Takapuna aftermath: Interview with IACA President Andrew Landenberger

The Class is experiencing some special breakthrough times. Last year we saw new equipment developments pushed by the ACup and previous attempts in the Class that aimed to get the boats airborne within current rules to reduce surface drag and get faster boats. At the 2013 Barcelona Europeans we saw a nice mix of weather conditions and this new setup didn´t demonstrated the superiority finally exposed at Takapuna Worlds. The results at the Worlds forced an overnight  seconds thoughts on foiling  not being an all mighty winning card in the A-Class.

Previous the AGM held at Takapuna the IACA made an effort to duly inform the sailors on what were the new rules submissions & proposals by local Assocs. We also posted comments on the rules plus the views from two top riders, one towards opening the rules and the other to keep them as they were.

Below you can find a list of these posts , all previous NZ Worlds:
- President on Technical aspects on Submissions & Proposals: http://www.a-cat.org/?q=node/268
- Rule 8 Explained: http://www.a-cat.org/?q=node/273
- President comments on Class voting Procedures: http://www.a-cat.org/?q=node/278
- Mischa's position: http://www.a-cat.org/?q=node/279
- Piet Saarberg interview & Comments on Flying: http://www.a-cat.org/?q=node/252

At  a-cat.org/?q=node/268 Andrew Landenberger posted the following remarks about the situation previous Takapuna:

"...We have looked at proposal as submitted and are of the opinion that it must be up to the class to decide. Simply Rule 8.2 stays or goes. Boat floating in 30 cm of water would be impractical to measure.

We do however believe that IACA has a responsibility to advise all national associations and fleet members the ramifications of such a change. To assist we put together a small list of the pros and cons of such a change

- Cons
Issues in crowded boat parks and launching areas with boats needing to be tipped on their side on land or in water to insert boards.
Inability to fully raise foils in light weather.
Inability to clear debris (plastic bags, weed etc.) from foils

- Pros
Reduction in costs without having to build boats with exotic structure to allow extreme boards to be inserted from the top.

Most current boats would be easily modified to accept modern board developments.
Old boats may be able to be fitted with modern boards and made more competitive again which may be encouraging for new sailors to the class looking in the second hand boat market."

After Landenberger comments we published the view from the 2012 World Champ in favor to keep rules as they were. Mischa Heemskerk position: http://www.a-cat.org/?q=node/279

"...When the class originally introduced the rule 8.2 it took a direction where boats were developed within these rules. If this rule get’s open now it will create a huge development and requires new boats to be able to compete. 
There is no need for the class to change now, we are not loosing sailors cause we have this rule. I think the opposite is true at the moment. My best A cat moment was this year, overhearing several A cat sailors who where excited to go sail their boat. No racing, just nice weather and a great boat to sail downwind in trapeze."


All the data above was published in the official IACA website previous to the Worlds Annual Gral Meeting.

It is important to remark then that the Class provided the background about the different alternatives  plus tehcnical data & even personal comments from respected sailors for the Assoc representatives to cast their votes with all the information over the table.

AGM Minutes can be found at a-cat.org/?q=node/371

We contacted Class President Andrew Landenberger to have to analyze his experience while racing at the Worlds and which are the alternatives the Class has to address the different positions among the Class Assoc & members.

Interview made on Feb 27, 2014:
- Ed: The efficiency on Foiling or not discussions are now pointless. At Barcelona almost the same basic equipment didn´t showed what we saw at NZ Worlds with a little more training time and fine tunning. Boats are flying and winning all races at World events under current rules. Is there any chance to ban foiling from its roots now?
Andrew Landenberger: There is always a means to change class rules through the class constitution but after following a process it requires a 2/3 majority across all members of the class to succeed. This generally is not easy to achieve so the members have to be clearly in favour of a change. We held a vote at the WGM to actually open the rules and it was quite close to succeeding so at this point it seems quite unlikely that more than 2/3 of the class would agree to ban foiling.

- We published at the IACA website some of your thoughts balancing the Pros and Cons of opening the rules before the Worlds, you were more in favor on opening them, you also envisioned complicated solutions to workaround the "from the top rule" And you proved it with the cassette case that was even ruled in by ISAF officials.
Which are your thoughts now after what you 've seen and experienced at the Worlds?
AL: I still remain open on this issue. The A class is a development class, one of the last of it's type in the world. I love sailing this boat because after all these years it is still at the forefront of technology.
I have a lot of faith in open rules as it inevitably finds the best solution without the development constraints which certain rules may create.

Back in 2005 I sailed my first A class worlds. At his time the canted straight boards were just beginning in the class.
We had at least two boats arrive with more canted boards than the others. So much so, that when you raised the boards right up the top of the boards were wider than the 2.3m width in the rules. This raised the alarm, and class representatives stepped in and ruled these boats illegal.
Personally I disagreed with this ruling at the time but being new in the class it was not my place to be involved. As a result of that single decision the Curved boards were born. This is the same problem we are faced with today and the reason i was involved in producing the boat with cassettes. It was basically to prove a point that the 8.2 rule achieves nothing.

I still stand by that, however rule 8.1 which limits the freedom of lifting area under the boat was made with good intentions.
As we have now seen, this area under the boat is more than enough for a boat to fly but at the time this measurement was set we already had a lot of boats in the fleet build to this measurements, so this rule was created to encompass all existing boats of that time.

