National Measurer's Report
Author: Rick Clift. Reprinted from The Firezone winter '97
With the leaves starting to turn colour, and the north winds
starting to blow, Fireball sailing for the most part is over for
1996 (except for those fortunate enough to be sailing in BC!). With
the end of the sailing season, I thought it would be a good
opportunity to review some of the technical issues that showed up
this year at the Kingston World Championships. These observations
won't cover everything, but will, I hope, highlight areas that all
Fireball sailors should pay attention to.
Nobody likes paperwork, but, unfortunately, we
all must adhere to a few basic items from the documentation
side. The Fireball Rules state that all boats must have a
current, valid certificate in order to race as a Fireball. So,
if you don't have a certificate, technically, you cannot race.
Certificates for previously measured boats can be obtained from
the National Measurer (ie me). Give me a call if you need a
cert, or have any questions regarding getting a new certificate.
(Processing cost is still a bargain, at $5).
Once one has a certificate, it must have all the areas
completed. During Measurement at Kingston, a few boats showed up
with incomplete portions of the Certificate, particularly Sail
endorsements. Any new sails measured in for a boat must be added
to the certificate. (One British crew argued that they use new
sails for every regatta, so they would need a certificate five
pages long... Don't we all wish we had that problem!)
Prior to the start of any major regatta, there is always
a flurry of activity at the local sail loft, as people pick up
new sails. This is great for the fleet, as it keeps the class
current from a sail shape standpoint. However, one should always
get the sails checked out and signed by a measurer, prior to
arriving at a regatta. There are a couple of reasons for this:
- sailmakers have been known to make mistakes from time to time
on sails. There is nothing worse than showing up for an event
with new sails that won't measurer in (just ask some of the
people who sailed in the 1991 Nationals in Surrey BC).
- one should not assume that a measurer will be available at a
major regatta to check out sails. The Canadian measurers are a
fairly easy going group of people, but being inundated by bags
of new sails requiring checking right before an event can be
somewhat upsetting, especially if the Measurer is also trying
to rig his own boat.
One final item on sails, Numbers and National Letters. At
Kingston, the Jury was adamant that sail numbers must match the
hull numbers (except on charter boats). This applied to both
mainsails and spinnakers. (Also, measurers will not sign a sail
without numbers or letters on it.) With the National Letters, 1996
was the last year in which the "KC" will be accepted for
Canadian boats. As of March 1997, "CAN" becomes the official
national letters for Canada. Anyone planning on sailing at major
events next season (CORK, North Americans, Canadians) had better
change the letters on your sails. For club sailing and the like,
the KC will be around for a long time, but don't expect to be
able to use those sails at major events.
During the Measurement process at the Worlds, it was
very apparent that certain Fireball hulls had been built to the
extremes of the tolerance on certain hull measurements. The
major problems encountered at Kingston (on the items checked by
the Measurement Team) were Rocker and Gunwhale Projections.
The Rocker measurement requires some specific measurement
equipment, so most sailors cannot check this themselves. (A note
to builders, when building a Fireball, try to work to the middle
of the tolerance on all measurements, that way, minor variations
or building errors will not result in major reconstruction
efforts once the hull is complete.)
The Gunwhale projections are more within the control of the
sailor, as fittings, etc are always being added or moved. When
ever a new fitting is placed near the edge of the gunwhale,
check to ensure that nothing projects past the edge of the
gunwhale, when viewed from above.
One final note on hull measurements, for measurers in
particular. When checking any duplicate measurement points, (ie
port and starboard measurements), check both sides of the hull.
That way you will be able to ensure that the hull measures in,
4. Spars, Foils
The major problems found in Kingston on these
items were isolated to three items.
- Spars bands - the mast and boom bands must be put on in a
permanent manner, electrical tape in not acceptable.
- Spinnaker Pole Lengths - the spinnaker pole length is
measured from the front of the mast, with the pole attached
at right angles to the mast.
- Foil Weights - the minimum weights for rudders and
centreboards are there to ensure that these items are not
built so light that they will not stand up to the rigors of
Fireball sailing. (Using the allowed construction techniques
and materials in the class). If you have a professionally
built rudder or centreboard, and it is too light, go back to
the builder, and insist that it be corrected, at his expense.
Well, I hope this summary has provided some insight into the
technical aspects of the 1996 World Championships. Everything that
has been touched upon is applicable to any Fireball sailor, sailing
in any regatta.
Finally, I have one last World's related item. I would like to
extend my sincere thanks to all the volunteers who helped out at
the Measurement Hall for the Kingston Worlds. This small group of
people did an excellent job, and helped get the 1996 World
Championship off on the right footing.
Keep On 'Ballin,