Latest News: Forums General UKWA, where are we going?

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  • #4400

    The Spring 2012 Wayfarer News includes these two items:

    • The proposed new membership fee structure will penalise a husband-wife team with an increase of 80% to maintain rights equivalent to the current Family Membership.
    • The editorial seems to suggest that electronic tactical aids are in widespread, illicit use contrary to the class rules (there is a more emotive word that I have avoided here) and that an expensive electronic arms race is inevitable, and even desirable, to give advantage to those that wish to spend the money.

    Is more expense, an anti-family stance, complexity and less regard for the rules what we really want in the class? Surely we should be going in the opposite direction.


    No experience of the family membership issue.
    Electronic aids have been troubling me ever since reading the editorial and I have drafted but keep modifying a letter to the editor but overall I think more electronics would be a disaster for class racing.


    The latest Wayfarer News looks great and I have only had a quick flick through it. My first impression was that the editorial would lead to some discussion!
    I do agree that we should not go down the route of increased complexity and cost – class rules are pretty clear regarding electronic aids and should be enforced at events. I can see the value of things like SpeedPuck for training (if I was ever minded to train and had the money!) – former OK Dinghy world champion, Karl Purdie, successfully used one a lot for speed testing in the lead up to the 2010 OK Worlds (and wrote some really good articles about the speed puck), but we should keep them out of racing.

    Similarly, Tacktick Micros are fine – they are a simply a timer and compass and do no more than a watch and good race compass will do, but the Racemaster is a more comprehensive piece of kit. I believe that the main reason we should keep these pieces of kit out of racing is not because of any unfair advantage they may give, but the added expense of ‘keeping up with the Jones’.
    I dont believe that advanced electronic bits of kit will provide a big advantage to the majority of us when racing. Maybe some of the top teams have the inclination and motivation to use them, but they are already happy with all other aspects of their racing. If we are looking to make improvements, we would be better putting our efforts into structured coaching and practice and prioritise where we need to improve and ensure our basic boat handling and tuning skills are up to sctatch. Any look at a photos from any event will show us that the majority of us could start by learning how to sail out boat flat in powered up conditions, how to tack properly, not to overstand windward marks, how to hoist and drop spinnakers, round marks, not worry too much about boat tune, work out the right end of the line to start and to spend a bit of time before a race evaluating conditions etc etc…….. – all much more beneficial than having our head in the bilge looking at a digital screen!
    Going off on a tangent here…….I believe that one of the reasons the Mk 4 is so good is that Richard and Mark have the boats designed and set up so well, that people sailing them dont have to worry about set up and tuning, everything in them works well and is to hand and the boats area really comfortable to sail. Many of us become unsettled in older boats, as things dont work well (‘…..I must fix the XYZ and tightne the ABC before the next race!……etc) and we end up not concentrating on racing, but get ruffled by silly things that just dont always work perfectly. This is not the case with the MK 4, everything works perfectly and is in the right place! We still have to make them go in the right direction though!
    I never use the ‘Tactic’ mode on the Micro, I dont believe it is of much use, as I primarily sail on a small, land enclosed piece of sea, with wind bends, funny shifts and no pattern to oscillatons. The ‘Tactic’ mode will work well when the wind is oscillating backwards and forwards from a single direction, not when it is bending sue to developing sea breezes or land effects. The main use of the Micro is as a highly visible timer( a very expensive timer!). In small fleets I can’t see the benefit of a compass, as I personally prioritise sailing against the fleet, rather than concentrating on the wind. Bigger fleets on open water are a different matter – I can see the advantage of a compass on open water, with oscillating winds, but not in more unpredictable conditions, with no pattern to shifts and bends (Have a read of Stuart Walkers books on Category 1, 2 and 3 conditions for a full treatise on winds – it will all make sense!).

    How many people use a compass a small fleet, club racing environment, or even at regional events? Maybe I am missing out on something!

    I dont believe that there is a valid arguement for using GPS devices as a safety tool for racing. How long have dinghies been racing safely without them? This is where the Race Committee and individual helms have responsibility regarding conditions and participation.

    Us ‘racers’ have to remember that the Wayffarer class is a class of serious (and not so serious) racers, cruisers, families, clubs, sailing schools etc etc and we need to cater for and be accessible to all, for the good of the class as a whole. This was brought home to me recently on a holiday to the US where I met many of the characters in the North American fleet – we could learn a lot from them about having an inclusive class for all!


