Tuesday, 19 July 2011

National Championship FLITS 2011

Today I travelled to Gdynia in Poland for the Regional Finals of the Nations Match Race cup. During that time I thought about what to report about my experiences from the last three days. At my local club we did the National Championship "Flits" - a national youth class (probably most comparable with Cadets) on our lake the "Langweerder Wielen". Three days with lots and lots of wind and therefore difficult circumstances for all sailors, especially for the less experienced.

This class has a three tier solution to get some fair racing. Group C are the first year sailors, group B are more experienced with two or three year sailing done, and group A are the top. But during a National Championship there is no difference. All start at the same time, all sail the same race, all are potentially able to sail to the first place.
With the wind conditions we had it was however very difficult for the first year sailors, whatever they already had sailed in this year. We had lots and lots of capsizes and also - in the final races - lots of boats that did not come out to sail.

With eleven races scheduled it was a long tournament, but also one where the champion has really really earned that victory.

I was RO and really struggled with the question to keep racing - particularly on the final day (Monday). Wind averaged 18-20 knots, during showers picked up to 24 knots and all the time with gusts up to 30 knots.

I do not know what your experiences are, but I can tell you that you get a lot of people second guessing your decisions it those circumstances;

"You already have more then enough races to make it a valid championship"
"It is irresponsible to go racing in these circumstances"
"How can you do a race when half of the boats do not come to the start"
"You need to remember that this is a National Championship"
"Focus on the best sailors, don't base your decisions on the weakest"

We did all races and I never had any moment doubt about the safety of anyone on the water - due to a fleet of ten to eleven support ribs - but I still struggle with the that question. You feel vindicated afterwards if nothing goes wrong - but an accident is only an incident away.

What do you think?
This photo is of the runner up, who capsized in the final race in the second beat.....

For more photo's and the result:
Visit my club's website: www.kwvlangweer.nl


  1. Unless there's a wind limit in the class rules or in the SIs, I'm of the opinion that the RO should only call off if the safety of the safety team and race team is endangered. Youth classes especially should perhaps have hard and fast numbers written in- that way, there is no second guessing.

  2. @Al
    I had an agreement with the class representatives that if the wind would be consistently above 22/24 knots we would abandon or cancel.
    But even with a number it's still a judgement call, because wind is seldom constant.

  3. Jos,

    Here in San Francisco we would be unable to hold a number of races each year if there was a limit of 24k on windspeed. It blows harder than that most summer afternoons. As a result of our local conditions, we've had numerous situations where the PRO needs to address your question.

    Our general practice has evolved to only call a race off due to too much wind if there is a clear safety issue. Most PROs here believe that sailing in strong winds is every bit as important a test to challenge the competitors as sailing in light winds, and to call off races on windy days effectively eliminates an advantage that a large person with high-wind skills might have while retaining the advantages of a small person with light-wind skills.

    It is a good idea for the class to include, in their class rules or by request to the OA, any wind speed limits they wish to observe. That will allow them to avoid holding regattas in places where the wind consistently blows too hard. Personally, I believe it is extremely unfortunate when classes do this as most people can rapidly learn to sail in heavy winds and the satisfaction of mastering it is significant.


  4. Make the little buggers keep sailing until they all start crying and wailing for their mommies. Builds character.

  5. @Beau
    Thanks, I agree with your safety issue as a good cut-off point.
    Wait until Emily starts sailing.....

  6. careful wording can reduce that judgment call- the relevant rule from the International B14 rules is:
    Section I – Event Rules
    (a) The minimum wind speed for starting will be that in which the race committee
    considers the boats have sufficient capability for pre-start manoeuvres.
    (b) Races should not start, or races in progress should be abandoned when:
    (1) Wind gusts exceed 25 knots for more than 30 seconds
    (2) Wind gusts exceed 30 knots for any duration
    (3) The race committee considers conditions are unsafe for sailing.
    We actually probably broke this rule at the UK Nationals recently- and result was several broken wings and a broken mast.

  7. @Al
    This is very helpful! I will discuss your wording with the class as something they should consider implementing for there regattas.


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