I have almost finished with the work involved in running the 2009 nationals. This year was certainly the busiest nationals I have had to organise, partly due to the fact that the class has never held a regatta at Eden but predominantly because we had many new parents and crews which required more time to assist and manage over a rather anxious and short period.
I received some wonderful emails from various Clubs and individuals expressing their gratitude and appreciation of how much they enjoyed the regatta and how well it came off in some considerably difficult conditions at times. It all of course was a team effort made up of many clubs' participation and volunteer work for which I am enormously thankful for their efforts. The regatta involved over 600 people. I'm sure Eden appreciated the fact the Flying Eleven class pumped around $1/2m into their economy and most of us left Eden with fond memories of the event. There were of course some detractors to this glossy picture.
As the National President, it is difficult to please all. I will defend our propriety at all times and that of our children in this class, something that has unfortunately been questioned of late. Our regattas are conducted with utmost fairness to all competitors; their integrity is something we seriously govern. The nature of this sport is such that cannot be truly and fully understood by all. It is intricate and technical by nature. We are principled by our F11 Codes Of Behaviour provided by the Australian Sports Commission. Reckless innuendo and ill conceived comment can unfairly destroy all the good work people and organisations like ours have build up over the years - literally overnight. It is imperative that everyone abides by the Codes of Behaviour as our children depend on it and deserve to have an enjoyable experience in the sport and encourage them to remain involved throughout their lives. It is very easy to read and understand!
Again I direct you to speak to your coach who is deemed to be an expert, one who understands these intricacies and can competently advise you from a wealth of experience and training if you have concerns. Enough said by me for now on the matter.
Below is the content of an email from Peter Moor, and with his permission I have published it here for all to benefit from.
Eden Review by PRO Peter Moor
More so than at any other F11 regatta I have been involved with over the past 12 years or so the Eden Nationals appeared to be subject to varied expectations from competitors and supporters. Perhaps this is the inevitable effect of the variable conditions to which the regatta was subject. When conditions are ideal such discrepancies in expectations are unlikely to arise.
Many competitors and supporters come to a regatta without any expectation or chance of finishing in the top 10, they come for a variety of reasons, experience, a holiday, friends, etc. These entries, the overwhelming majority, are usually not too concerned if races are started or continued in marginal conditions for fairness, or, if last minute wind shifts make the set course or start line imperfect. Perhaps many of them may not even be aware of these imperfections. It takes some skill, experience and knowledge to work out if there is a favoured end of a start line, and many get it consistently and hopelessly wrong, or to understand that their unusually good or poor result was the consequence of chance.
It appeared to me in Eden that many preferred races to start on time, not be postponed or abandoned as they have other plans and interests or they do not wish to be kept out on the water any longer than absolutely necessary. Perhaps, as they have no expectation of great success, if conditions are marginal for fairness it is of no concern, and may even be in their interests as such conditions mean the possibility of a chance good result.
Similarly most onlookers and supporters appeared to prefer not to have to wait around for conditions to improve or a race committee to tweek a start line or course for perfection. Volunteers assisting on the race course may also not be too keen to spend long hours waiting for conditions to improve.
On the other hand most of the top 10, and their supporters, may prefer delays rather than race in marginal conditions where their skill and experience may not be rewarded.
So in such a regatta where conditions are difficult a race officer can be in some dilemma about how to manage the situation. Expedite races in marginal conditions and perhaps the fairness and outcome of the regatta is compromised and the top crews are unimpressed, delay and a substantial number become discontent.
For my part I am firmly in the "prefer to wait for better conditions or delay so the start line or course can be adjusted appropriately" category. As a competitor I would far rather depend on my experience and skill than race in conditions where chance factors play a greater role, unless of course I knew that I had no chance in which case I might prefer conditions to be more marginal. Perhaps better sailors than me might be happy in either conditions, confident that even in chancy conditions they can succeed!
My approach as a race officer would always be as stated at the briefing: 1, if conditions are marginal for fairness or safety I will probably postpone, 2, if conditions shortly after the start become very unfair I will probably abandon, and,3, if there are unidentified boats at the start, always possible even with a pin end boat, especially where nearby boats screen boats further down the line, I will probably call a General Recall.
With the highly variable and sometimes marginal conditions experienced much of the time at Eden a race officer with this attitude is inevitably going to displease if not the majority then many. Nevertheless although in retrospect some decisions made at Eden may have been unfortunate I still believe that fairness and safety should be the major consideration even when this does not suit many.
Tips for young players!
For what it is worth, some observations from many years of involvement with F11's that coaches, clubs and competitors might benefit from noting:
1. In fresh conditions, downwind especially, many in the back half of the fleet are sitting too far forward. This is not only slow but dangerous downwind as the F11 has very little rocker which combined with the wide flat buoyant aft sections means the bow digs in easily, making steering very difficult. The bear away at the top mark in fresh conditions can be made far faster, easier and safer if the crew sit well aft as the boat bears away.
2. When bearing away at the top mark many try to set kites while close reaching, this is fine in light airs but dangerous, difficult and slow in fresh conditions. It is much easier and safer to bear away hard, almost to a run, set the kite and then think about coming up to the course to the gybe mark. Similarly at the gybe, run, then gybe, then run, before attempting to come up to the new course. Many boats at the back half of the fleet can gybe OK on the running leg but come to grief at the gybe mark. So the message should be, "when you get to a gybe mark in strong winds think of it as a gybe while running square". If the gybe takes a few minutes longer, not much time is lost as the bottom reach will be faster and if too tight towards the bottom mark, 2 sail reach the last bit. All much quicker than capsizing in a wild gybe the moment the boat gets to the gybe mark.
3. Similarly we note time and time again that most boats sail very high on the first reach, often fighting the gusts instead of running away with them. Then as they approach the gybe mark they end up running almost square. Some in the back half of the fleet probably sail 15% longer course as each boat sail slightly higher than the one in front. The shortest distance between 2 marks is a straight line, and usually it is faster on a reach to sail slightly low especially in the gusts in fresh conditions, only coming up high of the straight line close to the gybe mark in preparation for the gybe. A far better game plan is to run away hard while setting the kite then sail low for a while to ensure good separation from windward boats, easy to do as most will sail very high. On approaching the gybe mark the low boats will have nearly twice the speed. At most venues the first reach is close to land, so a low course is more likely to be in more wind. Avoid the wind shadow, "low is the go"!
4. Upwind in fresh conditions very few boats appear to pull down on the cunningham or pull out on the foot to flatten the sail, or pull up the centreboard slightly. These adjustments not only make the boat easier to sail but faster.
Actually all really Sailing 101 and well documented by the likes of Manfred Curry back in the 1930's!
Hope this helps!