    Colin Parkstone

    Swd, I would say on the whole that the class is going forward. New boat, new people joining and steady sales of the class to more and more people. Onwards I would say.
    I would agree with the rules stance, too many rules are not followed and they have opened the door for them to become the norm, we either have rules or not!!
    The problem is that we are just too nice in this fleet, it will take a strong person to protest the wrong compass, two spi poles ect but someone will need to do it or the class should change the rule!
    I measure, and if its on the boat when it should not be then it’s out. On the other hand I have failed to point out or protest at my own club an out of class compass.
    I am wrong but I do not want the agro with a fellow club member about that kind of thing. It will come to the fore in time but even that I am not sure of as i think it may have gone to the Worlds ????
    The Micro does what has been said above, not sure it reads windshifts. I use one, and I read that the compass has changed direction and its me that works out the wind angle has moved if i remember the number in the first place?.
    As for widespread, I would say that its not top of all the club sailors at my club list of things to buy, new sails are more likely.
    I may feel that a carbon spi pole for all its cost will help all kinds of people in the fleet but I also would not want to see GPS, Speed Pucks and other things like it in the class when racing.
    Why?/ Cost! when will it stop and can people just use what brains they have to race the boat, then the best sailors will win and not the boat with the best gadgets.
    Use good gear Yes! it helps us all to have a block that turns and a cleat that holds well and Yes! it costs. But what it will do is help smaller crews to work in the boat and stay and enjoy the boat for what it is. Not what they may have to spend.
    The editor has put forward a talking point I would say as the Danes are looking for a vote on this, it has worked so far so keep your views coming in.


    Having raced with and without electronics I can confirm that sailing without clever electronics is much more fun.

    I looked at the Velocitek product and it would be foolhardy to set out with this as your main compass. If you were unlucky enough to encounter fog and light winds you could not rely on the heading function to get you home safely as the heading may well be mostly tidal effect.
    So you will also need a compass for seamanlike safety so all cost savings have disappeared.

    For racing I am against increased use of electronics and believe that using GPS derived Heading and Speed will change the game substantially. These functions on GPS systems are usually referred to as SOG (Speed over Ground) and COG (Course over Ground). They are extremely useful for knowing where the current is running most strongly – I have used this function to good effect in keel boat racing in the Solent. Just two examples – using SOG on a run you can tell it’s time to gybe back into more favourable current when the speed drops. The COG makes calling lay lines to marks much more accurate as the COG on the tack last time is after allowing for tide so much easier to judge the lay line. These perceived advantages mean that everyone will feel that they have to use the technology ‘to have an equal chance’ and push up costs for all.

    I personally have had enough of electronics dictating my daily life with beeps and clicks etc. I go sailing to enjoy the elements and competition. I do not want to sail with an IT expert to maximise the use of the tools available.

    I currently own 3 suitable GPS specific devices – 1 of which is designed to float so no extra cost for me but I just think that Wayfarer racing and electronic aids should not be mixed.

    It would be very difficult to reword rule 35.3 in a way that did not open up an expensive arms race if we allowed the use of more electronically derived data while racing and it would turn some people off the racing as there is more to learn to become competitive.

    Meanwhile if price is a major consideration then a range of reliable magnetic compasses – which will show up windshifts – is available from £60 from the P&B web site (other outlets are available) and will last a lot longer than any of the electronic alternatives.

    More fun, lower cost and a level playing field are my preference every time.


    I agree with all of the above. Changing the rules to permit all sorts of fancy devices would not be good.

    An interesting thread about compass use can be found here:

    The only thing that a tacktick micro does over and above the classic Silva Tactical compass is have a timer. Apart from that it give you your heading and and / or a consistent single figure reading on either tack so you only need remember one figure…..( )

    The Tacktick Racemaster is a different kettle of fish though and will give you lot more info (but will need a much greater understanding to use it effectively and I imagine it will be most effective when the wind is shifting around a median. You also need to spend time in the boat before the start to establish the median – it just doesnt appear by magic!)

    From the debate: ‘A compass is good for telling you your sailing angle relative to some pre-determined median, and is also useful in determining that median. It can also help you quickly identify the biased end of the starting line and the degree of that bias, but there are other effective ways of doing that. That’s about it’

    The golden rule of ‘tack on header, stay on a lift’ will only work when the wind is shifting around a median, not as much when there is a bend due to geographic features or developing sea breeze. Approacing a windward mark it is often beneficial to take the heading tack as your 2nd last tack to get the lift up to the mark……

    It might be useful to take a gps out to see how fast you were going though…………..just for the fun of it!…mayvbe thats a new idea….we all take a GPS out and post our fastest max speed on the forum a la Int Moth….who have recorded over 30 knots, or RS 400s, who almost touch 20 knots…….( Speed&uid=48)

    How fast will a Wayfarer go?!?!?!?!



