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Free Sailing "A's" and IRSA A Class ICA

Bill Green

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The following is addressed to all A Class vane sailors, some of which may have already received and responded to the request to vote on the proposal.

It is here to provide clarity and as a request to those that have not yet voted to do so.


Peter Wiles and Bill Green have been nominated to IRSA by the MYA to a committee to look in to setting up an international class association (ICA) for the A Class. The group is chaired by an Australian, Glenn Dawson. The group has not yet started, but similar ICA's are being set up for the Marblehead and 10Rater classes and of course the IOM ICA works well. The prime role of the ICA's would appear to be the promotion of the class and involvement in major international events. It will also be a vehicle for the owners’ views to be communicated to IRSA and vice versa, again the full extent is yet to be defined. Each of the ICA’s reflect the class and the users. The work of those involved would be to establish the who, what where, when and how of the organisation and will include of the views of all owners. It could to be said that this ICA will benefit from work put in to create the former International Owners Association. Both Peter and Bill were involved in the previous IOA and are conscious of the lessons learned.

One of the key elements in the initial thinking is that of the inclusion of the vane sailing community in to this group. The free sailing A Class community is strong in the UK and it is right that two primary questions should be asked:-

1. Can the free sailing A Class be included into the ICA? The answer to that is Yes.

2. Does the vane community want to be included into the ICA? That is down to the free sailing community to decide.

Joining the ICA does carry with it the requirement to accept the IRSA 2016 A Class rule, which would be modified with a Free Sailing Supplement that has already been developed by the MYA Technical Team.

There are disparate views, some of a viable future some steeped in history, some of uncertainty, most of which have been expressed in discussions in clubs. The questions asked and their answers are attached. What is clear, is that if the FS community does not join the ICA it will have to form an Association to administer its own rules, sailing and be self-sufficient within the MYA n a very similar manner to the new classes to the MYA. The Footy and Dragon classes are good examples of this. In the current climate, it is difficult to see how this would be achieved for the FS A Class.

A poll has been taken of the free sailors to establish their view that resulted in a vote in favour of inclusion. However, the response was low, so to enable those that have not expressed a view the closing date is now extended to Friday 2 June.

If you have already voted that vote still counts, however, if you have not already voted you are encouraged to do so. Attached is the document put forward by the FS Class Captain Anthony Warren please return your vote to him by the closing date of June 3. Votes received after that date will not be included. Also attached are the FAQ’s and the responses for your help and information.


1; QUESTION Will it be necessary to accept the 2016 measurement rule if we join the Radio A’s in an International Class Association?


2; QUESTION If we decide not to join, what would happen then?

ANSWER It appears to be unlikely that the MYA would continue to support the ’94 rule if we refuse to accept the new rule. It would be necessary to form and manage a Vane A association, in the same way as other satellite classes.

3; QUESTION What is the benefit in accepting amalgamation with the RA’s in the new association?

ANSWER The combined association will have more leverage in future negotiations with IRSA. There’s strength in numbers. There are also World Sailing regulations which controlling the relationship between a formally convened association and its parent body, IRSA.

4; QUESTION If we accept the ‘new’ measurement rules, how will grandfathering affect my existing Vane A?

ANSWER Only if being measured to the 2016 Rule, boats measured to previous rules are covered by a “Grandfather” clause in the 2016 Rule. For most people, very little. Most boats initially measured under the ’94 rule would see only a minor difference in sail area if re-measured if anything. Some boats would be more seriously affected; some ‘Lightenings’, for example, have a stern bustle configuration which would need surgery to bring into line. For the most part, any required change would be minor.

5; QUESTION Would I have to have my boat re-measured?

ANSWER Your boat would only need to be re-measured if you made any major alterations, for example fitting a new lead or a new and different mast. Generally, if the boat is kept within the plus or minus 100g weight bracket shown on the certificate there is no need to re-measure.

6; QUESTION Is the 2016 rule more complicated than the 94 rule?

ANSWER Yes, and the rules and the measurement forms are more detailed as well. But in theory the rule calculates for the rating in the same manner.

7; QUESTION How will the new measurement supplement enabling the inclusion of Vane A’s work?

ANSWER The supplement has been carefully developed by the MYA Technical Team to function almost exactly as the 94 rule. There are some minor differences, for example the spinnaker pole is measured from the face of the mast, rather than previous centre of the mast, which always had to be ‘guesstimated’. The supplement also deletes the tight restriction on QBL differences, thus allowing amateur-built boats a little more leeway. Also the restriction on sail sizes is removed.

8; QUESTION Will we have to accept multiple certificates, and will these cause problems for event measurers?

ANSWER It is expected that competitors will be required to lodge their certificates two weeks prior to a major event, unless there are special circumstances. Spars, leads and fins will have to be marked to prove that they ‘belong’ to a specific certificate. For some owners who live away from the centres of A boat activity there is some advantage in multiple certificates in that different iterations can be formalised in a single trip to the measuring tank!

9; QUESTION Who will have control over the Free Sailing Yacht Racing Rules?

