The perils of edgy design offshore

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by CutOnce, Jul 18, 2011.

  1. CutOnce

    CutOnce Previous Member

    In a perfect world there would be no need for legislation, rules and lines being drawn. Common sense, fairness and forethought is all that is needed to prevent most bad things from happening, or in the worst cases, minimizing the damage.

    Problem is that people are involved, and everyone's value systems are not in agreement. One man's extreme rocket sled is another's boring lead-poisoned sleep aid. Same goes for safety. Since the disparity in values sometimes ends in people getting hurt (and then lawyers racking up billable hours), rules become necessary.

    Obviously, some among us want there to be no restriction on edgy designs. Quite surprising is that one of the most vocal proponents of edgy designs ("The Perils of Edgy Weather in Any Boat") also doesn't seem to actually offshore sail on them. It's easy to trivialize safety from the comfort of your shore-based couch while typing frantic forum posts. For full disclosure I made the crossing (and return) from Tobermory on the Bruce Pennisula to South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island last week on Lake Huron. As a lifelong dinghy sailor even this passage had me thinking hard about things that could go wrong.

    I also wonder about restricting age and experience. Wingnuts by all reports was sailed by well-prepared crew, and had met all the criteria for the race. I do wonder about the judgment of the teenage children on board - given a few years maturity and enough experience to understand what can go wrong, would they choose to be on board that particular boat again? I completely support the experienced adults making their own call on racing Wingnuts, but what about the children participating? If I had been offered the opportunity to crew on a race like the Chicago Mackinac at 16 years old on a boat sailed by that experienced crew I would have jumped at it without objectively evaluating the safety of the boat design. I would have trusted the judgment of the experienced adults on board at 16 without question.

    There is a vast difference between beercan racing within sight of shore while surrounded by mark boats, committee boats, photo boats and low-intensity competitors versus offshore racing overnight. I'm all for trying out every wacky go-fast idea if it is done safely. I'm not so much of a fan of making the dangerous logic leap from "it has been okay sailed close to shore in normal conditions" to "it is safe to race offshore". Just because a problem hasn't occurred doesn't mean the chances are statistically lower. Every time you flip a coin, the chances are 50/50. Five heads in a row is no promise that you will get a heads on try number six.

    It always amazes me that people ignore the mathematics of statistics and freely substitute their own prejudices, opinions (or worse the opinions of others) instead of recognizing reality.

    Do I think the Chicago Mackinac race should re-think the entry requirements in regards to safety? Yes. But I'm disappointed they have been forced to by these circumstances. The cure for situations like this is often worse than the cause. One inappropriate boat entering this race this year may prevent future participation of other designs caught in the same net. Defining the net is the real point of this thread - it isn't intended to be focused on the tragic events of this past race. And that net will have to be re-visited every year as cunning rule weasels figure out how to get around the intent of the rules on technicalities.

    --
    CutOnce
     
  2. Doug Lord
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    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    Perils of Edgy Weather in Any Boat

    It seems to me that I am one of the only people in this thread that have made concrete suggestions as to how high performance monohulls could fit within a rules structure similar to those allready being used for monohulls and multihulls.
    Having sailed and raced small and large boats-mainly dinghies, multihulls and small ocean racers* all my life including living on the water most of my early life(and next to the water now,thank God) I think these suggestions are worth considering:
    1) mandating that high performance monohull race boats float if capsized,
    2) mandating that high performance monohull race boats are at least rightable by the crew and that this is demonstrated at some point.
    3) mandating that the crew on high performance monohull race boats are trained in righting techniques,
    4) adopting other safety considerations for all high speed race boats to include the mandatory wearing of helmets,
    5) mandating that masts on high performance monohull race boats are sealed and maybe that they are made of carbon fiber to an acceptable standard to include survivability of the rig in a high speed capsize or pitchpole. Investigation of the viability of masthead flotation.
    6) scurrilous reports to the contrary notwithstanding EVERY "edgy" boat I have suggested on these forums has had an emphasis on safety in excess of that on many other race boats I have seen including being self-righting. Long live high performance monohull race boats-soon to be faster than multihulls, I imagine.