My only argument to open the rules is that the current rule 8 does not do what it was intended, so I see no real reason for it to be there. Based on what I have seen and learnt so far, I believe the new A class designs will stay inside the current rule 8 even if it is not there.
The only people this really effects are those with older boats as without rule 8 they would have more opportunities to modify C boards and insert them from the bottom. I did a similar test earlier this year simply installed small lifting foils in the C boards and it worked quite well. This would be a cheap step to get closer to the latest designs.

- As far as I know some Class AGM votes were issued before Takapuna outcomes. Which are the alternatives the Class has now to solve or define next steps to find consensus based on this new scenario, without having to wait for a long impasse and provide some predictable scenario for next season?
AL: I also believe if people had seen the boats in action during NZ the class may have looked at the issue differently, however it is difficult to say. People tend to be conservative by nature. Also their opinions are mostly personally based.

Our class has a lot of mature sailors who already are not so impressed with the thought of trapezing down wind. I think the thought of foiling downwind is perhaps just one step to far in their eyes. At this point the rules remain stable, which is a good thing. from here if there was enough support across all nations there would be a possibility to either call and extra ordinary meeting and vote again, or simply wait until the next WGM in 2015.

At this stage I think it is hard to calculate just where the total class sits on this issue. After more time when people have seen the boats in action with there own eyes we will have a clearer idea. Now many are only responding to short videos the have seen on the Internet and the different comments made on sailing forums which in some cases may have been quite misleading.

- Some camps are saying that new developments can make sailing the As even more easy to sail , surely not what we've seen at Takapuna though, but you pioneered the Winglets in the Class, and I know those rudder winglets have stabilize and prevent some hard pitching in the breeze.
It is possible in your view to achieve this on the daggers too, a solution that can provide a safer ride in the end in high winds and a more stable ride?
AL:  I have no doubt about this. I am quite sure this is the future of sailing boat design and quite sure the boats will become much easier to sail. I watched this happen in the moth class as well. i was one of the pioneers in the class of the super narrow skiffs.

In the end there were only a few of us World wide who could master the boats across all conditions. After being out of the class for 20 years I bought a foiler just to see what I was missing out on. It was actually really easy to sail. I had the same impression when I put the foils in the Centre boards.
I could push the boat so hard down wind with no fear of nose diving.
When I eventually changed back to standard boards I really had to be careful again to learn the limits. Nathan Outteridge actually made a video explaining just that this point and if you ask Glenn, Mischa or any of the other guys on J boards they will tell you exactly the same thing.

- Opening the rules can bring complicated wand systems like used in the Moths or Petrucci's scaled A? I see to much emphasis on external controlling systems and I think a little more development can provide better stable and safer rides without taking away completely the sailors skills, that in my view should remain key.
Do wands systems can be declared legal ? & Foil span limitation has any reason to remain now that boats are flying under current rules?
AL: Many people are discussing wand systems. Currently with or without rule 8 I do not think they are legal. There is a discussion over sailing rule 52 which allegedly prohibits automated control systems. This is a hot issue within it's self, but the Moth class simply removed it from their rules just to make sure.

If we should or need to do this is another unknown. If the Class wanted to create the perfect foiling machine then perhaps wands would be part of the solution, however this type of solution may not be good in non foiling conditions.
We really do not know and it would be interesting to gain more information to be able to give a qualified answer.

What we do know already is that the J board boats currently do not go any slower in light wind than a standard A, they just go faster when the wind increases. They pitch less than a stander C board boat and they nose dive less. there does not appear to be any negatives at this stage which makes it a pretty good racing solution.

Right now the new "flying boats" as they are referred to are basically stock standard boats. They do nothing different than everyone else. They just have hi lift J boards and wings on the rudders. These products have been on the market for the last year and all that happened at the worlds was a clever group of world class sailors went to work to learn how to sail these boats out of the water. It was impressive to watch and I was quite envious that I did not have the time to join them.

I have no doubt the development on these boards will continue and eventually we may even get to a point were we can go very fast downwind without having to trapeze. Who knows where it will end up.

- Ed: Finals thought and course of action for the IACA. As I see it the Class has two options:
A) Leave rules as is and ban the cassettes case type of solutions
This option will kept things as is, but many are complaining it is awkward and not much possible to achieve stable ride in this context.  Complex dagger cases will be continue to be developed though to push for a more efficient ride.

B) Opening the rules and free development
With this alternative an initial period will bring too much different setups, and the scenario will be not much different than today in terms of defining asap an efficient working system. But In the mid term builders/sailors will accelerate development and a good compromise solution will be found surely. This alternative can also bring some beach launch and other handling issues along the holy grail of stable and all round ride.

Andrew Landenberger comments: These are options but not the only two. I see no reason to add another band aid to the class rules to ban cassettes. They come with there own set of problems and I am not even sure we need this construction to house the boards of the future. If anything the boards will get smaller and lower drag.

Also inserting the boards is a great advantage so I expect we will continue to work towards this solution. I think we have currently a lot of expert opinions about what will or will not work but it my mind it is all just theory until it is tested.

I do not know all the answers but the evidence is already there that a good solution is possible within the restraints of our current rules. I do not think it would harm the class to open the rules but it is also clearly not necessary.

It is also not up to IACA to implement changes in the class. It is up to the individual class members to to voice their opinions through their presidents and follow the process set out by the class constitution. This is important that people understand this as our constitution is what keeps our class strong and stable. If change is the right decision for the class then it will succeed through the process set out by our constitution.

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