It appears that the issue of weighing (or not weighing) the front benches is one for the SWS and their interpretation of the various rules! It seems that if a boat from the SWS raced in another area (weymouth for example!) they would have to include the front benches when being weighed and race with them in place.
I dont believe that the weight rule should be altered – it cant be, without disadvantaging the entire current fleet. The Hartley’s have done great work in building a boat, to minimum weight in the current rules and to alter this would in my view be a backward step. I am the first to agree that the Wayfarer is a big heavy boat, but it is a big heavy boat for everyone and for all Marks of the boat! People use different spars, control lines, fittings, all of which are a small proportion of the all up racing weight and are generally excluded from the measured weight. The ability to move, alter and use different fittings, control lines and layout is one of the delights of the class, allowing twaekers like me the ability to dream up all sort of silly ways of controlling the rig (none of which ever see the light of day!). There is a rule governing the weight of the mast extrusion. The weight difference between the lightest and heaviest crews in the UK nationals this year was over 25kg – How many classes would have that variation! You wouldnt get it in a lighter boat. Having a carbon pole will not really offer an advantage due to its light weight, the advantage will be in the ease of handling from the crew, resulting in more efficient hoists, gybes and drops. I would not be against a ccarbon pole, if the cost was similar to an alu pole.
I am a great believer that we all lose huge distances due to poor tacks and gybes, poor mark roundings, poor starts, bad tactics and strategy, and that any loss due to a minor chip out of a rudder, or a small weight advantage due to the latest super duper titanium blocks is negligible! Does anyone ever sail the perfect race?