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Shifting tides of the Classification Code

Published on December 15th, 2019

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
I’m a big fan of cooperation and consideration, but sport being sport, these attributes can easily get lost in the passion to perform at a high level. While I hope your sailing realm basks in a balmy bay of recreational enjoyment, the pursuit of some pickle dishes has gotten expensive.

When the supply and demand of elite sailors met with people willing to pay for their services, the Corinthian spirit took a back seat to wallet-winning.

Where this occurs is dependent on rules and culture, with the later often proving more formidable. How the game is played depends on the people who play it, but as I stated years ago in a Sailing World report, “if you like how your class culture handles certain issues, it might be time to firm up the rules to keep them that way.”

But rules limiting professional sailors rely on defining who that is, which is a lot harder than it seems, with the World Sailing Sailor Classification Code (World Sailing Regulations, Appendix 4) as the best available tool to divide competitors who take part in racing only as a pastime from those that are paid to sail.

One of the features of the Code was to allow young emerging talent to test the waters, permitting them to be considered Group 1 (amateur) while getting paid. This is done by birthday and a limit on the number of paid days, but it provides the opportunity to see if becoming classified as Group 3 (professional) is worth the limits it presents.

But the quirkiness of this provision is that it presents an illusion.

For those parts of the sport that have been overrun by paid sailors, a Corinthian sub-division is often created to allow for the lunchbox crowd to find a way to the podium. However, with this age provision, a team can still win both the Overall trophy and the Corinthian trophy with paid crew.

So much for a safe haven for the casual competitor.

However, what may not be well known is this rule got changed in 2019, reducing the age from under 24 years to now under 22 years. To read the Classification Code, click here. For a document that responds to questions about the code, click here.

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