Before you read this, please read Peter Cyrax’s post and the replies.
Personally, I don’t think we need significant changes to our Class Rules and Peter’s comments imply a very detailed revision. Our current rules have served us well for thirty years. My comments about ‘ethos’ are, I think, valid.
However, technology and times move on and I would like to initiate a discussion initially about the following three points and please respond if you agree or not:
Guard Rails: Dyneema (a product name for a hi-tech rope) has many of the properties of a 4mm steel stranded wire and is lighter. You can tie it. Additionally, lots of Sonatas use a webbing strap between the aft and middle stanchion in place of the ruled wire for reasons of comfort. The overall result of a Dyneema, (or wire) and strap guard rail is a minor decrease in overall weight and an improved comfort for the helm and maybe cockpit when hiking. It’s not significantly performance related, but I think it is an advance. I would support that change.
Wind Instruments: Peter is correct that the price of adding wind input datas has fallen. But it is still an expense and why would you want them? My experience of Sonata racing around the UK has been that instrumented wind information on the race course is irrelevant to our racing experience. You get wind angles and a reading of the boat’s heading in relation to the apparent wind. From which you can get COG and SOG according to the wind. In a tight fleet, racing windward/leewards that’s irrelevant and unnecessary. Even on the RTI, our GPS provides all the info we need to get from one corner to the next asap. I think this is unnecessary but if others want to stick cones on their masthead and wires to connect them, so be it.
Anchors and safety kit in general: Personally, I think the rules as they stand define the anchor and it’s warps and chain absolutely OK. The other safety rules are adequate for most Sonata racing. The rules do not prohibit carrying extra safety kit. They simply state that, as a ‘Closed Rule’, if it is not specified, then it is not permitted for racing. I would support a change that allowed skippers to add whatever safety kit they considered necessary for the race they were about to take part in, should they consider it necessary, without detriment to their class status. For instance, if a Sonata was to undertake the feeder race to the Scottish Series in Tarbert leaving Kip or Helensburgh in a forecast 40knts (this has happend), if they took a liferaft on board (not in the Class Rules) to ensure the ultimate safety of the crew and won the race, they should be allowed that win. In a lesser way, the questions about Mobile Phones are similar. For information given, fine. For information received, take care not to infringe the SI’s. I have asked Peter to phrase a rule ( see above) which would encompass the above without giving Carte Blanche to abuse. I hope he can devise something we all can agree with.
I came to this cold turkey, with no knowledge of the Sonata Fleet, so I read the Sonata Rules as a purely formal document, just as they are written, without the Class Ethos.
If you add in the Class Ethos – which as far as I can make out means that things that are obvious, sensible and seamanlike (but not primarily intended to improve performance) are permitted – then the rules read very differently, and many of my minor points become quite unnecessary.
I certainly support Chris’s suggestion that you should always be permitted to carry additional safety equipment. That’s an excellent example – read the rules literally and I’m quite certain other safety equipment is prohibited: add in Class Ethos and equally clearly it’s allowed.
I also agree Chris about Dyneema and Webbing guard rails. I think it’s safer and a lot more comfortable…
And I’d like to be allowed to fit wind instruments.
Finally, I think we should permit electronic compasses, not least because a significant portion of the fleet now uses them.
I think this can all be accommodated with very minor changes. I’ll work on that and post again when I have the suggested wording.
I have to admit that the concept of the Class Ethos is proving quite hard to capture in formal language.
The Best I can come up with is to add a 2nd sentence after the bit that says “if it does not say, you can: you can’t” so that it would now read:
IF THESE RULES DO NOT SAY THAT YOU CAN – THEN YOU CAN NOT.
However, notwithstanding the above, anything that makes the boat safer, stronger or more seaworthy, and which neither changes the exterior of the hull and deck nor directly improves performance, is permitted.
Just a couple of thoughts (less pedantic this time) about the rules.
Firstly about the class ethos paragraph. I don’t actually this is necessary to solve the problem of extra safety equiptment. All that is really needed is a simple wording change in the equiptment list section. I’ll post what I’d suggest underneath. Modifying the rule to conform to expectation and common practice makes more sense to me than to issue a preamble giving a broad scope for the interpretation of the rule.
Secondly, on to Chris’ specific proposals for change.
