Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships is currently underway in Fremantle, Australia. Before the start of racing the sailors’ boats went through an extensive measurement process.
Boat weight, sail height and rig measurements and sails are just two a few of the things that are checked by the measurement team headed by Chairman, Dick Batt.
For the Finn boats, they undergo an extensive procedure that involves a unique method known as the swing test. Introduced in 1972 it involves each Finn being swung from a beam, and the period of each swing is measured. The test helps the measurers ensure that the weight distribution on the boat is fair. Essentially the test and its restrictions cleverly limit the amount of weight builders can remove from the ends of the boat.
Andre Blasse (AUS) is the Finn International Measurer in Perth and had the responsibility of checking the 72 boats competing for World Championship glory. 'We check the weight of the boat as they are quite heavy,' said Blasse. 'With the centreboard and everything else the boat weighs 116kg and we then have a swing test which makes sure that the boats have a similar centre of gravity. So we pick the boats up and swing them on an oscillation for timing. We do that twice and then we have a formula that they have to fit within.
'It makes it a very fair class so they don’t have any advantage by spending any more money.'
All of the classes on show at Perth 2011 have class rules, and for measurement they limit how many masts, booms, spinnaker poles, sails, centreboards and rudders that sailors can use during the regatta. For the Finn class they are allowed two sails, two masts and two booms. If both of them break then there may be special dispensation granted to allow the use of further equipment.
Blasse said, 'I make sure that all the equipment is all the same so everyone has similar equipment. We check that the sails fit within the rules, we check the weight, balance and size of the mast to make sure everyone is using the same equipment. The idea is to try and make sure that no one has an advantage with equipment.'
Headed by Chairman of the Measurement Team Dick Batt, with six International Measurers and six National Measurers, the equipment team have relied on a strong contingent of volunteers at Perth 2011 and Blasse had a good team surrounding the 72 Finn boats. 'The measurement process went well as we have a great team of volunteers helping,' he added. 'We had five people from Perth and Fremantle helping and they were fantastic. A couple of them are sailors and a couple are non-sailors so it was really good to get them involved. It’s all voluntary and they give us their time to help sailing.'
Following inspection on shore the team take to the water and undertake post-race inspections of all items of equipment that went through the initial stage. ISAF Chief Measurer Dick Batt said, 'On the water we are checking that everything is as it should be. If they have equipment they need to change because they’ve damaged it or maybe torn a spinnaker then we are on hand to approve the replacements.
'We are there in the background making sure the technical side of things is in shape so they can rely on it being a fair competition.'
Only a handful of Women’s Match Races were sailed today in Perth following electrical storms and a forecast that states that it will continue through the evening. The Men’s 470, Women’s RS:X, Finn and Laser Radial sailors were unable to get any racing in but will resume tomorrow.
The Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships website
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