When sail marks are not clearly legible/compliant

Events Sail Identification 
Question Details

What does a race committee do when a boat has sail marks that are not clearly legible or compliant with the RRS?


A little history first - going back a couple of decades the sail identification marks rules were in the class rules and measurers were required to check that marks complied with those rules. In principle this ensured boats had compliant sail identification marks. But in practice, for various reasons, a proportion of boats had marks that did not comply.

Race committees and juries tended to avoid pressing the issue - it was a measurement issue not a racing rules issue and, therefore, not their problem. Taking the sail marks (except for the insignia) out of the class rules solved several problems - most importantly, compliance with the sail marks rules was a racing rules issue and was clearly something the race committee and jury had full and sole responsibility and authority for dealing with. Other problems solved were harmonisation across the classes, the possibility of sail certification (measurement) without application of the numbers and letters, a saving of measurer time when certifying (measuring) sails, and the freedom for the owner to change the sail numbers without having to engage the measurer (something that was rarely done anyway).

A boat that has marks that are not clearly legible infringes RRS App G1.1. There are several other ways that marks may fail to comply with this rule and App E - please see the Q&A under Sail Identification for some examples. In either case the race committee may be affected because it may have difficulty identifying the boat in question during a recall or when finishing. Competitors, umpires and judges may be affected when attempting to protest the boat. This is a fairness issue and, therefore, one which an international jury can be asked to advise on by the race committee (see App N2.1).

In the first instance the race committee, or an equipment inspector or technical committee at a major event, should advise the sailor that his sail marks do not comply with the RRS and that the boat will be protested if it races without suitable amendment to the marks. Hopefully he will respond appropriately. Provision of a black marker pen may help him comply. Provision of acetone to remove inked marks may also be useful. With average care self adhesive numbers can be removed without damaging sails and no are excuse for non-compliance.

If the sailor fails to respond in an appropriate way the race committee or technical committee can (and should) proceed as soon as the boat races as it would for any other breach of the RRS by making a protest against the boat under RRS 60.2/60.4.

When a protest committee finds that a boat has sail identification marks that are not compliant it shall either warn her and give her time to comply or penalise her. See App G4. As the penalty is not prescribed by the RRS it is one that is discretionary i.e. it can be scaled to suit the specific case. International juries will be familiar with the Discretionary Penalties guide - there is one in preparation for RC sailing.