Beach starts: no place for them in ocean racing

6 years 2 months ago #19389 by Kneewall49
I'm going to start this discussion that should be had, and I'm sure it will create some heat.

Beach starts are a ridiculous method to start ocean racing events, as can be seen at any beach start you have witnessed.

My objections for this method are based on the following:
- these boats are not build for breaking out through surf, they are minimal constructed for lightness
- these boats are not build to ride over other boats adrift in the surf line during a start.
- supposedly compulsory safety gear is a restriction to jump starts and remounts in broken surf;
- spec surf ski paddlers have the skill for this start type, most other paddlers do not and are handicapped because of this. Yes they can practise this but why learn a skill that has such restricted value

So why are we having so many jump starts in 2013? I think it's because:
- organisers think they can control a beach start more effectively, but they can't, witness Saturdays 20 beaches fiasco, the Portugal world' fiasco.
- organisers don't use experienced ski racers as starters, except Deano, when he isn't racing himself. They have no idea about the difficulty of remaining stationary in open water and delay starts beyond paddlers tolerances.
- organisers that are surf club based feel the jump start favours their members and don't care for the majority entrant group that support these events that don't have these skills
- organisers blow hot air about paddlers breaking deep water starts. Have never heard of any paddler being excluded for breaking. And every one knows that.
- organisers think it 'creates a great spectacle' for spectators. Yes it does as the enjoy the carnage and misfortune of others, that's the best part of their spectacle.

What have been the fairest starts I have seen of late.
- the gunnamatta bay starts where the fleet paddles as a group about 1km to get to a start point. By that time paddlers are warmed up, calm and self seeded.
- the Dee Why ocean series start this year where the organiser said that paddlers could start the race themselves basically. And so it was orderly and without hold ups.
- the lion Is starts are orderly and simply translated to entrants.
- the Makai Cup where Damo runs the event like a military operation. In 2013 we sat calmly in the Harbor till the flag dropped.
- Those that have entered a Dean'o race will know that the start will happen when sufficient, a majority, of paddles form one group, If you think he meant 5 min to start time, your wrong.

So I have that off my chest, what do others think and why?

Are the poor numbers in '13 for the ocean events connected with this jump start rash?

What benefit is a jump start can't think of one?




-

Northern Beaches, Australia.
[Fenn Swordfish, Fenn Spark, Carbonology Zest Double
Pain is temporary, glory can be even less so...

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6 years 2 months ago #19393 by JamieMc
Lion Island race was one of the best starts. If you didn't hold the line, the IRB would take the front off your ski.

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6 years 2 months ago #19396 by Jmuzz
A rolling start seems most sensible. Set a lead IRB/Jetski to maintain a pace over the first km or so then it drops the flag and runs off when everyone is behind.

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6 years 2 months ago #19402 by Grumpytex
Couldn't agree more. When was the last time you saw a 'beach start' yacht race? Yet they have 'rules' for open water starts, rules that are followed and those that breach them get disqualified or penalised. Simple.

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6 years 2 months ago #19403 by Jmuzz
Shouldn't need to be as complicated as yachts. If its a rolling start then the pace boat just slows down if someone breaks in front, crawl along at 4kph until they decide to move back into the line, then ramp up speed and start the race when the starter is happy.
Pace boat is able to accommodate a fair ammount of surging forward by adjusting its pace.

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6 years 2 months ago - 6 years 2 months ago #19407 by Fath2o
Maybe have both, two divisions?
Looking at the video by EK Sidney, the conditions at the 20 beaches race looked pretty benign though. Also noticed there are a lot of paddlers in elite skis that, maybe, shouldn't be.
We are paddling "SURF" skis after all.
Tradition plays a part here as well.

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6 years 2 months ago - 6 years 1 month ago #19413 by Kneewall49
Yes agreed the rolling start is the most sensible. In addition:

1. Break the field to smaller fleets from large fields. This is now happening with the SUPS which seem difficult to steer at slow speeds. Older paddlers and women's is a good start group. Means the start group is smaller, more equal in ability and controllable.

2. Don't hold the start for ever as we see with many events.

3. The rolling start can be over whatever distance necessary to maintenance a reasonably line.

Northern Beaches, Australia.
[Fenn Swordfish, Fenn Spark, Carbonology Zest Double
Pain is temporary, glory can be even less so...

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6 years 2 months ago - 6 years 2 months ago #19415 by EK Sydney
I don't think there was a problem with the format of the start on the weekend, just the execution of it by the starter. Standing in the gentle shore break and going for it when the hooter goes is fine, as long as everyone can hear the hooter. There must have been a phantom hooter on Saturday, and my memory of pulling away from the beach about 5th last, waiting vainly for almost the entire field to realise they all jumped, was the starter behind me yelling over the megaphone something that sounded like 'that's not the start'. Quite funny really.
There were heaps of safety boats around, I don't understand why they don't just have a bloke with a flag on an RIB who drops it, race car style, to start the race. Everyone can see it, the wind isn't able to make 'That's not the start' into 'Start'.
It didn't matter any to me, I was just after the experience, and it was fantastic, but considering the amazingly tight finish amongst the elite guys it did make everything a little murky.
Mark.

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6 years 2 months ago #19416 by Stephen Bunney
Depends on the conditions.

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6 years 2 months ago #19437 by Kiwibruce
From my perspective on the start, there was little or no info about how it was going to happen, hooter, flag , 2min in warning, beach or water.I couldn't hear the loudhailer over the wind so I just followed everyone else. I don't get why its so hard for organizers to have some sort of standardized method. Paddle NSW, what's your policy on starts?

