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Forum Index: DISCUSSION: Dock Talk:
Sailing weigh-ins
Team McLube

 



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Nov 23, 2010, 8:18 AM

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UN-AMERICAN TO DIET ON THANKSGIVING?
By Sam Rogers, professional sailor

As we approach the most gluttonous day of the American calendar year, most true patriots will be priming their stomachs for a mass amount of Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cheesy mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, stuffing, gravy, yams, green-bean casserole, fresh baked rolls, gravy, pudding, apple pie, french silk pie, gravy, pumpkin pie and many more traditional family favorites, like gravy.

For Melges 32 sailors preparing for the Gold Cup, which begins one week after our nations hearty holiday, they are faced with a weigh-in that will require a more modest serving of the tasty treats our Pilgrim friends brought to Plymouth Rock. While there is a constant debate over the nature of weigh-ins, their effectiveness, and whether or not to do away with them, the only concern I have is that it might be highly Un-American to partake in a crash diet over Thanksgiving; is this any way to pay respects to the people who invented the Cornucopia?

While the idea of an actual weigh in is not the problem, where to set the limit and how often to perform checks is. Most often, there is a limit set by the class in conjunction with the builder that helps provide safe tolerances for the boat. The weigh-in usually only takes place at the beginning of the event, and with the goal of the team to be 60-70 lbs over while racing, every team member is given a “target weight” which is typically 3-15 lbs below their normal weight.

This target weight largely depends on their size, and how much the person who is making the targets actually likes them. The day of weigh in, everyone reaches their target through 2-3 weeks of painful dieting and immediately after finds the nearest restaurant that serves tasty comfort food, putting the team highly over the limit. Not only is this unhealthy as most team members often resort to days of starvation and dehydration causing people to faint in some cases, but it also defeats the purpose of having a weight limit as every team is over it while racing.

The other option would be to raise the weight limit and require that teams remain under it with spot checks throughout the event. That way teams could then build their crew around this weight, stay under it and feel comfortable knowing they are not 70 lbs less than the boats they are racing against. Of course I might be a little bit biased at the moment since I am in the middle of trying to lose 14 lbs and all I can think about is gravy, but I think this option is much better. -- Read on: http://42marine.com/un-american-to-diet-on-thanksgiving/


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Nov 23, 2010, 8:18 AM

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While it may depend on the boat, I wonder if raising the crew weight may just push the same situation toward either bigger crew, or more crew, without resolving the dieting. Also, having experienced mid regatta weigh-ins during the 2010 Etchells North Americans, these morning checks also limited the fun at the regatta parties the night before. While the event hosts wanted everyone to have a good time, the weigh in rules got in the way.

- Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt


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Nov 23, 2010, 8:19 AM

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Having just read the commentary on making weight, I suspected it might be a joke. Admittedly, I am not and engineer or designer, but weight problems in the keel boat classes mentioned seemed a bizarre concept. They are hauling lead anyway. The truth is, I know it is serious business for most competitive sailors in in this day and age.

This apparent "paradox" for keel boats makes me wonder about dinghy classes like the Finn, or Snipe, which are beasts in terms of weight for their size, requiring more than 2 people to put it on top of a car, our haul them off a ramp at the end of the day's sailing. Both these classes have evolved through design to favor significantly crew weight (light or heavy) to be competitive.

I wonder if decreasing the weight of some such boats might be the great equalizer in today's climate, particularly if missing a shift or hitting powerboat chop doesn't do the job. It does not blow all the time. Imagine a sub 190lb sailor in Finn with the right rig running away downwind in light to marginal planing conditions in a boat that could easily be constructed to be 50 lbs lighter. In a series of races, that factor might open things up for a broader range of sailors with different physical characteristics to arrive at the podium.

Clearly, dietary concerns to make a certain weight are becoming yet another problem with competitive sailing, for both crews and the race committees who have to enforce the rules as well. These concerns may well deserve an answer from the classes' technical committees as to why the became that way over the years without having to be at one side of the physical spectrum......the Finn wasn't always characterized as the "Men's Heavyweight Dinghy"....just ask Peter Commette, Dave Buemi, Carl van Dyne (RIP), and all the others who have been hugely successful in the class.

The magic of sailing is the myriad of skills that need to be mastered, and I feel that unreasonably throwing personal weight and not technical optimization into the mix takes the sport awkwardly to a level seen in Boxing or Wrestling, where the emphasis is on size and not skills.

