufacturing problems and inconsistencies between Builders, I do support this ISAF "project".



I think it goes beyond "spars and sails".

As a general rule, since all Lasers will be issued at the Games by a builder, one could argue that ISAF measurement procedures similar to Finns, 470s or other BYOB championships is "absurd" for the Laser, and the ONLY stuff that should be controlled by ISAF at the event is that which is "optional".

However this argument has some flaws!

First of all, spars or sails is the least of our problems. Consider the recent US Laser Olympic Trials (November 6-16) -- where all boats were supplied by a Laser Builder (Vanguard). The word from the undergroud is that there were two sizes of mast tubes at this regatta! The smaller set of tubes was so skinny that one would have to sand the inside of the tubes with 40 grit paper (stuck on a 1 1/2 inch PVC pipe) for about an hour per boat to make them as wide as the larger set of tubes.

A reliable source bluntly suggests: "the Builders are incapable of producing equal boats in numbers sufficient for the Games."

The "company line" for the mast step variability? The masts for the event were at the thickest side of the tolerance and the everyday variability of the mast step tubes was therefore exposed.

The more fundamental problem here is that when you get used to sailing on a boat with a significantly more (or less) fore and aft and athwartships slop than "normal" in the mast step, much of your on-the-water experience and expertise are taken away from you when, at the Games, you are put in a hull with a mast that behaves differently. Same goes for non-standard masts and sails and daggerboard trunks and hull stiffness.

So, inspecting spars and sails at the Games is not sufficient. Inspecting only "optional" equipment is totally insufficient. We need more fundamental and more permanent changes at the manufacturing and sales levels.

The second flaw in the argument that only "optional" equipment should be inspected is related to the ambiguity of the Class Rules itself. The rules are interpreted differently in different parts of the world. This is partially "national technology" driven, partially language driven. How ISAF will interpret these rules is inevitably subject to some political pressure. It is against "fair play" to confront a competitor at the Games with a claim that his rig design is "interpreted as" illegal when he/she has been training and racing with it for a substantial period of time prior to the Games. Once again, we need more fundamental changes at the rules-making level of ILCA.

ILCA has recently managed to keep its membership out of the rules-making process, and we have paid for that lack of public oversight (a Constitutionally granted right and authority) with the current ambiguities and conflicts.

Shevy Gunter
Member, ILCA-NA


New Member
hopefully ISAF isnt biting off more than it can chew....

i think its important that in 'one design boat' that everything is 'one design' (except for a few different control line setups if allowed by the rules (oops thats one of the problems))

if this can be reulated at major regattas such as mentioned above, we can all ourselves a true 'one design' class and not attribute a certain laserite to winning because his sail was slightly larger/flatter

my reccomendation would be to ILCA to see how ISAF interprets the rules and maybe use them in future (yes i know, more interpretations, even more 'too little, too late'