Ballot Comments

The ballot for rule modifications is the current order of business for all of Footy owners. I would like to add some comments for your consideration as you ponder your choices. I encourage all of you to think seriously about the direction that you want the class to go. I know that it is very easy to discount your opinion when others seem so passionate about theirs, but your voice should be heard!

Okay, many of you who read this forum know that I advocate omitting the AA battery designation from the rules. Why, because the stated objectives of the adoption of this type of battery alone doesn’t make much sense and hinders the performance of our already tender boats.

One reason the AA battery is required for Footy use is that the it is supposed to level the playing field among builders of different skills by imposing heavy batteries to be carried as internal ballast. More skilled craftsmen still have to design around this ballast which should mean that they can’t build really lightweight boats that lesser craftsman may never approach, thereby discouraging participation. Makes sense, right?

Well, not really. First, if you have been following race results or read Flavio’s excellent design analysis then you’ve probably already figured out that very lightweight boats have a narrow range of conditions in which they perform consistently. For those of you that are familiar with the M Class ask yourself why M’s weigh in between between 9 - 12 pounds displacement when the technology exists to produce a 7 pound boat with similar righting moment? The answer is that the effective weight range to allow M’s to perform across a spectrum of conditions has been determined over years of experience with the class. Now, we don’t have years of experience in Footies, but all indicators are pointing to a similar effect to that in the M Class. The effective weight range for Footies seems to be between 400 grams to 550 grams, which is achievable by everyone (even though raw newbies may need a couple of boats under their belt to get there).

So, how do we improve Footies further? Remove the AA battery designation from the rule. Use lighter weight batteries and put the 50 or so grams saved in the lead bulb where it will do some good. Or use the 50 or so grams saved to bring down the total displacement if you’ve built too robustly. If you want you can still sail with AA cells, you just wouldn’t be required to.

I had a conversation a while ago with a Footy sailor who also sails a Victoria. We got around to the battery rule and he said that the AA requirement was a “design challenge”. I responded by asking him if he would consider powering his Victoria with “D” cells. He seemed taken aback by the suggestion, “…that would kill its performance…”. Why then is it a good idea to put over size, heavy weight batteries in a Footy when it seems ludicrous to do so in a Victoria? No other class specifies what type of battery to use, why should we?

Ah, but all AA batteries are not created equal. Four Lithium Energizer AAs in a battery holder weigh in around 74 grams as opposed to 120 grams for my NiMh AA battery pack. They output 1.5 volts per cell rather than 1.2 volts for alkaline, NiMH or NiCad cells. Lithium Energizers have become the standard equipment at regattas.

True, but they are not rechargable. Making Lithium AA batteries the de-facto choice for competition is bad for the class. This development discourages environmental conscientiousness by initiating, and encouraging universally, the adoption of throw away batteries. Rechargable batteries will last several seasons not just several heats. New rechargable battery packs can last upwards of 200 cycles. If one were to race 30 days out of the season theoretically the battery pack would last over 6 years. Practically, rechargables start to lose capacity after a few seasons. I recycle mine every four years or so. Rechargable battery packs cost about the same as 4 Lithium Energizers. Rechargables are the direction we should be taking the class, particularly if you want to attract today’s environmentally aware young people to the class.

There are a lot of batteries out there and competition among cell phones, blackberries, laptops, and such are driving rapid development which makes new cells available and pushes prices down. If Footies are to improve their performance we should be poised to take advantage of the new technologies as they become available.

Omitting the AA battery designation is the right change to the rules for the future health of the Footy class. I encourage all of you to vote to change rule C.2, to remove the battery designation from the rule.

Niel’s observations on batteries are of course sound, the AA rule is a limiter. The transition from AA’s would however need something of an investment for many Footy sailors. Disregarding the comments elsewhere on the potential risks of charging lithium batteries, it seems that you still need a sophisticated charger costing upwards of $100 to charge the new-tech batteries and need to supervise each charge for safety reasons. Those of us who currently use lithium Energizers now know that they will perform well for several 1 day regattas, so are not that uneconomical. I have to concede on the comment about the environment. My current regime is to use slightly heavier Nimh rechargeables for general sailing and tuning and Lithium Energizers for racing. I’m still using the same set of race batteries I bought for under $9.00 for the Sheboygan regatta in May '08. If the AA rule is overturned, I will investigate the new lightweight rechargeables, but will I also have to switch to a 2.4 Ghz radio so I can use a lighter receiver setup, and go for even lighter (potentially less reliable) servo’s in order to remain competitive? Seems like a slippery slope.

