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What’s the difference between a spinnaker pole, a jockey pole, a whisker pole, a reaching strut and a jib stick? If you thought defining those distinctions was no more than yachting pedantry then think again. Using a whisker pole could now cost your boat up to a half-point penalty on IRC handicap. 

The IRC published a Q&A paper in late April backgrounding that decision and say there was no negative reaction from Northern Hemisphere owners. But it seems to be a different story Down Under where the ruling comes into effect on June 1. A forum of owners convened yesterday by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia heard some powerful arguments against the rating change.   

There was rebellion in the air, and this disquiet among the owners of competitive offshore yachts in Australia may even lead to a push for the overall prize in the Sydney-Hobart race to switch from the prevailing IRC rating system to ORCi.

The background to the whisker pole controversy is quite technical, and has largely been prompted by the rise of bowsprits in offshore racing boats. Here’s how the IRC explained their decision:

“In 2020 IRC received feedback that a boat with a bowsprit only was paying heavily to use a whisker pole, while a boat rated with a spinnaker pole saw no change in rating to use a whisker pole. We agreed that this was not equitable as any boat will benefit from being able to pole out a headsail under varying circumstances – be it to leeward when reaching, or goose-winged downwind in breezy conditions. 

Therefore, the majority of boats that wish to have the option to pole out a headsail will see a small rating increase. The effect will depend on the individual boat and configuration, but you can expect a rating increase between +0.002 and +0.005. The exception is if in 2020 you had a bowsprit and a whisker pole so were rated for bowsprit & pole(s); in that case with a bowsprit only plus a whisker pole the rating will reduce slightly.” 

Everyone clear on that? Some of the confusion arises from the fact that, in practice, a spinnaker pole can also be used as a whisker pole (defined in the ERS as “A spar attached to the mast spar and connected to a headsail clew”). The spinnaker pole is already rated but if it is also to be used as a whisker pole it must now be separately declared.

The immediate difficulty with this ruling is that it is retrospective. Boats that have competed for years using their spinnaker poles to pole out their jib – without penalty –must now either reconfigure their rigs to avoid a rating increase (at considerable expense) or simply accept a worse TCF. Over the average Sydney-Hobart race that rating change could increase a boat’s corrected time by up to 20 minutes. 

The push-back from Australian owners has been so strong that the CYCA arranged for Jason Smithwick, an IRC rating office representative in London, to address the forum via Zoom and answer questions. 

The majority of concerns he responded to related to issues of safety and seamanship. 

Conditions in the Northern Hemisphere are predominantly benign but in Australia yachts commonly race offshore in 30-40 knots. Why, Smithwick was repeatedly asked, should boats now have to take a rating penalty for adopting the sensible tactic of poling out a jib when the wind was too strong for spinnakers? Some skippers went so far as to allege that the IRC was, in effect, encouraging un-seamanlike sailing.  

Smithwick understandably deflected that allegation by reminding the meeting that every decision as to how a boat should be equipped and sailed was made by the owner and that there are a multiplicity of factors that then go into determining a rating.

It was at this point that Carl Crafoord, a prominent skipper with a long offshore racing record, rose to present a detailed case as to why the CYCA should discontinue its relationship with IRC and switch to ORCi as its main rating system. 

The proposal was not debated or put to a vote. But those in attendance with long memories recalled a similar meeting 20 years ago – in the same room – at which owners had urged the club to transition from IMS to IRC, a move that duly transpired soon after. 

History looks like it might be about to repeat itself.

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I think that IRC got this wrong.  I think they ought to have said that any boat rated for a spinnaker of any kind could use a whisker pole of less than J or spinnaker pole that they are rated for to pole out a jib on the opposite side to the mainsail when a spinnaker is not set.  But poling a jib out on the same side as the mainsail needed to be rated separately.  

That would seem to be a more equitable solution.  

But also further divides the IRC fleet into those setup to go offshore, and those setup for inshore.  

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It's a total farce, I was trying to analyse who stood to gain from this change. It probably boils down to some influential A sail only boat(s) that can't pole out their jib.

In Ireland, the Sigma 33 fleet that just use the OD rating have all taken a 3 point hit since 2020. As the article observes, poling out the jib is just good seamanship when it comes to the probably less than 1 in 100 times you'd want to do it.