Best regards,

Fritz Mueller


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Nov 23, 2010, 9:00 AM

Post #4 of 16 (9773 views)
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I have sailed classes with weigh ins for the past 25 years, so I read with interest the Thanksgiving dilemma of Melges 32 sailors:

If sailors are starving themselves for 2 or 3 days trying to ‘dip’ by up to 15lb then the Class needs to address that right now by introducing a mid event weigh-in.

I am still scarred by the memory of spending 2 days in a Miami gym trying to shed a stone prior to a J24 mid-winters in the 80’s (We found out too late that our crew organiser was hopeless at math). Needless to say we spent the first 2 days deep in the fleet.

The Etchells use to have a lottery when 10 crews would be drawn each morning & reweighed - but it was a real pain to be on a ‘nil by mouth’ regime every day, until Club office put the list up each morning. Another indelible memory is big Bill Masterman on a hot sunny morning in Sydney, desperately wanting his breakfast, locked in the car with the heater on full blast wearing a bin liner!

The present Etchells system of reweighing the whole fleet before racing mid week is a sensible compromise: It prevents crews going for a big dip before the event and if you are close to maximum, it can easily be managed with a light meal in the evening and no breakfast before the weigh in.

Unfortunately the weigh-in is a necessary evil to maintain even racing at major championships or we will be back to the days of sailing with two 25 stone guys in the crew. I even recall an incident where a three quarter tonner took a 7 foot tall 30 stone wrestler who had never been on a boat purely as ballast!

Phil Lawrence, Lymington


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Nov 23, 2010, 9:51 AM

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A third alternative to the diet dilemma is to have "weigh outs" instead of weigh ins. If the classes are really serious about crew weight, they should weigh the crews of the top finishers as they get off their boats.

Jim Fulton




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Nov 23, 2010, 10:36 AM

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I would be interested to know if Scuttlebutt thinks there should be weight limits on racing sailboats similar to those imposed by the Etchells class, J-105 class, E-scow class, and many smaller one-design classes, and if so, what does Scuttlebutt think is the best way to enforce the weight limit rule?

Regards, Bill Campbell:


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Nov 23, 2010, 10:37 AM

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In Reply To
I would be interested to know if Scuttlebutt thinks there should be weight limits on racing sailboats similar to those imposed by the Etchells class, J-105 class, E-scow class, and many smaller one-design classes, and if so, what does Scuttlebutt think is the best way to enforce the weight limit rule?

Regards, Bill Campbell:


For one design classes where crew weight is a performance factor, every rule concerning weight will have unintended consequences. Sail without a rule and crew weight will adapt to the venue. Have a weight rule and people will push the rule. Weigh in only at the start and there might be people who aggressively diet. Weigh in mid event and there will be people who moderately diet (ie, avoid event parties the night before). A daily weigh in, a random weigh in, or a mandatory weigh in for the top percentage in each race would go the furthest to ensure rule compliance. But all these weigh ins also require administration support.

I think the ultimate choice needs to reflect the attitude of the class and/or event. The Star class has a crew weight rule, but they only use it at their district, continental, and world championship events. Interestingly, there are classes where making weight means weighing more, not less. The Lido 14 class has a minimum crew weight rule, as do almost all of the beach catamaran classes (and the new America’s Cup catamaran design rule has one too). During my streak of five Lido 14 National Championship wins, there was no apres race dieting. We partied!


- Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt




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Nov 23, 2010, 11:30 AM

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I realize that no one is responsible for their own actions these days but I think I missed anything good in the story from Sam Rogers in Butt 3226. I think I see people proud of cheating:

"The weigh-in usually only takes place at the beginning of the event, and with the goal of the team to be 60-70 lbs over while racing, every team member is given a 'target weight' which is typically 3-15 lbs below their normal weight."

So deliberately and with cold calculation his crew aim to be 60-70lbs over the maximum weight allowed by the class rules. You can make all the excuses you like and whine as much as you want, but put very simply this is deliberately and intentionally breaking the rules. That is rule 2, rule 69 and please leave the sport forever.

My disgust for this attitude is total. Before we worry about why people don't stay racing, I suggest we look at this sort of approach and put our house in order. Heck I don't want to race anymore because I don't want to race against cheats!

