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Balancing cost with benefit

Published on September 4th, 2019

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
While the various rating systems seek to fairly handicap dissimilar boats that seek to race together, they also have the opportunity to define the type of racing.

The ORR, which is the rule used for the Los Angeles to Honolulu Transpac Race, provided a clarification regarding the legality under their 2019 regulations for the use of a whisker pole, reaching strut, or other spar with a headsail to leeward.

Controlling the lead angle by moving it outboard, as seen on the VO65 in the Volvo Ocean Race, is a performance boost, but the clarification detailed how it was the intent of the ORR Rule to not allow spars or outriggers to be used in this way.

Their clarification offered several reasons for why the ORR Rule does not permit this trim technique:

• Historically, this ban existed in the Racing Rules of Sailing and was adopted by IOR, IMS and ORR. That ban has been removed from the RRS, but there remains a conflict with the Equipment Rules of Sailing (ERS).

• The use of an outrigger improves the aerodynamic efficiency of a headsail. Fair rating of this configuration would require the creation of a sail aerodynamic algorithm that accounts for this improvement and that non-overlapping jib configurations are favored by this use, which means differentiation from overlapping headsails aero is needed.

• Masts may need reinforcement to safely deal with these additional loads.

What I wish they had said was that was that ORR did not deem the complexity and cost to outweigh the benefits.

The problem with so many improvements in our sport, whether they be sails, electronics, cordage, rigging, etc, is they add to the budget, and either everyone spends more money and then becomes equal again, or they don’t spend the money and choose not to race.

The best boats and budgets will continue to look for areas of improvement, as they should, but it is the responsibility of leadership to consider what is good for the whole sport and not just the frontrunners.

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