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This paper contains a number of outcomes from the 2013 Nationals, the Owners’ Meeting held at the Nationals and subsequent Committee discussions.
2014 is the 35th Anniversary of the Class. We are in the strongest position we have been for many years as interest in the Class grows. As a Class we need to move and grow to ensure the Impala keeps its place in one-design racing, shrugging off more recent upstarts. That is what this paper is about – building on what we have and growing.
The paper does focus on the Rules and the Nationals – I do hope all Members and those interested in the Impala find something to take away from this paper.
It would be superb to see as many boats as possible at the 2014 Nationals to celebrate our 35th Birthday. You’ll find the date and location of the 2014 Nationals at the end of this paper.
Nationals 2014 & 2015
In recent years the Association has done its best to move the National Championship around the UK and Eire to ensure that all owners have a chance of competing at a Nationals. Fleets have varied ranging from 0 in South Wales to double figure fleets along the South Coast at Plymouth in 2012 and, again, at Weymouth in 2013.
The Committee have had some long, hard discussions about where future Nationals are held and we have come to one inescapable conclusion – that for a successful championship, we have to go where the boats are. Unfortunately for Northern owners, that means the South Coast of England.
As the Class continues to build, we’ve found that the largest core of boats – at least 20 out of the c130 remaining in the UK – are on the South Coast.
Numbers on that coast are growing at the expense of other areas. Outside of the South Coast, the next largest regional group we know of is 6 boats in Scotland – 2 on the Clyde, 2 on the Moray Firth, 1 in Edinburgh and one in a back garden on its trailer. Other than that, Impalas are scattered in one’s and two’s around the UK and Eire’s coast.
There is no bias in the Class towards southern boats – the sheer hard fact is the south is where the boats are in suitable quantities to operate a meaningful event where we may have 16-20 boats competing.
The Class is also at a crossroads in its regeneration and, to continue that regeneration, the Committee have had to choose numbers and visibility over local inclusiveness. 2014 will also be the Class’s 35th Anniversary year and we are aiming to have 20 boats or more on the start line. It is for those reasons that we are holding the 2014 Nationals on the South Coast with a strong preference to return to Weymouth.
I have personally emailed or written to all Northern, Welsh and Irish owners explaining our reasoning and to encourage owners who may be a little further away, we have decided to offer a £100.00 travelling bursary to each boat travelling from more than 100 land miles to the Nationals location, up to a maximum of 4 bursaries, for boats arriving by road. Such a bursary will, at least, offset some of the cost of travelling. More details are below.
We are also making enquiries as to any Impala trailers which may be available for loan. If you have a trailer which you are willing to loan, Barnaby Smith would be pleased to hear from you. Barnaby volunteered to take over the organisation of the Nationals from Kevin Palfreeman. Barnaby can be reached through barnabysmith ( @ ) btinternet.com
We are also checking whether any owners who cannot compete at the Nationals and whose boat is “local” may be willing to loan their boat to owners for whom Weymouth is a little too far to travel. Any loans on this basis would be arranged directly between owners and will probably involve the “borrowing” owner bringing their own sails.
I’m sure you will join me in thanking Kevin for the superb work he has done in helping the fleet and the Nationals rebuild.
From feedback we have received, the ideal would be a 3 day, over a weekend, stand-alone championships. This format would allow boats to do other events either side of the Nationals as, for many, this would justify delivery trips, whether by land or sea.
Why 3 days? A three day format allows for a relaxed delivery either side and does not encroach too heavily into family holidays or cause ructions within the family circle.
We are currently obtaining costs for both a stand-alone and an ‘in company’ Nationals. It may be that the cost of the stand-alone event means the level of entry fees are prohibitive and, in that case, we will select another event to be ‘in company’ with. We are seeking sponsorship for the Nationals which will be used to either enhance the event or to reduce entry costs.
Key factors for us are:
A clear race area which is not impinged on by other racing fleets, whether or not as part of the same regatta plus
Our own committee vessel
The ability for all the fleet to be moored together after racing – Weymouth Town Quay being described as an ideal location by more than one competitor.
11 of the 12 competing owners surveyed after the 2013 Nationals expressed a preference for Weymouth. It is a perfect mid-point for those along the South Coast and great for socials – we have taken on board all the comments surrounding food and will look at alternatives for 2014. 12 Impalas moored up at the Quayside is a great sight and a party in the making.