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The issue is how to tax the poling out to leeward without hurting the poling out to windward.

To Leeward helps the A sail / Code 0 people who go fast anyway.

To Windward helpd the heavy displacement and less skilled boats who are either at the boat's limits or their limits.

I don't have the answer as I haven't thought about it too much but perhaps a simple rig /hull factor tweak might be in order rather than getting too deep on multiple pole positions.

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On 5/20/2021 at 5:05 AM, Editor said:

What’s the difference between a spinnaker pole, a jockey pole, a whisker pole, a reaching strut and a jib stick?

And chopsticks,hockeysticks? Dunno, but that thinghy in the picture is neither, IMHO.

 

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Once IRC have listened to all the arguments, we are likely to see everything evened out with a dollop of 'rig factor' / 'hull factor' magic 

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On 5/19/2021 at 6:05 PM, Editor said:

The immediate difficulty with this ruling is that it is retrospective. Boats that have competed for years using their spinnaker poles to pole out their jib – without penalty –must now either reconfigure their rigs to avoid a rating increase (at considerable expense) or simply accept a worse TCF. Over the average Sydney-Hobart race that rating change could increase a boat’s corrected time by up to 20 minutes. 

The IRC 2021 Rule changes have been public since October 2020 and were discussed and agreed by IRC Congress which comprises representatives of IRC owners around the world.    The specific change relating to whisker poles is part of a wider-ranging review of the rating of bowsprits and poles generally in IRC, which includes measuring SPL (spinnaker pole length) in addition to STL (bowsprit/forward tack point length) to recognise boats with a spi pole shorter than their bowsprit STL, which will then see a rating reduction (assuming the SPL is declared when renewing the certificate).  Bowsprit-only boats that were rated with a whisker pole in 2020 will see a reduction in rating for 2021.

In all rating rules you will see annual changes to the formulae or rules that will affect features that already exist.  Also, every time there is strong feedback saying 'you need to fix the rating for so-and-so feature' that presumably makes any subsequent rule or formula change 'retrospective' - nobody would think it fair if rating rules ignored such feedback?  

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22 hours ago, Fiji Bitter said:

And chopsticks,hockeysticks? Dunno, but that thinghy in the picture is neither, IMHO.

 

Yep the caption and lead statement have  absolutely nothing to do with the mast spreader on an IMOCA other then it happens to make a nice outboard sheeting point.

Maybe  if the photo was the back of the boat it might make more sense.   

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Well this thread's a bitter disappointment.......

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My response to Jenny Howell

 

Dear Jenny

 

If I rate my Cookson with no swing pole and just a sprit like a Cookson 50, TP52 or a Maxi then I am on even ground, however since I am a displacement boat I have to sail with a swing pole to sail to my VPP’s

 

Therefore I take a rating debit as I have a fixed bow sprit and spin pole of the same STL

 

I also have a rating debit for spin area under SPA

 

If my Cookson 12 had the righting moment of a Cookson 50 I would not be required to “tick” whisker pole on my IRC renewal coming up but seeing the Cookson 50 is a planning hull and we are a displacement hull we have to use a spinnaker pole to sail downwind to our VPP’s with a spinnaker and or a poled out headsail as we don’t have the stability to sail bow up with spinnakers tacked to the centreline fixed bow sprit as we would just tip over and we would be sailing above our target TWA’s on our VPP’s

 

If I am on a Cookson 50 and it is windy I would sail at 135-140 TWA so no need for a pole as the AWA is 90 degrees

 

However on our Cookson 12 if over 30 knots we would sail at 160-165 TWA as we have a lot less stability @ 123 degrees

 

So if it is windy and I chose to pole out headsail I am already paying the debit for the swing pole and the spin is in bilge but I am paying for the SPA (area) as well

 

But now I am going to pay another 2 points on top of my swing pole debit (which the planning boats don’t carry Cookson 50, TP52 / maxi) so it is a double dip

 

I am effectively paying twice and 1 click on IRC is 5mins for our Cookson 12 to Hobart

 

So now everyone has to change certs per event / inshore / offshore which is ludicrous, expensive and absolutely nonsensical

 

So if the TP’s / Cookson 50 / Maxis tick no to a whisker pole to use as a leeward jib stick they incur no debit and they don’t need a spin pole or whisker pole on the boat at all which is the case in Australia with all TP 52’s removing them for pushing the jibs out to leeward

