2022 A Cat Worlds

SimonN

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Sydney ex London
So now I have had the chance to speak to people who were there, this is what I have learnt.

Contrary to what many have posted on Facebook and elsewhere, racing was never held in windy conditions for the foilers. Wind speeds for the foilers never got above 15-16 knots, but the waves did make it harder and it was possible to make mistakes in the waves that led to "moments".  Of the 3 days that were cancelled, 2 should have been sailed. Yes, it would have been full on, but the top guys could have sailed in those conditions and if they couldn't, they didn't deserve to be considered among the top guys. What made it more difficult for the race organisers is that they called it early - it didn't get dark until 8.00pm, so why make a decision at 8.30am to can the whole day.

I know my own ability and I know that I back off when it's breezy, so I asked how I would have sailed in the conditions. I was told that with the races sailed, i would have still been pushing but the 2 days they should have raced I would have backed off. And there is the whole point. When it is fresh, you can mode a foiler to be significantly safer than a classic. If the classics are trapezing downwind, a foiler is safer, if you know how to set the boat up.

The racing was canned because they were worried about the middle to back of the fleet and the risk that those people would break masts on the bottom. That is not why you should can racing at a worlds. 

If they had raced would we be seeing a different world champion? I have no idea, but I know that 4 out of the top 6 have proven they can sail in big breeze and waves at other events. In 14-15 knots, Ravi did great, so maybe he could have done it in the big conditions. He might even have won those races,  but we will never know. But that misses the point and I am not saying that Ravi is unworthy of the title - he did the business in the races that were sailed. He trained hard for the event, spending up to 8 weeks there and it showed in his downwind sailing which was probably the best and fastest in the wave conditions.

My view is simple and remains as stated above. World championships are to find the best sailors in all conditions, not the best in conditions the majority of the fleet feel comfortable in. We have class limits for world championships for a reason. The decisions made at this worlds were bad for the class. I know a couple of top sailors who didn't go and are now unlikely to go to another worlds because they consider themselves to be heavy wind specialists and what's the point of the racing is going to be called off when they have their best chance.

I see 2 other problems. The first is that using local race officers, there is a fair chance that they have never seen top A Class sailors in top end conditions, so they don't know what can be achieved. A number of top classes take race officers with them, even if it's just to advise on exactly this sort of thing. The other problem is that if the sea state in a location is such that it really isn't possible to sail towards the top of the wind range, we should not be holding world championships at that location.

 

SimonN

Super Anarchist
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Sydney ex London
If you were paying attention, this event was won by one of the smaller competitors - AND - his bet results were in the strongest wind.
Ravi wasn't really smaller than his main competitors. I think most of the front of the fleet weighed in between 73kg and 77kgs. Mischa has shown in the past to be quick and heavy, and I think this shows very clearly that the A's have one of the widest weight ranges that you can be competitive with of any top class. I know that I weigh 68kgs and against the best , I regularly show I am competitive in terms of straight line speed (just don't ask me to last a whole race!). I am absolutely certain you can win the A Class worlds weighing as little as 68kgs and as much as 88kgs+, whatever the conditions.

 

cbulger

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Newport
While I agree with your main points - as pertains to Ravi, kgs is not the number - T = Weight x Distance to Fulcrum.  He was one of the "smaller" competitors and one of the fastest in the strongest breeze.

 

USA 007

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Lake Lanier, GA
I sailed at the hurricane worlds at Islamorada, Takapuna NZ, Hervey Bay AUS, and last week in Houston.  Due to the combined wind and wave state - I broke more gear and capsized more times than all of the previous worlds combined. I don't remember if Takapuna had any days that were blown out, but I do know that that there were days that we sat on the beach at Islamorada and Hervey Bay because the wind/wave conditions were unsafe or beyond the limits of the A-Class platform

I think the RC/PRO did a great job with the conditions and resources that were presented in Houston last week.

 
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DanielS

New member
As someone who was in the middle of the fleet I agree that the average or lowest common denominator should not determine race viability. Though switching to invitational would be a shame, as we are a very inclusive fleet.

On the conditions at Houston - class wind limits were definitely called into question. The 30-mile fetch and shallow water kicked up an awful chop such that we were all wondering if class limits might need to be a matrix of wind AND waves  :D  Also, the wind limits are suggestions to the PRO, who has room to decide. And I will tell you that the stress of these decisions caused him to well up into tears at the final ceremony in a release of pressure. I cannot imagine the weight. 

