In the early years of superyacht racing the events were informal with relatively small fleets, the handicapping system was in its infancy and designs of the competing yachts were so diverse that sailing in close-quarters was not a common occurrence. By the beginning of the new millennium the interest in superyacht racing had grown so significantly that a number of new events were organized. Superyacht racing fleets started to grow and as participation increased it became apparent that measures needed to be taken to assure safety on the race course. Event organizers addressed safety issues for their individual regattas resulting in inconsistent rules from event to event and confusion amongst competitors.
Since the skill level of the participants varied tremendously there was a need to increase the predictability of how competitors would respond when two yachts meet on the race course. The Racing Rules of Sailing address these situations, however considering the displacement of superyachts, their speed under sail and in some instances an inherent lack of maneuverability, prudence dictated the need to allow for additional limits on changing course and more time to react. Sailing Instructions prohibiting luffing were the first notable departure from the standard racing rules followed shortly thereafter by required 40 metre separation between yachts and the requirement to monitor a VHF safety channel for bridge-to-bridge communication between competitors. These rules are the basis for Appendix SY to The Racing Rules of Sailing that were introduced in 2011 and after a trial period approved by ISAF in 2012.
The racing rules and safety related incidents between superyachts at regattas worldwide are under constant scrutiny by The SuperYacht Racing Association in an attempt to increase racing safety. We now have consistent rules from regatta to regatta and SYRA has embarked on a rules education program at each event. In spite of SYRA’s efforts, the enforcement of the rules ultimately rests with the competitors. “The Basic Principle” from The Racing Rules of Sailing states:
Competitors in the sport of sailing are governed by a body of rules that they are expected to follow and enforce. A fundamental principle of sportsmanship is that when competitors break a rule they will promptly take a penalty, which may be to retire.
The self-policing nature of the sport relies on competitors to protest rules infractions or to accept a prescribed penalty for breaching a rule. There is nothing “chivalrous” about turning a blind-eye to rules infringements by fellow competitors. Measures are in place in the form of standard Sailing Instructions to curb overly-aggressive, unsafe or unsportsmanlike boat handling. The SYRA and event organizers are doing their part to assure superyacht owners and their guests have a safe and enjoyable experience, but safe racing depends upon the cooperation of the competitors and diligence in complying with the rules of the game they play.
Rule Enforcement Meeting at YCCS
Meeting Summary 51KB PDF
June 15, 2013