Old 13th September 2008, 08:53 AM   #1
John_O
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Default FW Worlds Port Tack Starts

It appears the protest committee at the Formula Worlds is being kept busy working late into the night. The worst offenders are the port tack kamikaze starters. This trend has been increasing particularly when a large competitive fleet lines up on the start line such as at the FW Worlds in Portimao (85 competitors in each start). From a spectator's view on the beach, it looks like a medieval battle with the port tack cavalry charging head-on into the starboard tack cavalry with 5 secs to the gun following by carnage when they meet. The crashes that result can be seen in some of the photos on formulawindsurfing.org. While there is a race committee boat stationed at the leeward start buoy, the race officials rarely DSQ competitors involved in port tack crashes leaving it to competitors to protest. Many competitors in the middle of the fleet choose not to lodge a protest as it means a late night and even if they win, the redress awarded is average points that is unlikely to change their overall score.

With the usual ISAF course of rounding the windward buoy to port, the port tack starter has an advantage with one less tack (approx 70 metres) if he makes it through; and particularly when there are favourable wind shifts along the shore as occurs at Portimoa. Quite often the top sailors are among the offenders in this game of bluff. Some of the average sailors follow their example and do not have the speed/control to avoid collisions.

It is now time for FW race officials/administrators to look at this problem before a competitor is seriously hurt. One solution would be to place a buoy 100 metres upwind of the start that would force the port tack starters to cross onto starboard to observe the buoy.

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Old 14th September 2008, 12:22 AM   #2
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This is usually a race committee problem. The course and start can be set to get the fast smart guys off of port. Favor starboard start and the left side (weather mark to starboard) and port tackers are history. The RC has to be as smart as the racers. My two cents. Jim
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Old 14th September 2008, 12:47 AM   #3
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As the replier before mentioned, this is race comitee problem.. No need to change the rules... Make the boat end favored so no need to port starters....
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Old 15th September 2008, 05:30 PM   #4
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Boat favoured lines prevent port starters, but then produce other problems. With 80 guys on the line all trying to start at the boat you then have more pile ups and crashes at the boat end and I believe less people can get a clean start with this method - which isn't as fair for racing. In light winds, where a lot of guys start on port to get clean air, its very difficult to get more than 50% off the line planing with a boat favoured line. The line needs to be pin favoured to spread the fleet out enough to get clean wind for everyone.

This year in Portimao we had an usual amount of crashes on the startline - some really bad ones also. I got taken out in 4 starts! So on the 3rd day we changed the course to have marks rounding to 'starboard' instead of port, which meant starboard starters had only 1 tack to the mark and port had 2. Made the races a little short I felt but that seemed to prevent the port kamikazes. Not sure if that was the best solution but we had to race the courses close to the beach to the media and because of the wind direction so that was the only way to stop people starting on port to get to the favoured side of the course towards the beach...
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