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Are weight equalisaiton systems safe?

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Blobby View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Blobby Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Are weight equalisaiton systems safe?
    Posted: 02 Dec 04 at 5:30am

Has anyone considered the safety implications of the performance equalisation systems that the likes of the 5000s, 4000s, RS800s and so on are now using?  It would seem to me that they haven't...

When you capsize, there are two important criteria that make a boat safer.  First is how quickly it turns turtle - the slower it goes the safer you are, and the second thing is how easy it is to get back upright and sailing again.

With weight equalisation systems, lightweight crews are put at greater risk than heavy weight crews because of the lumps of lead they have to carry in the bottom of the boat.  When you first capsize, the lead increases the speed at which the boat turns turtle.  This is because it is way above the centre of bouyancy when the boat is on its side and as the boat leans over beyond the vertical, this weight is working against you.

Once the boat has turned turtle, the lightweight crew then has up to an additional 20Kg of lead to overcome when trying to get the boat upright again - as if being 20Kg lighter than the larger teams was itself not enough of a disadvantage...

The Tasar has had a basic weight equalisation system running for years.  The basis of this was simply if you are lighter than 135Kg, then you carry ballast.  I have been at nationals where a lightweight crew were carrying about 10 - 12Kg of ballast.  When the boat turned turtle, they were forced to retire from racing as they had to have the rescue boat to assist them.  With the lead out of the boat, righting after a capsize was easy...

When a rescue boat is occupied having to get boats upright again because the lead in the bottom makes it impossible for a crew to do this unassisted, the water is less safe for the rest of the fleet.

I can see the logic of trying to take weight out of the performance equation, but lets not do it in a way that puts sailors at risk.

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Katie View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Katie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Dec 04 at 8:05am

do you have a suggestion for an alternative?  weight equalisation has meant that I'm able to sail boats that would otherwise not be possible (unless i put on about 4 stone and grew an extra foot!).  Without it, these classes would just be restricted to the big boys.

 



Edited by Katie
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Jon Emmett View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Jon Emmett Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Dec 04 at 8:19am
When I sailed an RS700 I was always on maximum lead and I never came close to having a problem. The lead was all placed very close to the top of the centreboard. The only issue was getting over the racks, which where very wide (when I put in my intermediates on I found I could not get through the gap!)
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Post Options Post Options   Quote MikeBz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Dec 04 at 11:47am

If the weight was put at the top of the mast then you might have a point.  But with it placed inside the hull the effect will be very small. In terms of 'putting sailors at risk' you can find many un-equalised dinghies which are heavier therefore harder to right than plenty of the equalised dinghies, but nobody seems to be getting worried about those boats being 'unsafe' - you have to choose a boat (including the configuration you'll sail it in) that is suitable for you.

Mike



Edited by MikeBz
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Rob.e View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Rob.e Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Dec 04 at 8:45pm

I've noticed that successful weight equalisation systems seem to be mainly restricted to trapezing boats and rely on a mix of greater leverage and weight adjustment. It's interesting that there doesn't seem to be a system thats worked for sitting out dinghies, or at least in singlehanders, (my interest!)

I'm thinking of the EPS (now deceased), the Blaze (they dropped their system I believe) and the RS300 (the smaller rig is not popular, despite being much easier to sail)

Any thoughts on why this is?

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Post Options Post Options   Quote redback Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Dec 04 at 12:01am
I have to admit that the Laser 4000 is not an easy boat to right - although the equalisation system has very little to do with it.  I think we have to accept that some of these high performance boats are not for everybody.
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*GM* View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote *GM* Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Dec 04 at 7:20pm

Speaking as an eps owner (although the poor thing doesn't get sailed much these days) the weight equalisation thing seemed to work reasonably well when the boats were being raced one design.  Once Laser removed the class from the Audi sponsored tour hardly anyone raced one design anymore.  The owners decided that there wasn't much point in sailing a fast boat and deliberately slowing it down by making people bring the wings in so ditched the rule.  Don't think I ever sailed mine with the wings in the "correct" place.

The Blazes did something similar - although they did in it two stages I think.  Doesn't seem to have made a lot of difference to the results amongst the Blazes at my club - no real correlation between weight and results.

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Chris 249 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Chris 249 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Dec 04 at 11:19am
GM, what happened with the EPS? How did it compare to the 300 and Blaze (or Laser and Contender etc) in sailing performance and feel? What did one weigh?


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Post Options Post Options   Quote *GM* Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Dec 04 at 6:21pm

I think there were a couple of problems with the eps.  The first was that laser marketed it as a boat to sail in Audi sponsored UK and Euro series - which some people did.  However, when Laser bumped the class from the Audi stuff there wasn't a particularly strong class association to organise anything else.  There also didn't seem to be any clubs with a fleet of any size to promote it as a club race boat.  Second problem, the Vortex - Laser weren't selling too many boats anyway and they seem to have been wary of trying to sell two boats to the same potential purchasers. So the new Vortex stayed and the "old" eps got dumped.  There was also a story that they were making a loss on every eps they sold but might just be a story.

I've not sailed a 300 and I've only briefly sailed a Blaze (with the old rig, not the new X one).  I think the 300 is a much more difficult boat to keep upright than the other two due to its narrow hull shape.  The Blaze was a handful in strong winds because the old rig was a bit of a disaster.  (The original boats weren't as fast as Topper expected so they stuck a longer boom on and added 1.4 sq m to the sail, mainly onto the leech.)  The new rig seems to have transformed the boat - it isn't any faster (and it might be a little slower in very light stuff), but the helms don't have to fight the boat upwind anymore.  I think the eps is still a better boat, comfortable to hike because of the wing shape (not just a bit of tube like a Blaze) and the buoyancy in the wings does tend to slow the capsize process down enough to give you a chance to sort things out (sometimes!).

I don't think the eps is as quick as the handicap of 1013 suggests.  Laser had actually suggested 1030 I think.  The guy I bought my boat from was allegedly to blame.  My club always puts in lots of RYA returns and the previous owner did a lot of winning - he also sailed the boat with the wings right out despite being a heavyweight (I can't really critisise him cos thats what I used to do too!).  So there were suggestions that his results made up a significant part of the total returns the RYA received!

Edited to say it weighed about 65 kg, big rig 9.3 sq m.  By comparison, Blaze is around 80kg (I think), X rig sail is 10 sq m.



Edited by *GM*
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Chris 249 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Chris 249 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Dec 04 at 5:23am
Thanks for that GM, interesting info; we never got to see any of those boats out here in Australia.
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