“Very few of the blokes who actually formulate the rules know anything about boat structures. They don’t seem to know anything about safety. Go to any IOR meeting and you would swear you were looking at a bunch of London bankers. They’re usually dummies, rich blokes and corporate executive types who wouldn’t know the sharp end from the blunt end.
They just sign checks and allow themselves to be led by the designers. Boats started to get weaker and weaker. That’s OK for boats that tootle around the Mediterranean or off the California coast. Ninety percent of the world’s boats get away with it, but not in Australia. When you’re in the middle of Bass Strait you’re in the middle of the ocean. These are the guys who have to sit down and think hard about the lesson of the Hobart Race.” – Ben Lexcen – The Bulletin (January 1985)
(Lexcen’s opinion was sought after the punishing 1984 Sydney-Hobart. The fleet was pounded by a strong Southerly on the first two days. From a fleet 155 starters there were 104 retirements and one death. Many of the rig and hull failures were later traced to under-strength construction and equipment.)
It is worth noting that the pic includes boats from California’s BBS, seemingly just tootling around. – ed.