2004 West Marine Pacific Cup
Proposed changes to the inspection protocol
Ever since 1980 we have had between a 2% and 3% failure rate of main rudders. This is only considering blade and stock failures, not steering gear failures (so the quadrant failure on Ariel in '02 doesn't even count).
Propose that we codify a standard test protocol as follows:
With the boat under power, in smooth water, with the main rudder locked on centerline, demonstrate 180 degree course reversals and course-keeping in both directions, with no adjustment to the main rudder. Yaw rate to be above a certain minimum value, suggest two degrees per second or no more than 90 seconds to complete each course reversal.
While there are some arguments for performing this test with the main rudder free, in practice this makes the results very inconsistent and unpredictable. All steering systems have some friction, and the main rudder has a big influence on yaw rate. Especially after it has been "bumped" into a more favorable angle, either by waves or by the owner's knee.
This test does not address the structural integrity or deployability of the emergency rudder at all, but it does test the ability of the emergency rudder to produce a minimal amount of steering torque.
For big boats we may be justified in relaxing the requirements somewhat. Mari-Cha was only allowed in the race because they can steer with their keel trim tab, as I understand it. I don't think anyone would have expected a boat of that size to ship an emergency blade large enough to be effective if they had experienced a main rudder failure. Suggest that for boats over 60 feet we consider allowing classification society certification of the main rudder scantlings, or some other method of validating that the main rudder system is sufficiently well engineered to be reliable for the race. The stats we have on rudder failures shows that this is usually the case for the larger boats.
There have also been complaints that an emergency rudder would rip the transom off certain large ultralight designs. This is probably true if the two gudgeons are close together on a very short vestigal transom. But it's probably not true if the upper gudgeon is supported by an A-frame (See Mintaka and Bodacious) or a spar spanning across the stern rails (Ariel).
We need to make sure that each boat is required to bring enough ground tackle for Kaneohe Bay in bad weather, but the West Advisor is not nearly definitive enough to use as a pass/no pass criterion.
The issue here is weight. Racers have strong incentive to choose the lightest gear they can possibly justify, so the only rule that makes sense is a rule that specifies the minimum weight of ground tackle. This will not allow any competitor to gain any advantage by skimping on the total weight of their required ground tackle.
I propose a simple formula that gives minimum combined weight of all anchors and chain, based on the certificate displacement of the boat. Propose SQRT(disp)/2 (where disp is in pounds). This would require 28 pounds of ground tackle for my 3,000 lb. Merit 25, and 112 pounds of ground tackle for the 50,000 lb. 58 ft Swiftsure.
A number of boats have finished Transpacs and Pacific Cups with badly parched crew after losing a large amount of their water due to a failure in the water tank plumbing or pumping system, and others have had to turn back early because of similar failures. I have raced on boats with tank water that was almost undrinkable. For good drinking water, and for an accident-tolerant emergency supply, plumbed up tanks (as required) are far less reliable than a few cases of bottled drinking water. The data is not just anecdotal, it is statistically significant.
Suggest that we clearly allow - and maybe even require - a large portion of the required water to be in the form of half- liter bottles of spring water. Depending on how the ORC wording is interpreted, these may already be allowed: If each bottle is considered a separate tank, it meets the specified strength requirement. (On Ariel in '02 we found that one 35-bottle "club pack" (17.5 liters) per crew was about right. The rest of the required water was in regular tanks.)
Suggest we allow stanchion spacing up to 7.5 feet for boats built prior to whatever year the current spacing requirement was instituted by ORC. For one-design boats, the "date built" should be the launch date of the first boat of the class. This will avoid a very difficult fix for very minimal increment in safety for boats that just miss the existing spec for stanchion spacing.
That little light on the lifesling
There is no way to check that this light is functional - once activated it can't be turned off. Suggest we require some documentation on the light's age or time of last battery change. We need to specify an expiration time limit as with flares.
We need a test protocol to check for leaks in non-new inflatable PFDs. Suggest overnight inflation, verified by the owner's signature on a declaration. Also suggest that we not accept any inflation cylinder older than some specified age or showing any signs of wear or corrosion.
This is another issue we need to take seriously - a non- functioning inflatable PFD contributed to the drowning death of a BYC member within the last few years.
We also need to require at least one safety harness on board that does not have a water-activated inflation device. The reason for this is left as an exercise for the reader.