In an effort to provide information to our community, below is a press release from Sturgis Boat Works regarding the recent issue with PS2000 club420’s and their subsequent de-certification. Sail1Design reported on this on 11 July, and offered the builder in question an opportunity to respond. Also, below this press release, is an official statement from the Club420 Class.
We do not necessarily hold the views discussed here; please feel free to post your reasonable comment(s) below, and we believe the c420 class is an incredibly positive organization doing great things, then and now. The c420 has been around for a long time; technology and innovation have re-defined sailing in so many ways, and all one-design classes struggle with the fine line between maintaining tradition, equality among the existing fleet, and acceptance of newer, more efficient, and better ways of doing things, from better sail fabrics, better hardware, better construction techniques and materials, and more. What’s a class to do? Not easy, but in this case our hope is that somehow, the issue is resolved as quickly as possible for the benefit of our nations youth sailors.
Statement from PS2000
As many of you know, there are ongoing serious concerns with the C420. Here at PS2000, we have been, so far, silent on the issue of decertification of some of our boats immediately prior to the North American Championships, in San Francisco, CA. While incurring many tens of thousands of dollars in damages and an unimaginable amount of stress on our staff, we have felt that it would be best for the C420 Class, and C420 sailors generally, to acquiesce to the mandates of the Class while they found a way to roll back these rash and unjustified actions with the least embarrassment and permanent damage to the health of the Class.
Throughout this affair, the C420 Class has presented itself as a paragon of one design integrity. And although this has always been the intent of the board, it is simply not true, has never been true. To claim that our decertified boats are the only ones that do not conform to the construction manual is the height of self deception and the rankest of hypocrisy. If anything, these boats conform more closely to the letter of the construction manual than any others sailing today. Their exclusion lies not in the actual rules of construction but in the clause in the manual that requires builders to notify the secretary of changes and gain approval in advance. Which we, in fact, failed to do. And, in fact, no builder has ever informed the class of a change in lamination, materials or methods. Ever. The Class is wholly unaware of the materials, lamination schedules, construction methods and tools used by any of the builders. There has never been an independent certification of materials or methods. Ever. This despite the undeniable fact that construction of the boats has always been in a process of change and improvement for all the builders, throughout the life of the Class.
PS2000 has been, by far, the most open, cooperative and transparent of the 3 builders. We have been, likely, a cautionary tale for the other builders. When we built a new set of molds, we reported it to the class and had to go through a lengthy, but utterly fictional certification process. By contrast, our competitor is building boats out of at least 3 sets of molds on 2 continents and has never informed the class of an increasing number of tools being used. Another has changed builders at least 3 times and never informed the class. All this is obvious and widely known but goes unquestioned.
Let’s consider the issue of changes more fully. Because of the “inform and approve” clause of the construction manual, no changes are legal, even if within the rules, if not specifically reported and approved. Talk to any long serving maintenance staff at a club that utilizes the C420 and they will verify that the boats have most certainly undergone changes in lamination techniques and materials over the years. Ignoring the myriad of ways the boats can, and have, been altered that can’t be easily detected after the construction process is finished, there are some that can. In a single example, for years the rigs were perfectly interchangeable between the 3 existing builders and the past builders, regardless of spar or boat supplier. As we saw at NA’s when we were swapping new masts onto other builder’s boats, the masts are no longer interchangeable. Why wasn’t this an obvious red flag? It’s clear that one builder has altered the boat in some way so that, once interchangeable, the rigs must now be specific to that builder. We don’t point this out because we wish to see those hundreds of boats made illegal, we point it out because in the course of a single regatta, one during which boats owned by a third of the fleet were being tossed out, it was at least as obvious, indeed far more obvious, that another builder had altered their boat and it went entirely unquestioned and unaddressed. To have righteous indignation that one change has been made and then to willfully ignore another seems, to us, patently unfair and, frankly, inexcusable.
There is a clear pattern of the Class enforcing some of the rules, some of the time and only for some builders. They are in possession of clear proof that boats being built for at least the last 5 years include internal stringers that are specifically banned in the construction manual. So, within a matter of days, the board has voted to ban a large number of PS2000 boats because they have been built with methods not actually banned by class rules and then also voted to allow boats that are clearly built with expressly banned structural additions. More than this, the Class President and the Measurer have refused repeated requests to verify that the construction manual provided to PS2000 is the same document being used to make these decisions.