 

However we cannot sail our boat downwind to our VPP’s without a spin pole and the planning boats mentioned can and on top of this debit IRC does not rate flying sails in front of the mast so the longer your boat the more free flying sails you can hoist with no rating debit

 

The summary being large planning boats can carry multiple headsails down wind and gain an advantage with no pole and on smaller yachts like a Cookson 12 we cannot hoist multiple free flying sails as the STL physically does not allow it and we cannot sail downwind without a spinnaker pole with a spinnaker up or a headsail poled to windward as we don’t have the stability

 

The summary being this new whisker pole rule will make us more uncompetitive against planning hull boats if we chose to pole out a headsail to windward which our VPP’s  require a pole to windward whether it is a spinnaker or a headsail and the planning boats do not require a pole at all onboard their boat?

f18dQhb0Sd-D8fmRm_Vn_Djp59hl0VW7_jsyP5KdNx1N7w3THHtMr9cVVmGWf4XWS6s102?si=356525007&pi=412454a2-403c-42d5-83cb-ae42dde545b3

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11 minutes ago, Carl Crafoord said:

My response to Jenny Howell

 

Dear Jenny

 

If I rate my Cookson with no swing pole and just a sprit like a Cookson 50, TP52 or a Maxi then I am on even ground, however since I am a displacement boat I have to sail with a swing pole to sail to my VPP’s

 

Therefore I take a rating debit as I have a fixed bow sprit and spin pole of the same STL

 

I also have a rating debit for spin area under SPA

 

If my Cookson 12 had the righting moment of a Cookson 50 I would not be required to “tick” whisker pole on my IRC renewal coming up but seeing the Cookson 50 is a planning hull and we are a displacement hull we have to use a spinnaker pole to sail downwind to our VPP’s with a spinnaker and or a poled out headsail as we don’t have the stability to sail bow up with spinnakers tacked to the centreline fixed bow sprit as we would just tip over and we would be sailing above our target TWA’s on our VPP’s

 

If I am on a Cookson 50 and it is windy I would sail at 135-140 TWA so no need for a pole as the AWA is 90 degrees

 

However on our Cookson 12 if over 30 knots we would sail at 160-165 TWA as we have a lot less stability @ 123 degrees

 

So if it is windy and I chose to pole out headsail I am already paying the debit for the swing pole and the spin is in bilge but I am paying for the SPA (area) as well

 

But now I am going to pay another 2 points on top of my swing pole debit (which the planning boats don’t carry Cookson 50, TP52 / maxi) so it is a double dip

 

I am effectively paying twice and 1 click on IRC is 5mins for our Cookson 12 to Hobart

 

So now everyone has to change certs per event / inshore / offshore which is ludicrous, expensive and absolutely nonsensical

 

So if the TP’s / Cookson 50 / Maxis tick no to a whisker pole to use as a leeward jib stick they incur no debit and they don’t need a spin pole or whisker pole on the boat at all which is the case in Australia with all TP 52’s removing them for pushing the jibs out to leeward

 

However we cannot sail our boat downwind to our VPP’s without a spin pole and the planning boats mentioned can and on top of this debit IRC does not rate flying sails in front of the mast so the longer your boat the more free flying sails you can hoist with no rating debit

 

The summary being large planning boats can carry multiple headsails down wind and gain an advantage with no pole and on smaller yachts like a Cookson 12 we cannot hoist multiple free flying sails as the STL physically does not allow it and we cannot sail downwind without a spinnaker pole with a spinnaker up or a headsail poled to windward as we don’t have the stability

 

The summary being this new whisker pole rule will make us more uncompetitive against planning hull boats if we chose to pole out a headsail to windward which our VPP’s  require a pole to windward whether it is a spinnaker or a headsail and the planning boats do not require a pole at all onboard their boat?

f18dQhb0Sd-D8fmRm_Vn_Djp59hl0VW7_jsyP5KdNx1N7w3THHtMr9cVVmGWf4XWS6s102?si=356525007&pi=412454a2-403c-42d5-83cb-ae42dde545b3

Carl

You are wasting your time.

The Rating Office now seems to be full of arseholes looking after little cocksucker self interest group mates (which does not include long term owners with moderate size, moderate displacement boats like you and me).

