International Etchells Class Association of Australia Inc
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Dear Association Member,

Update 2.
Information relating to Special General Meeting 7 December 2019

As you are aware, a special general meeting of the IECA has been arranged in Miami on 7 December 2019 . The purpose for the meeting concerns a proposal to change the Class Rules by eliminating the current sail acquisition limitation. Under the current rule, a boat is limited to acquire 6 sails per year. There is also a proposal to eliminate the use of the sail card. A third proposal seeks the introduction of a sail royalty requirement.

At that meeting, if a minimum of 21 active members are present to constitute a quorum, the three proposed changes will be discussed. It has been suggested that a straw vote may be taken and, “if approved, the proposed changes will go to the full active membership for a vote electronically over a 30 day period.”

Under the constitution, approval of the proposed changes would only occur if approved by a 2/3 majority of the votes submitted.

I understand that an explanatory statement is expected from the IGC, which will be distributed as soon as it has been received.

In the meantime, it is fair to say that the proposed rule changes have given rise to considerable interest both in Australia and internationally. In Australia, there has already been significant debate concerning the rationale and efficacy of the proposed changes, particularly around moving to a unlimited sail acquisition model and whether this is in the best interests of the class. I have heard strong arguments both in favour of and against the proposal. In my view such a debate, even a robust one, should be encouraged. This is a significant issue and warrants considered sensible discussion, particularly in view of the changes made by the IGC, in 2018, to appendix A. I am referring to clause 9D(c), which has changed the requirement of Class Rule c.10.3(h) that the sail and hull number match. This is no longer a necessity at national and regional championships.

In that vein, an open format meeting is planed to take place at the Australian Nationals in early January. At that time, Chris Hampton will lead the discussion and open the debate to the members. I would encourage as many of you that can attend to do so.

Pending the receipt of the explanatory statement, I attach a note that we have received from IGC chairman, Jim Cunningham, which attaches a communication he received from Jud Smith on the sail acquisition issue. It is my hope that Jud’s comments will provide further information and assist in your appreciation of some of the matters being raised.

Mark Roberts
National President, IECAA

Attention: Etchells Class Officials

As you are aware the proposed rule changes are generating considerable discussion both for and against. This has been very useful in drawing out issues and alternative proposals that may not have otherwise appeared. As Chairman I am keen to promote this discussion and receive considered feedback.

This should be viewed in the context of what is best for the future of the Class rather than what may not have been done correctly in the past. Pending the release of a position paper, I propose to share with you insightful input that may assist with your local conversations. To kick this off I have shared below recent input from Jud Smith representing the views of Doyle Sails. Please feel free to distribute this to your local members to promote an informed discussion.

Jim Cunningham

Hi Jim and Chris,

I understand the conflicting arguments for saving the sail card and acquisition limits. Reducing cost of participation, keeping the competition fairer for all sailors and all those concepts matter. However, this system we have now is broken. It’s become irrelevant. Let me explain my experience with the sail cards and offer an alternative.

As a sailor and sailmaker for the Etchells class for 40 years I have seen the sail acquisition habits in many classes at both ends of the fleet. The Etchells sail card may have been relevant 20 years ago with sail limits and fleet racing but that no longer applies. Owners that wanted more sails just own more boats. It’s not your father’s class anymore. That was more relevant in the fleet racing days. Fleet racing is essentially limited in a few solid areas and they can have their own sail limitations within their fleet if they wanted to regionally. I see no issue with that.

I believe as a first step the sail card and 6 sail limit should be abolished. Doyle One Design support the class leaders on this proposal and here’s why.

Limiting sails at Regattas is the only real controlling factor in most other successful classes. Star, J70, J24, Lightning, Snipe, Melges and many more have only regatta sail limits. The second hand sails turn over quickly at a huge discount to other teams. The system works very well in the aftermarket. That is a proven winner and helps the teams on a budget that in turn get great sails at a huge savings. Conversely, The Etchells sail card encourages hording of measured sails and they don’t make into the aftermarket until there is no more room in the garages and the trailer boxes.

Unless Etchells owners are limited to only one boat there is no limit to sails currently. Because there is no limit to boat ownership. This is not a new phenomenon it has been this way since the get go. The sail card accomplishes nothing at the travelling campaigning level of the class. Most owners lose their cards anyhow and the whole thing is an unmanageable sham. The truth is the teams that want 6 or more sails a year buy them now for multiple boats anyhow. They currently don’t make it to the aftermarket until they are no longer relevant.

If you really wanted to control sails purchase. One suggestion I have been advocating is to limit the regatta inventory to one jib and main and two kites. That works in the J70 and will work in the Etchells class. This is the only way to actually reduce the arms race. Back in the day we used to measure three mains for a regatta and we don’t miss that. The reality is one jib would be just fine too. It works in J70 just fine and keeps the cost down. I recommend that Miami should trial that concept at one of their non-sanctioned regattas.

In the meantime I think the sail limits at the class level should be controlled at the regattas only and at the fleet level they can all control sails as each individual fleet wishes. They’ll find out that the second hand market fixes all that automatically. The aftermarket works like any free market and takes on a life of its own. It’s self-regulating.

I know this is causing much angst around the globe but I “speakith” the truth. The sail card and 6 sail limit controls nothing. It is merely a mythical bureaucratic instrument that has zero impact on sail purchases. Whether or not the sail card remains or not will have virtually zero impact on new sail purchases with the top of the fleet. If we do away with the sail card it will put a lot of good sails into the second hand market and that will make those teams more competitive. Empty out the trailer boxes and put those sails in to the hands of teams that could benefit from them.

Doyle One Design also supports the Etchells sail royalty proposal. The royalty system is what has worked in all successful one design classes. It’s a long overdue proposal.

Sail purchase limits are used in J111, J105 and Farr 40 and Farr 30 classes and they use buttons to control sail acquisition. I don’t see how that has helped any of those classes endure. Those fleet sizes are much smaller and shrinking. They are much larger one design boats with more exotic sail materials. Sail acquisition limits have not saved those classes.

The classes that have endured are the Star, Dragon, J24, Lightning, Sonar and Snipe. None of those classes have sail acquisition limits. Much of the fleet are very happy buying very competitive one or two regatta used sails. That system has withstood the test of time in Star, J24, and J70. I don’t know how it is with Dragon class in regard to sails acquisition. I’m not aware of any class limitations only limited at regatta level.

Jud Smith
Doyle Sailmakers, Inc.
96 Swampscott Road Unit 8
Salem, MA 01970
Office: 978-740-5950 – Press 5


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