Mark this isn't the first equipment related issue... remember the Shockwave? I wanted a clear and decisive message sent then but in my opinion the class fell short (that is just my opinion as a class member not the chair). So, to see yet another equipment related issue pop up for the second year in a row makes me uneasy. I see this issue as a trend as opposed to an isolated incident.
The F18 class has set itself up as 1 of if not the premier 2 up racing cat class. This means that there will be more and more pressure to “develop” advantages for racing, like it or not. Some of these attempts will be within the current rule set and many will push the boundaries, or even show up as cases of “cheating” whether by design or accident.
The class rules in the F18 were purposely written to be restrictive with the stated intent it would prevent cost escalations and equalize the racing. These are rules written with great intent, but it can be argued rather easily they can provide a false sense of security and can even be proved the opposite effect and make things more expensive.
Any open formula class is going to involve development. The costs for new models, sail developments etc are significant and will be transferred in 1 way or the other to the buyers of these boats. While there are a lot of benefits in getting better and faster boats over time, the costs are there. In many instances creating “development” and marketing model changes in a very restrictive environment adds more expense than in an open architecture. The class may not want it, but the builders and suppliers live off of selling an advantage.
If a certain material does not show up on the approved materials list, this does not mean that a material necessarily is more expensive than the ones listed. New building materials could provide better and cheaper boats in theory. The Shockwave instance is a great example where the rule did nothing to protect the class or racing integrity, but can be argued hurt the class. (at least hurt people who were involved in the class and adding to the class) These builders used a locally produced and supplied structurally equivalent material that happened to not be on the approved list. Meanwhile the core materials listed as approved by the class have gone through at least 5 process and material changes, so they other than the brand name barely represent a fixed reference point of equality.
Yes if it is written down it has to be followed or the favoritism issue etc will become rampant. Over documentation and specification though is society wide problem. The $500 hammer cost that much because some guy in a room wrote a specification that when followed made the hammer cost that much to produce.
Before the trolls fire off here; I am not in favor or against the F18 rules here and only refer to it because it is an F18 thread. This is bash on rules in general. One would like to think the world capable of operating under the catch-all of "the spirit of the rule" or fairness or whatever, but somebody somewhere s going to show up and F it up everytime.