New Mainsail Batten Proposal

As many of you are aware, last year the Board of Governors passed a change to the rules to allow a “full batten” on the main and to lengthen the other two battens to what makes sense. The Rules Committee was asked to query the sail makers and devise the details of the new rule for next year’s rule book. Many sail makers provided feedback and the committee has been working with this year’s Board on this and the other changes approved last year. It has been ten months now and the following is the message from Steve Stewart, our Chief Measurer to the Board that I would like to share with you all.

Don Bedford, SCIRA Conmodore.

As many of you are aware, last year the Board of Governors passed a change to the rules to allow a “full batten” on the main and to lengthen the other two battens to what makes sense. The Rules Committee was asked to query the sail makers and devise the details of the new rule for next year’s rule book. Many sail makers provided feedback and the committee has been working with this year’s Board on this and the other changes approved last year. It has been ten months now and the following is the message from Steve Stewart, our Chief Measurer to the Board that I would like to share with you all.

Don Bedford, SCIRA Conmodore.

Fellow Snipe Sailors;                                                                                                              5 June, 2012

The Rules Committee is preparing a recommendation to the SCIRA board of Directors that the batten pocket lengths be increased to 800 mm for lower batten, 800 mm for the middle batten. The upper batten will be full length andis defined by the position of pocket at leech (three quarter girth) and the intersection with the luff that shall be between 1680 and 1780 mm below the head point.

At the last Board meeting in Rungstad during the World Championships this proposal was put forth by Jan Persson, with input from some of our top sail designers and sailmakers. The Rules Committee did some extensive research and several sails were made for sailors to test. The findings of the Rules Committee are that the battens in the main have not kept pace with sail development or the past 40 years.

Giorgio Brezich, Myself and Antonio Bari all believe that this is an extremely important measure to pass for several reasons. One of the most important concepts within the Rules committee is always to make a change for improving the class without making any boat obsolete. A great example would be the advancement of the pole launcher from the somewhat cumbersome manual whisker pole and the digital compass. Change for the sake of change has never been given any consideration an example would be the case for allowing carbon fiber tillers , booms or whisker poles where there would be no direct benefit to the boats performance and quite expensive. Another important concept is to keep the Snipe relevant and on pace with advancements in materials and method of construction.

Here is the summary of the rules committee recommendation to approve the batten measure:

  1. The finding of the Rules Committee are that the battens in the main have not kept pace with sail development or the past 40 years resulting in the weather hook of the upper batten in light air and those hideous vertical wrinkles we seem at the mid girth between the battens in all wind conditions. With 50% longer middle and lower battens the sail will have a smoother shape though the mid girth.
  2. The longer battens also eliminate the “V” crease and the vertical wrinkles at the front edge of the battens.
  3. The mainsail will last longer, because the sail does not luff as violently with the longer battens.
  4. The sail is also a bit easier to trim and it is more forgiving to under and over trimming, this will be a benefit to many sailors who do not have the luxury of lots of training time.
  5. The new rule will specify the batten pocket maximum length which is a new way for the class to quantify the batten lengths. This is being done to be in compliance with ISAF’s equipment rules. The Snipe class has always specified a maximum length of the battens and no minimum length and this will remain unchanged. The batten pocket will have only a maximum length specified keeping consistent with the current rule.
  6. Another important factor is that with the elimination of the limiting bands on the mast head and boom end the sails are going to be built rger along the foot and luff to take advantage of the additional 25 mm in each direction. The leech measurement will remain unchanged. So the overall sails will be built with more broadseam. This underscores the need for the longer battens.
  7. Existing sails will still be legal and the decision of longer versus shorter battens left to the preference of the skipper.
  8. Retrofit kits for older sails will be available from the leading Snipe sailmakers for less than $50 USD.

I think it is also worthwhile to read Giorgio’s and Antonio’s final comment on the issue.

From Giorgio: My suggestion to Board could be, in case of majority, to studying the time of new batten rule application. I think we could take more time to start but I strongly suggest to do not abandon the idea. This very cheap change could give great benefits to the snipe class.

From Antonio: Those who sailed the new main are extremely in favor. Furthermore, the new main will be simpler to trim also by newcomers. I have always kept in mind the necessity to support changes who improved the boat with no impact on existing boats. The new main will be faster (maybe), last longer and be easier to trim at the cost of 20$ on new sails and maybe 50$ on older sails.

I will conclude that this is a much needed change that will help to keep the Snipe relevant with younger sailors, and to repair a design error when the sail rules were first drafted with the inclusion of the roach.