BTW it was 18+ at the weather mark for the last 2 races on Tuesday such that boats would soar during tacks and bear-aways were a trick for all levels.

On winner speculation - without a doubt Ravi would have had a clearer lead if the conditions were heavier, on average. He is an upwind foiling machine that no one could touch above 12 kts (Riley, once). This was an upwind race. The chop slowed downwind foiling significantly so the speed differences were much lower than usual. 

In all it was a joy to witness (and to participate  :p )

 

SimonN

Super Anarchist
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755
Sydney ex London
I know I am going to make myself unpopular with some, but the more i learn the more I believe that there are serious lessons to be learnt from this worlds.

But let's start with the positives. I was told that the racing that did take place was really well run and that the club and members were very friendly. However, the foilers lost 3 days. I have spoken to people who travelled from overseas, who had spent a lot of money to try to win this worlds and whether they were in Europe or Australia, they said the same thing. 2 of the days that were canned were sailable and should have been sailed. Worse, nobody could understand canning the racing at 8.00am when it got dark at 8.00pm and there was lots of time to wait to see if you could sail, which is exactly what happened.

It has been suggested elsewhere that there was an issue that with so many in need of help, to hold racing would have been irresponsible. Sorry, but that is not acceptable at a worlds. There needs to be enough rescue craft for the fleet and its capabilities, plus sailors need to take more responsibility when choosing to sail. If it's too tough for you, sail in safely or go into "safe mode" which on a foiler is super safe and easier than a classic. That's what I do.

It becomes clearer by the day that decisions not to sail were made based on abilities of the mid fleet and the number of rescue boats. If we continue this way, the class will become irrelevant and will lose its top sailors. They do not travel half way around the world to sit on the beach. 

The Moths have the same problems in terms of the capabilities in the fleet drop away fairly fast once you get past the top sailors, yet they still keep sailing in some pretty full on conditions. 

 

Charlie P Mayer

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Simon - I have followed your comments for years with great respect, up to now.  I'm sorry your favorites didn't win - but your opinions seem to be based on grossly inaccurate information and an ignorance of the facts and situation at the venue.  Racing into the evening was never a viable option - the reasons which you seem to ignore.  Neither was racing without safety assets on the course.  Please provide a list of regattas proceeding with no safety assets on the course.

I have been advised to stop this dialogue.  I think I will take that advice. 

 

WetnWild

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Brisvegas
Out of interest, was the low turnout due to the shit venue or is the Class on the decline.
No and no. 
The answer is self evident. 
The planning and logistics to attend such an event from overseas take about a year. The disruption caused by Covid difficulties and cost and complexity of boat transport have made it very difficult to get to an event. The class and organisers are to be congratulated for even getting an event off the ground. Many classes have not been able to achieve it. Even the Olympics had to be delayed. Personally I’ve attended 11 A Cat Worlds and sadly couldn’t get to this one. 
Hopefully next year. 

 

SimonN

Super Anarchist
10,533
755
Sydney ex London
Simon - I have followed your comments for years with great respect, up to now.  I'm sorry your favorites didn't win - but your opinions seem to be based on grossly inaccurate information and an ignorance of the facts and situation at the venue.  Racing into the evening was never a viable option - the reasons which you seem to ignore.  Neither was racing without safety assets on the course.  Please provide a list of regattas proceeding with no safety assets on the course.
I have to admit to have been seriously pissed off by this post, so didn't respond so i could calm down, because it distorts what i said and is a case of burying heads in the sand,

My comments are nothing to do with who won, or whether the guys I train with would have done better if there had been added races. As I said before, i have no idea whether the results would have changed and Ravi is a worthy champion. To think my comments were driven by thoughts on results is simply bullshit.

You say i ignore facts and and am ignorant of the facts and situation at the venue. That might be so, but my comments are based on what I have been told directly by 4 people who were there. This therefore shows a problem - if they were ignorant and working off inaccurate information, then that is the fault of the organisers. What i can tell you is this. They all said that on 2 of the 3 days racing was cancelled, the conditions would have allowed racing for the front of the fleet. They all said that it was wrong to cancel racing because the middle of the fleet couldn't handle the conditions, because it was a world title. They all said another thing - they could not understand why you would cancel racing at 8.00am when it didn't get dark until 8,00pm. 

