New low-cost "hardware store" racing class; input on proposed rules

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Petros, Mar 19, 2012.

  1. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    Jermy Harris has a thread in the Boat design section. The title is Duck Punt with a twist. He is building a really low cost boat with foam. (I think Jeremys' aim is light weight moreso than cost) The thread has a video of a similar boat sailing in a canal. It is useful to study the way the boat is equipped with almost no store bought hardware. Thole pins and the like do the job. That is an example of good cost control which may be pertinent here. Placing a limit on the cost of hardware could be one of the conditions.

    Those of us raised on Harken and other expensive hardware have almost forgotten how our grand dads did it.
     
  2. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    That is exactly the point of the contest. It seems the marketers of "marine" supplies have convinced all of the builders of boats of what your boat has to have, every boating magazine is full of the latest "must have" overpriced junk for your boat (and the magazine go along with glowing reviews-looking for more advertizing $ no doubt). It easy to just order pretty hardware from a catalog, what is difficult, and an even larger creative challenge to find a lower cost way to accomplish the same thing.

    Consider that not that long ago most small boats were built with "found" lumber, built with hand tools (many of them made by the builder) and used little or no fasteners, no epoxy, no composites, no plastics and so forth. Even the finish, if used at all, was made from locally available raw materials, mixed by the boat builder. With so many resources available to us now it seems we should be able to build even better boats by looking for creative solutions using low cost materials rather than falling for the latest "must haves" out of the catalog.

    I too have fallen for the myth of more cost must mean it works better. Until I had entered a few local contests where we had limited budget or limited materials and time to build a boat and race it. It made me rethink everything on the boat, and after examining all of my assumptions it made me realize that spending more money on the boat does not result in more enjoyment. I kept thinking I needed to buy cleats (the only source of cleats was of course the local marine supply store), but it would blow my target budget. After looking at some magazines with pictures of historic reconstructions it dawned on me that making wood cleats would only take a few minutes using power tools and only cost pennies in materials. I was almost angry that the marketers of slick hardware blocked my thinking, that to get cleats I had to buy production cleats. The same is true with blocks and winches and so forth, these have been only available for less than a century, yet boats, large and small have been around since before recorded history.

    So it occurred to me that a whole contest based on this exact problem should results in even more creative solutions to building good performing boats using low cost materials. This is meant to be a creative challenge on how to build good performing sailboats using low cost materials. Going back to the way boats were built in the past, and incorporating new ways to use old ideas, with newer materials and handy (yet inexpensive) home shop power tools. IT is meant to be a paradigm breaking challenge.

    That is the goal, to challenge designers and builders to build good performing boats built with low cost materials, that must be durable enough to win a series of races over a season.

    There has been many good ideas presented so far, many I would like to incorporate. consider how a contest like this might be made better, what other ideas can be incorporated that would achieve that goal, to create good performing sailboats hand made from low cost materials.
     
  3. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    How about this for a proposed race format (my best guess at what would work best), with the intent of having at least 3 "race days" per season, with preferably four race days per season:

    "each racing day event shall consist of two or three (or more) races arrange as either 1) a triangle coarse around 3 markers, 2) a rectangular coarse with a "bow tie" option around 4 coarse markers, 3) a straight line coarse out and back around one marker. Each marker must be at least 660 ft (1/8 mile) nominally apart or distance from the starting line. For at least one of the races on each race day, it shall be required to have the 100kg cargo box carried on each vessel. Racing shall start with a clearly audible signal (horn or starting gun), and a clearly visual signal (hand held flag drop or flare). A race official shall be positioned near each marker if not clearly visible from the race official's starting location. The first contestant across the finish line shall be awarded 100 points, second place finisher will receive 60 points, third place shall receive 40 points, fourth place shall receive 20 points, and each contestant that finishes the race after 4th place shall receive 10 points. DNF receives zero points for that race. Highest point total for crew and boat at the end of the season shall be the season winner."

    Suggestions to improve the event?
     
  4. sharpii2
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    I think your minimum distances are too minimal. Faster horses need bigger courses.
     
  5. Stumble
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    Stumble Senior Member

    Petros,

    I wouldn't even thing about rewriting the RRS from US Sailing. You can choose to modify, or exclude rules, but there is an entire body of work already done on starting signals, race courses, right of way, ect, trying to rewrite this work will be a thankless task, and current sailors will be less interested in joining. Plus is any of your competitors want to change to a different class, they will have to relearn the rule book.
     
  6. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    I like longer distances as well (twice I lost races where an early mistake could have been overcome had the course been longer), but I thought I would specify minimum distance for places that may only have smaller lakes for their races. Perhaps I could state preferred course length, with minimums.

    A good point on the US Sail rules, we should invoke them. I am only vaguely familiar with them since on the larger races and regattas I have participated I was only crew (slave) so it was not up to me to know them. The smaller races no one bothered with that level of detail.

    It seems to me that there still has to be a structure to the scoring and type of courses we will have so that entrants will know what kind of course they are building the boat to race in. I am not familiar enough with the rules to know if they dictate coarse design. I was thinking this should be the responsibility of the race committee so practical good overall performing boats are the winners, rather than specialized boats.

    Also, the US sailing rules have an unlimited amount of protests someone can make. That might be okay for the race portion, but I want to keep a lid on the protest process at least for challenging the cost of the materials (that is the point of this kind of race after all).

    BTW, are the US sailing rules anywhere on-line? I could only find commentaries and supplements, it appears you have to buy a rule book.
     
