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.

1. Documentation

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!)

2. Sails

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.

3. Hulls

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, completely.

4. Spars, Foils

The major problems found in Kingston on these items were isolated to three items.

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,
Rick Clift