Thursday, June 14, 2012
It's very common at major sailing regattas these days to have trapezoid courses. The above diagrams should make it clear what trapezoid courses are. If you don't even understand the diagrams then you will probably sympathize even more with the views expressed in the guest post below by Susie Pegel - a REAL Laser sailor.
Not too long ago, Torben Grael wrote a commentary saying that a lot of things invented in recent years "by some clever person" to change the ways things are done in modern sailboat racing, new course configurations, new ways of scoring races, etc. are essentially a bunch of B.S. They have not changed things for the better.
Being the old-school type of person I am, I had to agree with him. I think Torben currently has a daughter sailing women's 470 for Brazil, so I'm sure he is seeing the way things are run these days and comparing them to the way things used to be during his sailing campaigns.
The trapezoid is a classic example.
Whatever "clever person" (as Torben would say) invented the trapezoid
a) has never had to set a trapezoid
b) has never had to try to adjust a trapezoid
c) has never had to sail a trapezoid
d) has never had to score a race run on a trapezoid or
e) all of the above.
It takes a small army of people to set a trapezoid. If the wind shifts, it is impossible to adjust a trapezoid.
The trapezoid changes the nature of the sport and race itself, since you spend most of the race reaching and going downwind and very little time sailing upwind. I guess finishing at the top of the beat has become a thing of the past.
I can tell you from personal experience (Laser championships held in recent years at Hyannis and Buffalo) that the various "fleets" still get all tangled up together on the trapezoid, making the race almost impossible to score since you now have to untangle not only who beat who across the finish line, but what "fleet" they were in.
At Hyannis, at least the 4.7s were on a separate race course. But the Radials and full-rigs were on the same trapezoid, and I know from personal experience that one full-rig group ended up tangled up with another full-rig group.
At Buffalo, the full-rigs, Radials and 4.7s were all on the same trapezoid (the 4.7s had a shorter beat). I know from personal experience that one full-rig group ended up tangled up with another full-rig group.
Result: I think at both Hyannis and Buffalo the sailors were frustrated, the locals trying to run the regatta were frustrated, everyone was frustrated.
I think the Laser class should do a follow-up with the host club asking them what they think should be done to improve the running of a Laser class championship regatta. I'm sure they would have plenty of ideas based on their own experiences trying to do it.
Just having separate courses would improve the quality of the racing for the competitors and make life simpler for those trying to run the regatta.
Since we all seem to be into "surveys" these days, here is a unique idea: instead of surveying the people AT the Laser Masters Worlds what they like about it (which is probably everything otherwise they wouldn't be there), how about surveying people who AREN'T at the Laser Masters Worlds what they don't like about it that is keeping them from coming.
If the Laser Masters Worlds is in North America, I would like to see it made not as time-consuming as possible and not as expensive as possible so as many North American sailors as possible feel they can participate without going bankrupt in the process.
Just because "some clever person" invented all these ideas of how modern sailboat races should be run, doesn't mean they are good ideas. "Some clever person" also thought the stand-your-ground law was a good idea too. Some of these things need to be revisited and an honest assessment made of just how wonderful they are.