Arms Race vs. Opportunity to Race

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Daniel Hearn:
To avoid a runners ďarms raceĒ with its associated expense and competitive advantage, created by equipment rather than sailor skill, the original thinking for the North American Ice Optimist fleet was to limit runners to only legal DN runners.  By contrast, there are no such restrictions in Europe, other than a limit of no more than 3 sets per regatta. 

The Junior World Championships in Poland last week changed my opinion on this issue.  Hereís why:

1.)   If it were not for the 4mm, often shorter, runners, completion of this event would not have been possible.  The skinny runners allow the kids, who are using a modestly-powered rig, to still sail even through significant amounts of sticky snow.
2.)   4mm, short runners are cheap.  Volunteers in the Western Region recently produced 10 sets (two side runners and a steering runner w/break)of these for material cost of just $60 per set.   

Iím less enthused about the inclusion of long insert runners in the class, as I donít believe they are necessary to ďallowĒ kids to sail in certain conditions.  However, Iíve gotten over this concern as well.  Hereís why:

1.)   Few parents are going to part with that kind of money for a kidís Ice Optimist runners. (Some could borrow a parentís runners). 
2.)   Itís likely that those who would drop this kind of money would be doing so assuming the kidís transition into the DN classógood thing for the sport.
3.)   I think itís important for North America and Europe to have a consistent set of rules.

On point #3, another difference in rules relates to maximum age.  In North America you have to be under 16 on the first day of the regatta.  In Europe, you need to be no older than 16 on January 1.  (You could turn 17 on January 2 and still be eligible to race anytime that calendar year.

My proposal is this:
ē   The North American Ice Optimist Racing Association should follow the same rules as Europe across the board, which would include the policy on runners as well as maximum age. 

I believe both of these changes will expand iceboat racing opportunities for our critical junior program.  I would welcome comments and input.

If the consensus among interested parties seems to support this proposal, the plan of action will be to adopt these changes even for the 2012 North American Ice Optimist Championships regatta that has not yet been completed.  (This had no influence on my proposal, but in the interest of full disclosure, please note that this rules change would allow TJ Sherry to defend his 2011 title, if he so chooses).

Daniel Hearn
North American Optimist Secretary

"The Junior World Championships in Poland last week changed my opinion on this issue.  Hereís why:"


Though I cannot express an opnion on Ice Opti runner rules, I noticed you changed your opnion and you are to be commended for it.  "The ability to change your mind shows that you have one."


While the original thinking made sense, you new thought process does as well.  And if the kids are to compete in an international class, then it would seem logical to have the same set of rules across the board. 


DN 805:
It seems worthwhile following the lead of the Europeans in their concept of Ice Optimist equipment and age category.

That accomplished, the next challenge is to grow the Junior DN fleet that appears to be successful in Europe.    How have they been able to build that fleet? 

Daniel Hearn:
The Junior DN fleet in Europe has grown largely as the result of the "investment" these countries have made in their Ice Optimist programs.  A good number of kids move from one to the other.  In fact, Poland also has a Young Junior DN Championships that is restricted to kids, I believe, 18 and younger.  Pretty cool that their junior DN fleet is large enough to stage a separate "young juniors" event!  Several of the top Ice Optimist sailors in Worlds had also competed in this event. 

Another reason for their success is the team culture created by the clubs.  They help each other out putting together and tearing down their equipment--the kids, not parents or coaches do the work.  They clearly have a good time training, racing and traveling together.  The little kids look up to the big kids and aspire to move on to the DN.   


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