What is a “Hull?”

by Steve Harris

OK… that might seem like a silly question. Of course, the hull of your boat is the “boat” part, right? Everything but the mast & sails? Maybe? Because of some (fairly significant) changes to the Racing Rules of Sailing this quadrennial, this becomes a question that needs some more specificity. And, it is important if you are to understand the RRS and how they apply to you – particularly in regards to starting and finishing.

In previous versions of the rules, both the definition of start and finish included the phrase “… any part of her hull, crew, or equipment.” As an example, if just about anything on your boat broke the plane of the starting line, you had started (properly or improperly). If, for instance, you had a crew member forward in the bow pulpit sighting the starting line and letting you know how close you were and he or she decided to look over, smile, and wave at the Race Committee (it happens), but their arm was forward of your hull and broke that plane, you would be OCS and subject to recall. Perhaps the more significant example is while finishing. The definition of finish added an additional requirement… “… any part of her hull crew or equipment in normal position…” This was more important as you couldn’t purposely do something to edge out your competitor by a couple of inches – let out a foot of spinnaker halyard, reach out over the bow, etc. – to gain an unfair advantage.

While we all sailed under these rules for many years, it was, at times, a bit confusing and given the wide variety of boat designs – sprit boats, wings on skiffs, etc. – it made for some confusion on exactly how the Race Committee should call the start and finish lines. The new definitions attempt to eliminate this confusion by simply referring to the “hull” instead and eliminating “crew and equipment.” A likely future advantage of this change is technological. More and more frequently, GPS trackers and other electronic devices are being used on racing boats and being used to track starts and finishes. The new definitions will allow for those electronic devices to be mounted to the forwardmost part of the hull and, therefore, satisfy the rule without the need to change these definitions (which, incidentally, is not permitted.)

It should also make it easier, at least more clearly defined, for race committees in calling the line. The front of the hull is easier to identify and at the same vertical location as the mark being sighted. Hopefully, close starts and finishes will become less subjective in nature.

World Sailing offers a Q&A feature on their website. Their explanation of how “hull” is defined is below. Now, just to confuse things more, I would contend that your rudder and your outboard motor also not a part of the hull – but, then, if you’re starting or finishing stern first, you probably have bigger issues to consider. 🙂

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American Magic Update from US Sailing

Terry Hutchinson & Andrew Campbell of American Magic
on The Starboard Portal

US Sailing welcomes Terry Hutchinson and Andrew Campbell of American Magic to The Starboard Portal for an interview with Gary Jobson. American Magic recently placed second overall at PRADA America’s Cup World Series Auckland. Next up for American Magic is the PRADA Cup Challenger Series beginning January 14, 2021 in Auckland, New Zealand

Helly Hansen American Magic Supporter Gear Sale

Visit the Helly Hansen Web Shop (www.hellyhansen.com) from January 15 to February 22. All American Magic Supporter gear items will be discounted up to 30% off.


Changes to the Racing Rules 2021-24

The new Racing Rules of Sailing for 2021-2024 are here!

There’s a whole of lot to unpack here, but generally speaking the changes are minor clarifications more than anything else. See the pdf file below for a summary of these changes from Dave Perry & US Sailing

We plan to hold a couple of “seminars” this spring to review these changes. At this time, due to social distancing restrictions due to COVID-19, we are unsure when those sessions will be. Stay tuned!

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New Racing Rules App

Download the NEW Racing Rules App Today

US Sailing has developed a NEW mobile-optimized Racing Rules App that includes the racing rules and other resources, including the ability to file a protest through the app, a whiteboard for diagramming boat-on-boat interactions, and an extensive resource library. The text of the rulebook is fully searchable and there is also a traditional index. In line with our commitment to sustainability, the mobile app is available at no cost to all US Sailing members and is the primary distribution channel for The Racing Rules of Sailing for 2021-2024.

The Racing Rules App and our menu of new rules products represents US Sailing’s commitment to developing and providing members with innovative tools designed to enhance your racing experience. We hope you enjoy the Racing Rules App and we look forward to hearing your feedback on the new product.