No change to the National Solo (after extensive investigation)
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
To all members.
You will now be aware that we, the NSCA committee have been exploring some possible alterations to the National Solo. The Spring Magazine highlighted several of the possible design features, including;
An optional flotation chamber-enabling the Solo to float lower when capsized.
Optional reduced width capping to reduce shin injury and provide more room in the cockpit.
Optional reduced height of case at rear to enable easier movement under the boom.
Increase in correctors to allow for loss of capping material.
Optional positioning of correctors to under the thwart.
Optional tiller over transom operation.
Faired thwart to deck
At the AGM the committee were instructed to; " Discuss as swiftly as possible with all builders what changes could be achieved without affecting the boats performance, the cost implications for retro fitting an existing boat, and that they demonstrate at no cost to the NSCA their solutions via a prototype which has RYA dispensation only to race Solos".
It soon became apparent that the flotation chamber required testing to a level that we could not undertake without financial implication and would heavily impact the smooth deck lines of the Solo.
The reduced height of capping would be insignificant and as a prototype was not available the members could not express an opinion on.
The fairing of thwart to deck would be cost prohibitive for no real advantage.
There was no tiller over transom example for the members to view, so could not express an opinion.
While we were unfortunately unable to have a prototype built (understandable since builders would not want to lose a commercial advantage and the cost of such a venture would be high and labour intensive), Dave Winder did have one of his 'works boats capping, altered which we were most grateful for. The boat in question was given temporary dispensation to race other Solos. The width of capping was reduced and it was displayed at the Inland Championship where it received mixed reaction.
The cost of such an alteration would be approximately £300.
Meeting with RYA Technical
The RYA pointed out to us that the IP of the National Solo, that is, what they see as the Solos defining features are the bow profile and the centreboard capping. The tiller operating through tiller port is also seen as a Solo characteristic.
If we wanted to change these features then the RYA strongly recommended that we alter our constitution to enable postal/electronic voting to the entire membership (for this level of rule change).
The RYA confirmed that we can hold an EGM/AGM early in the year for the purpose of a rule change if the committee were in favour of the possible changes. We would need rule change proposals sent to our Hon Secretary by Jan 1 and the EGM/AGM could not be sooner than Feb 1.
The RYA hold the technical drawings which they would need to alter and this could be a long process, out of our control.
If the committee did not approve the possible rule changes then there is nothing to stop a member proposing some or all of the changes in the usual manner, submitting those proposals with seconder by May 1 with the vote being held at the AGM, historically at the Nationals.
If though, one or some of those rule change proposals were to alter the defining features, as outlined above, then the RYA strongly recommended we change our constitution to allow postal/electronic voting to all members.
The RYA also had concerns regarding the logistics of altering existing cappings. Re-measurement, re-weighing and re-certification would all be needed to be carried out before the Solo would be deemed legal to race and there would also be cost and time implications. There is real concern that some owners would not do this.
I spent several hours out on the water last Friday, observing if and how members utilise their centreboard capping. The wind was gusting up to 20mph so a good heavy weather test. I have to say all of the fleet used the capping at some point.
The capping provided a pushing off point when getting to hike position.
The capping toe holes provided leverage to pull back into the boat.
The capping toe holes provided good grip when climbing aboard.
The capping provided a solid base to lock feet under when reaching and on the run.
The hole in the capping allowed sailors to relieve themselves!
The committee and myself spoke to many competitors over the weekend and I have to say that the feeling was generally against any of the proposed changes.
To me it feels, having had time to process the potential changes, and maybe the vision of 78 Solos lined up all looking identical, a collective love of the Solo, including its eccentricities was clearly visible.
While there is no doubt that the example of a capping revision, kindly created by Dave Winder and Steve Denison is a sleek and elegant design, the beauty of the Solo fleet is the identical look of the one design. Steve sailed brilliantly to finish 5th overall and there was not one competitor who thought a speed advantage had been gained. Unfortunately, I feel the look of the capping is so different it would diminish the overall look of all other Solos.
My fear is that if we adopted this change or changes to the Solo, members would feel compelled into either buying the new design or spending money on an alteration, perceiving it to be advantageous.
Overall and despite my initial eagerness for these changes, that is, the capping width reduction and reduction in height, tiller over transom arrangement, lead increase and positioning, I am now against these changes.
I would say that the actual look of the capping and tiller over transom changes would be so seismic that it would effectively split the fleet in two and put financial demands on members to stay up to date via new build/alteration or risk poor re-sale, even if the changes were optional.
While the ideas from members, realised by my article in the Spring magazine certainly got the membership talking, they have put serious pressure on our boat builders. Orders have dried up amid uncertainty of if these changes will be voted on and agreed or not.
The NSCA Committee have voted, after considerable investigation and internal debate, not to support these changes, as the negatives, outlined above, outweigh the positives. As the RYA commented, members can put a rule changes forward in the normal manner and we, the committee, have at least explored a number of alterations, and to a high degree.
I hope that the membership are satisfied that we, as a committee have investigated these potential changes and accept our findings.
There is no doubt that sailing in general is becoming less popular. That said, the National Solo remains one of the strongest classes in the UK and we are all owners of a unique single handed dinghy which, when lined up in the dinghy park or on the start line, looks virtuallyidentical to the eye and the unknowing spectator.
We will continue to work pro-actively to promote the National Solo and to protect your precious investment.
Will Loy President NSCA