International 505 measurement class rules issue

There has been much discussion on the social networks around Parker’s comments on the measurement issues around the current International 505 fleet and I thought it would be appropriate to outline our position, our reasons for bringing this matter up and  an explanation of our views.

The International 505 committee and IRC (including the ISAF) have a duty to apply the measurement rules set out in section B of the International 505 class rules. These rules are a reflection of John Westell’s desire and design to ensure that the International 505 fleet remained as far and as equal as possible.

These rules clearly outline what is and what is not allowed in the building of an International 505 and it is the duty of the IRC and the builders/suppliers to ensure that the sailers, investors and clients who purchase such boats have a legally measured hull, rig, sails and foils.

But let’s clear one thing up for sure. Parker’s are about fair play, I have no issue with boats that measure Waterat’s, Fremantle’s and others. I do have a problem, when a manufacturer pretends to sell boats that they know don’t conform to the rules, but are too lazy to do anything about it!

It is a purely commercial position that Parker’s do not lend or give boats away, after investing heavily in producing an all new boat, we need to make boats for paying customers, so please resist the chanting in the hallways about Parker’s proving themselves, we did that in the past and won 15 world championships in the making. If you would like to sail a Parker 505, then we will be delighted to build one for you.

So here we go.

1. It’s not good enough to say “let it go . . .”, “lets move on . . .”, when it is clear the class has a problem with boats that don’t measure. Let me put it this way, most of the fleet would complain like screaming cats, if a competitor had a centerboard that was 147 cm below the hull-band, or a main roach that was too big, an oversized spinnaker or mast too long, right? So don’t be hypocritical and walk away from the boat measurement issue when you know it’s wrong.

2. Parker’s when re-entering the class measured many early 900X boats and found none exactly measured the same, in fact they were way different, so we raised this with and chief measurer, president and IRC of the class in La Rochelle at the 2011 worlds. Our feeling was that their was a little bit of a cover-up going on, it was clear during our discussions that we had hit a raw nerve somewhere and the impression we were left with was – “please go away and don’t make trouble”, again not an acceptable position by the 505 IRC.

3. Then you have to look behind the reason to why the class has boats that don’t measure and this lies firmly with the manufacturer and with the management of the IRC. A builder must know what he is building and surely any good builder would measure his own boats before delivering them to the client? Clearly this has not been the case.

Secondly, you would have thought that the class measurers and the IRC would have noticed during each boats official measurement certificate inspection that they did not measure? Again not the case, because we know that many boats were not even measured and just issued with a “pre-filled measurement certificates.” So for all of those out there commenting on Facebook about “my boat measures because I have a certificate” – I personally wouldn’t be so confident that this is the case!

4. There is a problem with rule 4.6 that states the “client is responsible for ensuring that the boat measures”, well that’s true in part, however, the client must also presume that the goods provided are “fit for purpose” actually are! So I think this rule does not protect the sailer in any way and needs modifying to some extent.

5. In the “old days” all boats were measured as far as possible before they left the builders factory, ensuring that if there was a measurement problem that this could be rectified before the client received the boat. This common sense approach appears to have vanished.

6.  Now boats are scattered all over the world, I cannot see sense in the fact that “any authorized” in country ISAF approved measurer can issue a measurement certificate for a boat. What happens to boats that go to Oman? The Int. 505 is not a straightforward boat to measure, you really need to know where to lay the templates, particularly because of the issues around the perpendicular transom lines at section 11.

There is no consistency in the IRC measurement process, I have seen many measurers not knowing where to put templates on the boat and as a result measuring incorrectly. Parker’s have the luxury of having Bill Parker a 25+ year veteran of the International Rules Committee as technical advisor and good friend of John Westell to ensure that our boats do comply.

7. It is unacceptable just to give boats “dispensation” when they don’t measure, someone is at fault and the manufacturer should replace the boats. The current “walk-away” policy of the IRC is wrong. Would this happen in F1, or the America’s Cup, no, so why is it acceptable to allow illegal boats to sail in the class?

8. There is a consumer protection law in the UK that states that “goods must be fit for purpose and represent a true reflection of the service or product sold”, clearly not in this case. I would expect that the manufacturers warranty would cover any customer who wishes to return his boat.

9. The builder responsible for these boats, even claimed on Facebook on XXX that “the Ovington boat will measure (referring to the past Rondars)”, which to me is a fairly damning admission that the previous boats didn’t. What’s more disturbing is that the builder obviously knew he was supplying illegal boats into the class.

10. SAP are a major corporate sponsor of the Int. 505, to such an extent that without there involvement the class would be in dire-straights, so you would have thought that at the least the Int. 505 class could ensure that everyone is playing by the rules. I bet they will not be happy if they were more aware of the situation.

11. All world champion winning boats from the last 10 years should be remeasured (if they are still sailing) and if found to be illegal they should be removed from the winning boat register.

So in closing our complaint, is the fact that it is “the Class Ruling Committees” that are the guilty parties and they have been hiding and ducking away from their responsibilities and bringing their own sport into disrepute. This has been going on for some time and unfortunately by not doing anything about it, they have backed themselves into a corner. It’s now time for the ISAF ruling body to sort this mess out.

Finally, Parker’s measure all of there boats as far as they can to ensure that we comply with the rules, why shouldn’t the others have followed a simple common-sense approach as none of these measurement issues would have arisen.

David Parker

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