The Secretary reported that it is now two years since moves to get the Class Association up and running had begun at the first National Championships held at Queen Mary SC in 2001. Membership began in April 2002 and, in the interests of administrative simplicity, runs on a fixed year to 31 March for everyone. For the initial membership drive, Laser circulated a joint letter from the Secretary and Laser announcing the establishment of the Association. Membership has now reached number 062, although not everyone who originally joined has renewed for the second year.
So far the Class Association sailing activities have been limited. Three training/racing weekends have been held at Queen Mary SC (one each September). A similar coaching weekend took place at Rutland Sailing School in 2002. The nationals have been held in the autumn each year: 2001 at QMSC, 2002 at Rollesby Broad SC and 2003 at Leigh on Sea SC. Jon Sallis invited Stratos sailors to join him on a day cruise to Blakeney Point in Norfolk and the Laser 2000 Class Association has encouraged Stratos sailors to join them on cruising/racing holidays at Bala (2002) and Ullswater (2003). To date there has been almost no response to these cruising suggestions although when asked individual members often express an interest in cruising.
Numbers have also been low at the training and racing events, although this has not detracted from the enjoyment of those who have attended. They have all been informal and friendly occasions, successfully combining a relaxed atmosphere onshore with some fierce competition on the water. Low attendance is, however, an issue for some event hosts since they need a minimum number to make an event financially viable. A proposed event at the Royal Victoria Dock in London Docklands did not take place because of low numbers. It is hoped that with a 2004 calendar publicised more in advance, people will be able to attend in greater numbers. See item 5 below. Anyone planning to go to an event is encouraged to let the Class Association know as early as possible to help the host club’s administration.
Financially, the Class Association is dependent on two sources of income at present. First, membership subscriptions, totalling £790 including renewals; second, commission from Noble Marine Insurance for all Laser Stratoses insured with them, totalling £547 over the first year. The Class Association is also part of the RYA Joining Point scheme whereby it will receive commission on any memberships taken out on forms provided by the Class Association, however no one has taken up this option as yet.
Financial outlay so far has been low (£395.71), consisting only of RYA annual affiliation fees, stationery and postage expenses, and prizes at some of the Association’s events. The bank balance at 25 October 2003 was £941.29.
In addition to its regular income, the Class Association also received sponsorship for the 2002 Nationals from Laser and Dinghy Sailing Magazine. This, however, was not repeated for the 2003 Nationals, despite strenuous efforts by Doug Rivers to secure outside financial support. Doug reported that he had also requested a longer term financial commitment from Laser to the Class Association but had had no success with this approach either. The meeting discussed the issue of sponsorship at some length. Apparently Laser do not in general provide financial support or sponsorship to the Class Associations of its boats; however, the meeting noted the high profile support Laser were giving to the SB3. The meeting deplored Laser’s level of commitment to the Stratos.
The meeting proposed several courses of action:
Of the four original committee members, two, including the Treasurer, have resigned, leaving Sophie and Marek Jezierski as the only two committee members. New committee members were needed. Sophie hoped to resign as Secretary but agreed to continue until a replacement was found and to remain on the committee thereafter. Simon Meadowcroft, Jon Sallis and Mark West agreed to join the committee and the meeting approved their appointment.
Sophie reported that the website now had a new manager. She expressed the Class Association’s grateful thanks to David Shannon who had originally taken over the website when it was lying fallow, had livened it up with new content and knocked it into usable shape. Since David has now sold his Stratos, he has resigned as webmaster. Pascal Guignabaudet has taken over and is continuing to develop and improve the website contents and ease of use. The meeting expressed its appreciation of his work.
There has been considerable discussion on the website and elsewhere about the Stratos handicap. The number was originally set at 1095, then reduced the following year to 1081 which is where it stands at present. The keel does not have a separate number. It should be stressed that all RYA handicaps are advisory, although the RYA do warn against changing primary or secondary Portsmouth Yardsticks without careful consideration since they are the result of many years’ and many boats’ racing figures. The Stratos number is listed as a “more returns required” number and is based on an extremely low level of club returns. It is therefore much less likely to accurately reflect the performance of the boat and should be amended as sailors and clubs agree is necessary. Most Stratos sailor believe the current handicap is too severe.
The meeting discussed this issue at some length and agreed that the Class Association recommended handicaps should be 1090 for the base rig (ie with gennaker, but without trapeze) and 1080 with trapeze. These numbers apply to centreboard and keel versions at present. These numbers reflect the experience of Stratos sailors who are regularly racing in handicap fleets. (See item 4 below for more on the trapeze).
Since the RYA numbers are dependent on club returns, Stratos racers are urged to ensure that their club is monitoring its Stratos handicap as recommended by the RYA and is making regular returns to the RYA.
Once again, this issue has been much discussed in various forums, with strong views both for and against use of the trapeze in racing. Stratos sailors who have used the trapeze have pointed out that the trapeze enables the Stratos to point higher and makes the beat more exciting. It also enables lighter crews, particularly children, to compete with heavier, adult crews. However, others are concerned that if trapezing became the norm the weight advantage would swing back to heavier crews. It would also disadvantage those sailors who do not wish to trapeze, having bought the Stratos as a hiking boat without the trapeze option. It could compromise the one-design status of the boat.