PS2000 has been asked to follow rules the Class can’t, or won’t, provide or verify. They’ve decertified boats that conform to the rules as provided, and affirmed boats that clearly do not. The sailors are the most important stakeholders in this struggle. We, at PS2000, hope they will speak up and send the Class a message that this kind of double standard can not stand.
Club 420 Association July 18 Statement on Non-Conforming Equipment
It is a core mission of the Club 420 Association to ensure that the Club 420 sailing dinghy is the product of a strict one-design regimen and that the Club 420s are built to consistent, uniform standards in order to ensure that racing is fair to all participants, and that the sailors, not the equipment, determine the outcomes. The goals of this core mission are incorporated in each contract with each approved builder of a Club 420 sailing dinghy to ensure compliance with and adherence to the Class Rules and Class Construction Manual then in effect.
Here is a description in detail of the conformity issue: https://club420.org/news/article/club-420-association-guidance
On Sunday July 14, 2019 the Class Measurer received a request to inspect Zim boats for ongoing compliance with the Class Rules and Class Construction Manual. Following a thorough inspection pursuant to Section B of the Class Rules and of the applicable Class Construction Manual, the Class Measurer determined that the boats in question do meet the requirements of the Class Rules and Class Construction Manual.
The Class Measurer’s determination is as follows:
“Based on my review of this specific situation, and evaluating what was presented to the BOD for evaluation, I looked back historically to see what has possibly changed over the years. The main baseline I have to go on is the measurement performed on August 21, 2018 in Portsmouth, R.I. The three builders provided what everyone present accepted as class legal boats. We did an evaluation of all the boats, weighed and laser targeted each of the three boats. We all also looked through each boat presented and everyone was given the opportunity to bring issues up to the class measurer and Executive Director at that time. We did not inspect the inside of the tanks, as it was never brought up as a concern at that time. It was generally accepted by all attending on that date, that the boats currently being produced by class builders were class legal. During this boat measurement and evaluation there was no discussion regarding current internal boat structure. Although other aspects of the boats construction and manufacturing were discussed by the group.
Looking at the information I have been able to review to date, including the overall history of the class and how the boats have been built, as they relate to the Builders Manual and the spirit of maintaining a one design class. With the current information I have, I believe that Zim has not changed their boat design or construction methods relating to the stringers from when the boats were originally designated class legal boats by the Club420 Board of Directors. It is my evaluation that Zim boats as built currently [actively plaqued], are class legal to compete in Club 420 events.”
After further investigation and careful consideration by the Board of Directors pursuant to Section VII of the Association Bylaws, the Board on July 18, 2019, approved the determination of the Class Measurer.
Additionally, subsequent to its July 11, 2019, action, the Class Measurer has inspected boats with Plaque 8579 and Plaque 8580 and has recommended to the Board of Directors that they do not meet the requirements of the Class Rules and the Class Construction Manual. The non-conforming elements in violation of class rules are:
1. The boats affected are built using a resin infusion method and materials that are not class approved. Using this infusion method affects the durability, boat stiffness, weight and a host of other issues.
2. The boats affected have additional pieces at the bottom of the centerboard trunk alongside the stringer which is expressly not allowed by the Class Builders Construction Manual.
Subsequent to the initial on-site decision on July 9, 2019, action, the Class Measurer reviewed additional information relative to boat with Plaque 8585 and has recommended to the Board of Directors that this boat does not meet the requirements of the Class Rules and Class Construction Manual. The non-conforming elements in violation of Class Rules and Class Construction Manual are:
1. The boat affected is built using a resin infusion method and materials that are not class approved. Using this infusion method affects the durability, boat stiffness, weight and a host of other issues.
This determination is prospective only, and does not affect the eligibility of Plaque 8585 prior to July 19, 2019.
The Class Measurer continues to have the authority at any time to inspect and/or reinspect a Club 420 sailing dinghy to ensure compliance with Class Rules and the Class Construction Manual.
It is the sole responsibility of the approved builders of Club 420 dinghies to ensure that each boat manufactured and delivered conforms to the Class Rules and Class Construction Manual. The Association and its Board do not assume any responsibility or liability for non-compliance with Class Rules and the Construction Manual. All actions taken by the Class Measurer and the Board will continue to be solely in support of those documents and for the integrity of the Club 420 one-design sailing dinghy and the Class Association.