Monday, February 15, 2010

Rule 42 – Worst Sailing Innovation Ever

AlextheLaserSailor, who says he has been "lurking on the Proper Course blog for many months" has decided to come out of the shadows and contribute to our group writing project Worst Sailing Innovation Ever.

I competed in a regional Laser regatta recently. The regatta was specifically a Masters & Youth. Three separate fleets for the different rigs, with both old farts and youngsters competing within each fleet. This regatta is a highlight of our Lasering year, with a strong following from the mature sailor and youngsters alike. A good number of the participating Youth sailors are anointed by our regional sailing institution as elite youth sailors – benefiting from national coaching and mentoring programs.

Day 1 (3 races) was 15-20 knots - heavy going for the first day of the regatta. I typically got to the top mark in the top half of the fleet - not normally a problem as I usually pick up a few places downwind. Not this time though. A number of youth sailors in front of me were rocking and rolling all over the place. Initially I thought they were just struggling with the heavy conditions, on the verge of a deathroll, then recovering with a big tug on the mainsheet and flattening the boat – but this rocking, rolling, tugging and flattening continued all the way down the run – not just in the first race, but consistently on each leeward leg of the course.

Day 2 (2 races) conditions a bit easier at 5-10 knots. Great Lasering conditions with flat water and shifty breezes. The youth sailors were once again working their boats downwind, with BIG sail adjustments continually down towards the leeward mark. Not so much rocking this time, but plenty of sail adjustments that were obviously not required.

Our elite juniors are being coached to exploit rule 42 – ooching, pumping and rocking on their way to Laser greatness.

All they need to learn now is how to be more subtle in contravening this rule, so they can fool the professional judges, not just old sailing hacks like me.

So – the worst sailing innovation ever is Rule 42. A rule that we’re expected to breech, but to do it subtlety so as not to get caught.


Thanks for the rant Alex. So come on all you other lurkers. Drop me an email (tillermeister at gmail dot com) with a few lines on your suggestion for Worst Sailing Innovation Ever. Today, Monday 15 Feb, is the last day for entries. Full details at
Worst Sailing Innovation Ever.


Paul Cross said...

AAAAAAAgh...this reeeeally bugs me too. And what happened to not coming out of a tack faster than you went in?...all the kids do it....protest protest protest....or we will all have to develop our bodies into a rippling column of sinew and muscle and power ourselves round at 10 knots in a flat calm...and essentialy...take up windsurfing. Rule 42 is not the problem punk kids are....penalty for oooching etc should be to stand up (like a surf jockey) for the next leg.

Sam Chapin said...


OHara said...

I have had the pleasure of sailing with juniors as crew in my FJ. Our differing interpretations of rule 42 become quite clear when we're in the same 4-meter-long boat.

I learned that, in the US, college sailing actually modifies rule 42. They allow some ooching, and accelerating through the roll-tack. (Rule 7.4 in the dinghy class rules at The actions Alex points out, however, seem to break the college rule as well.

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