The Racing Rules of Sailing along with classes and equipment went under the microscope on the sixth day of the ISAF Annual Conference in Busan, Korea.
Maintaining and protecting the rules is a central role of the International Sailing Federation, with The Racing of Sailing (RRS) the one single document which links the worldwide sailing community together. The ISAF Racing Rules Committee and its various Working Parties are therefore absolutely key elements in the functioning of ISAF.
Today, the Committee had their usual extensive Agenda, with 57 Submissions relating to the RRS, Case Book or Call Book. Bernard Bonneau (FRA) acted as chairman for the meeting, as Committee Chairman David Tillett (AUS) had just returned from New York where he was called as an expert witness in the case surrounding the 33rd America's Cup Match.
Bonneau explained that the many proposals for rule changes that the Committee receive every year are just a reflection of the dynamic nature of the sport, "Our sport changes very quickly, new boats, new disciplines, like kiteboarding for instance. I think it's very good that it [the rules] is not set in stone. It's very interesting to have evolution in our sport."
Bonneau also added that new faces were bringing an extra dimension into the Committee and wider judging community, "People now are becoming judges from a background where they have more and more sailing experience. Team racing and match racing brought a lot more views about the rules. All sailing, whatever the discipline, is now getting the benefit of this evolution."
In the Equipment Committee meeting there was much discussion relating to the role of the Committee going forward, as chairman Dick Batt explains, "I see a huge part of our work as really taking forward the projects which we now have great groundwork for. The Committees have been developing the Equipment Rules, really those are the tools to do a job with; the equipment control, making sure the boats are rules compliant on the race course and everything is fair for the sailors."
"Now we're managing to streamline how we measure boats at the events. We're getting sailors buying equipment which is coming from the manufacturers ready certified, ready to use. That's clearly going to be a big thing for the future."
Batt also noted during today's meeting that newly introduced checks at ISAF Sailing World Cup events would go a long way to helping established affective measurement practices. "We're getting to the Olympic sailors well ahead of the Olympics," he said. "Far better that everyone gets into the culture of making sure everything is right, everything is certified and in order before they turn up. That is a culture change but I think we've got the tools now to make it happen."
Another major topic in today's Equipment Committee meeting was the review of new applicants for ISAF Class status. The Committee decided to support the applications of the RS Tera for International Class status and the Laser Vago, RS500, RC44 and Kona for Recognised Class status. These recommendations will now go forward to the ISAF Council who will make the final decision on class status.
Tomorrow, the focus in Busan will return to Olympic sailing, with the meeting of the Events Committee with key discussion points including the ISAF Sailing World Cup, and London 2012 Olympic qualification quotas.