Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Rules History - Part 1

Sometimes the Google Search kicks up an interesting link. (But that is no news, right?)
This time it didn't point to news as much as it did to olds: rules history. How did we get the current rules?

I've been only doing this rules stuff since, oooh about ten years, but before that already most of the 'modern' day approach to racing rules had been established: Some excerpt from piece by Mark Russel:
Introduction of the two-boat length zone as the point at which an inside overlap had to be established to entitle a boat to water. (Yet another idea originally proposed by Vanderbilt, it is suggested that this incarnation came as a result of a discussion between Paul Elvstrom, on the way to his 4th Olympic gold medal, and Niels Benzon.
The member of a club in charge of the boat no longer had to be an amateur; this was now left to class associations and race organisers to specify.

A new one minute “round the ends rule” to apply after a general recall. General recalls were already beginning to be a problem. (And still are: even with the much more brutal “black flag rule”, starting processes are a cause of serious debate to this day.
A new rule prohibiting advertising except for manufacturers labels.

Individual recalls signalled by dipping the class flag with no requirement for a hail to the boat or display of a recall no: putting the onus on competitor rather than race committee.
The “heavy sweater” rule: prohibiting clothing worn for increasing weight, unless specified in class rules, and then limited to 20kg max. Over the years this maximum weight steadily reduced and is now zero).
Alternative penalties for breaking a right of way rule: a 720-degree turn, or a 20% penalty as specified in the SI’s. (A welcome liberalisation: packing up and going home for an unintentional foul always seemed over harsh, especially for recreational sailors)
If there is contact, one has to take a penalty, protest, or retire: the counterpart of the alternative penalty: “now that there is an alternative there is no excuse for not following the rules).

An experimental rule (not allowed in major championships) to allow unlimited kinetics in certain conditions.
The first relaxation of the advertising rule, to allow event sponsors.
The experimental kinetics rule disappears (but not for ever!) Instead there are clearer definitions of what and what is not allowed.

720-degree turn (rather than re-rounding) for hitting a mark. (This later becomes less iniquitous 360-degree turn.)

 And completely overhauling the book, like was done for rule 18, is not new either. Something like that was done after 1993:
The experimental right of way rules were certainly shorter and simpler: just 9 in the 1994 and 11 in the 1995 (compared to 17 in the 1993 rule book). Definitions were clarified and simplified, and by simplifying the rules, some definitions that would not be required were dropped, for example there was no definition of tacking. As well as simplification of structure some basic principles were changed: some (but not all) of these new principles made it into the new rules, and some were changed several more times in development before finding their current form.

Though this extreme level of simplicity did not make it in its entirety through to the current rule book, there are now only 13 right of way rules compared with the previous 17. The language has certainly been simplified, there are far fewer sub-clauses and special exceptions, and once the sailors began to get used to a completely new set of rule numbers, (the revision extended to the whole rule book not just the right of way rules) the changes met with fairly universal approval.
I found a very small booklet with these Experimental Right-Of-Way Rules and Definitions from 1993 in my bookcase. It's probably on of the first books about the rules I ever owned.
You can read Mark's whole article here: The history of the rules

Mark is one of the UK’s leading sailing coaches, a freelance yachting journalist and a talented, highly successful dinghy and keelboat sailor in his own right.
Mark’s career has spanned more than 20 years in the British marine industry, with in depth experience of boat development, spar production, sailmaking and marine retailing. He has been winning championships since 1975 and, throughout his career, Mark has always helped others to win races.

1 comment:

  1. An interesting article!
    I have succesive racing rules books since 1968 in my bookcase.
    But the books from 1968 to 1992 are written only in Japanese. There may be some mistranslations.
    The translation printed books side by side with the original English began to publish in 1993 in Japan.
    Thanks. Sen Yamaoka


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...