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6 years 2 months ago #19439 by latman
I was in that 3rd wave of 20 beaches (on the right hand side)and the "false start" was in response to the lifesavers whistles that were used to keep swimmers inside the flags

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6 years 1 month ago #19465 by AR_convert

Kneewall49 wrote: My objections for this method are based on the following:
- these boats are not build for breaking out through surf, they are minimal constructed for lightness
- these boats are not build to ride over other boats adrift in the surf line during a start.
- supposedly compulsory safety gear is a restriction to jump starts and remounts in broken surf;


After being gun-ho in my first few seasons of paddling I have now started to avoid beach start and beach finish races. Have been the victim of and seen way too many damaged and broken ocean skis and I just cant afford the repair/replacement cost.

Current - Carbonology"Flash" Vajda "Infusion II K1" Previously ~Finn"Molokai Mk II"~Knysna "Vantage Pro K1' Carbonology "Vault"~Epic"V10L & Sport"~ [/b]Fenn"Mill Double" ~Spirit"PRS"~Finn"Affinity"
Always looking for the next boat :)

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6 years 1 month ago - 6 years 1 month ago #19474 by Ric
Looks like mostly an Australian thread here... how big are these races you guys are talking about?

from an SA paddler who so far has no problem with beach starts...

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6 years 1 month ago #19475 by Kneewall49
Ric, this season has seen miserable numbers in comparison to past seasons for the off shore races, even less when you consider the addition of SUPs which are now included in events.

So in the ocean series of 6 or 7 events, numbers were 80-90 or so down to 60 all up, where the major event got over 200, the 20 Beaches.

Personally I think the beach start has contributed to this drop in numbers. Along with a general reluctance to make a downwind event downwind and running them as triangles instead.

I don't mind a paddle through the surf, but not in company with 100 other boats smashing around, and I don't like starting an endurance event with my drink line up my arse, leg rope twisted, etc, etc, due to jump starts. A lot of paddlers don't use leg ropes when jump starts are on, while the organisers announce you have to have one?

How are events started in SA?

Northern Beaches, Australia.
[Fenn Swordfish, Fenn Spark, Carbonology Zest Double
Pain is temporary, glory can be even less so...

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6 years 1 month ago #19481 by Ric
Thanks Neil,

So here in Cape Town, looks like we got about 70 to 80 boats in most of the main Cape Town Series races this year - www.capetownsurfski.com/results.php

All but 1 were beach starts (but we don't get really big beach breaks here, maybe this is already a valid factor). But we do have a Short Course vs Long Course option, with separate starts. This does help clean up the water from the real beginners, as they will typically do Short Course for a season before "graduating" to the Long Course.

(Cape Town Downwind we had 107 boats, water start like last year, numbers I think were down and I heard a lot of people saying the price may have been a contributing factor to that.)

(Cape Point Challenge was a batched beach start so no problems there. Plus this year the start was in the shelter of Simonstown Harbour Long Beach. I started with 8 others and at my end, nobody raced off the line.)

All Series Long Course races were out and back, generally 2 laps of a course (+-12kms) - Short Course, 1 lap. The true downwind races happen early next year, in our Downwind Series. So there's another difference from you - we actually have 2 separate series for this. And there will be a very different mix in the competitors of the 2 series (at least in the mid pack and bottom end). I'm not sure how the Downwind races start - I didn't compete last year.

The starts can get messy, yes. My way around that, being bottom-mid-pack, is I start just behind the top guys (Mockes, Rices etc), knowing that they will get away quickly, leaving me with clean water (not an option for everyone, but explains why I have no problem with this).

Lastly, maybe another factor is that we also have our Friday nights fun race, the Seadog. Short 5 x 1km round the cans lap race in Fish Hoek bay, where anything goes.
DON'T bring your new boat to this race, its a beach start & finish, with a turn can placed IN the break zone. Again, we don't get the biggest swells coming in but it can get really messy, and boats hit boats, boats get damaged. Maybe this helps to get us used to the carnage that can happen, so we all take the real series starts a bit more politely.

Maybe its a case that most of our paddlers come from a Life Saving background, so this comes naturally to them.

I'm not going to say what is better or worse, especially not for your conditions. Just wanted to understand the thread. I think if we had more crazy conditions (perhaps like they get in Durban e.g.) then I might have a stronger opinion on it.

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6 years 1 month ago #19482 by AR_convert

Ric wrote: DON'T bring your new boat to this race, its a beach start & finish, with a turn can placed IN the break zone. Again, we don't get the biggest swells coming in but it can get really messy, and boats hit boats, boats get damaged. Maybe this helps to get us used to the carnage that can happen, so we all take the real series starts a bit more politely.

Maybe its a case that most of our paddlers come from a Life Saving background, so this comes naturally to them.


Having quite a few expat South Africans here in Western Australia and also reading this forum I understand we pay at least double if not more for our skis here, so that's also a factor in not wanting to "get amongst it" with our skis :dry:

Current - Carbonology"Flash" Vajda "Infusion II K1" Previously ~Finn"Molokai Mk II"~Knysna "Vantage Pro K1' Carbonology "Vault"~Epic"V10L & Sport"~ [/b]Fenn"Mill Double" ~Spirit"PRS"~Finn"Affinity"
Always looking for the next boat :)

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6 years 1 month ago #19484 by Ric
That's going to be a big factor for sure!

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