  7. Stumble
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    Stumble Senior Member

    Petros,

    Typically the regatta RC will set things like distance, direction, and course. These decisions take place at or just before the starting signal, since a course reasonable for 5kn of breeze may be to short for one in 15kn of breeze. Different classes, and boat speeds also play a part, though less so. In the last 20 years or so most regattas and classes run exclusively windward-leeward courses since they provide the best tactical challenge, but nothing in the RRS requires it.

    The rrs can be found at http://www.sailing.org/tools/documents/RRS2009-2012-[5950].pdf

    A few clarifications...

    See the rrs scoring systems in the appendix of the rule book. There are a couple of different ways to score, though the most common is the low point scoring with throwouts.

    Typically protests over boat weight, shape, or in this case cost can only be filed by the race committee, though you might want to require winners of regional championships automatically have to justify their cost (say the top three finishers). In addition, while a competitor can file numerous protests against a boat, there are only a few steps in the appeals process. First the RC makes a ruling, which is appealed to the US sailing district judge, that appeal can be taken to the national judge, then to an international panel. That's it. I have never heard of an appeal being taken past the regional level except for grand prix/olympic or professional events, but it could happen.


    I would also highly recommend you take a look at the NOR and SI's for a major regatta to see what type of things are routinely spelled out in those documents. This can include excluding some of the more detailed rules from the RRS, but I would recommend against doing so, unless you really know what you are doing. The rules really do a good job of providing clear guidance on right of way, and avoiding collisions, and the 'small rules' are at least as important as the 'big rules' at doing so.
     
  8. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    Stumble,

    Thanks for the link! Excellent suggestion. These rules are very good for the type of events I was considering. And being consistent with other organizations should be attractive to experienced small sailboat competitors as well.

    I see no reason to change them except perhaps for the scoring, I wanted the season winners to have scores closer together. That is something I will also share and discuss with our group, to see if we should formulate something different or not.

    It also occurred to me that we might have a "raid" type event at least once a season. Where boats will spend most of the day sailing out to a landmark or location (preferably a good lunch stop), and than back. Nothing like real world conditions for developing a practical boat design. It would also make sure the boats are sturdy enough to complete an extended race, if you DNF you can not score. This would also mean the scoring would have to be adjusted to perhaps give more credit to an all day race win vs. the shorter contests.

    We might also want to include a "le Mans" style beach launch start, just to make things interesting. And keep the boats practical.
     
  9. Stumble
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    Stumble Senior Member

    Take a look at the Viper 640 class championship scoring model. They do a really good job of balancing participation at events, with a critical one.
     
  10. ancient kayaker
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    ancient kayaker aka Terry Haines

    I wonder if a build-time element would be a good thing to introduce? It could be used to vet the kind of material used.

    It would work like this: before the build the race committee or an authorised representative inspects the material and receipts then date-stamps several larger pieces with a stamp bearing an authorised logo. The builder would be required to display a minimum of X such stamps under bright-work, which would establish both the before-build material cost inpection and could be used to limit the build time *. This is similar to my own practice of using the piece of marine ply with the BS or LLoyds stamp in a hidden but accessible spot for any future purchaser to see.

    * limiting the build time would encourage easy-to-build designs.
     
  11. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    USSA type rules are necessary for cutthroat racing. They may not be so important, chapter and verse, for family type racing. You gotta have some rules but you are not out to develope sea lawyers.

    Fundamental rules like port-starboard crossings and anti barging are easy enough but rules at the mark can get pretty complex. There are whole books ( I have several of them) written about rules, tactics, and defenses. Some sticky wickets there.

    It might be useful to talk to the promoters of the annual Florida Gulf Coast Small Craft Show. Cortez (Bradenton) FL. They run some races during their event. The race bulletin states that "all racing rules will be observed but none will be enforced". That seems to work just fine and a good time is had by all. Of course the participants are not racing for season points, only for bragging rights and beer bets. Another group that does something like that is the Chessapeake Small Craft event. Hundreds show up at both these events.

    The rules thing needs some careful consideration, sorry to say.
     
  12. Yobarnacle
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    Yobarnacle Senior Member

    I haven't dinghy raced for close to 50 years. In the early 60s, the most common protest (and most obscure event hard to see from comittee barge) was shoving.
    I gave up protesting. Couldn't win them. Instead, I added a thick chunk of wood to my boat equipment. Nothing in the rules inhibits me from pounding on my own gunwale. Anybody protested me afterward, my defense was "What was your hand doing on my gunwale?"
     
  13. CatBuilder

    CatBuilder Previous Member

    Speaking to post #77, you know who really has a lot of skill doing that stuff? Brent Swain. He has been making all his components for many years. Though he got trashed on here, he deserves a lot of respect for making just about every component on his boat from scratch or scrap.
     
  14. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    Catbuilder,

    I did a search but I could not find any details of the kind of fittings that Brent Swain made, or any of his other work. Do you have any links to pictures or descriptions of his work?

    Sounds like exactly the kind of creativity that I am trying to encourage with this contest. I like the guy already and I never even heard of him.
     

  15. Doug Lord
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    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    --------------------------------------------------
    Petros, I like the basic concept. Would it be legal to move the "cargo box" side to side? Would a sliding seat(plank) like on the International Canoe or Skate be legal? Would a canting mast be legal? Would simple foils like "plug-in" DSS foils be considered legal? They'd be easy and inexpensive to make. I'd like to think there was room for serious innovation w/o type forming the concept....

    Pictures- Skate with twin sliding planks, Merlin dinghy with canting mast system-click on image:
     

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