Katrina Johnson




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Nov 23, 2010, 11:36 AM

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In Reply To
I realize that no one is responsible for their own actions these days but I think I missed anything good in the story from Sam Rogers in Butt 3226. I think I see people proud of cheating:

"The weigh-in usually only takes place at the beginning of the event, and with the goal of the team to be 60-70 lbs over while racing, every team member is given a 'target weight' which is typically 3-15 lbs below their normal weight."

So deliberately and with cold calculation his crew aim to be 60-70lbs over the maximum weight allowed by the class rules. You can make all the excuses you like and whine as much as you want, but put very simply this is deliberately and intentionally breaking the rules. That is rule 2, rule 69 and please leave the sport forever.

My disgust for this attitude is total. Before we worry about why people don't stay racing, I suggest we look at this sort of approach and put our house in order. Heck I don't want to race anymore because I don't want to race against cheats!

Katrina Johnson



In fairness to Sam, he is merely describing what occurs in a class that has both a single weigh in and hyper-competitive class members. If the class wanted to stop it, they would either eliminate the crew weight rule, or have multiple weigh ins during events.

- Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt




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Nov 23, 2010, 3:11 PM

Post #10 of 16 (9761 views)
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Having just read the commentary on making weight, I suspected it might be a joke. Admittedly, I am not and engineer or designer, but weight problems in the keel boat classes mentioned seemed a bizarre concept. They are hauling lead anyway. The truth is, I know it is serious business for most competitive sailors in in this day and age.

This apparent "paradox" for keel boats makes me wonder about dinghy classes like the Finn, or Snipe, which are beasts in terms of weight for their size, requiring more than 2 people to put it on top of a car, our haul them off a ramp at the end of the day's sailing. Both these classes have evolved through design to favor significantly crew weight (light or heavy) to be competitive.

I wonder if decreasing the weight of some such boats might be the great equalizer in today's climate, particularly if missing a shift or hitting powerboat chop doesn't do the job. It does not blow all the time. Imagine a sub 190lb sailor in Finn with the right rig running away downwind in light to marginal planing conditions in a boat that could easily be constructed to be 50 lbs lighter. In a series of races, that factor might open things up for a broader range of sailors with different physical characteristics to arrive at the podium.

Clearly, dietary concerns to make a certain weight are becoming yet another problem with competitive sailing, for both crews and the race committees who have to enforce the rules as well. These concerns may well deserve an answer from the classes' technical committees as to why the became that way over the years without having to be at one side of the physical spectrum......the Finn wasn't always characterized as the "Men's Heavyweight Dinghy"....just ask Peter Commette, Dave Buemi, Carl van Dyne (RIP), and all the others who have been hugely successful in the class.

The magic of sailing is the myriad of skills that need to be mastered, and I feel that unreasonably throwing personal weight and not technical optimization into the mix takes the sport awkwardly to a level seen in Boxing or Wrestling, where the emphasis is on size and not skills.

Best regards,

Fritz Mueller



Thanks for the note. You raise a couple of good points here, and while I try to keep most of my commentary lighthearted, teams trying to weigh in at M24 and 32 events is very serious. As I mentioned in the blog, having a weight limit is not the problem, but how often to perform the checks is. If teams know there will only be 1 check at the beginning of the event, they will do whatever they can to bulk up in a boat like the Melges 32 since it becomes overpowered in anything over 12 kts. Sure, there are venues where a smaller team who weighs in close to the limit may perform better, but as soon as there is planing conditions (12-13 kts) the heavier teams will prevail.

How often to perform checks has been a debate over the past few years; either once at the begining of the event, or mid-event with a random annoucement as to who will be checked. The honest truth is I do not feel strongly either way since these weigh-ins over the past few years have helped me keep my girlish figure, but I do know that pulling off these crash diets are not only un-healthy, but for a large amount of sailors who are taking their own vacation time to be at these events, starving yourself and hitting the sauna is not a very fun way to spend your free time.

Thanks again for your comment.

Best,

Sam Rogers


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Nov 24, 2010, 7:06 AM

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This topic received a lot of feedback when it was presented after the 2010 Etchells North Americans.

Scuttleblog (June 20, 2010): http://sailingscuttlebutt.blogspot.com/...06/party-killer.html
Scuttlebutt 3117 (June 21, 2010): http://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/..._Detail.asp?key=4466

- Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt


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Nov 24, 2010, 10:01 AM

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Sam has taken some criticism following his report, as on the surface this practice of sailing over the class crew weight maximum would seem unethical. But what his report did not note is how the class rules, due to how they are written, do not deem this practice illegal. Here are the two relevant sections in the Melges 32 class rules:

* The crew and the boat shall comply with the rules in this section before the preparatory signal and, when applicable, whilst racing. These rules may not be checked as part of fundamental measurement. It is the Owners responsibility to see that his boat complies with the class rules and relevant RRS at all times and that alteration, replacement or repairs to the boat do not invalidate the measurement certificate.