Change for the sake of change I agree is not a good thing, with this measure there are 7 solid reasons for this change. We believe this will add to serious sailing, serious fun.

The rules Committee and the Board of Directors look forward to all comments especially from those who have tested the main with the longer battens.

Respectfully Submitted,

Steve Stewart

SCIRA Chief Measurer

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Comments must include your full name and Snipe country. Please be considerate of all opinions and refrain from using any innapropriate language. We reserve the right to remove comments that do not meet our guidelines.”

10 thoughts on “New Mainsail Batten Proposal

  1. I don´t like that idea.
    First of all, 50$ on older sails is irreal (it could be possible if the sailmaker is your neighbour). Will the sailmarker send you the full batten pocket and will you have to splice it to the sail? I don´t think so. You will have to send the sail to the sailmaker to be modified. That will increase the cost up to 200€ at least. Full battens pocket need a plastic reinforcement in the luff where the batten touches the mast, is this included in the 50$?.
    20$ for new sails? I don´t think so too. Sailmakers will take this situation to increase the price of the sail more than 20$.

    The Rules Committee recognizes that new sails will take advantage of the additional 25mm, so why we are going to modified older sails if they will be obsolete with this new situation? Following with this idea, all snipe sailors will change to the new mainsail fast, so why don´t to make a whole change making a bigger mainsail on the top making the most of the full batten?

    Another question is the end fittings batten. Will be permited the fittings to regulate the batten´s compression?
    Are carbon battens included in the definition of major equipment in rule 52.12 of the Class Rules?

  2. Thisn is probably the right way to go, but let`s be decent towards everyone who bought new sails this year and implement the change from jan. 1. 2014. Remember the majority of sailors in our class are club sailors. They are also the larges group of customers.

  3. If the change comes to improve the snipe sailing experience, that´s ok. What I don´t agree is that only now it´s being published to all, while at the last world championship this change was rejected in a sailors meeting, giving the idea to everybody outside US that it was not going to be implemented. And now, we hear about this, and that the american sailmakers and american sailors have been trying this new system during these last 6 months giving them an ahead start from the rest of the world. And that is just NOT FAIR.
    I suggest this change be postponed to jan14 as to give the rest of the world to adapt and learn how to deal with the full battens.

  4. All good points. Yes, if you do not have someone who can sew sails locally then it will cost more that $50. The sail makers we asked said they could probably create a “retro-fit” kit for about $50.

    Also, during the two times I sailed with a main that had a full top batten I noticed a slight advantage upwind and I a slight disadvantage down wind. It was been sailed by sail makers in a couple of our regattas in San Diego and those people never won the regattas so it is not a *must have* to be competitive. Again, the proposed change was to help the main last longer and help with making it a little easier to trim the main (not so sensitive to mainsheet tension).

  5. It seems to be clear that the new main will not be faster.
    Snipe main lasts enough in good conditions for competition while jibs last less. You can use the same main during 12 or 18 months while changing 2 or 3 jibs in the same period. So I can´t understand why to make the main to last more.
    It seems to be clearer, too, that the modification will not cost 50$.
    About fair implementation, I agree with “RS”. Not fair for all the way the Rules Committee are doing the changes (changes rejected by sailors in the last World Championship).
    About easy to trim: Sailing requires the knowledge of several areas: tactics, strategy, driving the boat, etc….and TRIMING. If triming is not a fundamental part of snipe you are cutting off it.
    Well: not faster, not last needed, not cheap, not fair….What is the real reason to make the modifications?
    Could the Rules Committe publish the fully report from, as the RC told, “Many sailmakers” (if there is more than one, I don´t believe) and sailors that tested the sails and weather conditions?

  6. Simply I don´t understand that we couldn´t modificate the measures of the hulls in Oporto, to get all together iguality and not to have differences between one and another, since somebody told us that if we did it, the snipe would be another thing but not a Snipe and now result that we can do it for the sails with has not been solicitated by anyone. ¿Does anyone explain this lack of criterium?. Thanks a lot and best regards for all.

  7. I have some questions…

    Why it was kept almost in secret during the last months?
    What sailmakers designed and tested the sail?
    What skippers tried the sail?
    Why the last two world champions were not invited to test the sail?
    What top sailors all around the world tested it?
    Why it was not spread to all nations, national secretary and fleets?
    Where is the full report about the test? Sailing conditions, crew weight, etc.

    I am not against or in favor of the change just because I did’t try it. I’m in favor of a FAIR change warning everyone at the SAME time.

    The way people are trying to make it is not good for the Class. There is a group of people that are almost one year ahead of the rest. That is what seems to be!!

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