The sailing area isn’t bad too – after all, if it’s good enough for the Olympics, it should do for us. Some of those competing in the 2013 Nationals commented that Weymouth Bay was some of the best sailing waters they had been in.
For crews not staying on board, accommodation is plentiful and varied and there is plenty of entertainment in the town.
Access to the port by road is also good and there are excellent facilities for lifting and launching.
Issues of number of races per day and length and race management have all been covered in the sections below.
General Class issues
2014 will be the Class’s 35th Anniversary with a consequent publicity push.
We will be seeking sponsors for the Nationals from members and their contacts – if you would like to provide some sponsorship for the Nationals, please get in touch with Barney Smith who is co-ordinating the event. Barney’s email is barnabysmith ( @ ) btinternet.com
The more sponsorship we have, the better we can make the event and further defray the Class’s own expenses in running the event.
Overall exclusive sponsorship will be in the region of £2,500 with other packages available.
Out of Class Boats – there are a number of Impalas which are out of Class. Some owners of out of class boats are long-standing and loyal supporters of the Class Association. As it is the 35th Anniversary of the Class, we are proposing to extend an invitation to the Nationals to these boats as they are part of the Impala family and we would like to have them there. We are proposing that they can join in the racing, however their results will be counted separately and they will not be eligible for the Championships.
Travel Bursaries – To celebrate our 35th Anniversary, the Class is awarding four travel bursaries of £100 each.
We would like to see some of our Northern based boats come down to the South Coast to compete and the travel bursary is an incentive to do so through helping you defray some costs. The bursaries are aimed at those who would need to tow their boats to the venue rather than those who can sail there.
The criteria for the award of a bursary are: 1) you must be towing your boat to the venue, 2) you must be travelling at least 100 land miles in a straight line to reach the venue; 3) you must enter, and compete in, the Nationals. Bursaries will be paid on the last day of the Nationals to the boat owner.
If more than four boats are eligible for bursaries the Class may, at its discretion, extend the bursary scheme. Out of Class boats will not be eligible for a travel bursary.
IRC Rating: Commentary was made at the Owners’ Meeting about our IRC Rating and could it be improved. It was explained that we had had correspondence with the RORC Rating Office previously and the outcome of that discussion, was that Impalas already had a full age allowance.
The Nationals threw up some challenges with the Class Rules. Over time the Rules have changed and modified to take account of new materials, new equipment, higher safety standards and changes to racing rules.
Over the winter 2013-2014, we will be taking an in-depth look at the Rules as they stand now and deciding whether to change any Rules for season 2013-2014.
We will be seeking to maintain the accessibility of the Class and its affordability. Too many of us have seen the negative impacts of chequebook sailing on some classes and the overly prescriptive rules of other classes, both of which lead to declining racing numbers. Not everyone can afford the latest piece of kit and we must reflect this in the Rules.
However, we also have to recognise that the majority race their Impalas under IRC so we will be reviewing the Rules to ensure that the swap from IRC to Class racing at events such as the Nationals does not impose an excessive, or indeed any, cost burden on owners.
We will also be writing Regatta Guidance into the Rule Structure so that situations such as that which we had at the Nationals on the Saturday (winds gusting to 40kts) can be better managed.
Items which came out of the Nationals and which we will be addressing in the updated Rules include:
Higher spinnaker hoists
Spinnaker Poles: Weights, replacement aluminium & carbon poles
Mainsail reefing points
Lead corrector weights and acceptable substitutes
The overall discussions will clear up any ambiguities with the current Rules. We also aim to limit opportunities for variation from standard while bringing in mechanisms whereby inadvertent rule infringements can be properly managed.
We are also proposing to adopt the RYA class rules statement “IF IT DOES NOT SAY YOU CAN, THEN YOU CANNOT” as this is a very good catch all.
Masts and spinnaker poles: One aspect which came out of conversation at the Nationals was that the original Impala pole is now far too heavy for those who have women or youths as their foredeck crew and a lighter pole would be appreciated. We are in conversation with Selden on this issue and a trial lightweight aluminium pole is being made and tested on the Solent. Selden note that putting a minimum weight on the pole can mean having to add a lump of metal to it and that we should, as a Class think about this aspect. No outline cost has been given as Selden note that for some poles, existing pole beaks may be able to be used so reducing the cost.
A carbon pole is also being tested, again with the hope of using existing pole beaks.