As Jen well knows I gave up buying the product about a 8 years ago after about 20 years of doing so and I had even signed the Official Secrets Act.

Maybe everyone in the Rating Office should every morning recite the the published aims of the IRC Rule.

There is something about preserving the existing fleet in there somewhere.

Time for Australia to ditch IRC as we are not well served by it anymore.

And that is before we get to the administration of it is Australia.

 

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On 5/23/2021 at 6:46 AM, wal' said:

Well this thread's a bitter disappointment.......

I was just thinking the same thing. Appalling click bait. I want my money back.

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58 minutes ago, Livia said:

Carl

You are wasting your time.

The Rating Office now seems to be full of arseholes looking after little cocksucker self interest group mates (which does not include long term owners with moderate size, moderate displacement boats like you and me).

As Jen well knows I gave up buying the product about a 8 years ago after about 20 years of doing so and I had even signed the Official Secrets Act.

Maybe everyone in the Rating Office should every morning recite the the published aims of the IRC Rule.

There is something about preserving the existing fleet in there somewhere.

Time for Australia to ditch IRC as we are not well served by it anymore.

And that is before we get to the administration of it is Australia.

 

Come and sail at Sandringham! It was announced at a recent Ordinary General MeetIng that IRC is finished at the Club as of the end of the current 2020-21 Summer season and as from the commencement of the 2021 Winter Series it will not be used at SYC which will now offer competition under ORCc, AMS and Performance handicaps only. 

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The thing is we do care about IRC.

It is just that it is slanted too much towards planing carbon boats over 50 feet, production cruisers with 4 cabins and 3 showers that then get the same amount as their purchase price in upgrades, and French designed, built and and / or measured racer cruisers less than 15 years old.

If you own a boat outside of this (as is most of Oz and NZ club racing fleets) you are fighting it out for a divisional top 10 place.

Sigh.

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On 5/24/2021 at 12:14 AM, Carl Crafoord said:

My response to Jenny Howell

 

Dear Jenny

 

If I rate my Cookson with no swing pole and just a sprit like a Cookson 50, TP52 or a Maxi then I am on even ground, however since I am a displacement boat I have to sail with a swing pole to sail to my VPP’s

 

Therefore I take a rating debit as I have a fixed bow sprit and spin pole of the same STL

 

I also have a rating debit for spin area under SPA

 

If my Cookson 12 had the righting moment of a Cookson 50 I would not be required to “tick” whisker pole on my IRC renewal coming up but seeing the Cookson 50 is a planning hull and we are a displacement hull we have to use a spinnaker pole to sail downwind to our VPP’s with a spinnaker and or a poled out headsail as we don’t have the stability to sail bow up with spinnakers tacked to the centreline fixed bow sprit as we would just tip over and we would be sailing above our target TWA’s on our VPP’s

 

If I am on a Cookson 50 and it is windy I would sail at 135-140 TWA so no need for a pole as the AWA is 90 degrees

 

However on our Cookson 12 if over 30 knots we would sail at 160-165 TWA as we have a lot less stability @ 123 degrees

 

So if it is windy and I chose to pole out headsail I am already paying the debit for the swing pole and the spin is in bilge but I am paying for the SPA (area) as well

 

But now I am going to pay another 2 points on top of my swing pole debit (which the planning boats don’t carry Cookson 50, TP52 / maxi) so it is a double dip

 

I am effectively paying twice and 1 click on IRC is 5mins for our Cookson 12 to Hobart

 

So now everyone has to change certs per event / inshore / offshore which is ludicrous, expensive and absolutely nonsensical

 

So if the TP’s / Cookson 50 / Maxis tick no to a whisker pole to use as a leeward jib stick they incur no debit and they don’t need a spin pole or whisker pole on the boat at all which is the case in Australia with all TP 52’s removing them for pushing the jibs out to leeward

 

However we cannot sail our boat downwind to our VPP’s without a spin pole and the planning boats mentioned can and on top of this debit IRC does not rate flying sails in front of the mast so the longer your boat the more free flying sails you can hoist with no rating debit

 

The summary being large planning boats can carry multiple headsails down wind and gain an advantage with no pole and on smaller yachts like a Cookson 12 we cannot hoist multiple free flying sails as the STL physically does not allow it and we cannot sail downwind without a spinnaker pole with a spinnaker up or a headsail poled to windward as we don’t have the stability