-Dyneema guardrails are allowed under the ISAF Offshore Special Regulations for Catagory 4 (round the cans racing). I personally think they are less safe because they do not visibly degrade but suffer high UV degredation over a season or two, however if they are sufficient for ISAF Cat 4 then they are good enough for us too. I think the webbing straps are safer, but they are not allowed under the ISAF rules. Boats who want to race on IRC shouldn’t use them.
-Wind Instruments are already allowed because mast and hull fittings are optional once the required list in the rules is completed. This includes anything else one might want to mount on the hull. You could clarify this specific case by explicitly stating it, but I don’t actually think it is necessary.
-The question of extra safety kit would be covered in the proposal to change the wording I’ll put below.
Finally below is my attempt to modify the equiptment list so that the majority of useful kit is explicitly allowed, rather than there being debate about what it’s primary purpose is. What I’ve done is to retain the mandatory equiptment list as a minimum, state that any other equiptment is optional, and then to include a list where anything the committee specifically doesnt want on sonatas could be explicitly prohibited. You could do the same for the internal and external hull fittings and also mast fittings where currently once the minimums are met, anything else is optional.
C.3 PERSONAL EQUIPMENT
(a) The boat shall be equipped with personal buoyancy for each crew member to the minimum standard ISO 12402-5.
( All other personal equiptment is optional
Competitor advertising is permitted as per ISAF regulation 20.
C.5 PORTABLE EQUIPMENT
(1) Fire extinguisher; readily accessible and suitable for marine use.
(2) Bucket – minimum capacity 9lts with a minimum 1.5 m lanyard securely attached.
(3) Anchor of not less than 6 kg in weight together with a minimum 2m of 4.5mm chain and with not less than 20m of line of not less than 10mm in diameter
(4) Hand pump.
(5) Marine steering compass with a minimum of 60mm card. Correctly installed and adjusted.
(6) Two saloon berth mattresses made from foam rubber or similar and upholstered in fabric or vinyl. Each mattress shall be not less than 1830mm x 600mm x 100mm. The mattresses shall be positioned on the saloon berths, one to port and one to starboard.
(7) Chemical or marine toilet.
(8) A cooker in the galley area or correctors subject to D.3 (b(2)).
(9) A marine hand held VHF radio.
(10) Engine of minimum weight: 13kg. Outboard engines must be stowed securely beneath the cockpit at all times except when intended for or just subsequent to use.
All other equiptment is optional, subject to restrictions in ©.
Insert anything that the class committee feels should not be carried on boats.
You have to put a space between b and ) or it gets interpreted as a smiley
I’m in broad agreement. In particular this wording of yours deals with a whole host of points – tools, winch handles, wind instruments, log, electronic compass, galley equipment, mobile phones, etc. – very neatly:
(b ) OPTIONAL
All other equipment is optional, subject to any restrictions in C.5 (c ).
(c ) PROHIBITED.
Insert anything that the class committee feels should not be carried on boats.
I’d be surprised if (c ) proves necessary. Most racing skippers put there effort into removing anything they can to save weight in my experience .
But just my thoughts:
I’ve never seen dyneema fail, but I have seen ss or galvanized wire fail quite suddenly without warning. I’ve also
seen people hurt by ss guard wires because it does not have enough give in it. I’m much happier with dyneema.
I’m sure you are right about UV degredation even so. Maybe we should require dyneema rope to retain its cover to protect it.
Whatever we agree on, I think re-phrasing C.6.3 (a ) 4 will be easy enough.
I take it you think that Wind instruments are allowed by virtue of F.3.3 (b ) 1
All other fittings are optional
I agree that’s what it SAYS: but I have a horrible suspicion that’s not what was intended.
To clarify this we might consider rephrasing F.3.3 (b ) 1 to say:
All other rigging fittings are optional
(because that’s what I think the original rule intended to say – if not I’m sure someone will correct me )
Nothing else is required – as your change to C.5 allows all other equipment.
Minor drafting issues – the title of C.5 is Portable Equipment and I think it should be just plain Equipment as some of the items are not portable.
By the same token I think:
Marine hand held VHF Radio
should be just plain:
Marine VHF Radio
though I suspect most people will choose to carry a hand held VHF.
I think the anchor should be securely stowed like the outboard and other equipment. Indeed, it’s top of my lisy of things that SHOULD be securely stowed.
I think something like a “Class Ethos” rule is required somewhere, just to allow you to do things like strengthen the bomb bays and shroud plates, or provide for secure stowage etc, possibly in D.2.3
I agree with Peter’s interpretation, I don’t think they are currently allowed. However, there is a case for explicitly allowing them. As Peter says, they are now a bit cheaper: £192 for a NASA, but seem to go up to £500.