The meeting discussed this at great length and agreed unanimously that for Class racing purposes, the Stratos should remain a hiking dinghy and trapezing would not therefore be permitted. However, it was stressed that this only applied to one-design Class racing and should not be a barrier to trapezing during club handicap races. As noted above, the Class Association recommends a lower handicap number if a trapeze is to be used (1080 if 1090 is the base rig number, or 10 below the club base rig number under other circumstances). The RYA recommends that anyone proposing to race with a variation on the base rig should inform their club and should race with the same conformation throughout any one series. The Class Association recommends that Stratos sailors wishing use a trapeze in handicap racing should ensure their club is aware of their plans and of the Class Association’s endorsement of this action within handicap racing only.
The meeting further agreed that if, at future Class Association sponsored events, circumstances (namely time, wind and water!) and the Race Officer permitted, an additional fun race, using trapezes where desired, could be added to the programme. This would not form part of any formal series at present and results would not be included in the Class racing results for that event.
Sophie reported that a slightly more substantial programme of events is in prospect for 2004. Already booked are a day at South Cerney SC on 24 July 2004 (format still to be decided) and a fourth training/racing weekend at QMSC on 4/5 September 2004 (training on Saturday, racing on Sunday). In the pipeline is a training/racing weekend at Rutland Sailing School, probably early in the season, and definitely pre-Nationals.* (see below)
The meeting agreed that the 2004 Nationals should be held earlier in the season if possible, and that they and other events should avoid school holidays, particularly half term, where possible. Mike Beggs suggested that the 2004 Nationals should take place at Lymington Town SC during their Regatta on 26/27 June. The meeting welcomed this invitation and Mike agreed to confirm this date as soon as the LymingtonTown SC Sailing Committee had met.*
*NB Since the AGM, the Rutland SS weekend has been booked for 24/25 April 2004 at Rutland Water and Mike has confirmed the invitation from Lymington Town SC to hold the Nationals on 26/27 June 2004 (see website for notice.)
Doug confirmed that Leigh on Sea SC would be willing to host another event in 2004, once again at the end of the season to comply with local council restrictions on the use of the beach for launching. David Burnett has also suggested a Stratos start at Dalgety Bay SC Regatta in May 2004 (see website).
Langstone SC have kindly invited Stratos sailors to join their Laser 2000 racing on 22/23 May 2004. If 10 or more Stratoses agreed to attend we will get our own start (as long as a the club has sufficient advance notice of this), otherwise Stratoses will be included in a general asymmetric handicap start after the 2000s.
It was suggested that the Laser 2000s should be invited to attend some future Stratos events – with a weekend at Royal Victoria Dock one possible candidate for this. Since the Laser 2000 calendar for 2004 is pretty firm already, this may have to wait until 2005. Contacts with the Laser 2000 Class Association have always been positive and the meeting was keen maintain this.
There was some concern that, having had very few events in the past, we should not get to the point where the number of events diluted the numbers able to attend. The meeting hoped that earlier and more widely disseminated notice of these events would get numbers up. It was suggested that it would be useful if those interested in a particular event could register this interest via the website, either on the message board or, technology permitting, by clicking on the relevant event so others could see who was planning to attend. Whilst recognising the need for viable attendance levels, the meeting also expressed the hope that the relaxed and friendly nature of events so far would be not be compromised.
The meeting discussed various possibilities for making Class events more attractive to those who have not attended before. The possibility of a Children’s Regatta was raised but it was felt that the size (and price!) of the boat would make parents reluctant to leave their offspring, however competent, in sole charge. However, the suggestion of parent and child or family races as part of a cruising/fun racing weekend was welcomed, as was the suggestion that helm and crew should swap roles for a fun race. The meeting also agreed to institute a family prize for the youngest (under 18) helm/crew member at future events. Additional prizes could be included for not flying the gennaker and the most capsizes. The meeting suggested that event organisers should keep in mind different possibilities for prizes, perhaps reflecting who was attending each event.
The question of forming a Racing Committee was postponed to a later date when the success of 2004 events and attendance could be assessed.
On cruising, Mike informed the meeting that Lymington Town SC held a regular dinghy day cruise, usually on the first Saturday of every month from April to October, with racing on the Sunday which those attending the day cruise were welcome to enter. In addition, the Laser 2000 cruising section is still active and Stratoses have been encouraged to join their activities. Several Regattas, particularly over the holidays, include or link with family weeks and it was suggested that interested Stratos sailor should try to link up, probably via the website, and get a group together for some of these events.
It was agreed that fitting an auto-release camcleat to the tiller instead of the standard locking cleat for the rudder downhaul was within Class Rules since it did not affect the performance of the boat but added significantly to the safety of crew and boat. It was also agreed that the Class Association would request that such a cleat be fitted as standard by Laser on further new Stratoses.
The meeting did not believe that this foam (memorably referred to by one non-Stratos sailor as “a nappy at the top of your mast”) served any useful purpose. Whilst it may be attractive to sailing schools using the Stratos as a training boat, it distorts the sail shape and does not prevent inversion. It was agreed that this should be considered an option rather than standard provision for centreboard boats and Laser should be requested to make either version available, to future buyers. It was also agreed that either sail is permissible under Class Rules.
The meeting closed with thanks to Leigh on Sea SC for their hospitality.
|© 2003 Laser Stratos Class Association. Last updated on July 14, 2012.|