 

The summary being this new whisker pole rule will make us more uncompetitive against planning hull boats if we chose to pole out a headsail to windward which our VPP’s  require a pole to windward whether it is a spinnaker or a headsail and the planning boats do not require a pole at all onboard their boat?

f18dQhb0Sd-D8fmRm_Vn_Djp59hl0VW7_jsyP5KdNx1N7w3THHtMr9cVVmGWf4XWS6s102?si=356525007&pi=412454a2-403c-42d5-83cb-ae42dde545b3

Why not add a penalty pole and a sprit of the same length with a masthead kite.  The change-over from assy. on a sprit to symm. on a pole is about 12 knots TW and then to a frac. symm. at +28 kn.    Works for the one Cookson 12m in the US that did the Transpac.  Yes, you have to carry the pole, but you will be much faster in the light-medium stuff

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@Left ShiftI think the point is that you shouldn't have to do that if IRC was true to it's stated goals.

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1 hour ago, Jethrow said:

@Left ShiftI think the point is that you shouldn't have to do that if IRC was true to it's stated goals.

No matter.  Ratings are ratings.  Fast is fun.  And no rating system can really rate a planing hull vs. non-planing.  (FWIW, 12m's almost plane...they kind of guussh at speed.)

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There is lots more going on here than simply winging out the jib.  

Current practice is to deflect the jib sheet down and out with some sort of pole attached to the mast.  In the old days, this would be an “outrigger” and would have been illegal.  The Volvo boats were one design and had equipment to deflect sheets that did not have to be secured to the mast.  Boats which add these struts should have their ratings increased.

SHC

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Once a upon a time the Rating Office always argued that the Rule had to be applied uniformly across jurisdictions and this was central to making the rule international.

OA could not change the Rule.

Now we get this chicken shit position that the OA can change the rule or decide not to enforce part of the Rule.

Well that is one way to get it off your desk and make your first fuck up some ones else's problem.

Gutless!

 

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1 hour ago, Livia said:

Once a upon a time the Rating Office always argued that the Rule had to be applied uniformly across jurisdictions and this was central to making the rule international.

OA could not change the Rule.

Now we get this chicken shit position that the OA can change the rule or decide not to enforce part of the Rule.

Well that is one way to get it off your desk and make your first fuck up some ones else's problem.

Gutless!

 

Am I the only one who detects a hint of irony that someone, from the safety of a keyboard and pseudonym, is calling out named people and their public statements as "gutless"?
That said, I think you're wrong. There are plenty of rules in our sport that allow for discretionary application or change by a certain body. What they've done here is no different.
Its an interesting question though, and one that crossed my mind too when the solution was produced. When does a 'rule' become a guide that people can selectively apply or adhere to? I would probably need to speak with someone who had a life time of sailing and legal expertise under their belt and take their advice. Maybe.

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1 hour ago, grs said:

Am I the only one who detects a hint of irony that someone, from the safety of a keyboard and pseudonym, is calling out named people and their public statements as "gutless"?
That said, I think you're wrong. There are plenty of rules in our sport that allow for discretionary application or change by a certain body. What they've done here is no different.
Its an interesting question though, and one that crossed my mind too when the solution was produced. When does a 'rule' become a guide that people can selectively apply or adhere to? I would probably need to speak with someone who had a life time of sailing and legal expertise under their belt and take their advice. Maybe.

Do you someone in mind,  Hahaha

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50 minutes ago, Ease the sheet. said:

Remember when a whisker poke was used to improve the lead on a forward spinnaker pole?

Boats with bowsprits and assy's had no need.....

That was the only definition of „whisker pole“ I knew. 
Hey - I’ve just bought a very, very slim boat with a sym spin. Maybe I’ll rig one of those. :) 

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6 hours ago, grs said:

Am I the only one who detects a hint of irony that someone, from the safety of a keyboard and pseudonym, is calling out named people and their public statements as "gutless"?
That said, I think you're wrong. There are plenty of rules in our sport that allow for discretionary application or change by a certain body. What they've done here is no different.
Its an interesting question though, and one that crossed my mind too when the solution was produced. When does a 'rule' become a guide that people can selectively apply or adhere to? I would probably need to speak with someone who had a life time of sailing and legal expertise under their belt and take their advice. Maybe.

