Declaration of Independence

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North American A Class sailors recently voted to Remove Rule 8 as a constraint during their events.
The title of this blog post, and the parallels drawn below, are of course hyperbolic. But the moral is real: We would do well to remember that a small group with specific interests trying to impose their will on a larger group usually isn’t a sustainable arrangement.

With my apologies for editing one of the most important texts in history, here is a tongue-in-cheek look at why the move was necessary and successful:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men… are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Foiling.
That to secure these rights, Technical Committees are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the Sailors.
That whenever any Form of Measures Guidelines becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it. 
When a long train of abuses and usurpations, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their Boatspeed and Stability.
Such has been the patient sufferance of these A Class Sailors; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Measurement.

Hyperbole aside, this initiative could finally return certainty to a class that has experienced some turbulent times, but is nonetheless popular and loved.
It will hopefully lead to other Nations following suit, eventually bringing about an official change to the International Rule.

I have previously stated that the current Rule, if interpreted consistently, though not perfect, allowed sufficient freedom to keep developing in the historical spirit of the A Class. Such development being key to remaining relevant as the foremost big fleet development beach cat.

However, for reasons that may be genuine or self interested, a small vocal group has insisted on applying what they view as ‘the spirit of the rule’ as they claim was intended. Not as written.
The result has been inconsistency, uncertainty, and growing anachronism, as other classes, one-designs, and now even cruising boats pursue the sensible path. While the A struggles with elaborate, inefficient and dangerous rule cheats.

A Few Examples of the Plain Wording Being Abandoned

‘AND’ does not equal ‘OR’.
This hardly needs explaining. Consider the following sentences taken from established jurisprudence:
– Men over 30 and single shall receive admission.
– Men over 30 or single shall receive admission.
Plainly the latter entitles men under 30 to receive admission whilst the former does not.
Read Rule 8.2 and draw your own conclusion.

‘All positions’ cannot include what happens before or after racing (‘racing’ is defined by ISAF).
On the beach, we remove our straight, curved, or bent foils, and rest them on the trampoline. Often we place them so they overhang the side of the boat.
Similarly, we lower our sail right past the lower limit band.

For that matter, we might lower the mast by pivoting it forward so it grossly exceeds maximum overall length.
All such actions would not be permitted during racing, the only time when our equipment must be rule compliant.
In order to indicate limits to permitted positions, contrasting bands are painted on.
Though equipment can travel past such bands (a subset of ‘all positions’), our honour (plus the possibility of being seen) keeps us compliant during racing.

This is accepted even for ‘newfangled’ L and T dagger rudders, where full retraction breaches Rule 3.
Standard practice applies throughout: If you don’t do it during a race, it is fine.
Should foils somehow be held to a different standard because, in the minds of some, arbitrarily perceived intent trumps consistency and an expectation of objectivity?

Interlinked appendages (such as two rudders connected by a crossbar), both reacting to forces exerted by wind and water, are accepted and common. Join the dots…

Going Forward

Enough said on the way Rule 8 was stretched and tortured.
Removing it makes sense for two principal reasons.

1) It is the only ‘non-dimensional’ rule in a Class that is otherwise governed by ‘boxes’.
Limiting length, beam, mass, sail area, and other key dimensions keeps absolute performance close among different designs, but allows experimentation with novel configurations. All within clear limits.

2) Freeing up how foils may be mounted makes it much cheaper and easier to upgrade an older boat to close the gap with newer ones.

Reiterating Our Conclusion

I believe manufacturers should cater to market demand rather than agitate for rule changes.
There should be an expectation of consistency in the application of a published and valid rule, so that all who invest time and money in our great sport can do so on a level playing field.
When things become plainly untenable, then we should support change.

The message is a positive one: Get out there and develop. Things are looking up.
To abuse another great historical statement:
This is the end of the beginning!

Examples of equipment that can potentially exceed measurement limits in some positions,
but is accepted provided the range of motion is limited during racing.
The most common (not shown) being mast ‘black’ bands.
Singling out certain types of foil is inconsistent.
Diagram taken from current Measurers Guidelines.
Clearly the measurement 5.79m has no basis anywhere in the Class Rules.
This is one of several guideline that effectively alters the Rules, adding to them without due process. A pattern?
Also from the official Guidelines.
I superimposed the green foil which is identical to the blue ones in the Guidelines, but shown at an intermediate position not included in measurement.
Foils that exceed rule limits between measurement points are specifically permitted, as long as the breach does not happen during racing.
In this case the appendage would presumably not be retractable during a race.
So to exclude other types of movable but not retractable appendages is untenable.
An L foil inserted from below is obviously not retractable. Therefore it should not be bound by Rule 8.2.
Removing Rule 8 eliminates these niceties. Life will be simpler as a result.

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