ANSWER Once affiliated with IRSA, the MYA would keep control over the racing rules.

10; QUESTION If we accept amalgamation, who would continue to manage and control the measurement supplement?

ANSWER This would continue to be the function of the MYA’s Tech Team, in conjunction with IRSA and in accordance with the regulations controlling the relationship with IRSA. See question 3.


Dear Fleet Member,

I understand from Bill Green that he and Peter Wiles have been nominated to IRSA by the MYA to sit on a small group to consider setting up a class committee for the A Class and whether Free Sailing wish to be associated with this endeavour.

The Radio version of the A class through MYA is already of International status.

Personally I feel and recommend that we should as Free Sailors apply to be associated too, using an A Class FS Supplement to 2016 IRSA.  

I see the advantages as below:

• Rejoin the International community once more under IRSA (in lieu of the now defunct IYRU). 

• Adopt the new IRSA 2016 class rules and gain the benefit of regular updates and International administration.

• Work towards International A class representation on an IRSA A class owners' association through UK committee members Peter Wiles and Bill Green with Australian Chairman Glenn Dawson.

• A FS A Class Supplement also backed by Tech Team is under preparation.

• Continuation with the existing MYA National FS Class Rule risks leaving this former International A Class, developmentally behind as a Free Sailing variant.

Agree please to either 1 or 2 below replying to me no later than 2 June 2017

1. I wish to see the VA class remain as currently administered Nationally by the MYA.

2. I wish to see the VA class regain International status with an FS Supplement based on the current IRSA 2016 Class Rules.

Any queries do give a ring or email as below

Kind regards

Anthony Warren

Free Sailing Class Captain MYA

Vane Racing Team (Chair)

E:   tony@anthonywarrenassociates.co.uk

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This was received from Val Provoost and I was asked to post it here by Anthony

Hello Tony,

I got the thread on the Forum and ploughed my way through it. I have already had conversations with Bill and Peter over quite a time so I amwell acquainted with the problem.

However there are several aspects of the whole postings from you as well as Bill and I see that some of the fundamental facts quoted are not correct .

Forgive me for embarking on a long text here but I really feel that the whole sport is changing rapidly and if we are not spot on in dealing with IRSA now we will be left with a total dog's breakfast and deep divisions in the class.

I will assume that you dont know my background so here is a short CV. I am a registered and qualified measurer forthe Royal Yachting Association and have been measuring since 1965 in several classes. As well as measuring at RYA events, I was an International Measurer for two International classes for 9 years and as the Chief measurers wife for a further 9 years.. WE were collectively called Ted the Tape and Val the Mate. After Ted died in 1987 I was doing the events, particularly the junior Champs, working with the olympic Squad members before the Games and measuring the Metre boats, 5.5,6,8 and 12m on top of all the general measurement work. Fo the 505 class I used to go to the annual meeting and present the class's rule changes for ratification. So you can understand why I can view this situation from a different perspective to most model sailors.

In Bill's introductory comments in his post he refers to the relative responsibilities of the class assoc and IRSA but I dont think he is absolutely right. While he is right in defining the responsibilities of the ICA he misses the point that the ICA is an autonomous body that is effectively run by the owners, for the owners. IRSA becomes an enabling body that ensures that things are done inaccord with the World Sailing norm. The owners run the show and the only involvement of IRSA is to oversee that proceedural matters are done correctly,such as appropriate and competent venues forchampionships, racing rule appendicees are appropriate, etc, etc. As to the rules, it is entirely down the the ICA and it's members what rules they want and how they create them. IRA is only required to ratify them and the only changes they can advise is over perhaps rewording a sentence here and there and grammatical errors.

As to the questions raised in Bill and your postings

1. An A boat is an A boat regardless of whether it is vane or radio

2. If they want any control over their future as vane sailors then a united class with an ICA is vital and stops any enforcement of rules that they do not want. At present the 2016 rule is in force but the ICA could create a later rule and get it ratified by IRSA.

By the way the class is no longer 'International' as it does not meet the World sailing requirement of having fleets on 3+ continents. Now it is 'Classic'.


1.Now the rules themselves. Any boat built and presented for measurement since the rule came into force must be measured to it. However the ICA wouldhave the power to change the rule and get it ratified.

2. Both IRSA and the ICA would effectively shut the door on the Vanes and I think that would be a death knell.

3. Strength in numbers is always the best course of action and anyway,

how can you amalagamate with a body you are already part of???

4. The 'new' rules will only affect new boats. Old boats are measured to the rules in force at the time of build. Only any new rigs must comform. There is no question of grandfathering. I have a 1932 Vane A and if I choose to get her measured then I will insist that the rules in force at that time are used. I will also be seeking a set of healthy young men and a chiropractor to pick her up!

The rest of the quesions are well covered in the posting. The move to form an ICA is absolutely correct and the only way forward and should include both disciplines. The ICA will hold the class's future in its hands and IRSA will no longer be able to enforce any rulechanges.

I take the stand that the owners, being the investors in the class, should always be in charge of its future.That way situations such as we have now are far less likely to occur.

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