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Gladwell's Line : Singlehanded trials...Am Cup update...18fters

by Richard Gladwell, 21 Mar 2019 19:06 PDT 22 March 2019
Beer o'clock for Honda Marine - the winner of Race 9 and the overall JJ Giltinan Championship - March 2019, Sydney Harbour © Michael Chittenden

The Evaluation Trials for the Men's and Women's One Person Dinghy have concluded in Valencia, Spain.

Of course, each participant in the trials says that their boat performed well and that they will wait for the Evaluation Panel to make their recommendation.

In the end, the call is likely to break down to a decision between the top performer at the trials (and other facets of the Evaluation process), and the incumbent - the Laser for Men and Laser Radial for Women.

World Sailing's Evaluation Trials seem to have been thoroughly conducted, with the Evaluation Panel clearly running through a process, which saw some odd combinations tried at times - however that is part of testing where the extremes must be tested as well as the middle ground, or more obvious options.

On the final day, three of the four boats in the evaluation sailed in a regatta against each other. The Laser is reported to have stayed ashore. Read into that what you will

One aspect that could be a significant factor in the trial was the big variation of experience amongst the sailing team. In past trials it has been the practice to allow "works teams" to participate in the trials so that the Evaluation Panel can see the boats being sailed at their very best. The current Laser World Champion, Pavlos Kontides was the most accomplished sailor in the team, some of the others didn't even have sailor profiles on the World Sailing website.

Italian sailing journalist Michele Tognozzi was at Valencia for the duration of the trials and reported that Kontides won whatever race he sailed in regardless of the boat that he was sailing.

Surprisingly the Laser option with one of the new rigs was not tested in Valencia against the other options. The existing Olympic singlehander sailed with its standard rig - which is a proper benchmark. It probably would have been useful for a fifth boat to be included - being the Laser with various new rigs.

In the end, the recommendation to the Equipment Committee is expected to be a choice between one of the three new boats and how they ranked, along with the cons of introducing a new boat — or running with the Laser, its known issues, multiple rigs and universality.

As stated, the Evaluation Trials seemed to have been run on a fair basis. There was some concern in the early days that there was no racing between the full fleet boat on boat - however, that was rectified in the latter stages of the Trial.

JJ Giltinan rocks Australians

In the JJ Giltinan Championship in Sydney, New Zealand crews gave the Australian 18ft fleet a sailing lesson, winning eight of the nine races sailed. Three New Zealand boats won races - Honda Marine, ASCC and C-Tech.

After the final race, we spoke to six-time JJ Giltinan winner, Andrew Buckland who along with Iain Murray and Don Buckley were dominant in Color 7 in the late '70s and early 1980s.

His comments are contained in a rather lengthy piece in this edition - and can be read by clicking here

Regardless of whether or not you sail 18fters, Buckland's comments are worth a serious read to understand how you put a campaign together, particularly in the development of speed and the incremental process of boat tuning and the need to spend hours on the water. back in the day, Color 7 would do 100 days on the water in a season, ahead of this years JJ's some of the top Australian boats tried to get away with just four days sailing/racing before the regatta.

One of the strengths of the New Zealand fleet has been the injection of some of the 49er sailors - with Josh Porebski and Jack Simpson going from fifth and sixth in the recent 49er Nationals to being fourth in the 2019 JJ Giltinan. That was a step back from their second place in last year's JJ's where the then-rookie crew were runners up to Honda Marine. They were the dominant boat in the back end of the regatta - scoring two wins and two second placings in the final four races.

Honda Marine (David McDiarmid, Matt Steven and Brad Collins) returned a five-win and two second place scorecard, dropping a fifth place as their worst score. Statistically, that is a very hard scorecard to beat in any class. As it was, Honda Marine won the series with a race to spare. They were also the lightest crew of the top five.

Buckland's comments about the 49er class, and the degree of difficulty to sail it compared to an 18ft skiff, make interesting reading.

