I had a lovely chat yesterday with the chief handicapper. He’s been in the role for 20+ years. Too long, but not a lot of people willing to take it on these days. We probably talked for a half hour.
The gist of his message was that they have never assigned a rating for a boat that included the use of movable water ballast, and that it would be problematic and potentially controversial within the committee to deal with a request for this.
I especially appreciated his clear interest and understanding of the boat and system, and we talked at length about some of the possible advantages that the system offered, like lightening the boat off the wind. I also got a sense of some of the issues that sport boats have introduced for the handicappers. Probably this isn’t the first time he’s seen the issue raised. By the time we finished I was almost resigned to racing without using the water ballast.
As I thought about it during the day, I realized that this just wasn’t going to work for me. I bought the boat in part because it had this system, and would allow higher performance through a broad range of conditions. The entire design of the boat was influenced by the allowed use of the system under the original class rules.
I also thought about my motivation. It’s not to gain some advantage over my competitors. It’s not to exploit some rule loophole. It’s not to get a favourable rating.
I’ve got a boat that was designed in the mid 1990s to a box rule that was meant to develop fast safe offshore boats to be raced with small crews. It’s not a sport boat. It’s not a freak. There has to be a solution.
I called a GLSS sailor I had briefly met this spring and reintroduced myself, then launched into my saga. He took it well, and we were soon having a super interesting and informative discussion. One of his suggestions was to try for a restricted certificate for single handing. That struck me as a good suggestion, in part because it would alleviate any concerns from the handicappers about me showing up and winning a major regatta out of the blue. I’ve got to think that’s a nightmare situation.
So I’ve written back to the handicapper asking for a rating to include the use of the WB and offering this idea. I also tried to indicate that I wasn’t going to squabble of any adjustments to the base rating. We’ll see. I want to be reasonable, and I don’t think what I’m asking for is unreasonable. Hopefully we’ll get a reasonable outcome.