Monday, 12 May 2008

Holding the Spinnaker pole

Reading a news item from the Congressional Cup 2008 I was reminded of an incident at the Match Race in Calpe. It also involved a broken spinnaker pole. This one was only damaged at one side and could not be fixed to the mast anymore, the other end was still working and could be fixed to the guy. Spinrigging


So with one end broken, the crew was holding the pole at that end, pushing the spinnaker outward. Rule 50.2 states that a spinnaker pole shall only be used when attached to the mast. Holding it is therefore only permitted if the broken end is connected (touching) the mast. A crew member can hold it there, but shall not push it outward. Quit logical, because that changes the area of the spinnaker.


What about not using the pole at all, holding the guy in your hands? Is that something which is permitted?

If you see a boat with a crew member holding the spinnaker pole, without one end touching the mast - other than briefly when setting or taking down - you must protest that boat according to C8.4. It is not an infringement that can be penalized by a colored flag.


  1. At one event a team asked, if they can use a boat hook to hold out the spinnaker guy instead of using the spinnaker pole. The answer was, according to 50.2, no, since it could be not fixed to the mast.

    But later we discussed a bit with umpires and it was said strictly by an IU that if the spinnaker pole is not attached to the mast, you cannot use it. Broken or not. A crew holding it on the mast is not "fixed" as specified in 50.2.

    But at the same time, I got the feeling (now that I think back), that you could use any part of the equipment on boat to substitute a spinnaker pole, if it can be attached to the mast.
    If not specified otherwise in the boat handling and equipment instructions.

    What do you think?

  2. In my opinion you have to look at the the basis of this rule.
    The speed of the boat does not change if the crew member holds the boom at the place, it is normally attached.

    Attached is not the same as fixed.
    Rule 50.2 does not say fixed.
    Attached is according to the dictionary: joined; connected; bound

    Would you accept a small piece of rope binding the pole to the mast at that point, which does the same as the hand of the crew?

  3. I apologize for mixing "attached" and "fixed".
    It should both read the same: staying in the same place without "external help".

    Yes, I would accept a rope binding. It secures the pole to stay in place.

    A crew member holding it there is not good enough in my opinion. It is not attached, it can move, even if accidentally.

    Yes, you may consider it being a risk the boat is taking, but on the other hand, would you as an umpire prefer to observe only that in a match?

  4. I have raced a Freedom-38 for twenty years; never has my spinnaker pole been attached to the mast. I am 100% legal.


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