For a number of reasons, the ICSA has decided that a modified version of rule 42 is better suited for the particular characteristics of college sailing.
Here are the two changes to rule 42:
- During and immediately after tacking or gybing, a boat’s crew may move their bodies to roll the boat, provided that the boat’s mast does not move aggressively away from the vertical more than once (Changes RRS 42.3(b))."
- RRS 42.2(c) is changed to read: “Except on a beat to windward, when surfing (rapidly accelerating down the leeward side of a wave) or planing is possible, ooching (sudden forward body movement, stopped abruptly) is permitted in order to initiate surfing or planing.”
The ICSA has a lengthly set of procedural rules which govern college regattas. These rules are invoked in the Sailing Instructions of each event, and themselves rank as additional Sailing Instructions.
College sailing takes place in a number of different small boats, such as 420s, FJs, Larks, and Technical Dinghies. However, the class rules of these classes do not apply in college racing; it is very common for each host college to modify its fleet of boats in ways that bring them outside the class box. For example, MIT's fleet of FJs (picture at right) have extra-large Mylar sails, slightly different hull construction, and a number of other changes.
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Here is the problem: Sailing Instructions, and therefore the ICSA Procedural Rules (which rank as Sailing Instructions) cannot change rule 42 (see rule 86). Only the class rules for a given class can do so.
Thus, ICSA adopted an innovative solution: it created its own class of dinghy, the Collegiate Dinghy. Here are the class rules:
As you can see, the Collegiate Dinghy is a box rule. In order to qualify, a boat's hull must be not greater than 19 feet. Another requirement is that the hull be approved by the organizing authority before racing.
The Collegiate Dinghy class rules modify rule 42 in the ways stated above.
Nonetheless, a number of judges and race administrators (very few of whom are associated with college sailing) in the US remained unhappy. For whatever reason, they disliked the fact that the Collegiate Dinghy class modifies rule 42. I find it interesting that this debate is largely between those "inside" college sailing who appreciate the policy reasons for the change in rule 42, and those outside who attack the change on procedural grounds.
Some argue that the Collegiate Dinghy is not a legitimate class. I find these arguments to be unpersuasive. Granted, the "box" the class rules create is very broad and a number of boats fit into it. But there is no rule that requires class rules to be more specific than the Collegiate Dinghy rule. The box rule for many classes is quite broad; see, e.g., the International C-Class Catamaran, the International A-Class Catamaran, the International Moth, and so on.
The Bayview Yacht Club sent a question to the US SAILING Appeals Committee seeking clarification on what is required to constitute a class. Frankly, I'm not sure what Bayview's stake in this controversy is, but be that as it may.
Here is the appeal:
I believe that this answer strongly supports the Collegiate Dingy's legitimacy as a class. The Appeals Committee made clear that the fundamental element of a class is that it specifies the physical characteristics of its boats. The phrase used is "grouping of boats of a specific kind that conform to prescribed physical specifications..." This is precisely what the Collegiate Dinghy class rules do!
This issue has simmered down somewhat in the past few years, but a number of judges and race officials in the US still maintain that the ICSA's actions are improper. I would challenge people in this camp to come foreword and make their case -- in fact, I would love to have someone who holds this view do a guest blog post here.