Another thing I have been told that I find strange is the idea that it was OK to sail the Classics but not the foilers. Here is a fact. It is safer to sail a foiler in really big breeze than a classic. Many will think I am mad making that comment, but that's because they don't think. Just because it is a foiler doesn't mean you have to foil. It is very easy to set the boards and rudders to a position where the boats are very safe, much safer than a classic that you cannot change the rudders. In bigger breeze, I will often chicken out and set the boat up so that it is in "safe mode" and against everybody but the very top people, this is actually a fast way to get around a course.

Charlie states that "Neither was racing without safety assets on the course.". Seriously? How can that be an issue at a world championships? We must not hold another worlds where there aren't enough safety assets on the course AT ALL TIMES. It is irresponsible to do otherwise. I am sure most of us have been on the water when the breeze has unexpectedly built to something pretty extreme. You should always plan safety based on the unexpected, not the expected.

The other point people that seems to be missed is that for the top sailors, doing a regatta like this costs a lot of money. In real terms, I know competitors who believe that going to the worlds cost them in excess of $25,000 (Aus) when you include loss of earnings, buying a second boat (depreciation only), flights, etc, etc. These guys train to try to win a worlds, fly half way around the world (or quarter way if from Europe!) to go racing against their peers. These guys spend a lot more money on their sailing than most of us, (or their sponsors do). Consider Ravi who spent a significant amount of time at the regatta venue. The reality is that costs.

I made it very clear that everybody reports that the racing that was held was very well run and that the hospitality was great. What I am arguing is that we need to review events clinically and work out how to do better. We have to ensure we can sail as much as possible, or else people will not go to events, while some will end up leaving the class and others not join. Worse, we are currently sending out the wrong message about our foilers, that they are too difficult to sail. 

I know there are some who think I am just being a dick, but that's because many don't see the problem. Here are some facts. I know of one person who was at this worlds who has said he will never sail in the USA again (and while you are all trying to guess, it's not who you think!). I know 2 people who are highly relieved that they didn't go, one of who is now saying he won't go to another A Class worlds and might leave the class because one of his sailing ambitions is to win a world title and he will concentrate on another class. Even during the regatta, I received PM's from pro sailors who have sailed A's in the past who had heard before I knew that racing had been canned when some of the top guys were convinced that there should have been sailing. These guys all speak to each other. The word has got out. As one said, they don't do that in the Moths.

We have a number of options. To start with, based on what Charlie said above, we need to ensure there are enough rescue boats at all times and this needs to be evaluated during any bid for a world event. We need to ensure a consistency between events and countries - we cannot have people in one country sailing in conditions that another country won't sail in. Maybe we need to do more to help the middle of the fleet stay safe through education, assistance to ensure boats are properly set up and that people know "safe settings" in case they are needed. Or we can simply do away with foiling, but that will also drive people away from the class. In short, let's learn the lessons that can be learnt, because otherwise I fear for the future of the class.

 

Tcatman

Super Anarchist
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Chesapeake Bay
Simon wrote... " We must not hold another worlds where there aren't enough safety assets on the course AT ALL TIMES. "

What are the details here? ....   How many mark boats... How many safety boats?  how many were ribs able to function in 22k with a big sea state?  What are the qualifications of the personnel on the safety boats?   Did experienced PRO's besides Richneau believe that Houston YC and the USAC could conduct racing at 22 knot winds? .... or were they counting on not having to manage those conditions.  Did they have a crash boat in addition to the safety and mark boats?

Remember, the wind limits are competition limits... IE... fair competition is possible 22 k and under.... It is not a safety limit because you never want to shift responsibility from the captain to others.

Did the international class leaders get bullshitted about the actual resources or were they just keen to pull off a worlds at all costs and rolled the dice that it would be OK and did not critically evaluate the resources?

Why were the sailors voting on going racing in the first place?  When did it become a democratic decision?   Is this the general practice at A class worlds?   Do the Moths and ILCA's vote on going racing?.      Even if you announce.... the vote is not dispositive.... the PRO makes the call..  the PRO wants to come back and will honor a class vote....  (hey.... if they don't give a fuck about their class competition rules... why the hell should I do it)

What are the A Class standards for safety boats with a single handed class with an older demographic.   What are the class standards for time limits and finishing competitors on the course.  Can you make this up as you go?

