Following the decisions of the AGM a couple of weeks ago, here is a closer look at the game changes for the 2013 season as far as course racing is concerned.
1. Four kites instead of three plus safety
This is infact not a big change. In 2012, three kites were allowed to register for conditions of 6-25 knots, and one additional kite for winds exceeding 25 knots average. This has put quite some stress on the race committee, and sometimes also on the competitors that made a wrong choice during registration (see below). The new rule allows to freely chose between all four kites, and in return removed the 25 knots barrier. In reality, sailors now have 4 kites for the full wind range, just as before, but without the race committee defining when the fourth kite may be used.
2. Four kites - four size ranges
In the past we have seen sailors checking the weather forecast up to the last second, and trying to gamble with their equipment registration on what the forecast is promising. As we all know - forecast most of the times lie... which left some sailors with too big or too small kites in a variety of conditions. The new kite range rule requires sailors to register not more than one kite per range, ensuring that all conditions (see above) can be covered. This reduces not only the gambling, but also makes the equipment choice affordable - travelling to events with a quiver of eight kites does not give an advantage anymore over sailors that can only afford three or four kites (the conditions in which the smallest kite may be used are rare in most parts of the world anyway). The ranges in which kites may be registered (again, not more than one kite per size range) are:
Large: nominal 15m or larger (including 15m)
Medium: nominal between 15m and 11m (including both 15m and 11m)
Small: nominal 11m and smaller (including 11m)
X-Small: nominal 9m and smaller (including 9m)
For clarification: the 15m and 11m sizes overlap, meaning a 15m can be either in the Large or Medium range. However, if a sailor would register e.g. a 17m and a 15m kite, the next size can only be an 11m, which leaves him with quite a big gap.
The Small and X-Small sizes are inclusive - the Small kite must be 11m and smaller, but can be also smaller than 9m, the maximum size for the X-Small range.
3. The new penalty turn
The previously used 360° penalty turn only required the hull to be in the water during the turn - with no gybe nor tack required. This penalty was not felt anymore to be appropriate for a breach of a rule of part 2 - right of way rules. The new penalty turn which is introduced through the Sailing Instructions requires teh turn to include a tack and a gybe, with forward movement established after each manouvre. This turn requires much more time now and also makes the movement of the kite during the term more predictable, reducing the risk of tangles while someone is taking a penalty.
4. Less Requests for Redress = less Protests
Rule 62.1.(e) allowed a request for redress to be made if another kiteboard breaks a rule of part 2, causing capsize of another kiteboard. This resulted in a fairly high number of requests for redress in the past. The new Standard Sailing Instructions remove this rule, and allow redress to be granted only for injury, capsize and serious tangles. A Q&A on what a serious tangle is will be published shortly. Basically the idea is to limit redress to the same incidents as in standard sailing, to incidents that are "game ending" and result in a sailor not being able to finish a race. This will greatly reduce the number of redress granted, and connected to that, the number of protest hearings. Quite a number of protests in the past were based on the wish to be granted redress, rather than on disqualifying the offending sailor. It will also result in sailors being more careful and leaving a bit more space between each other, as they cannot trust to be granted redress anymore in an incident.