Proposed J/70 rule changes to guide class future

Published on October 27th, 2014

In the two and a half years since being introduced, the J/70 phenomenal class growth can be attributed to being the right boat for a large segment of sailors. It is fun, but not too technical. It is sporty, but not too expensive.

With 600+ boats sailing in 20+ countries, and its inaugural World Championship this year attracting 86 teams, the class is clearly on a roll. However, sustaining interest is now the challenge of class management.

Sheparding class members to act in the interest of the whole class, and avoiding a pull toward a particular corner, will determine the class future. The proposed changes to the class rules for 2015 provide insight into what the class is considering…

Crew limit: Now limited at a maximum of four people, the maximum limit would be removed to allow more equitable racing for juniors or all female crew.

Crew positioning: A change is proposed to prevent crew below deck in light breeze, which is to insure crew are aft of mast (per rules) and to improve crew conditions.

Limit professionals: The class currently restricts only drivers to Group 1 Classification individuals, or Group 3 Classification individuals who own and pay for at least 50% of the boat. The proposed change would now restrict all crew, with the exception of permitted Group 3 drivers, to no more than one individual holding a Group 3 Classification. This change is to avoid teams stacked with professional sailors. The goal is to provide an equal playing field for all owners.

Click here for complete list of rule change proposals for 2015.

It will be interesting to see how the class members vote on the professional limitations, which has its pros and cons. With no limits, the administration is simple, yet the unleashed enthusiasm of some owners will increase the cost to compete at the highest level. With limits, an accurate crew classification system will be tested.

The class does currently have a Corinthian rule, which requires all crew to be Group 1 Classification. At the 86-boat Worlds, there were 38 teams entered in the Corinthian division, of which 5 finished in the top 20 overall.

For many one design classes, it’s culture manages the influence of professionalism. But given the newness of the J/70, along with its growing popularity worldwide, class culture won’t be enough to impose limits if that is what the class desires.

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