International 12 foot dinghy

dinsdag 21 augustus 2012

Dinghy vision of Fred Udo

Ninety years ago, our dinghy was a truly international Olympic class.
There are still traces of this from that period: The dinghy was sailed in the Netherlands, Japan, Italy and Germany ever since. There were some contacts between the different fleets, but that was incidental (Dutch in Italy and Japanese participation in what the late Pim Reimering called the "International Friendship Regatta" (Pentecost). The last ten years, contacts were intensified and we read in the Bulletin how a wonderful holiday result from an expedition to an Italian race.
A milestone in this development was a meeting of about 20 sailors in the Jolanda hotel in Italy, where after a day on the water and the consumption of many bottles of wine they agreed that this should happen more often.
I leave to the reader to decide if the agreement was about the sailing or the bottles of wine.
The "Jolanda Protocol" was born, as can be found on the site of Steve Crook.
Here I quote only the introduction of the Protocol ::
"For the first time in the history of the 12-Foot Dinghy One Design Class, fleet representatives from seven countries met to discuss with the following important topics of mutual interest:
• 1. How to Promote, Develop and organize international activity.
• 2. How boats from different countries can compete on an equal footing.
• 3. Can the class regain its international ISAF status?

The language is somewhat exaggerated:
a. There exists no "12 foot dinghy one design class"
b. "Fleet representatives "is a fancy word for participants in a sailing event.
This tendency to use exaggerated language often shows up in texts on international affairs around the dinghy.
Point 1 is only useful if many sailors are willing to travel thousands of miles to go for a holiday with the boat. The competition just can never be a reason in itself, because the boats in different fleets are too diverse to speak of serious races. Point 2 deals just about that.
Point 1 in itself is harmless and has led to the international website which is an excellent source of information about the activities elsewhere. Partly due to this there are now 22 boats in France and that the undersigned has spent already three holidays with the boat in France. The competitions are not of a high standard, but Emmy and I have acquired a lot of friends there. This is a personal experience, but which is now open for everyone thanks to point 1.

Point 2 is the major stumbling block.
It is one thing to enjoy a holiday abroad, but as last week appeared in Luzern, it is another matter to give up established traditions for an international standard of our beloved boat. This holds both for the Dutch and the Italians. Unfortunately we are not talking about the same boat with the same traditions.
A good example is the boat speed at light wheather:
Tom Reyers was the best Dutchman in Luzern with a 16 th place, but he sailed in a borrowed Italian boat.

The arguments of the Italians are strong;
By modern developments the boat appeals to young people.
In Italy many new boats are built in both plastic and wood. Recently, a series of 10 beautiful wooden boats was built on the famous yard of Ernesto Riva. The hull is virtually identical to the Dutch boats, but the equipment and the rig comes from another world than ours. Here I give some examples:

A solar panel to drive an electric bilge pump.
A rudder having half the weight of ours.
An installation to adjust the main halyard during the sailing.
Adjustment of the lower and upper-body of the sail from the cockpit

The fantasy in Italy is not restricted and that leads to many unexpected solutions.
Compare this with the tight Dutch rules, where even a main sheet block with clamp is forbidden and for years even the vane on the mast was not accepted by our rules. There is one Italian feature, which is accepted by all Dutch nationals as soon as they cross the border: the loose footed sail.

In Luzern, thes two traditions collided head on.
Pieter Bleeker, who for years has promoted the international contacts, was confronted with the fact that the Italians stuck to their pimped rigs wanting no change. Pieter thought that compromises were possible, including concessions from the Dutch side, but apart from the question whether the members of the Dutch jollen club ever would accept any concessions, this was taboo for the Italians.
Exit point 2.

The short answer to point 3 is NO.
When one digs somewhat deeper in the ISAF rules for founding a new international class, one realizes immediately that this is not feasible for us.
After this three points the protocol continues with a page full of text with good intentions, but in light of the above it is clear that the rest of the "Jolanda Protocol" in practice had not much impact. A triumvirate has been created consisting of Pieter Bleeker, Steve Crook and Renzo Santini.
These three extremely sympathetic gentlemen have the best intentions and we find that all fine as long as they are not interfering with the national class rules..
The increased international contacts are very good for the class, but negative effects are arising from the ambitions to create true international competition, because real competition implies standardisation of the boats.
It is not realistic to create match series with dozens of awards, while the differences in the boats make a real competition impossible. The Cockshott Trophy is a good example.
It is unfortunate that a well intentioned gesture by the family of the creator of the class degenerates into a point of contention between the different fleets.
According to the Italians, the Cockshott Trophy contests are open to wooden and plastic dinghies, so our Pentecostal event disappeared from the agenda, because our races are only open to wooden boats.
An idea to upgrade the competitions in France by upgrading the Aillette event to a Cockshott Trophy event has failed miserably. However, the Dutch and French participants in the contests in L'Aillette have not missed the trophy at all.

It could be inferred from these problems, that it is the antagonism between the wood and plastic, which ruined the discussions. That is not so, because Luzern was an event only open to wooden boats.
There is now a new Trophy only for wooden boats: The 'Classic 12' Dinghy International Series. I was awarded the second prize in the Vintage Class. It is outside the scope of this article to explain why I received this price.
This 'Classic 12' Dinghy International Series "is as meaningless as the Cockshott Trophy as long as a" 12 foot one design dinghy class "does not exist.

Politics is the art of the possible and it seems to me necessary to evaluate the feasibility and the meaning of the various initiatives seriously before implementing them. Unintentional effects can make that good intentions have disastrous consequences.
Monnickendam, 6 August 2012.