Making Headlines for the Wrong Reasons

Published on September 5th, 2017

As if the planet didn’t need more proof that quality and competence are components that can’t be rushed, the Olympic multihull event continues to prove how necessary the maturation process is for equipment used at this level of competition.

Designed specifically for the 2016 Games, the Nacra 17 has been plagued by problems since its launch after the 2012 Games. If the boat wasn’t breaking, the inconsistent measurement assured an uneven playing field. The fact how the boat handled like roller-skates on an ice rink was an additional “thrill.”

Eager to be ‘new and improved’ for this next quad leading up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the class continues to trip over its bows. The transition to new fully-foiling blades has been a nightmare, with gear failures and replacements continuing to be the norm.

And as if the boats weren’t dangerous before, now as a fully-foiling machine, American Bora Gulari saw how an explosive capsize can remove bits of his fingers. As they say, if it was easy anybody could do it, right?

After the boats were deemed too dangerous to sail at the European Championships in August, more new replacement parts have theoretically made them safe for the World Championships now being held in La Grande Motte, France.

But still there remains a question of measurement…

After the American duo Riley Gibbs and Louisa Chafee led the championship after the first three qualifying races in light winds on day one, they were protested after racing for a measurement infringement and their penalty dropped them to 27th place.

Foiling kiteboarder and 49er racer Gibbs, 21, paired with Rio Olympian Chafee, 25, opened with a second and two first places but were subsequently protested and penalised for sailing with the rubber bushes at the top of the foils removed, contrary to the International Jury’s interpretation of the measurement rules.

The young Americans, training partners of injured Gulari and Helena Scutt, had been training with the bushes removed in order to preserve maximum strength in the head area rather than seek a performance gain were it to allow the foil to drop lower. A good move, one would think, since the boards had been breaking.

“This is not about any performance gain; this is about the strength in that part of the board,” Scutt emphasized after the hearing. Added USA coach David Howlett, “We had the boards not once, but twice, to measurement like that and so we considered it was fine.”

With the young American pair receiving a 50 per cent place penalty for each of their races, John Gimson/ Anna Burnett and Ben Saxton/ Katie Dabson now lead a British Sailing Team 1-2 at the top of the World Championship standings with New Zealand’s Rio Olympians Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders in third.

Racing is scheduled for September 5 to 10.

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Source: Scuttlebutt, Nacra 17 class

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