Sorry Niel,

I strongly disagree with you here. The AA battery rule does help keep the Footy class accessible & affordable. I know there are those out there who argue that the newer LiPo technology is cheaper than than AA sized NiCads and NiMh batteries, but when you consider the costs of batteries and their required charger this is NOT the case, at least in this country, and access to any of the LiPos cannot be had by a quick trip to the local drugstore, Walmart, Target, or Radio Shack, where four AA cells AND a charger in Nicad or NiMh can EASILY be found (usually for less than $20, often for just over $10). Yes, perhaps by scouring the web and ordering on-line from sellers in places like Hong Kong, you may be able to get LiPo’s cheaper than at a local hobby shop, but it’s simply NOT as accessible! Don’t forget that not everybody who wants to sail a Footy has, or even wants, access to a computer (and they are unable to speak up on this list!)! Additionally, there are added shipping restrictions due to safety issues associated with LiPo’s. You can Poo-Poo this fact if you want, but at the beginning of October, the shipping restrictions on LiPos being carried on aircraft were tightened up even more due to their associated hazards.

Your argument to your friend concerning the Victoria using D cells overlooks the fact that if ALL Victorias were required to carry D cells, their performance wouldn’t be killed, just kept similar.

If you want to argue that the AA’s restrict development, so does just about every other rule in the class, including those that place limits on length, keel depth, 2 channel radios, rudders, movable keels & ballast, and rigs. The same argument could be made to lobby for the elimination of any or all of them, too.

The biggest problem with the proposed battery rule change is it’s “all or nothing” approach. If the proposal was to allow the builder his choice of using either 4 AA cells, or 5 AAA cells, or even slightly larger batteries such as the Futaba NR4RB, I would possibly vote for it, but I cannot vote to eliminate ALL battery restrictions, the penalty to the class would just be too great.

Now, there is nothing that says your local group cannot race under whatever battery rule you wish, as long as you all agree upon it.

Bill Nielsen

“The biggest problem with the proposed battery rule change is it’s “all or nothing” approach. If the proposal was to allow the builder his choice of using either 4 AA cells, or 5 AAA cells, or even slightly larger batteries such as the Futaba NR4RB, I would possibly vote for it, but I cannot vote to eliminate ALL battery restrictions, the penalty to the class would just be too great.”


I don’t get what you are advocating here, “the penalty to the class would just be too great.”, why? You would like a list of approved battery types to choose from? Not including a battery designation in rule C.2 achieves the same objective. You can use AA Lithium Energizers if you want or LiPos if you dare, but its your choice!


One big disadvantage of the Lithium Energizer batteries is there habit of going strong and then cutting out quickly. So, you may have been able to use them for several one day races but when you run through their rated 3000 mAs they quit. Were you allowed to use a rechargable 5 cell AAA pack (roughly the same weight as the Energizers) your batteries are charged before the race and will most likely see you through the day. Your throw-out race would then be you worst placing, not your DNF and a row out in the pond to fetch your boat. Also, for the price of several sets of Lithium Energizers to see you through the season you could buy several of those AAA battery packs to last you 3 or 4 seasons.

As far as light weight receivers go, there are quite a few that work on 75 band. Check out robot sites like this one:
I bought their MBP-9G4 75 band receiver. Its as small and as light as my Spektrum, but rectangular and about a third the size of my Flash Drive. I haven’t used it yet but its going into my next boat. It has a regular length antenna (and claims a similar range to the Spektrum) that I plan to loop around the boat under the deck in a thin wall antenna tube.

Omitting the battery designation from rule C.2 frees up dead weight that is better used in your bulb and gives you the freedom to choose how to power your r/c. A freedom enjoyed by all the other r/c model yacht classes.

Presently, the Footy class rule makes it so that it is possible to design and build a reasonably competitive boat using commonly available materials and inexpensive equipment. I am “advocating” NOT changing the rule in a way that would jeopardize that concept. AA & AAA batteries in both dry cell and rechargeable form, have been around a long time, are easy to find, and simple to use. Changing the rule to allow a 5 cell AAA pack would not make 4-AA cell equipped boats obsolete, since the size & weight of the two packs is not that different. Having slightly higher voltage would yield faster & higher torque servo action, but at slightly reduced run time. This would be a trade-off for the builder to decide upon. Nor would the AAA batteries be more expensive or difficult to find than similar types in AA size.

Eliminating the battery restrictions altogether would give an advantage to someone who had access to or could afford battery and charger technology that not everyone else might be able to obtain. Today it is the LiPo battery, tomorrow it might be the Atomic battery, next week, who knows?