Maybe others in New Zealand and Sydney, could follow the example of the ASCC crew - as the JJ's fits into a bit of a dead spot in the sailing calendar for the Olympic classes. Plus the JJ's is a top international regatta just the other side of the Tasman for Kiwis amd a home event for the Sydneysiders.

America's Cup spat

The America's Cup continues to be in a state of flux, given the questions asked of the Arbitration Panel relating the acceptance of three Late Challenges by the Defender, Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

Entirely what the fuss was all about is a little hard to determine definitively.

Two of the Challenges from Royal Malta Yacht Club and Long Beach Yacht Club were unconditional, and provided their yachts clubs complied with the strictures of the Protocol which governs the 36th America's Cup, Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron was obliged to accept them.

The third, from DutchSail led by twice America's Cup winner Simeon Tienpont (NED), apparently had conditions. Those were believed to include a request for an America's Cup World Series event based at Scheveningen the marina close to The Hague, finishing City for the 2017/18 Volvo Ocean Race.

There were three applications (from RNZYS, CVS and NYYC) before the Arbitration Panel which were aimed at regularising the Protocol provisions - sorting out entry fee payment dates, and whether the Dutch were allowed to enter with two yacht clubs and similar issues - none of which were entry-shattering. Quite why they required the submission of over 60 documents made some wonder whether other agendas were in play.

Almost two weeks before the Arbitration Panel was due to meet in a formal session, the entry fee and performance bond payment dates were already resolved between the Challenger of Record and Defender with an agreement signed on February 28.

The Arbitration Panel ruled that the two Clubs were entitled to make that modification of the Protocol.

The upshot of the Arbitration Panel's two rulings was that the three Late Challenges were determined to have been validly accepted by RNZYS. Also that the three late teams were entitled to vote on any Class rule changes while they remained Challengers. It was also determined that the arrangements determined by the Challenger of Record and Defender for Entry Fees and Performance Bonds were valid. The remaining point of issue was whether the Dutch could enter under the auspices of two yacht clubs. To the surprise of no-one, it was held that they could not, and the Dutch will now sail under the banner of the Royal Netherlands Yacht Club - the senior of the two clubs they nominated in their Challenge.

The day after the Decision announcement, America's Cup organisers issued a media statement confirming the decisions of the Arbitration Panel, and also commented to the effect that there were concerns about Malta Altus Challenge's being able to continue. The Malta Altus Challenge spokesmen confirmed those comments, but as of now, there is nothing definitive either way. Malta's woes are believed to be money related. That minor issue aside, the Maltese are understood to have a very strong team, and it will be very disappointing if they do exit the 36th America's Cup.

In the same statement, the America's Cup holders also had a crack at New York Yacht Club (NYYC) over its decision to keep its Application running with the Arbitration Panel after there had been a settlement reached between Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Circolo della Vela Sicilia (CVS). That settlement was accepted as being valid by the Arbitration Panel. A few hours later in a media release issued by the Challenger of Record, CVS supported NYYC, or any team's right to lodge an application with the Arbitration Panel.

Some clue as to the reason for NYYC's persistence came in the Case 004 decision where the Arbitration Panel noted, "it is not enough for another competitor to say that it will suffer prejudice by having an additional competitor".

And on another point made by at least one of the Late Challengers: "While it is recognised that the Applications and the process that followed may have caused at least delay and potential harm to the Late Entry Challengers they have benefitted from both the certainty of a settlement and from a deferral of payment of the Late Entry fee otherwise payable under the Protocol."

Outside of the Hearing process it was claimed privately that the fact that Applications had been lodged questioning the validity of their entry, had hurt the Late Challengers, at the time they sought support from sponsors and sympathetic backers.

There will be more to come on these matters and particularly if teams miss payment dates for Entry Fees, Late Fees, Performance Bonds, and now their share of Arbitration Panel costs - the latter have to be paid by March 28, 2019.

Good sailing!

Richard Gladwell
NZ Editor

From the Sail-World NZ newsletter of March 20, 2019 for the full newsletter and all the stories that go with this commentary click here

To get your copy of Sail-World NZ's latest newsletter delivered to your email address click here

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