    *my first ocean race in the Gulf of Mexico was when I was 16 and I support 100% young people as part of high performance race boat crews with the caveats above.



     
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  3. magwas
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    magwas Senior Member

    I think because it is too complicated a subject to meaningfully discuss it in a forum, and it depends on so many factors from the type of the race to personal preferences. See these two remarks (I believe both valid) as an illustration:

    1. You have forgotten about stability considerations and provisions for the crew to survive until a chance arises to right the boat.
    2. Here we use only one rule, and it is enough: a designated rescue vessel should follow these cake pans at all times.
     
  4. sharpii2
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    All of this is well and good, but the realities of storms and gales makes some of these rules (1, 2, and 3) useless and irrelevant.

    Some of these storms and gales go on for many hours if not days. What is the crew to do while they wait for ideal self rescue conditions to occur?
    Imagine, the boat upside down, half full of water, being buffeted by huge waves, or even not so huge waves. Then take into account exposure. If the water temp is significantly cooler than the operating temp of the human body, hypothermia sets in. As it does, the mind gets duller and the limbs become less and less cooperative.

    In a plane crash into the Potomic, people who would have survived were unable to grab onto life preservers that were well within reach. This happened in the winter and the water was very cold. Due to hypothermia. their hands could not grasp these floating rings even when they landed right on top of them.

    In warmer water, the process of going from perfectly healthy survivor to helpless victim takes longer, but it does happen. IIRC, hypothermia, not drowning, is the major cause of death in boating accidents.

    Although I'm a big fan of self rescue system, I realize that they are really just intellectual exercises that may, but probably won't work in real world conditions.

    In the case of WING NUTS, an idea I mentioned in a previous post would probably have have not worked. Yes, the boat may have righted herself (if I did the math right) after the gale abated. But then, sadly, it would have been too late. The two victims would already be dead. Also, in the case of this incident, the surviving crew were fished out of the water by another competitor, which may or may not have been necessary if my dream system worked perfectly.

    My system may well be worth developing, anyway, as in the situation of a capsize in a short gale with no rescue boat around.

    If this type of boat is to continue to be accepted in this type of race, the exact causes of this capsize must be ferreted out, so remedies to keep future boats like this from capsizing can be devised.

    My hunch is that the poorly furled jib is a key component in this tragedy.
    If this boat had succeeded in rounding up into the wind, I doubt we would be having this discussion.

    The key to having a reasonably safe version of this boat (not one to sail in the Around Alone or across any ocean, but to sail in a near shore, off shore race, like the one being discussed) is to make it so it will either round up or fall off (run down wind) reliably when over pressed. Part of this can be by design and part can be by boat handling technique.

    I don't think there can be a better tribute to the two hearty souls who weren't afraid to use less conventional ideas to get more thrilling performance, that died in this incident, than to make this so.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2011
  5. MikeJohns
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    MikeJohns Senior Member


    Any offshore capable boat shouldn't experience a violent knockdown and inversion from such a relatively small beam sea. Transverse stability is the greatest vulnerability of any vessel and largely sets safety standards.

    .........the lightning; “the most intense” Dent had ever seen at sea. Finally came the wind, its gusts growing as strong as 45 knots while the waves that resulted reached as high as six feet.

    We didn’t expect it would get much worse. Then this one wave got us, picked us up and pushed us straight over.” WingNuts flipped to its right and capsized, Dent said.
     
  6. Willallison
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    Willallison Senior Member

    Indeed... and I'm definitely not suggesting that there shouldn't be any safety regs in place. Certainly the larger events are very proffessionally run.... but how is a small club to access the kind of expertise that is necessary to formulate those regs. Call me old fashioned, but I still say that the buck ultimately stops with the skipper...
     
  7. MikeJohns
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    MikeJohns Senior Member


    But isn't there one clearly missing paradigm here that keeps being subverted in the need for speed to beat your fellow racer by a minute over a mile.

    Long live the crew !

    For offshore sutability designers should keep the craft design within clearly defined safety limits. For example minimum AVS/LPS proportional to boat length.