As originally written, the Footy rules called for standard sized receivers, servos, and batteries, but the rule has since been relaxed to allow “Feather” class receivers and “micro” servos. Has this really improved the class, or simply made it more expensive to play? Some argue that Footys are a development class, and restrictions hurt development, but what are we trying to develop, boats or radios and batteries?


These are, however, single conversion receivers and subject to “2IM Interference” where two transmitters 23 channels apart generate a 460 kHz signal that all single conversion receivers potentially think is theirs because it is so close to their 455 kHz intermediate. The result can be an infuriatingly intermittent “glitching” of radios. Savvy clubs and events prevent this (called 2IM interference, for “two radio intermodulation”) by prohibiting transmitters 23 channels apart from being on at the same time. The phenomenon arose when the odd-numbered channels were allocated some time ago; all this from a radio expert in our club.



On a World Wde scale, I believe model sailors total contribution to global polutuon is very small. There are plenty of places to dispose of batteries properly.

In comparison, just think of the polution caused by model planes or cars or the trip to a regatta by car or those flights overseas.

I vote AA.

I have participated in the footy class for quite some time now, and have admittedly devoted more time than is probably healthy to these boats. I have also been on both sides of the so-called “battery-issue”, one that has raged since the rule’s inception, and probably will continue to be contended long after this vote. There are good arguments for both sides, however, as I think about it, I find myself falling more and more on the side of changing the rule.

Some reasons why:

A. All the sailing regattas I have been to or participated in (this includes footy regattas) have been won at the end of the day by two things. Better sailing, and a better set-up boat. This latter is especially true for footys, as it seems that every regatta report I read is riddled with “so-and-so was sailing a great series, but XYZ happened, and he was unable to keep racing.” I have seen guys show up in the dinghy park with the newest fastest boats, the rule bending sails and controls go out there and tear off down the race course only to be whooped by the old guy in the duct-taped boat. Experience counts. Every time, regardless of boat or tech, the better sailor stands a better chance.

B. To expand on the concept of a better tuned boat, I fully expect that well-sorted “AA” boats will soundly beat the majority of alternatively powered boats for some time to come. It is one thing to pack all the go-fast bits into a boat, it is quite another all together to get it to work the way you want it to – reliably. A fantastic example of this has been the fact that Roger Stollery’s Bugs have been doing amazingly well when stacked up against the fleet of new slender and slippery hulls in England. The Bug is, for all intents and purposes, an Optimist, a floating bathtub. The drag on that big pram bow must be tremendous when compared to say, Moonshadow or Voortrekker, and yet, neither boat has of yet proven itself as well as this dowdy design. Should we then ban the Moonshadows, CobraII’s and their ilk because the offer an unfair advantage on paper against the Bugs? It was suggested that removing weight from the batteries would allow boats to have more weight in the keel, thus allowing them to be more powerful, and of course, faster. The problem is, Footys, due to their length, suffer horribly from the effects of hobby-horsing. This is exacerbated during choppy conditions, which of course, is where having the lead in the keel would be beneficial. The best way to combat this (other than making the boats twice as long again) is to shorten the keel. But wait! By shortening the keel, you lose righting moment! While there will be gains, they will not be as great as is probably feared. Remember, Australia II’s greatest asset was probably not that the wings made it faster, as a matter of fact they made the boat very squirrely off the wind, but that they scared DC enough that he couldn’t sail his race. Its the same story with these footys, the weight lost using smaller batteries will not be the magic elixer of speed, because something else will crop up. This is a key point to remember. Footys are give-and-take boats. You can’t have it all. Go longer, and lose beam, deeper, lose weight, more sail, lose stability, change up your battery and you lose inertia-carrying ability, along with a probably myriad other issues. These are the conundrums of yacht design. Disallowing certain battery solutions on the premise that it makes designing and building these boats more difficult is preposterous. Designing a fast boat is hard. It involves compromises and understanding of the variables involved. If someone wants to make their build more complicated, let them! There are so many different little bits involved in making a boat go fast. What you power the boat with is of little concern compared to the potato-sacks of sails that we are seeing of late on most Footys. If you are looking for the true cause of unevenness in the fleet, look no further than the guy with the good sails. Best get on his case; he has twice the boat speed you have, and he can point better too!

