When is a bowsprit not a bowsprit?

Published on August 21st, 2014

The jury attending to the 2014 J/111 World Championship in Cowes (August 20-24) sought to answer that age old question: When is a bowsprit not a bowsprit?

The 2013 class rule reads:
(1) The bowsprit shall be fully retracted at all times except when the gennaker is being set, is set, or is being retrieved, and shall be retracted at the first reasonable opportunity after the retrieval.
(2) Approaching a mark at which the gennaker will be set, the bowsprit shall not be extended until the bow reaches the mark.
(3) An extended bowsprit shall not be considered part of the boat for the purposes of establishing an overlap unless the gennaker is set.

Here is the jury interpretation of the class rule from three questions that were asked:

When can a boat begin to extend the bow sprit?

Jury: A boat can begin to extend the bowsprit when the bow is level with a mark of the course at which the gennaker will be hoisted. If a boat extends the bowsprit at the windward mark then realises that the gennaker cannot be flown on the leg to the wing mark, the bowsprit must be retracted until the gennaker can be flown, or when the bow of the boat is level with the next mark.

A boat retrieves her gennaker before arriving at a leeward mark. She rounds the mark and trims her sails for the windward leg before retracting her bowsprit. Has she retracted her bowsprit at the first reasonable opportunity?

Jury: No. The first reasonable opportunity to retract a bowsprit begins at the moment that the gennaker is no longer exerting sufficient tension on the bowsprit to prevent it being retracted and ends soon after the gennaker has been fully retrieved.

A boat retrieves her gennaker and retracts her bowsprit. However the bowsprit is not fully retracted, and the boat continues sailing. Has the boat broken #3?

Jury: If the bowsprit is extended only a short distance and is promptly retracted as the crew tidy the boat after the mark rounding then a protest committee may consider that the error was corrected at the first reasonable opportunity. However, once the boat is fully powered up with the crew on the windward rail, then the first reasonable opportunity has passed.

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