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If you are reading this then I would imagine that you have an interest in racing your Contessa 32 or, at the very least, you have an interest in keeping your cruising CO32 broadly within the class rules. If you are new to the CO32 class or have never raced before then may I extend a very warm welcome, we will do what I can to assist you in making sure that your CO32 is within the class rules and/or advise you what to do if you wish to race under handicap. I would also like to reassure you that the vast majority of boats that are measured and checked are class-legal or only require minor changes to comply. If there is anything that you would like to discuss then please feel free to contact us using the 'Contact us' form.

During the last few years there have been some changes to the class rules to make it easier for owners to cruise and race a Contessa 32, these changes have also brought the rules more up to date in terms of the sail materials that can be used. As with all racing classes there are often tweaks to the rules and boat specifications as ideas, materials and technology evolve and ours is no exception. Any CO32-owning member of the class association can propose a change to the rules and if more information is required on the process to do this then feel free to contact the class measurer or class secretary.

It is recommended that new owners download and read the class rules that are available on the website. In addition all racing is carried out under World Sailing rules and regulations and a race will be run under a particular ISAF Offshore Special Regulations category depending on its location. All races in the Contessa 32 one-design inshore points have historically fallen under Category 4 but it is important that this is confirmed in the notice of race (NoR).

The measurement procedure is clearly defined into two sections, these are:

  • Class certificate for your CO32
  • Sail certificates

What is and how to get a Class Certificate

A class certificate confirms that when last inspected your CO32 met the standard one-design specification, and it is issued by the class measurer following inspection of the boat by one of the officers of the class. Once issued the class certificate must be kept onboard at all times while racing. A class certificate has no expiry date but a re-inspection can be requested at any time by the class measurer. When a Contessa 32 is sold the existing class certificate is void, a new inspection must be carried out and a new certificate issued to the new owner. Once your Contessa 32 has been issued with a class certificate you are eligible to request a standard CO32 IRC handicap (see note below).

In order to request an inspection you simply need to contact the measurer and arrange a date and place that is convenient. The inspection can be done with the boat in or out of the water unless there have been any modifications to the hull that require investigation. The inspection can take anything from 30-90 minutes depending on how much we chat and how many cups of tea are enjoyed. There is no charge for the inspection or class certificate but the owner should be a member of the Contessa Class Association.

In order to speed up the process and avoid any surprises a checklist can be sent to the owner before the inspection.

During the inspection all items of Part 4 of the CO32 racing rules are checked, in addition an inspection will be made of the safety equipment required to meet ISAF Category 4 regulations as the one-design series is generally raced under Cat-4. When entering a race it is the skipper's responsibility to ensure that the boat (including any obligatory crew training) meet the safety requirements for the category of race entered.

In particular, great care is taken to make sure that yachts have two batteries installed, that the cockpit grating is carried, that the correct weight of anchor chain is carried and that the black bands (that limit the maximum dimensions of the mainsail) are in the right place. Spinnaker pole length is also checked. When an engine has been replaced, notification of such change should be sent to the measurer together with details of any correction weights or third battery fitted to comply with Class rule 2.6

What is and how to get a sail certificate

Sail certificates are simply a proof of measurement of the racing sails to be used, the measurements taken must show that the sails meet the class rules. The sail measurement procedure is described in Part 1, paragraph 1.12 of the current Class Rules.

Ideally, once measured by the sail maker the sail certificate should be sent to the class measurer who will check the details and take a copy before forwarding the certificate on to the owner. As with the class certificate, the sail certificates should be kept onboard at all times when racing.

Racing under handicap

Contessa 32s are raced successfully under numerous handicap systems around the country. IRC is probably the most commonly used and there is currently a standard rating that can be issued for a Contessa 32 that has a class certificate. However if racing under IRC and you are unlikely to be racing against other CO32s it is advisable to request an IRC rating using the sail measurement certificates that you hold. If, for example, you race with a single furling headsail with your next smallest headsail being a Heavy Weather Jib the boat will achieve a significantly better rating.

Sailing under the 'old' sail plan

At the AGM held in January 2014 the class moved over to a new sail plan and the majority of boats that race in the Solent have bought into this: full details are in the class rules. For those boats that have not yet equipped themselves with sails that comply with the latest rules we have made provision to allow these boats to race with the old sail plan and to continue to do so on a level-rating basis. However it will not be possible to register and get a measurement certificate for newly-built sails based on the old sail plan. It is also prohibited for a boat to buy and race under the new sail-plan and then revert to the old sail plan.

The ISAF Heavy Weather Jib

Under the latest class rules the sail plan includes a No1 and No 2 Genoa for which a maximum size is specified, the next smallest sail is what the class used to call a No 4 but to align with ISAF naming convention we now use the term 'Heavy Weather Jib' (HWJ). The class rules simply state that a HWJ must be carried and that it must meet the ISAF Specification for a HWJ.

To assist with the specification of a HWJ you (or more importantly your sail maker) should check the latest ISAF specification. As of 2014, its size is specified as not being more that 13.5% of the foretriangle height squared. The ISAF definition of 'Foretriangle Height' is taken from top of forestay/front mast intersection to 'deck' which is taken as where the mast goes into the coach roof. Note that this will differ slightly from the old IOR definition of 'I'.

Therefore the Foretriangle height for the purpose of the satisfying the class rules and ISAF will be circa 11.07m on a Contessa 32, giving a maximum size for your HWJ of circa 16.54sq m. It is my intention to measure a few CO32s this season to identify an average Foretriangle height and I will update this note when I can. The key thing is to make sure you or your sail maker measure the foretriangle for your boat as there may be very slight differences - alternatively, make sure your HWJ is smaller than the max size to be confident you are inside the rules.

Last updated 14:54 on 20 January 2024

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