C. This leads me to my next point, the Footy class is built on innovation. Take this away and we are simply a 12" Soling One Meter fleet, or a bunch of novelty Victorias. Should we ban Brett’s Mac-rig because it gives a clear advantage over a standard sloop rig in some conditions? Should we restrict Nigel and others from utilizing carbon fibre in their builds since it is both expensive and unforgiving for the new builder? If this is the case, perhaps we would be better off sending a mould to China and having them blow-mould some cheap plastic bathtub for us all to use as a starting point. While I can understand the fear of letting some yahoo’s with too much time on their hands and a little too much pocket money loose on our beloved class, I also firmly believe that we cannot become rooted to tradition, and refuse change on the basis that “we just don’t like it.” The yahoo’s among us are for the most part very harmless fellows who simply have an itch to explore every possible facet of the problem that is the footy. And if you look at the stats at the end of the day, they are generally the some of the happiest guys in the fleet, and they are generally some of the last guys in the fleet – you know, the ones whose mast blew out on the last downwind leg, or whose mylar deck broke, let in water, and sank the boat. They are not the ones at the head of the fleet contesting mark roundings and forcing newbies to do donuts.

D. The footy class is finally growing the way it should be, and I believe it to be due in a large part to the freedom its builder’s are permitted. I know that is why I stick around – as a 13 year old yacht designer, I didn’t have the money to play with big boats, or the time to build them. The complex and subtle rules of the IOMs, USOMs, and Ms confused me. The footy was a breath of fresh air, a simple rule, that let me explore all sorts of options, and still finish my projects. Now, almost five years later, the most valuable part of the footy class has been for me that it has forced me to look at the box rule and say to myself, “great, now, how can I break this open?” This is the spirit of the footy class, and it is the spirit we can support by allowing greater freedom within our rules.

The purpose of this mini-rant is not to ruffle feathers! Please accept my apologies for any souls feeling insulted, no harm was meant!


Well said! I would like to make one point about your hobby-horsing topic. Assuming a boat is kept at a certain overall weight, allowing the use of lighter battery packs would free up internal dead weight to be moved to the bulb. This weight could be used to increase righting moment, or to maintain the same righting moment and shorten the keel fin to dampen hobby-horsing, or some combination thereof.

A good point, and one I was just realizing myself… Thank you Neil.

This is not really part of this thread, but slip it in here briefly for want of anywhere else to put it.

The very high prismatic coefficients of the Moonshadow, Voortrekker and Pretorius types mean that they are not prone to hobby-horsing, despite very high ballast ratios. The polar moment of inertia of the volume is high (I am sure there is a better mathematical term for this - Flavio!?) sees to that.

However, it appears to be a corrolary of this that the boats are very prone to heave (i.e. straight up-and-down motion) in waves, particulatly in light weather. This is not a term that appears often in yacht design but it should. As we all know, ‘just bobbing up and down’ in light weather (i.e.heave) is tremendously destructive of speed.

I am not sure whether the cause is the high waterplane coefficient (lots of area, little weight) or perhaps the wall-sided sections, although I would have thought at first sight that the latter would tend to have the opposite effect.

Just a thought.:zbeer:

Angus, its not part of the thread really but you may be right about the bobbing motion you comment on. Its sort of like pressing a knife down in a cup of water as opposed to a spoon. Your boats, with the displacement stretched out longitudinally, should resist classic hobby-horsing. My Brujo, with her overhanging bow, acts similarly in hobby-horse dampening but is more of a spoon. The bow overhang stretches the hull lines and provides a great deal of additional bouyancy in the forward sections.

Now back to our regularly scheduled debate.

I have been going through the ballot and find it really heavy going. I have no trouble with quantum field theory, but this is tougher! The last time the Footy rules were liberalized, however, the boat went from being a kid’s toy to a tactical racing boat, so I guess the effort is worth it!
As far as the ‘bookkeeping’ rules at the beginning of the ballot: I think it is important to allow multiple masts, rudders, and keels. If someone wants to make a double-rudder, tandem-keel schooner – why not?
I can’t find anything that would allow a change of batteries, but if I did, I would vote against it. Like Niel, I wish that the AAA’s hadn’t been specified originally, but since they were, a change now would make most of the boats obsolete. The change from NiCds to lithiums has upset the trim of several of my boats and the change to Lipos or watch batteries would be even worse.
The one thing that I have learned from sailing in every major regatta in the northeast US for the past two years is that these boats are very dependent on rig size. A difference of one inch in luff length made the difference between first and second place at Needham this year. I got it wrong in the spring and right in the fall! We are still at the steep part on the learning curve so I urge you to vote to remove all the rig restrictions. Vote “yes” for #8d c3(b) and “no” to the others.

I shall put myself in the two unmeasured rigs camp. One important reason to me as an event organiser is that with completely unlimited rigs the flow of an event is more likely to become disrupted. At our own Sheboygan Footy Fest we ran 15 races in the day most of which were back to back. Others I have attended like Raleigh 2007 were similarly busy and rapid paced. With multiple rig choices I could imagine just a couple of very keen skippers calling for race holds rather too regularly. With the two unmeasured rigs we would get the advantage of dealing better with a light wind day, ease boat measuring and yet not cause too many hold ups.