Did Houston YC and the A class meet the standards of the RYA for safety equipment and personnel?   How about did they meet the PU standards?  How does the Houston YC effort stack up against the Aussie A class worlds for safety practices?

Can you deliver on the expectations when you are going to run two  world championships on the same race circle by scheduling around the wind?  (The aussies ran two race circles and just shared the beach and parties) 

Mayer is getting the word from the US class leaders to shut up.....   Clearly the party line is....  "It was a great worlds... everything was perfect and nobody died or was seriously injured ...."

Carry on.... nothing to see here!  ALL IS WELL!  ALL IS WELL!

 
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WetnWild

Super Anarchist
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Brisvegas
I sailed at the hurricane worlds at Islamorada, Takapuna NZ, Hervey Bay AUS, and last week in Houston.  Due to the combined wind and wave state - I broke more gear and capsized more times than all of the previous worlds combined. I don't remember if Takapuna had any days that were blown out, but I do know that that there were days that we sat on the beach at Islamorada and Hervey Bay because the wind/wave conditions were unsafe or beyond the limits of the A-Class platform

I think the RC/PRO did a great job with the conditions and resources that were presented in Houston last week.
It’s great to see comments from someone who was actually at the event rather than some of the drivel/speculation of some others here. 
The fact is there was a very experienced RO and a couple of very senior and experienced IACA officials providing class liaison. They obviously had to make calls on the day based on that knowledge and experience. I would rather take their decisions as opposed to third party reported opinions of a couple of sailors whose judgement might be tinged by disappointment at their performance. 
BTW I was at the other events you mentioned and they all had their race management challenges. Takapuna did indeed have a day canceled due to wind/waves. 

 

maxstaylock

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A Cats are just great, I lost my heart to one at 18 and am on my 4th one now, love em to bits.  Each one was a little faster, lighter, lower volume, lower drag than her predecessor, over time the rigs and sails have become lighter, more refined, more powerful.  The first one could handle 35 knots of wind and waves easily, the current one can treat me to a face plant right on the 22 knot class limit.

Love the boats, love the class, they are just too good at turning a zephyr into speed, the price for this is upscale breeze, everyone who sails them knows this.  If I were an Aussie sail maker playing with warm 25 knot thermals everyday, I might be able to push harder in the upper bands, but I train in cold water, where the gusts hit like a bag of bricks, and breakages cost money and time, am happy that 22 knots is a limit rather than a target, with even this limit can be reduced according to sea state.  

It would be great if every venue were perfect, it would be great if the class was big enough to have stringent qualification requirements for championships, but neither are true, it's still a pretty great class to be a part of, come and join us, where ever you are.

Thanks to all the volunteers at all the events I have raced at, appreciate your time and best efforts.  To all the competitors at all the events I have helped out at, you're welcome, think nothing of it.  To the US team, well done, it looked great, nobody died.  Roll on Guarda in September, baby.

 

F18 Sailor

Super Anarchist
2,678
255
Annapolis, MD
For the record, the U.S has voted to lower the class limit to 20kts. Some believe it should be lower, specifically Glenn Ashby who believes a safe upper limit for competitive racing in an A-Class is 18kts. Personally, I agree with him. Can I sail the boat safely in more? Absolutely, but the pucker factor increases exponentially and the risk of breakage rises quadratically.

Whoever said the foilers only raced in 15kts of breeze was lying. We started the 2nd race Tuesday in 19kts on the line. I would personally say that was a reasonably upper limit for the venue, which was beyond choppy. It was blowing 19kts on Wednesday afternoon, and we could have sailed. This from a mid-fleet sailor. Of course, I would say I was generally in conservation mode throughout the event (not upwind foiling, despite knowing how etc.), and I do know how to sail the boat safely in 20kts of breeze. Others may not have launched, and it might have helped my placing had we sailed Wednesday afternoon. Or I might have broken something, without a full stash of spares. Who knows-the decision was made, and I didn’t question it at the time. Monday and Thursday were un-sailable, though it may have been sailable late Thursday afternoon and I do agree the decision was made a bit early, however, keeping a lot of people milling about on shore so 10 guys can go racing is also a darn hard sell.

As to the number of support boats, there were plenty and they were well staffed. I never said that was an issue; the problem is when you have mast breakage on the course plus a few capsizes, those resources can become strained.

The bottom line is HYC and the class ran a great event and made the best of the weather.

 

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