An open letter from Alistair Murray on the crew weight rule 20th July, 2010
Frank Bethwaite Bethwaite Design
Woollahra Sailing Club
2 Vickery Avenue ROSE BAY NSW 2029
Cc: Tasar Community
I was encouraged from comments of yours presented to the ATC meeting at Airlie Beach in relation to the Tasar crew weight rule to write to you about a Tasar matter that I feel very strongly about. I have decided to do so publicly because I would really like to see public debate on the topics, both of which are very close to your heart and to the principles of the Tasar. As you know, I have owned and raced Tasars since 1978, have won a national title, was instrumental in the "Victorian revitalisation" of the class and the introduction of mylar sails and am a serial class sponsor with Ronstan! In short I love the class!
The topic is the crew weight rule. Crew Weight Rule The concept of the rule as I understand it, was to ensure that the class could be competitively sailed by an adult crew and in particular adult male/female combinations. I would like to suggest to you that the Tasar, since inception, has been spectacularly successful at achieving this. The weight rule has not been a key reason for this success and I believe the class would gain more from abolishing it than it would lose. I also know that a number of top sailors/crews disagree with me on this and I am going to ask them to calmly consider the points I raise: * Across a full range of wind conditions I am convinced that the optimum weight for sailing the Tasar competitively is 140kg, ie 10kg above the minimum. * Crews who sail across a variety of conditions more than 10kg above or below 140kg are at a disadvantage. * Crews below 130kg who then have to add weight are at a further disadvantage. Not only that, they are greatly inconvenienced and I know of cases where people are disillusioned and put off the class by it. An example is my current crew Darren Eger, who has a Tasar he wants to sail with his daughter. He is already over-powered in most conditions with his 110kg crew weight and to add insult to injury he has to carry 20kg in lead. I particularly felt too for the Japanese crews who came to Australia for the Sandringham Worlds in 1998 and had to sail every day for a week in 20-25 knots of breeze, with their boats carrying a handicap. I would like to suggest that abolishing the crew weight rule would have the following effects: * Registration at all regattas would be simplified and people sensitive about their weight would no longer have to endure embarrassing weigh ins. * Lighter crews, including many of our friends in Japan would rejoice and the class would immediately be more attractive to lighter people, potentially leading to more sales. * Lighter crews would become more competitive, which would improve the racing for all. * The most competitive weight range for sailing Tasars would remain at 130 - 150kg, with the optimum at 140kg. * You may have heavier crews choose to not compete at a light air venue, but if so, it is the same dilemma that a light crew faces when confronted with a heavy air venue. I say "tough luck!" I don't feel we should be protecting the results of the elite sailors. * No-one would leave the class as a result of the change. It would remain a great, high performance dinghy, ideally suited to two people in the 130-150kg weight range. In conclusion, I would simply like to ask the question "Why further penalise a crew that is already at a disadvantage?" and in doing so I would like to point out that I have always sailed my boats at 140kg plus, so I am arguing for the good of the class rather than for any personal advantage.
Thank you for listening, Frank and others. Let the debate continue, as it is sure to be lively!
Yours in Tasar Sailing,