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Classification System is Broken

Published on January 2nd, 2018

by Don Finkle, RCR Yachts
Much is said about this but nobody seems to be doing anything about it. We are speaking of the Sailor Classification System formerly run by ISAF and now by World Sailing. This system categorizes sailors as either Group 1 (amateur) or Group 3 (Professional). It is badly flawed.

The chief problem is that the definition of a Group 3 sailor is far too broad and all-encompassing. The very best full-time paid professionals in the world are classified as Group 3s and so are a number of us here at RCR. Why? Because we sail with customers, helping them become better sailors, spreading the enjoyment of sailing and promoting the sport.

We are just a few of the many who are in some way involved in the industry but who really are not much different than many of our customers when it comes to sailing ability.

Why does the classification exist in the first place? Obviously it is felt that pros have an advantage (ie. they are better) and therefore amateurs wouldn’t be able to compete on an even basis. If amateurs were as skilled as pros then why would a system even exist? It wouldn’t.

So the real criteria should not be whether you are in the industry or not, but your ability level. There are amateurs out there who are as good and sometimes better than many of the pros…we all know some of them. It is also well known that there are Group 1s who really should not be because they are somehow compensated off the books. So again the system is failing.

Why do we care? Because there are events that limit participation using the Classification system and Group 3s who are not paid pros are unable to take part.

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