    You are advocating bandaid measures to try and aid survival in boats highly dependent on the welfare society. An experimental class of go fast unsafe boats carefully shepherded by diligent rescue craft. Clearly they would not be sensible to take offshore in inclement weather at night. Vessels that invert for more than 3 minutes often drown some of their crew, it's common.

    What you seem to be overlooking is that vessels like the [edit not Farr] Kiwi 35 were conceived as go fast radical ULDB racers in the early 80's, they weren't a success and had a poor safety reputation even amongst experienced go fast racers and they capsize easily. They were condemned by people across the board as unsafe, no one with proper knowledge of their characteristics should have take one offshore into a forecast gale.

    Racing people need defined limits to keep the playing field fair otherwise the safety concious skipper will be beaten every time by the carefree skipper.

    Of interest:

    Wingnuts had considerable added ballast when the current owners purchased her, this was removed to make the boat lighter (faster) and put more reliance on crew weight. A larger sailplan was also put on the boat. Their cartoon which is horribly omniscient illustrates the whole mentality quite well:

    Also anyone should be able to see that if you presented a 6 foot breaking wave beam on to this boat that the wings will act to cause it to flip violently. It's a classic case of a craft being used outside of it's intended use.
     

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  8. MikeJohns
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    MikeJohns Senior Member


    Adoption ;)
     
  9. Paul B

    Paul B Previous Member

    What Farr 35 are you talking about?
     
  10. Doug Lord
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    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    The Perils of Edgy Weather in Any Boat


    I'm very curious as to which of these two stories is correct? Any help, links etc would be most appreciated......
    Posted a couple of pages ago from Meade Gougeon and the brother of the skipper, reported by Alan Block on SA:


    The Block quote is from here: http://forums.sailinganarchy.com/index.php?showtopic=124750&pid=3349498&st=25&#entry3349498 post 27
     
  11. MikeJohns
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    MikeJohns Senior Member

    Fruedian slip sorry. I corrected it to Kiwi 35 I just keep thinking about Farr being a Kiwi.
     
  12. Willallison
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    Willallison Senior Member

    Yes... that's the obvious solution, I agree. The problem (if one see's it as such) is that you wind up with "regulation creep"... Regs that are applicable to the circumstances of one race are adopted by the organisers of another in order to cover their butts. Perfectly understandable, of course, and not necessarily a bad thing if you only consider it from a safety point of view...
     
  13. MikeJohns
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    MikeJohns Senior Member

    I'll ask the person who emailed that to me. Apparently the boat had two large chunks of lead attached as cheeks just above the bulb which were removed by the current owners.

    Did you see this about Wingnuts ?

    "Even the owner who died posted on a sailing blog that it was 'tender' to sail and if 2 people moved onto the 3 ft wide wing, the wing went under water and if you moved around on that boat, you needed a person the same size to move in the opposite direction of you."
     
  14. Doug Lord
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    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    The Perils of Edgy Weather in Any Boat

    =============
    Mike, I'm sorry but that is factually incorrect-I have never advocated "bandaid" measures "to try and aid survival in boats highly dependent on the welfare state. An experimental class of go fast unsafe boats carefully sheperded by diligent rescue craft."
    What I did do is suggest that rules could be developed to allow high performance monohull race boats to race drawing from already existing rules such as the Open 60 Class rule, the multihull safety requirements of the Chi Mac authority and I should have added: from the Mini Class Rules.(SEE BELOW)

    =======================================
    The Mini Class-see rules pdf below

    As many people know the Mini Class is a 6.5 meter(21') ocean racing sailboat
    that races across the Atlantic and in other ocean racing venues.
    Astonishingly to me, there is no direct requirement that the boats are selfrighting from a turtled position as in the Open 60 class.
    A summary of the rules at "Large Angles of Stability": (Proto Class)

    --The boat must not have water flooding,
    --The boat must have positive stability with a 45kg(99lb) weight at the maximum "air draft" point(top of the mast)
    --Stability test conducted with the maximum air draft point at sea level.

    ================================
     

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  15. MikeJohns
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    MikeJohns Senior Member

    Will
    After the 98 S-H they don't tend to creep as much as they could have with regard to seaworthiness requirements, the creep was more for safety equipment and experience including training on how to be rescued by helicopters :)
     
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