Kites vs Skiffs and Catamarans

Published on May 21st, 2018

Canadian Race Officer Martin Rheaume is in charge of the protest committee for an event in which there is a possibility that foiling kites will be added alongside several classes of skiffs and catamarans. Having never worked with kites, he asked on the Racing Rules of Sailing forum:

1. Is it a good idea?
2. What would happen if there is an encounter (converging course, mark room, etc…) between a boat and kite which rules (part 2 vs Appendix K) would take precedence?

Here are two of the responses he got:

Greg Dargavel, Canadian National Judge:
An event with these classes on the same course is a disaster looking for a place to happen…. not that I have any strong opinions on it.

Paul Zupan, USA International Judge:
Unfortunately I think that the perception that kites are so much different than any other competitor is too common. They aren’t. They travel about the same speed as foiling catamarans – usually a bit faster but it’s the same game with apparent wind. The rules aren’t that much different from any other fleet racing.

But where they do differ is in community. They are generally very respectful of each other and anyone else on the water. And they usually sail off the beach instead out of a marina. I would encourage creating a common event if for no other reason to bring the kiting into the yacht club and expose other sailors to what is remarkably good sportsmanship,

Kiters have a great amount of control on the water and because they are traveling faster, they generally can decide how to pass a slower vessel. There are very few incidents. And combining events is not uncommon including World Cup events not that long ago. I would recommend that you ask the kiters what they want to do.

Ultimately a separate course is good, but they can deal with other boats at roundings. It is usually up to the kiter to keep clear as they are overtaking. They may or may not want to play that game. And when they do have an incident with a boat, there is usually only damage to the kite. Let them make the decision whether they want to sail together or not. But I would encourage including them as everyone benefits.

As for the rules, Appendix F applies to the kiter, and not to the non-kiter. You’ll find there is very little opportunity for any conflict (beyond the theoretical). If you can manage to figure out Appendix B, you can probably figure out Appendix F.

More importantly, don’t summarily conclude they are not sailing until you’ve stood in their shoes (well, stand on a board). They are incredible athletes with a profound understanding of wind and geometry. I’m proud to be associated with them in any manner in which they will allow.

For the complete discussion… click here.

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