This is a discussion of the J/30 rule on the tiller and tiller extension. I am not the measurer, thus not attempting to make a ruling, only considering how the rule would handle the item posted for sale. If you have not arrived at this thread from this posting, For Sale: Custom Laminated Tillers
, the listing is for a beautifully laminated mahogany and ash curved tiller, which is split down the middle with ash and mahogany stiffeners glued in. Seller claims the tiller is light (3 lbs) and strong.
As noted on the original post, I am not sure I have any problem with this tiller, but do encourage class members to be vigilant about complying with our rules. The current rule is 5.6.2 Tiller and tiller extension may be altered in length and material, but must be equivalent to that provided by the builder
How would a measurer apply this somewhat fuzzy language to this or other tillers? Altering length is clearly allowed, that is shorter or longer. Since the rule is silent on width and height, one may assume they must remain the same as that supplied by the builder.
The questions involve two words, alter and equivalent.
Since the original builder supplied tiller was made of wood, must the tiller be wood before it is altered? Is the hollow tiller a reasonable alteration? The builder supplied tiller extension was stainless steel, while most modern versions are not. This may present a problem for the many replacements now in use since it would be hard to say they were altered.Equivalent
, is defined in Dictionary.com as: equal in value, measure, force, effect, significance, etc.; corresponding in position, function, etc.; something that performs substantially the same function as another thing in substantially the same way.
I wasn't surprised to find this rule had been revised. Version dated April 1982 (Journal #3): "5.6.2 Tiller and tiller extension may be altered in length and material, but must be equivalent in weight
(italics mine) to that provided by the builder." Those words disappeared in the next new revision I could find, dated January 1, 1985 (Journal #6).
Rule writers went from requiring that they be the same weight to just the same. So does that mean the hollow, lighter tiller is ok? Also, while I have never heard anyone complain about curved tillers, unless the builder supplied them, I'd be hard pressed to say they are the same, so this rule might need a tune up to allow them.
Here are some ideas for clarifying this either with a measurer's ruling (quick and easy) or a rule change (time consuming). I'd like to see tiller material specified as wood, laminated wood, or wood with fiber glass reinforcing. Any length, straight or curved. Maybe a minimum weight, though I doubt there is more than a pound between the original tiller and the one Luke has built. The heavy-duty stainless brackets and bolts that attach the tiller to the rudder should be required.
I'd make the tiller extension optional and unrestricted, except possibly in length. The mainsheet and traveler limit the tiller length. Limiting the extension length would keep skippers in the cockpit where they belong.