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Club committee Boat

1 month 3 weeks ago #1 by Simon Tytherleigh
Club committee Boat was created by Simon Tytherleigh
It does seem a pity that the Sailing Committee has decided it doesn't want to use the catamaran built as a committee boat for on-water race starts without giving it a fair trial.The concept is straightforward - a simple, stable shoal-draught platform capable of carrying four people in safety, with easily accessible flag hoists and 360 degree visibility, able to be quickly deployed around the estuary, and with storage for race gear. Additionally a committee boat should be capable of residing on a club mooring (at little cost) and be stored on-site over the winter (at no cost).  It should be cheap to maintain and antifoul. A 21ft demountable catamaran fits this profile perfectly. It can be launched and recovered by half a dozen people and stored at the side of the car park. During the season it can be used for any race starts at short notice, so would be suitable for Wednesday night races and Fridays with the Juniors.When we tried the boat out, it became apparent that self-propulsion was hardly worth the bother of mounting the engine, as all races involve safety boats and the platform can be towed into position and anchored. It even comes equipped with a depth sounder so the race officer can calculate depths across the course.There are many refinements and modifications that can easily be made to improve such a boat - dodgers, continuous line flag hoisting and storage, bespoke in-hull storage for items, padded swivel chair on deck, awning etc.etc  They are not difficult to achieve given the boat’s construction.Objections to the boat on the grounds that it has no inboard toilet are irrelevant- safety boats can easily and quickly ferry someone ashore to the ablutions.So, if this really is useless as a race start platform, as the Sailing Committee maintains, then what are the alternatives, assuming that on-water starts are something racers actually want? One is the status quo, which is to rely on a cruiser boat being made available. This means that a decision to have the start line on the water cannot be made on the day but has to be booked ahead. It also means the paraphernalia has to be carried out to the boat and hoisted. Start lines and race duration are restricted by the draught of the boat in question. The boat’s layout will be less than optimal and not possible to modify. On water starts would not be possible for Wednesday evenings or Friday juniors.Another option is for the club to purchase a boat that is deemed suitable, likely this would be a motor boat, 20ft long would seem to be the minimum to have some space aboard. Such a boat could not be stored at the club, therefore there would be significant maintenance and over-wintering costs to be met, likely in the order of £1000 a year. Such a boat would also be significantly less stable than a cat and would be made even less stable by the mast required to hoist the flags.So, before disposing of the catamaran, I would strongly urge the club to take a good look at it, and see what might be done to make it into a workable race start platform. Try it, you may find after all that you warm to it!

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1 month 3 weeks ago #2 by Alistair Glen
Replied by Alistair Glen on topic Club committee Boat

You are absolutely correct; the lack of onboard ‘heads’ is a bit of a red herring. However, there are a large number of ‘essentials’ when it comes to having a viable committee boat at any venue, not just Starcross. These issues are, in no particular order…

Propulsion - The committee boat (CB) needs to be self-propelled or have a RIB dedicated to its service. It is not viable to have one of the two safety RIBs try and fit CB duties in with performing its other functions for at least two reasons; 1) the RIBs may already be tied up with other commitments and 2) it often takes long enough to get two safety RIBs on the water and the marks laid as it is so all three RIBs would have to be rostered in to the duties each week.

Shelter - There needs to be some form of substantial and meaningful shelter and I don’t mean a couple of dodgers to waist height, that those performing duties on the CB can rely upon to keep the worst of the elements off them when they don’t need to be on deck to run the race.

Race Management - Other than the facility to display flags, the course and make a sound signal, the CB doesn’t need much else as ‘fixed’ equipment. The echo sounder is probably an optional extra that doesn’t serve much purpose on a week-to-week basis.

…and I’m sure others can and will, add to this list.

As the race management system at SYC currently operates, starting races from a CB has the added complication that the process has to be sync’d with the Race Manager (RM) ‘box ‘o tricks’…which requires at least one other person to perform a duty in the shoreside race box. Which leads to another question…’where do you finish the lap?’. The whole benefit of CB starts is that you get a windward start and a relatively square start line. If once the fleets have started operations return to the shore, the course, by necessity, has to be routed through 29 to create a start/finish of a new lap. Doing this creates the complication that the race officer (RO) has to leave a ‘legacy’ beat in place once the course no longer passes through the CB-based start/finish line.