Moving onto masts. Most of the Impalas sailing are still using their original D sections which are now approaching 35 years old. To date there have been few mast failures but as the metal ages, they are expected to become more common.
Olly Love will be working with Selden to take a complete set of measurements off of a current Impala rig so, if the worst happens; there is an equivalent mast available.
Modern masts do, however, have a greater fore and aft dimension to increase the stiffness, which means that owners with newer masts can carry greater forestay tensions and point higher. This is not where we want to be as a Class as having a new rig would give both speed and pointing advantages against those with older rigs, so what we are going to try and do is recreate the current Kemp/Proctor rig.
Lead corrector weights: It is appreciated that lead is extremely expensive to buy and work, especially when over 300kg is required if you need to comply with all the corrector weights. We will be looking at acceptable alternatives to lead for the 2014 Championships. Suggestions already range from second hand gym weights or rubber covered dumb bells to sealed water containers. Whatever the selected alternatives are, it will be regularly scrutineered.
Mainsail Reefing Points: these are a matter of safety and will be enforced at future Nationals. The Impala’s full name is the Impala 28 Offshore One Design (our highlight). Safe and proper seamanship dictates that the boats should have the capability of reefing down their mainsails in adverse conditions.
Design Drawings: the Class will seek to obtain the drawings and rights of usage from David Thomas. If possible under the usage rights, we will digitise them and make them available to members.
Rules issues at Regattas
Impalas, as we have noted elsewhere, are primarily raced under IRC, rarely racing formally as ODs more than once or twice a year. Therefore, owners need to retain the ability to tweak their boats, within reason, to maximise IRC performance. Impalas winning, and being competitive, under IRC is good for the Class as success breeds success and will encourage others to seek out and own an Impala.
However, tweaking a boat for IRC can mean taking it out of class for one design racing.
Feedback from the Weymouth Nationals showed that all competitors wished to see the Class Rules enforced more stringently at the Nationals.
This will be happening in 2014. We will be rigidly enforcing those items which have an ability to affect speed or are crucial for safety.
Over the winter the committee will be revisiting the Rules and grading them into categories for scrutineering in 2014 and beyond.
The first category will be ‘must comply for all Class events up to and including the National Championships’ and will cover sails, rudders, hoist heights, weight adjustments and safety equipment. Penalties will be given for infringements up to, and including, exclusion from the regatta for serious infringements.
The second category will be ‘compliance is preferable but an appropriate alternative is acceptable providing no advantage is gained.’ This category will cover domestic matters such as having a cooker with an oven rather than a 2 ring stove, different combinations of cutlery and crockery, depth of mattresses, a heavier or lighter anchor and chain, alternative weights to lead blocks etc. The rationale behind this category is that boats have changed over the 35 years they have been sailing and it is unacceptable for us to ask an owner to downgrade a boat to comply. The rules were also written when the boats were built and materials have changed dramatically since those days. We accept that there are differences between the boats and we wish to find a suitable and sensible balance which is as fair as possible to all parties and easy to enforce.
Enforcement at the Nationals will be committee led. We will start with informal light touch “fix it before the first race, please” and move up to using Protests for those who do not comply. A non-competing Class Official will be arbiter for the light touch enforcement. The formal Protest route will be used immediately for serious infringements.
If an item cannot be brought into compliance immediately i.e. a 5% oversize spinnaker, the competitor may, at the discretion of the Committee, continue to race with the item but taking a suitable penalty to compensate for the perceived advantage. In the example of the oversized spinnaker, a 5% penalty on the downwind legs may be applied. The Committee will be looking at a suitable penalty scheme over the winter.
We wish to avoid situations where minor Rule infringements – your spinnaker pole is 5mm too long – can be used by competitors to protest out other competitors, which is why enforcement will be Committee led. We will, however, rely on competitors to bring Rule infringements, whether pre or post-scrutineering, to the Committee’s notice.
We also wish to have an eye to economics and to avoid disadvantaging brand new owners. At the 2013 Nationals one boat had, literally, been purchased two or three weeks before the Nationals. That boat was competing with the sails it was sold with, which may or may not have been in Class. We, as a Class, would not wish to discourage new owners by being overly prescriptive with the Rules in such situations, preferring to encourage and to provide guidance from the wealth of expertise in the Class. In such cases, the Committee wishes to reserve the right to allow the first time competitor owner to continue sailing with, perhaps, a small % penalty applied for out of Class items. Long-standing owners will have no excuses for non-compliance.
