Breaking the Laws Part 1. No Rules. No Worries?
Based on the overwhelming wishes of the racing fleet, the PWA management board decided last October that Slalom 42 will now be run on a “no rules” basis, similar to that seen in Super-X, meaning that technically anything goes on the slalom course. The removal of the current direct refereeing system, will eliminate any difficulty and inconsistency in refereeing calls, and will create a self policing situation whereby any sailor infringing another will be likely to cause themselves more hindrance than anyone else. We polled some top names on their thoughts on the subject.
What do you think about the change?
Pieter Bijl (NED-0 Fanatic / NeilPryde: ‘Great. It might cost a little more in repairs but I think it will spice up the racing a bit. We should see some interesting banging at the old marks anyway…’
Karin Jaggi (Z-14 F2 / North): ‘The initiative for this rule change originally came from the PWA management board after the experiences of the 2006 slalom events. The idea got presented to the sailors at the AGM in Sylt. The outcome was for me simply unbelievable: there wasn’t just a majority for it – but every single racer attending the meeting voted for it! A rule change so strongly supported by the athletes themselves can only mean it will be a good change. Sure, we still have to see how it will work in reality. But we already had a 3-year-trial period in Super-X with “no rules”. And it worked great. For me it’s definitely a move towards fairer racing’
Peter Volwater (H-24 F2 / North): ‘The change to 'no rules' makes it all very easy to understand for everyone. When someone’s not in a qualifying position, he can now try anything to come back. Although there are no rules against any un-sportsmanlike behaviour, there is still a form of social control, especially around the marks where we could see some serious action. You could think it will be more dangerous, but when somebody hits another, usually both slow down or go down, and are both overtaken by the person behind. So anyway you try to stay clear regardless’
Ross Williams (GBR-83 Tabou / Gaastra): ‘I think it’s a mistake, as, if you’re doing s*&t you can just smash your way around the course’
How will it affect your tactics?
Cyril Moussilmani (F-71 Fanatic / North): ‘I will have the same tactics to go safely through to the finish line’
Karin Jaggi: ‘Not much. The way to win a slalom race is to get a clear start, have good speed and gybe well. That means a start to win victory. Crashing will definitely mean losing places, and therefore we won’t see any more of that. When Super-X started we thought that this could be nasty. It wasn’t at all – and we experienced no more crashes than in any Slalom race’
Pieter Bijl: ‘Not much - just be careful who’s around you. Stay away from Steve and Volwater!’
Peter Volwater: ‘You'll have to be more aggressive defending your position.
I’m good at gybing and so don't have to be worried anymore about getting a black flag. So I will take more risks around the mark’
Why do you think it was necessary to have such a change?
Ross Williams: ‘Because the protest judges can't see everything...’
Pieter Bijl: ‘Because the dangerous sailing rule was not working, sometimes you were the victim of someone sailing dangerously, and then you pushed it a little to fight back to make it to the next round and then you were the one being thrown out. This was often the case’
Peter Volwater: ‘The only reason I could think of is that there were obstructions that some guys got away with and others didn't. With no rules its the same for everyone’
Karin Jaggi: ‘We have the change because the sailors demanded it. Why? To make slalom even fairer. Direct refereeing got rid of the “protest-sailors” (sailors that just give it a try without real grounds to their protests, therefore delaying a slalom race endlessly and unnecessarily), but it was difficult to do and also a bit inconsistent sometimes. “No rules” will get rid of all those problems’
Will racing be better this way, or just safer?
Pieter Bijl: ‘It’ll be more interesting, but I don't see it becoming any safer as now you can give it all you can in case you’re not making it to the next round, without running the risk of being thrown out. There’ll be more anger on the beach, watch for those Pozo rocks, you might see some flying across from one competitor to the next!’
Ross Williams: ‘Racing will be even less technical so it will be worse, and unsafe… it’ll be better for fights though...is that good....uuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmm… we’ll see’
Cyril Moussilmani: ‘It should be better this way but you never know someone could go past and try to take you out because he’s last and has nothing to lose. But I think if this sort of offender does it often he’ll be fined’
Karin: ‘Definitely better! Boards “clip” a little bit around marks, races are really “tight” and super “quick” (no more protests and delays) - and therefore it’s so much more exciting!’
Peter Volwater: ‘It will probably be more spectacular to watch and more exciting for us as racers’
© PWA / Brian McDowell