Number 134 / June 2002

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Published by the Open Canoe Sailing Group

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We have received the following message from the Canoe Sailing Committee of the Finnish Canoe Union, most of which is published verbatim:

"To all national unions, their canoe sailing committees, clubs and individual canoe sailors;

Dear Canoe Sailing Friends,

Warm greetings from Finland, the summer is finally here and we can fully engage in our fine sport. Recently we had an official meeting for the FCU Canoe Sailing Committee on the future open canoe sailing class and canoe sailing. Among others, we made the following decisions on canoe sailing in Finland:

The 'ACA' class, developed and practised in the USA and using one type 4.2 sq. m. lateen sail, will be our main open sailing class. We will start to race in this ACA class for the National Championship (NC) - in summer 2002 for the unofficial NC title, in 2003 for the official NC title. Our NC race will be an international open race, where also foreign canoe sailors, having a sail and canoe built according to the ACA rules and regulations, can take part and win the NC title. The foreign canoe sailors should be approved and their ACA sail measured and approved by their National Union or other organisation. Foreigners taking part in the NC race should cover all their costs themselves.

Sails of the official type can be made by a Finnish sailmaker, Hartik Sails."

As well as the NC race there will be a regatta for all types of canoe & rig on 24-25 Aug. The message continues:

(We) warmly hope that we could get many foreign canoe sailors interested in our big event and race for NC. Racing together for NC or in a regatta would be the best way to create an international feeling and support our fine sport.

"On the other hand, we also hope and urge that if and when ACA or other open class sailing classes will be taken in use in other European countries the sailing for (a National Championship) would be open for us Finns and other foreign canoe sailors.


Harri Luukkanen,

Chairman, Canoe Sailing Committee, FCU" (now Finnish Canoe Federation - Ed.)

As most OCSG members will be aware, JohnB is particularly keen on furthering international links, but has not, as far as I am aware, aroused great interest amongst the general membership. His ideas expressed in February's GOSSIP elicited no response. In light of the developments described here, what do YOU think? Would you like to become involved in these efforts? How do you react to the Finns' plans? Should we invite foreign canoe sailors to our events through their canoeing organisations?

Do send your ideas to GOSSIP for publication!


Make Your Own Sails? (JohnB)

From an article in 'Open Canoe Sailor International' (an online newsletter for canoe sailors - now defunct).
We were asked recently about the possibility of amateurs making their own sails. I suppose the answer is yes, they can, but it is unlikely to be a good one. Even using computer cut cloth it will be a difficult job, whilst guessing the shapes, cutting it from plastic tarpaulin and sticking it all together with adhesive tape makes a good result nigh impossible.

Sail making is a combination of art and science, and it is this understanding that creates the power of a sail. Top class sailmakers will build a sail for a specific range of wind speeds. For the younger builders, once the computer has done its job, their own intuition stemming from having cut hundreds of sails comes into play, twitching and tweaking the final shape. This is an asset that the amateur has no access to at all. I have watched my own sailmaker with a part made sail overlying its painted shape on the loft floor take a pair of shears and cut perhaps three-quarters of an inch from part of the luff. "Why do you do that?" I asked. After a pause he replied, "It feels better like that". This is intuition based on experience.

Yes, I know professionally made sails are relatively expensive, but not prohibitively so at our size, and you will be amazed at the difference it will make to your boat - it's like letting the handbrake off. Being supercharged!! This has little to do with racing, which seems to upset so many these days, but rather with performance. A well-cut sail will point higher, which in a canoe makes tacking easier as well as being faster. If you have spent weeks or months building your boat, why put a second-class power plant in it?

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