Glen

The gutless part is not making a decision but leaving it to the OA and the Rating Office punting the problem down the road so they do not have to upset anyone.

Way before you came along and even back in CHS days the issue was whether the rule could be changed at all.

The answer was always no because the rule is no longer a Rule.

This is correct and should be the position now.

So now we have different versions of the IRC rule depending on what the OA says or decides.

So not a Rule then.

And as you know I stopped buying the product years ago for these reasons.

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On 5/20/2021 at 4:21 PM, Jono said:

The issue is how to tax the poling out to leeward without hurting the poling out to windward.

To Leeward helps the A sail / Code 0 people who go fast anyway.

To Windward helpd the heavy displacement and less skilled boats who are either at the boat's limits or their limits.

I don't have the answer as I haven't thought about it too much but perhaps a simple rig /hull factor tweak might be in order rather than getting too deep on multiple pole positions.

Yah 

 

The leeward pole  is the issue 

 

this needs to be addressed 

a leeward pole is cheap , fast and can be used on almost any boat 

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23 hours ago, Livia said:

Glen

The gutless part is not making a decision but leaving it to the OA and the Rating Office punting the problem down the road so they do not have to upset anyone.

Way before you came along and even back in CHS days the issue was whether the rule could be changed at all.

The answer was always no because the rule is no longer a Rule.

This is correct and should be the position now.

So now we have different versions of the IRC rule depending on what the OA says or decides.

So not a Rule then.

And as you know I stopped buying the product years ago for these reasons.

You're only half right. The amended IRC rule allows changes by OA or by a national prescription. In our case, Australian Sailing fixed it nationally, making it one rule (more or less compliant with your position) rather than having to fix it by each OA, in each race.

Our pleasure.

 

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On 5/29/2021 at 9:53 PM, slug zitski said:

Yah 

 

The leeward pole  is the issue 

 

this needs to be addressed 

a leeward pole is cheap , fast and can be used on almost any boat 

No argument that they are /were fast but Carbon leeward poles with adjustable leads are / were NOT cheap. Ask those owners of IRC rated boats  who forked out eye-watering volumes of cash to use them and now are struggling to explain to their wives/financiers where it all went and for what? 

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4 hours ago, SPORTSCAR said:

No argument that they are /were fast but Carbon leeward poles with adjustable leads are / were NOT cheap. Ask those owners of IRC rated boats  who forked out eye-watering volumes of cash to use them and now are struggling to explain to their wives/financiers where it all went and for what? 

Yacht racing is an expensive game 

check out the price of a new regatta quality mainsail 

even worse when you consider that your new main is disposable 

a pole and deck hardware are not that expensive and should last for many years 

the biggest challenge with lee poles is measuring performance and calculating rating 

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1 hour ago, slug zitski said:

Yacht racing is an expensive game 

check out the price of a new regatta quality mainsail 

even worse when you consider that your new main is disposable 

a pole and deck hardware are not that expensive and should last for many years 

the biggest challenge with lee poles is measuring performance and calculating rating 

Owners I know spent thousands having them custom made and now won't use them for IRC racing.  With the flourish of a pen, IRC slugged ratings to the point that they are no longer viable equipment for serious IRC offshore racing. The Carbon ones will indeed last for countless years but there's not much other use for them that I can think of. 

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14 hours ago, SPORTSCAR said:

Owners I know spent thousands having them custom made and now won't use them for IRC racing.  With the flourish of a pen, IRC slugged ratings to the point that they are no longer viable equipment for serious IRC offshore racing. The Carbon ones will indeed last for countless years but there's not much other use for them that I can think of. 

A flourish of a pen.

 

Like it's never happened before......

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3 minutes ago, Ease the sheet. said:

A flourish of a pen.

 

Like it's never happened before......

Precisely, another IRC hatchet job at the expense of boat owners. No wonder its a dying system, already dropped at Club level here at Melbourne's biggest yacht club.

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1 hour ago, SPORTSCAR said:

Precisely, another IRC hatchet job at the expense of boat owners. No wonder its a dying system, already dropped at Club level here at Melbourne's biggest yacht club.

So does AMS allow leeward poles?

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