* The total crew weight on board while racing shall not exceed 629kgs. This weight shall be taken with the crew dressed in normal underclothes only. Crews shall only be weighed during the registration period prior to racing. Re-weighing shall only take place if a valid protest shows that the pre-race weights were false. The Owner shall be allocated a weight of 104kgs., the Owner may choose to weigh in.

As was commented about the 2010 Melges 32 World Championship, the event allowed for crew weight to be measured as far as nine days before the first race. And it would seem, based on the rule, that as long as the crew weight information was accurately recorded, and that the scale equipment was not found to be faulty, than the time of weigh in is the ONLY time a crew must weigh no more than 629kg.

- Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt


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Nov 26, 2010, 5:02 AM

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So maybe I am missing something here, but why not just weigh in the crews of the boats that came in first, second and third at the end of the regatta, and if they are over the weight limit chuck them? Doesn't that make a lot more sense then having people starve themselves and sweat off 10 pounds of water weight BEFORE the regatta?


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Dec 1, 2010, 9:07 AM

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From Mark Lammens:
Weight limits are about fairness, and if it is not done right it becomes about stupid testosterone antics. Rowing events do a pre-regatta and daily weigh-in, and as such they all know what they weigh, and are basically at that weight. Just having a pre-regatta weighing promotes “How heavy can we get”.

Overeating is promoted because it is an advantage to be heavier...eating and drinking becomes the game within the game. It is not healthy to eat that much. With multiple weigh-ins, weight fluctuations are discouraged and if one is serious about competing well (strong enough to pull the ropes, or hike), your weight needs to be a normal, hydrated, ‘first thing in the morning’ weight.

The regatta and class can dictate whether it is going to be healthy, safe, and fair event, or a college dorm ‘all you can eat’ kegger party,....which was fun...but not healthy.


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Dec 1, 2010, 9:09 AM

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From Peter Hinrichsen:
With regard to the Melges 32 class rules concerning crew weight, the first sentence is crystal clear "The total crew weight on board while racing shall not exceed 629kgs." That surely means that if the crew mass is more than 629 kg while racing this rule has been broken. The rest of the rule deals with how the crew is to be "weighed" and it should be noted that 629 kg is a mass and NOT a weight, which is the force with which the earth pulls on them. Therefore the jury can put the crew on a jolly jumper (suspend them on a spring) and measure their oscillation frequency to get their mass. That would not be weighing, as the force of gravity on them does not come into this measurement, which is used in the weightless environment of space.

As an international measurer, I have both controlled wet clothing weights and crew weights at a number of Olympic Games and now sail on an Etchells. I think that to most sailors, anyone exceeding the wet clothing limit would be justifiably disqualified, so it seems disingenuous to allow added weight by eating after weighing.

A class has to make the serious decision as to whether the social side of their events takes precedence over the crew weight rule, and I see both sides of this, but then if the rule is there the class must enforce it. Lax application of any rule opens a can of worms. Although time consuming and boring to implement, the Yngling class rule, which requires weighing each morning before racing, is the way to implement a crew weight rule at World Championships and the Olympics.



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Dec 1, 2010, 9:09 AM

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From Andrew Troup:
Peter Hinrichsen is no doubt jamming his tongue deep into his cheek with his talk of kg being a mass unit and some subterfuge such as jolly jumpers being needed to measure mass directly. However, for the sake of impressionable minds, I think it should be noted:

1) When we talk of someone weighing 70kg, we really mean 70 kg.f, or kilograms force. This is not a standard SI unit and no use to a scientist, but it's in almost universal use for weights (not just of people but freight, machines etc), and in some European countries it's also used for measurement of force in some engineering disciplines. It used to be known as a 'kilopond' in some places. It's not normally necessary to resort to mass units, or standard weight units (eg Newtons)

2) In cases where it is necessary to measure a sailor's mass (presumably we're not sailing in Lake Titicaca where altitude might start to count, so perhaps because of unquantified local gravitational anomalies), it is difficult to do directly, but relatively easy to do by comparison with a know mass, eg using a beam balance.




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