As the IOM class is popular at all levels from local club Sunday sailors up to the highly competitive "pot hunting" Championship skippers, your Editor has asked me to consider the key points which will appear in the revised ISAF-RSD rules due to be adopted on March 1st 2001 [and finally adopted in March 2002!] and to give you an insight into the reasoning behind the changes and the effects they may have on your building, checking, and registration for this summer's racing programme.
The philosophy of the new rules
The old 1995 rules labelled the hull and appendages as "development" items, and the rig and sails as "one-design" items. The new 2002 rules now label all of the boat as "closed", meaning that if something isn’t explicitly permitted by the rules, that something is automatically prohibited. This approach to defining the IOM now implies that, if there is anything about the boat that is not clearly permitted, the boat is presumed to be out of class. Guilty until proven innocent. This element of the Napoleonic Code can be a bit of a shock to Anglo-Saxons, but much of the rest of the world operates this way quite cheerfully.
The advantage of closed rules is that they do not need updating every time some new materials, methods, or ideas appear. Closed rules also bring measurable consistency and conformity. The other advantage is that, in some sense, the interpretation and application of closed rules should become less adversarial – less "us versus them" – and more naturally cooperative – more "us with them".
The disadvantage of closed rules is that there has to be lots of them, and there has to be lots of things that must be checked. This is the price that must be paid if the IOM class is to remain fully international, popular, stable, and inexpensive. In my opinion, it is certainly a price worth paying to keep the IOM class true to its original vision and original purpose.
New arrangements for measurement and certification
Measurement of the boat is now split into four quite separate areas. Previously, all of a boat was measured "at once" and a single certificate was issued. Thereafter, the boat could be checked at an event. We now have four distinct occasions of measurement: "Fundamental measurement", "Event measurement", possible "Sail manufacturer certification", and "Owner preparation".
The table gives a very rough estimate of the number of measurement questions that are answered during the complete measurement of a boat with three rigs, comparing measurement under the old rules with that under the new rules.
Table 1: Approximate number of measurement questions
"Fundamental measurement" consists of the bulk of the old rules measurement to do with the rigs, hull, and appendages. The remainder of the old rules boat measurement is split between "Event" and "Sail" measurement. Most of the measurement of the sail identification marks has become the owner’s responsibility to comply with the rules to do with sail numbers.
There is a new provision which allows a sail manufacturer to do most of the sail measurement, and to supply a certified sail. This sail would have the sail manufacturer’s certification at the tack. The sail manufacturer would have to apply for, and receive a licence from, the RYA (in the UK) in order to be specially authorised under this provision. If the sail is not certified by its authorised manufacturer, then it would need to be measured and signed by a measurer in the usual way.
The completed rig/sail measurement form from a measurer, along with a completed boat measurement form, now allows the boat to be registered and issued with a certificate (called a "hull" certificate in the rules).
Almost the whole issue of sail identification marks has been removed from the class rules and placed into the Racing Rules of Sailing. This means that the sail numbers are no longer measured for the purpose of completing a sail marks measurement form, and so a boat can be registered and receive a certificate without having sail numbers. (Indeed, the boat can receive a certificate even if its sail numbers are a total mess.) It is now up to the owner to place sail numbers on his sails correctly. If, at an event, your numbers do not conform to the required measurements, you may be protested by the Race Committee, and the issue will be dealt with then and there by the usual Protest Committee procedures. I’m just guessing here, but this should lighten the burden of sail numbering for a skipper, since you are unlikely to be protested unless your numbers are genuinely unreadable. Small errors in positioning and size are unlikely to be penalised, and I understand that the sail numbering rules themselves have been eased a little as well.
The most important of the boat measurements have been moved into a new process of measurement called "Event measurement". The significant measures of boat weight, length, draft, keel and rudder weights, set of the sails against the rig limit marks, and so on, are now handled at an event. Like sail numbers, it is up to the owner to ensure that the boat meets the class rules when the boat is entered for an event. It is then up to the Race Committee to arrange for Event measurement, checking that the boats conform to these key measures at their event. These event measurements are not made at the time of Fundamental measurement, and, as mentioned earlier, the boat can be registered and issued a certificate without these event measurements being made.
The new arrangements reduce the work load of a measurer, especially if the sails come from a licensed manufacturer. Previously, the 172 questions for a full measurement of an IOM and its three rigs took me about 4 hours, and I didn’t want to do another one for quite some time! Now, this is reduced to around 46 questions, and I’m guessing that these can be done in around half an hour. The burden of responsibility on an individual measurer is thus eased somewhat, and shared out more evenly with other measurers at event and sail measurement, and with the owner. In my opinion, all of these new arrangements are very much to be welcomed.
I’ve heard some skippers say that these new arrangements will constitute a "Cheater’s Charter". I’m more optimistic. I think that the new arrangements will in fact reduce what little cheating there may be, either deliberate or inadvertent. In the past, a Race Committee has usually not seen fit to check the boats at an event, since the owner showed a certificate which said that all the key measurements had already been checked. In future, the certificate will say no such thing, and there will be a clear and pressing requirement for the RC to set up some sort of system for quickly checking the key parameters of most boats at an event. I’m confident that this will have the effect of reducing the temptation to cheat, rather than increasing it. It will certainly reduce the temptation to "forget" that replacing a 6-cell AA NiCd pack with a 5-cell Li-ion AAA pack could take the boat under the weight limit, for example.
There is, of course, no such thing as a free lunch, and these changes have costs as well as benefits. The major costs are that the Race Committee will have more work than they have become accustomed to, and skippers will have to take more responsibility for their boat and sail numbers. The benefits are that an IOM will be much easier to measure and register, the burden of sail numbering will ease for a skipper, and any cheating will be reduced.
Major rule changes
Other new and changed rules
Issues that could be misunderstood (I misunderstood ‘em!)
I’ve discussed the new rules with Graham Bantock, Chairman of the RSD Technical Committee, at some length. Henry Farley and Larry Robinson have also offered helpful comments, though Henry nevertheless remains in fundamental though cheerful disagreement with my opinions. Whatever errors remain in the article are, of course, entirely my responsibility. It reflects my own understanding, and does not represent any "official" view.
©2022 Lester Gilbert