Having said that a solution in the hands of the race organiser would be to state that there will be hold time for a rig change after every 3 or 5 heats (for instance).

Just another opinion :slight_smile:



Proposal #6 pertains to Section C.2, which is the part of the original written rule that states that the battery pack must be 4 cells of AA (not AAA as you said in your post). By changing this to simply read that “the batteries must remain inside the hull”, you would eliminate ALL other restrictions on the battery. In other words, ANY size & weight battery is OK as long as it’s inside the hull. This is a rather misleading way to present a rule change opening up the battery restrictions to anything goes, since a lot of people would only see it as a restriction against containing the batteries in the keel, but it goes a lot farther than that!

I hope you voted NO on Proposal #6, since you say you would vote against changing nay rules on battery size…

Bill Nielsen
Oakland Park, FL USA
AMYA 0835, & Footy #835

Thanks, I voted “no” on the battery question.

Having more than two rigs doesn’t necessarily slow things down at a regatta. I regularly attend regattas with my other developmental classes (A, M, and 36/600) which each carry three rigs. These rigs are far more difficult to change than the McRigs on the footys and never slow the proceedings down. All the RD has to do is establish a ‘one hold per skipper’ or a ‘no holds except for damage’ policy at the start of the event.

If you think that limiting the number of rigs will keep guys like me from bringing a trunkfull of rigs to an event, it won’t. It just will make it more a matter of weather forecasting ability than of sailing skills.


Well Bill, you are adamantly opposed to omitting the battery designation. But, before you go correcting other guys misspellings you should do some proof reading yourself. Proposal #6, the modification to rule C.2, reads, “Batteries are to be placed within the hull.” Compare the original C.2 to this one and you will note that the only change is to omit the battery designation. You seem to have a lot of problems with lack of directions. Quite frankly this change is meant to improve the performance of the Footy fleet in general and to help new builders to construct boats that are closer to design weight with decent righting moment so that first attempts will yield better results. Hopefully, this will encourage them to stay involved. You would probably benefit from a better performing boat.

Also, no other r/c design class specifies batteries or radio equipment.

Scott, my friend, omitting the battery designation does not mean that boats that use AA batteries will be obsolete, the point is you can use whatever type of battery you choose. As it is, it sounds like that you don’t like the balance changes to your boat with Lithium Energizers. Voting against changing the rule because you perceive it to be a disadvantage for your boat in not being very broadminded. I hope that everyone out there will consider what is best for the growth of the class and not vote their own self-interest.

What I mean by ‘fast paced’ Scott is that typically the boats were not taken from the water between heats. The winners would circulate until the last guy came over the line, the call would go out, ‘everyone ok?’ and off we would go again. With either of your suggestions of " ‘one hold per skipper’ or a ‘no holds except for damage’." Who, other than the leaders (who finished earlier) would have a chance to change rigs? We may well adopt (here) a 5 minute pause between the last boat and the start of the tape to give everyone a fair chance. The result might be that we have 12 races rather than 15 perhaps. Of course the ‘everyone OK’ call will still go out and the chances are that everyone will be.

QUOTE “If you think that limiting the number of rigs will keep guys like me from bringing a trunkfull of rigs to an event, it won’t. It just will make it more a matter of weather forecasting ability than of sailing skills.”

I certainly don’t think that Scott, I understand the rules as they stand and as a result carry a quiver of A-rigs myself. I support the 2-rig unlimited rule preceisely because the 1A + 1B rule requires extreme weather forecasting skills in our often lighter winds. I am for freeing that restriction but not going as far as completely unlimited. The classes you mention you say are limited to 3 rigs on the day after all. If there had been a 3-rig unmeasured option I would have voted for that quite happily.

Thanks for your thoughts,

Graham, I would have voted for the three unmeasured rig option if it had been proposed as well.

I wish to correct your perception of a three rigs limit in the M and 36/600 class. In the M class there is a three measured rig rule. However you can have alternate rigs that are unmeasured as long as they fit within the boundaries of the measured ones. When I raced in the M Class worlds in the early '90’s I brought 9 rigs, the three measured ones and two smaller alternates for each measured one. In the 36/600 Class there are no limits to the number of rigs you may bring or use during a regatta.

Thanks for the information Neil, I took “developmental classes (A, M, and 36/600) which each carry three rigs.” from above to be correct. I should have checked myself.

3 rig unlimited… we should have proposed it Neil :slight_smile: