Why Ovington and Rondars are breaching the trust of the International 505 class.

I read with great interest the recently distributed “proposals for the 2014 AGM” to be held at the Kiel 2014 worlds event on August 21st 2014. I don’t think in my 40 years of involvement in the class I have ever seen such blatant “gerrymandering” of the rules to benefit those who don’t clearly comply with them!

Since John Westell designed the International 505, the templates were there as a guide to the builders to provide tolerances to enable them to build boats without fear of them not measuring. So accelerate from 1954 to 2014 (some 60 years) and we find ourselves clearly in a place where some builders cannot manage to build boats that measure.

So instead of being honest with themselves and looking at the rules in more details, some decide that it may be easier to propose measurement changes at the AGM so their “boat building mistakes” can be incorporated into the rules.

Some of the recent behavior by the class leaves a lot to be desired, I suspect I know fairly well (who) is behind this suggested change. A few/or one very influential individual who benefits enormously from the class sailors, enough so, for them to make a very reasonable living. However, too naive to admit that the so called perfect “computer designed 505” probably doesn’t comply with the current rules and therefore is not actually a 505 (by the way this doesn’t offer a pass to the other builder, who has blatantly broken the rules for years)!

For an actual country class association (Germany) to suggest such changes is “ballsy” to say the least and damn right blatant at best. Then to include phrases like “current boat builders had difficulties to meet the required height range for the top of gunwale” – are you kidding me! You mean you cannot make a boat that is deep enough not to have the templates touch the center-band of the boat or the hull, clearly making it illegal!

To be then follow-up later with “current boat builders had difficulties to meet the required height range for the keel band.” So lets change the rules once again, because someone cannot measure between 3mm and 4.5 mm in height of the keel band from the hull!

At this stage, the rules are beginning to resemble a new boat called a “506” and simple suggestions like, why don’t we reduce the weight by 20lbs become sensible, considering the age of the sailors in the class.

In the same proposal Rondar’s (or someone representing them in the German 505 association) declare “that a builder would like to add more buoyancy chambers to the boat, because it will be a good idea, good idea for who apart from the builder?”

Or perhaps, they have already built the boat with the additional elements (which are not within the current rules) and now are asking to repent for their sins by another change to the rules? I remember when Parker’s built the new 2013 boat we followed the rules and wrote to the IRC and it’s executives indicating that we had checked our boat had complied with the Section B. rules of the International 505 class.

Quotes like this are totally unprofessional and unbelievable “boat builders (e.g. Rondar) have taken actions to improve both the production process and the quality of the finished boat by improving the deck mould design and the deck/hull assembly process. As a free side effect additional buoyancy chambers could be offered (what’s a free side effect?):

a) left/right from the mast

b) at the transom

Additional buoyancy chambers are welcome for security and would be acceptable as long as the current chambers stay separated and their bulkheads stay unchanged. While option a) is acceptable without a rule change option b) would need a small rule adjustment.”

No, what Rondar’s have really done is build an illegal boat, but instead of talking to the 505IRC, they obviously ignored the rules and built a boat that “they” think is advancing the class, well Rondar’s are wrong and if someone buys one of these boats then you have a 505 that doesn’t measure!

Comments like “small rule adjustment”, suggest that the German 505 association are now judge and jury and think it’s their right to interpret the rules on behalf of boat builders. While you are at it, why don’t you put in a double floor (oh, sorry just read your website and you’ve done that as well another illegal adaptation) or extend the hull a little bit on the waterline and make the boat a little wider at the stern that would only need a “b) would need a small rule adjustment.” as well, why not make the centerboard a little longer and the spinnaker pole!

The 505 world association is getting into deep trouble with “rogue builders” there are only a few and everyone knows who they are but are too scared to mention names. It’s obvious to me – since we measured some 9XXX series boats some time back and we couldn’t get them to measure – we were perplexed to why and how they passed international measurement rules at any events, until we realized that no-one was really measuring the hulls anymore?

To check our findings we actually compared our templates to the 505 master’s, ours are a perfect match and our measurer (20 years on the IYRU technical committee) had probably measured 1,000 505’s over his life as well as designing 4 complete models, so I trust his abilities to measure a 505 hull and they didn’t measure and still don’t.

When we did mention the issues found and confronted the IRC committee (at the worlds in La Rochelle) with our findings, great silence descended everywhere, like we were the problem! When in fact it’s the IRC continual inability to deal with the measurement issues in the 505 class that are the problem. We even wrote to the ISAF, no response! At some stage the ISAF will have to take charge if some firm control over the behavior of these people and builders is not put in place.

Finally the most unfortunate thing about this whole issue is the way the class has treated the class sailors. Many dedicated over the years expecting the Int. 505 association (as they pay there membership) to ensure that when they relinquish their hard earned money for a boat, that at least they could expect to be buying a boat that actually measures but no.

My advise, most people in Europe are covered by the EEC directive on the “sale of goods act” that protects the consumers rights to ensure that what they think they are buying is what they are buying. So if your boat doesn’t measure you have legal right for recourse and compensation through the EU courts.

I have been informed that similar issues have happened to the contender class, to such an extent that the rules were changed to accommodate a “rogue” builder who decided to use the tolerances to alter the boat shape, these then led to a rule change! Similar happened with the Lark and 420 builder in recent years in the UK (the same builder by the way). So what does the ISAF do? Nothing!

Lets just hope that these proposed rule changes are given short shrift during the meeting and buried forever, so the class can get back to business as the best high-performance dinghy ever to have hit the water!


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