One design, I can’t seeing it make too much difference, apart from the period when some boats have them and others don’t. I guess it could make Sonata’s a bit more competative under handicap, where I guess most Sonata’s race or will do during their lifetime. That could be a good reason to allow them.
If they are being used and no one has spoken out against them, then these should be considered too. I think they are about the same price as a Wind Instrument? These could potentially make a bigger increase in performance than Wind Instruments. Allowing both would land owners with a large bill to keep up with though, but perhaps that should not be a consideration and allow owners to catch up at their own speed.
Dyneema Guard Rails:
Agree with Ed. If ISAF Cat 4 say you can, then there isn’t really a case for not doing it. Just wish I hadn’t bought a new set last year
Is there any leeway to making rules open for equipment and closed for hull and rigging? Define the minimum and explicitly ban things that we don’t want when it comes to equipment and keep closed rules when it comes to measurements, sails, rigging etc.
Copied from Facebook:
Rebecca Guéno (1) Not keen on the Dyneema suggestion; (2) Skippers should be permitted to carry any extra safety kit at their discretion; (3) Don’t see the need for additional wind instruments but I guess this should be discretionary … (4) Should be “VHF” not “Hand Held VHF” … We tend to carry both fixed and hand-held most of the time; (5) I know it’s petty but I don’t see the need for section C.5(a)(6) unless going offshore; (6) Have you ever seen a sonata which complies with C.5(a)(7)?
Just had a quick scan through all of this. Several points spring to mind, but first some history.
A few years ago, we as a Class were asked if we wanted to remain as a National Class. If we did we had to conform to the Equipment rules of Sailing standard, introduced by ISAF and overseen in the UK by the RYA. Our rules previously had been accepted by all but did not conform, so we couldn’t continue as a National Class. So it began, many a long hour pouring over the rules in order to (largely) rearrange them to follow the ERS format. They were then submitted to a consultant who made a few amendments and they successfully passed the test. We were allowed to keep our National status. During this process, I think a number of issues have been mislaid, or simply forgotten.
Somewhere in all of this we have lost the Electronic compass rule. These should have been included in the ‘new’ Class rules. They have been allowed for several years now.
As for the guardrails, somewhere I remember webbing sections were allowed, but had to be backed up by a wire strop, I think this was to allow for catastrophic failure of the stitching dumping you overboard.
Dyneema lifelines – knotting significantly reduces the strength, care needs to be taken to make sure the residual strength is adequate for lifelines. Splicing is a possible answer, but can everyone do it properly? Failing that should it be done professionally and if so, will they be any cheaper. I cannot see any real advantage.
As for wind instruments, I sit on the fence. Personally I race my Sonata on short courses. I have no use for Wind info of any kind. I can see the direction and gauge the speed well enough. We can change the rule following a proposal to do so and it going through the usual channels.
I’m a big fan of the Class and of the Ethos therein. Whilst I appreciate that the Rules as written may appear to forbid kettles, clothes and extra safety equipment, it is common sense to me, and historically, everyone in the Sonata Class, that these rules suffice. Bear in mind that The ERS is administered by ISAF who, one can assume, deem them to be adequate. They and I would not want to complicate the Class rules any further and be bogged down in tiny detail, however if thats whats wanted, it can be done. Incidentally, has anyone ever experienced a protest of indeed any disagreement of any kind due to the supposed inadequacies of the rules. If so perhaps we can tidy that one up whilst we’re at it.
All suggestions are always welcome. I intend to review all the ideas put forward so far, and indeed route out the supporting documentation concerning the electronic compasses and guardrails.
Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this topic and particularly to Martin who has provided the answer to some of the ‘missing’ rule changes. Two conclusions have, in my view, emerged:
Firstly, the last thing (sorry, bad phrasing) we want to do is jeopardise our Class Status by mucking about with the Rules unnecessarily with additions and re-phrasing if we can avoid it. This would involve, I guess, re-submission to RYA and checks to see if we still conformed to ERS.
This discussion was instigated by Peter who identified an ever-increasing number of anomalies some of which were sensible, radios, and others involving detail of interpretation and phrasing. Peter admits, (above) that an ‘Ethos’ clause renders a lot of his detailed points unnecessary. Once started down the detail route, we could spend weeks pouring over phrases and interpretation. Do we really want to do that – ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it’.
