Slalom Rules!

Big names lay it down about new laws

The PWA Board voted recently to keep the max number of races at Slalom events at 15, but to throw in a third result discard after 13 races.

There's also been much discussion surrounding the number of boards and sails to be registered for PWA Slalom racing.

From 2009 the current ‘Slalom 42’ system (4 sails and 2 boards per event), will become ‘Slalom 63’  - meaning all sailors register 6 sails and 3 boards at their first event of the year.

Competitors can also play a “Joker” at any one event, where they can register one additional board and sail for that event only.

I canvassed a few of the main players for their views on the changes and how they’ll affect their approach.

What’s with the big shake-up?

Micah Buzianis (JP / NeilPryde) – “I guess to allow for broken gear and for being taken out at the marks more often with the new no-rules racing.”

Ben Van Der Steen (Exocet / Naish) – “I don’t know I voted to keep it to Formula 42 (Registering 2 boards / 1 sail per event). Having one more discard is good considering we have now have 'No-Rules' rules and on average you get taken out in at least 1 race out of 10. So that mean you only had 1 mistake left so it was to hard to be consistent in the new rules.”

Peter Volwater (F2 / North) – “Ultimately the changes have been made to make the competition as fair as possible.

3 boards and 6 sails is a little more realistic for all the different conditions, and less of a lottery when it comes to registration of the equipment - although in my opinion it's still better to open it up completely.

With more discards you can take more risks and that can only make competition more exciting.

Since we changed this season to the ‘no-rules’ system, some guys need more discards because they get into more collisions - for instance at the gybes.

Being a good gyber I make less mistakes and I was personally against this added discard.”

Will it change the way you prepare for the 2009 season much?

Ben  - The boards won’t have to change much but the sails have to be narrowed down to cover the whole range with 6 sails. The preparation will be the same but the gear will change a little.”

Peter – “The sail brands will probably adjust the sizing, so in the end we will need less sails to test and tune up, so I want to spend a lot more time on the sails registered for the year to prepare.”

Micah –“ 2009 is a long way off so I'm focusing on 2008 for now, but discards won't make a difference for me 1, 2, 3 or none would be fine with me.”

And the 'Joker'?

Ben Van Der Steen - "It's pretty clear that everyone will use their Joker in GC because the place is just way off from anywhere else we compete in terms of conditions.”

Micah – “It’ll mean having to bring more gear to the Canaries for one single event and then having to lug it around the rest of the Canaries tour and not be able to use it but still having to pay to carry it around.  I think it is properly called a Joker but more properly would be if you took out the R...”

Peter – “The Joker bonus board is for exceptionally strong or light conditions, so probably an extra small board for Gran Canaria I guess?”

Why a 'Joker'? Why not full-on open-class racing?

Ben Van Der Steen - To keep the racing accessible to a bigger group of people and to keep the excess baggage expenses between events within limits I suppose.”

Peter – “I don't know were this idea came from. I remember somebody brought it up in the AGM on Sylt, but don't think we voted on it. In my opinion we should stick to 3 boards / 6 sails or open it up completely! Why not keep it simple to understand for everyone.”

Micah – “This is a great question that I'd like to know the answer to as well! For me I would prefer the full on open class or keep it limited to either 42 or 63. But if you are going to complicate it with throwing in something like a Joke"r" why not just open it back up so at least everyone knows exactly what the playing field is throughout the whole year?”

Let’s go racing!

© PWA / Brian McDowell