Scrutineering will take place in 2014. A percentage of all boats competing will undergo full scrutineering by a measurer/named official every day. This will involve sail and rudder measurements so we will want owners to lift their rudders off and provide all their sails for measurement. Sail measurement will not take place if owners can provide a recent declaration (no older than 6 months before the start date of the regatta) that all the sails being used for the event are in Class.
Cross scrutineering of boats will also take place where Boat A scrutineers Boat B, and vice versa against a pre-provided list.
Regatta Issues – The Social Side
Stephanie Meakins did a superb job in delivering the social programme and we will build on that for 2014.
All of those who responded to the Owner and Crew surveys thoroughly enjoyed themselves and gave constructive comments as to what we could be offered for 2014.
We are always conscious that we have to balance affordability with aspiration when arranging social programmes and what is readily affordable to one crew, is a stretch for another. Your feedback unequivocally stated that owners and crew were prepared to pay more for better food. This has been noted and we will budget accordingly.
You would like to see more of an organised social side with a full social programme covering the Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Suggestions for 2014 include:
An inter boat challenge/game/quiz.
More games like the plank ‘thing’.
Could we stretch to a low key cocktail party next year and encourage everyone to bring their glad rags?
Perhaps a supper/dinner with some entertainment and a different venue than the ‘Shed’ .
Better nibbles for the Quayside party, please. I am sure that some local members would volunteer to help with more imaginative nibbles.
Perhaps it was the weather but a hot meal would have been preferable to a buffet on the Saturday.
As 2014 is the 35th Anniversary, an enhanced ‘birthday’ event which may be a party, a dinner or something else will be held and, yes, there will be birthday cake.
Being rafted up together in the town centre was a huge plus point for all those who attended, whether owner or crew.
Competitors would have preferred prize giving to have taken place earlier in the evening but understood this was not always possible due to protests being heard. We have taken on board comments about roll overs of prizes and will explain the grounds on which a roll over takes place in advance of the event in 2014.
A ‘buddy system’ for those new to the Impalas was suggested. Such a system would help people to meet and help those new to Class racing or the Class improve. A further suggestion was circulating, prior to the event, and with owners’ approval, of a list of entrants with contact details.
If you have any other suggestions for social events, please let the Committee know.
Regatta issues – on the water/practical
The Class will be writing a set of Guidance Notes for future host clubs which set out the requirements of the Class for its National Championships. These Guidance Notes will cover race formats and types of courses; expectations around race management including class signals, radio communications and sailing instructions.
After the weather on Saturday at the 2013 Nationals, the Guidance Notes will also cover instructions to race officers should conditions deteriorate. Most competent race officers do shorten course when conditions deteriorate badly, however, the Saturday showed us it would be better to have something in writing.
We are proposing wording along the lines of “While it is an individual skipper’s responsibility to continue sailing in the face of deteriorating conditions, the Class prefers races to be halted at the next available mark rounding if winds are recorded in excess of 30kts for a continuous period of more than 20 minutes prior to the race being shortened or gusts exceed 40kts. Race Officers should take cognisance of, at the very least, the visibility, the immediate weather forecast, the time crews have already been on the water and the sea state when making their decisions, halting racing in lower wind speeds in large seas and poor visibility. Common sense should be applied.” Please note that the figures used are for example only.
Looking at individual aspects:
Race Types, Passage Race: owners would have preferred the passage race to have been a true passage race rather than an extended ‘round the cans’ race. The shape and aspects of the coastline surrounding the port chosen for the Nationals may limit what can be offered for passage races. We will give improved guidance to the host club so that this issue can be better addressed for 2014.
Race Types, ‘Round the Cans’ Racing: Owners and crews have asked for more variety in the round the cans aspect of the Nationals with race types changing between races. Instead of sailing 3 windward/leewards on one day, we might sail windward/leewards as races 1 & 3 with an Olympic triangle as Race 2. Again guidance will be given to the host club.
Most of the sailing feedback from 2013 is, in the main, easily addressed through the set of Guidance notes we will be issuing for 2014 onwards. One key change is that we will be insisting that a Class Representative is on board the committee vessel throughout racing. This will allow issues, such as that which occurred on the Saturday with the high winds, to be immediately addressed.
The 2014 Nationals will take place in Weymouth over Friday 25th to Sunday 27th July 2014