Secondly, it is obvious that individual owners have added to their boats in possible contravention of the “Closed Rules” (If it doesn’t say you can, then you can’t) but, as Martin says ” has anyone ever experienced a protest of indeed any disagreement of any kind due to the supposed inadequacies of the rules?” When blatant rule manipulation has happened eg – sail/crew swaps – we have stamped on it. When Tack Tics arrived, we permitted them, after consideration. (Ok, we have since lost the rule, but we could put it back, but see below)
This is a good example. Mark Taylor, when scruteneering, approves a Tack tic compass provided our rule about compasses is also complied with. (see Digi Compass Post elsewhere in this Forum). A Tack Tic can definitely be considered as performance-enhancing kit. On the other hand, glassing-in strong points to secure your anchor/battery/outboard won’t make you go faster, but it could, very sensibly, prevent damage when knocked down – Peter’s suggestion.
The way forward, I think, is to separate out any additions/mods/kit which are fairly obviously ‘performance enhancing’ from additions/mods/kit which are not. Patently, there will have to be an element of interpretation as to where this line is drawn and that is what I was trying to get at with ‘Ethos”. Peter’s definition above is close. I think a slight re-phrasing to include ‘in contravention of the spirit of the Class Rules to ensure fair competition’ or some such might work. After all, the Racing Rules include a “fairness” rule which over rules all others. And the Sonata Class, to date, have been rather good at being fair.
The actual wording, as proposed by Edward above, under OPTIONAL, with a re-phrased addition to include “fairness” would do it, I think. That way we could totally avoid a great deal of detailed definition. Does anyone have experience of how other classes manage this situation?
Then all we have to do is consider what additions we might want to make to include the ‘performance enhancing’ items. I suggest we take these one by one as separate forum topics, and I have started new posts on a couple, because there will be opinions on each and, also, more and more items will arise as technology leaps ever onwards. I have also separated out the Guardrails and Safety items for the same reason. If you agree with me, let’s try to conclude this post with your comments on my thoughts above and move to make a minor adjustment to the wording of the Rules. Or not. I await the next round!
Thanks for that explanation. Like you and Chris I certainly don’t want to run into any possibility of ending up with rules in conflict with the ERS.
I’m in favour of the class ethos, but I also feel that the less we have to rely on it, the easier the rules are to understand, especially for new entrants.
The solution, I’m sure, is to make simple /small changes to the rules to bring them into line with the class ethos wherever this is easy.
Almost all the apparent issues disappear with Edward Harrison’s proposed changes to Sections C.3 and C.5 above.
Textually these changes are not large, and in fact simplify the rules.
The apparent prohibition of clothes, kettles and safety equipment makes a good case study. Our class rules only state COMPLIANCE with the ERS, which are in any case pretty brief: so I’m quite certain that ON PAPER those things really are prohibited. Nobody would take such a prohibition seriously, of course.
But Edwards on-line addition to C.3:
(b ) All other personal equipment is optional
plus his simplification of C.5
(b ) OPTIONAL
All other equipment is optional, subject to restrictions in C.5 (c )
completely resolves all these issues.
The Sonata Class Rules are still far more restrictive than most yachts race to, and they have no issue with ERS compliance. I doubt we have a problem here…
I’m glad you think my first stab at a “Class Ethos” phrase was close.
And I take your paint about Fair Competition.
So how about:
However, notwithstanding the above, anything that makes the boat safer, stronger or more seaworthy, and which neither changes the exterior of the hull and deck nor directly improves performance, nor violates the principal of fair and equal competition, is permitted.
I also see you want to include the Class Ethos in Edward’s proposed changes to Sections C.3 and C.5
So may I suggest:
(c ) PROHIBITED
Any equipment that violates the principal of fair and equal competition, is prohibited
Peter, Can i make a suggestion, that you take a copy of the Class rules(availiable in word format) and rewrite them as you see fit then post this on here, and not in small chunks then we can re read and post our comments, as it is getting quite confusing as you rewrite it post by post
as chris said at the agm we have 100ish members ( i think near that) that all have not said a word about the rules for the past 30 years, then now this debate comes up,
In my oppionion the rules are perfectly addiquate and the racing is fair and true, and the racing is tight and even,
I only have access to the class rules as a pdf which I can’t edit.
If anybody can tell me where to get them as a word doc I’d be delighted