FRANGIBLES & INTANGIBLES
The overall sport of cross country has changed over the years, with new technologies and concepts around training and safety. Designed to prevent rotational falls, frangible jumps are increasingly used on courses around the world. Wayne says he wants to retain the main features and fences of Naracoorte that make it so iconic, while embracing the new, safety-focused frangible jumps — in the right locations.
While in some cases frangible technology is of benefit, Wayne is not convinced it’s the silver bullet. Many of the modern frangible fences use narrow rails and, in his opinion, “it’s using tomorrow’s technology to justify some of yesterday’s obstacles”. Wayne explains that with the smaller rails, if a horse leaves a leg, then he risks getting caught behind the rail. “If you’ve got a 300mm or bigger diameter rail, he dissipates that energy, he doesn’t get caught. He can actually pull that leg over and get free.” Therefore, Wayne feels that in some cases, going back to the use of smaller rails but with the addition of frangible pins “is artificially making difficulty out of a course.”
“The course for many, many years has used a lot of big logs and pine rails, and I’ve tried to keep that tradition and not go down the frangible fence route with the skinny rails too much,” says Wayne. In fact, this year the event has had a B-double of big pine logs delivered (300mm and up) to revitalise some of the older permanent fences.
“I think some course designers are under pressure to try and use frangibles and some don’t really understand the concept,” says Wayne. “I’ve been to so many courses where they’ve said, ‘I’m going to build a frangible jump’ so they make a portable frangible jump – it’s not a cross country jump. I teach this in seminars, that you don’t ever build a frangible fence. If you build a jump, and then if you can enhance the safety of it, you insert a frangible device… if it meets all the parameters, weight and length and so on.
“I was looking at some studies from the US, and they were making these collapsible tables. Now, if they built the tables to be solid, in exactly the same form, with exactly the same projecting ground line and face that they’ve got on these collapsible ones, they would not have had any problem at all,” explains Wayne. “See, the jump that they’ve built now, with collapsible tables, that’s completely different to the tables that they had that were causing problems. They’ve enhanced the take-off lines and the colouring — so it will be hard to say what makes them safer, their ability to collapse or the other design updates!”