It may be that the technology now exists that the RM system could operate on a tablet that could be taken afloat…that’d work.

I’d love CB starts each week. The fixed line starts at SYC certainly don’t sharpen your starting skills and you get found out when you go to an open. Wednesday evenings are one time when most people are prepared to accept line starts, out of necessity, with the time constraints of people getting to sail after work.

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1 month 3 weeks ago - 1 month 3 weeks ago #3 by Mark Elkington
Replied by Mark Elkington on topic Club committee Boat
RM already works on tablets - its just a browser application after all.  The problem is getting a screen that works well in bright outside conditions - I have tested a few and I haven't found anything that works effectively.  My plan once I have finished the current RM rewrite - is to try and develop a custom committee boat app - which essentially does nothing but lap timing with big font on a high contrast screen (I'll also try voice recognition).  The data could either be relayed to the RM app via a mobile network or stored locally on the tablet for download once ashore.  I have already developed the interface in the main RM to handle this additional element.  [If you just wanted to start the RM timer from a mobile phone on the committee boat - that would be trivial to do]

BTW If anyone wants to get started on this while I finish the main RM application then I can give you all the details of the interface necessary to start coding.

On the issue of the CB - I was one of the crash test dummies on the boat for the RS open in 2019.  It was September, sunny, 10-12 knots.  I wore full dry suit with two full thermal layers.  After 3 hours I was completely frozen, but the biggest issue for me (as the guy recording the results) was managing papers in the wind.  Dodgers would have helped but they would have had to be at least 4' high and I'm not sure how the platform would have responded to the extra windage.  Laying, adjusting and recovery of the anchor which happens a lot for a CB working on SYC opens is much harder than a monohull and we were having to use two people to do it. The other (easily fixed) problem was the flags were arranged cross-ship which meant that the visibility for most competitors was poor when the CB was on station for a start.  No heads is a real issue unless you are going to rota spare people onto the boat for every event - and if it is windy the safety RIBs will not have spare time for shore runs.

Like Alistair I would welcome more use of a CB for SYC racing  - at least for trophy races and perhaps winds E/W across the estuary.  The downside I think would be needing at least one more person on OOD duty.  But I'm sure with a bit of thought we could find a way to adjust our race management procedures to make it work.

I have been a member of quite a few sailing clubs in 50 years racing dinghies in UK, Italy, France and USA.  All of the clubs that were on relatively sheltered open water used committee boats around 20-24' with some sort of enclosed cuddy forward and small dodgers aft.  One mast forrard and one aft with flags/bucket signals arranged fore and aft. Most just used the CB for starting and finished boats fro the shore at a club line. I don't see why we would be unable to keep such a craft on a mooring during the summer and on a trailer in the car park during winter.  Browsing t'internet - there seem to be a number of suitable boats around for not much more than a reasonable second hand laser.

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1 month 3 weeks ago #4 by Simon Tytherleigh
Replied by Simon Tytherleigh on topic Club committee Boat
To my point exactly. It would be fairly straightforward to add a small cuddy and fore-and-aft mast arrangement to the boat. The cuddy would have the leg space below the level of the beams, so windage would not be massive.

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1 month 3 weeks ago #5 by Simon Tytherleigh
Replied by Simon Tytherleigh on topic Club committee Boat
On the matter of shelter, the hatches on the hulls lift up so someone doing the paperwork can sit below while having their head up so they can see what's going on.
When we were building the boat we tried to get opinions from the race officers, but no one mentioned a cuddy. As I have said, it would not be difficult to construct such a thing, which would be mounted between the beams and have the added benefit of lowering the deck level.
Fitting the outboard is not impossible, just a faff if it has to be done each time. Easier if it can be left on the boat while on the mooring. It motors and steers very nicely.

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1 month 2 weeks ago #6 by Mark Farries
Replied by Mark Farries on topic Club committee Boat
All we need is some tea and shelter to be added.   All the hard work building it deserves another season of trials. 

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