Thursday, 5 March 2009

LTW Readers Q&A | 20 “How big is the ZONE?”

Received the following question from Sen which is about an issue all clubs will have to face in the coming year. So I thought it interesting enough to share with you:

blogcolorstripe Dear Jos;

I always appreciate your great work in LOOK TO WINDWARD.

Although you may not know, Japan intercollegiate sailing is very popular and has long history over 80 years.

The characteristic is as follows;
Racing classes are only 470 and Snipe, and the format is a fleet racing. By the way, regarding the RRS definition "Zone", I am searching which classes will adopt whether 3 lengths or 2 or 4. The SCIRA (Snipe Class International Racing Association) website says in Standard Sailing Instructions Template 2009;

"Rules: 1.1 The regatta is governed by: .......Under rule 86.1(b), in the definition Zone the distance is changed to two hull lengths."

Whereas the 470 International Association has already announced the 2009 class rules, but there are no description about zone.

Then I suppose 470 adopts new 3 lengths zone.

The Japan intercollegiate sailing championship is held at the same area and the starting sequence is made normally every five minutes because of 3 through 5 races per day. Then it is natural that 470 boats and snipe boats sail and round marks together at the same time.

If 470 adopt 3 lengths zone, how do I conduct as an event organizer or a race officer?

Do you have a good idea? Or is this a stupid question?


IODA Regatta Committee News Feb 09

The introduction of the 2009-2012 Racing Rules of Sailing and some recent work by the Regatta Committee has resulted in some changes to both rules and format for some Continental Championships and to the Worlds. To give you all the opportunity to prepare for these changes and in some instances consider adopting them at National and Club level, we are detailing them here.

The RRS definition of zone has been changed to:
Zone: The area around a mark within a distance of three hull lengths of the boat nearer to it. A boat is in the zone when any part of her hull is in the zone.

RRS 86.1(b) permits the SIs to change the zone distance to two or four hull lengths. This year for all IODA Continental and World Championships, we will adopt the default distance of three hull lengths.

For team racing, IODA will adopt D1.1(a):
D1.1 Changes to the Definitions and the Rules of Part 2
(a) In the definition Zone the distance is changed to two hull lengths


I would be very happy to receive your reply. But please don't regard this as an obligation because I know well you are very very ... busy.

Thanks in advance.

Sen Yamaoka


Dear Sen,

First of all, this is a very good question! I imagine that many Race Officers and Organizers face this same dilemma.

I think it is not wise that a Class Organization decides this issue before talking to the local club who organizes their event. And specially if there are other classes involved in the same event. However commendable it is that they want to make it “easier” for their sailors, by choosing a fixed zone.

The rules specifically state that the zone is the same for all marks and for all boats that use those marks. So one of the classes will have to change the zone for this event.

Three hull lengths was chosen by the working party for a reason! We don’t have the “about to round the mark” in rule 18 anymore. The rule switches on instantaneously when one of the boats is in the zone. And with a zone of two lengths, this leaves not much room for error.

The working party intended the possibility in changing to two or four lengths only for very special occasions. Very fast multihull for example. Not to use them because it’s convenient and less different then last year.

The new rules are something all sailors will have to get use to. Why make it complicated by changing them before they had a change to test them?


I suggest you start a dialog with both classes and present your dilemma. Factor in the place you have to race, the preferences about the course and hope that you can reach a mutual agreed solution. If they can’t decide or are unwilling to compromise, the PRO will have to make a final decision. In my book he’s responsible for the length of the Zone. The SI will reflect that.

With regards,


  1. Jos & Sen
    I do not see any problem with the Snipe/470 situation. RRS 86.1(c) does not allow class rules to change a definition. It is therefore the race committee's responibility to publish Sailing Instructions, see RRS 90.2. If the SIs do not change the definition of the zone, no conflicting information will be issued.

  2. An opposing argument against H.
    Please don't misunderstand my issue. Because the SCIRA class rules never change the RRS and only request to the event organaiser in the standard sailing instructions template.
    Right from the beginning, the change of Zone lengths uses each class’s talent to the full.
    I think it is an important thing for the organizer to listen class’s requests carefully.
    Sen Yamaoka

  3. Both H and Sen are correct. Class rules cannot change a definition, and a RC should pay attention to what a Class Association wants.

    But I agree with Jos. Changes to the zone size were intended to cater for significant conditions: four lengths for high performance boats where extra space is necessary, and two lengths for confined conditions where space for 3 lengths is not available.

    There is nothing in a boat class characteristic that would justify giving a smaller zone.

    In principle, the 'game' should not be changed to cater for people who want to 'turn back the clock'.

    We have now been actively racing under the new rules for the last three months (and I had two close mark-room incidents yesterday). My personal feeling is that the 3 length zone is a good thing because:

    1) you are somewhat more confident that you are in the zone, in deciding whether to claim or give room, and

    2) if you are giving room, there is just a little more time and space to give room.

    I think that the local class association should be courteously told about the requirements of rule 86.1(b) that there cannot be different zone sizes for different boats, and that the zone should not be altered.

  4. Thanks Brass;
    Now the Japan Snipe Class Association is waiting for an answer to their letter of inquiry to the SCIRA. The SCIRA will send the intention and the conclusion after a few days.
    Sen Yamaoka

  5. On February, the SCIRA (Snipe Class International Racing Association) website said in Standard Sailing Instructions Template 2009 ;
    "Rules: 1.1 The regatta is governed by: .......Under rule 86.1(b), in the definition Zone the distance is changed to two hull lengths."

    But on March, the SCIRA website deleted the abovementioned change. Then the Snipe class adopts 3 hull lengths zone according to the RRS.
    The pending issue of Japan Intercollegiate Championship has been resolved for the time being.
    Thanks all.
    Sen Yamaoka


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