    Sorry but I have another angle on this.

    First and foremost it has always been the intention of the associations and the Proctor family to keep the Wayfarer an affordable boat for a broad audience from 8 to 80. I don’t think we disagree on that do we?

    That is why we are banning trapezes (not 8 to 80) and carbon poles (too expensive). But to make our beloved boat future proof we must keep an open mind to what attracts (young?) new sailors to the class. If gadgets attract (young) new sailors I would be inclined to allow them, specially if all the other classes allow them and start to draw new sailors away from the Wayfarer class. The same is true for carbon fibre poles and other modernisations. Obviously there is costs to consider but when these gadgets become affordable, why should we not allow them? If that is what it takes to keep the class alive?

    I don’t want to be the last sailor to switch off the lights after everyone else has left the class. Just look at what the MK-4 has done for the future of the class. We have all seen numbers decline and without the MK-4 the class would be all but dead by now. Let us not loose the momentum the MK-4 gave us by being conservative about other developments. Whether we think those gadgets are useful or not doesn’t matter, it is something for each individual sailor should decide for himself.

    Gadgets don’t win races, sailors win races. But if a sailor believes a gadgets helps him to become a better sailor, by all means use it! I think gadgets are like my young son’s “magic” stone that he carries in his pocket every day for good luck and also to shoo away pixies….. What ever you think of it, it gives him confidence.

    So, the main criterions should be, as they always have been:
    1: Is it too bloody expensive?
    2: Does it prevent the very young or the very old from sailing a Wayfarer?
    If none of the above is true, allow the gadget.


    Well, my quick note a few days ago has certainly provoked some comment about electronics. I’ve nothing against progress – we were an early adopter of the MkIV (10508) while the “will it be approved or not?” debate was still raging. And certainly, if I was cruising or tuning or speed testing I’d certainly want the best electronics. When we had deep keel cruiser we had the lot. But this season will be the first in twenty-five years dinghy racing that we will be using a compass (one without tactical advice). Why? – it’s not for safety as we don’t race in fog and have safety cover. It’s simply because the racing’s getting closer and one or two of the closest have compasses. I don’t know whether the compass will help (I’ve always looked back at the wake when on the wind to see if there’s been a shift) it might distract and be a complete waste of money most of the time on our very tidal river. I bought it because there’s a faint chance it might help. And that’s the point – it probably won’t help but it might do, so I need to get one and that’s how expensive arms races start and that’s why I’m against electronics.

    Far better, as someone else has said above, to keep the boat simple and concentrate on boat-handling, tactics, rules, river-craft, meteorology, team-work etc, etc. Increasing the standard of tuning of seats-of-the-pants is what we should be aiming for not moving the electronic office into the boat.

    PS I don’t often look at the forum and those who do are probably a small minority of members – so how do UKWA find out what the majority of members really want?


    And just to follow-up, the MkIV is slowly levelling the playing field by taking us towards a factory one design, which is a good thing. Why disturb this by allowing choice of electronics?

    Perhaps at UKWA open meetings there should be a declaration of conformance with UKWA rules with an accompanying statement that non-compliance through use of prohibited electronics will invoke a race committee protest with the possibility of a non-discardable disqualification and / or a RRS Rule 2 protest.


    Not being a racer but having seen the same evolution in other sports I feel inclined tocomment.
    I fear it is a bit like trying to stop the tide coming in. You can to an extentslow things up but the natural evolution of technology takes over and alas you do get a bit of keeoing up with the joneses or as seen at the extremities such as F1 the sport beconming more and more about money as the kit manufacturers scent profit and start sponsoring etc. Not good for our humble claass in my view. On the other hand if its going to happen then let the wallies who think that a 500 pound gizmo iis better thyan some extra training go ahead and waste your money. You get them in every sport. People with all the most expensive kit who haven’t got a clue but look great until the old bloke in the woodie and a bobble hat carves him up in great style making them look the amateurs they are. Much of what gets produced and sold is of negligible value in terms of advantage gained. the rules should reflect safety improvements and anything that enhances the quality of the experience (and therefore attracts new talent) whilst ignoring those that are merely short cuts in place of proper training and development.


    I don’t see any problems with gadgets at all, let ’em spend their money if it makes ’em feel better (good for the economy)…the winner will always be the calm helmsman who maintains a flat boat.

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