Clarity arrives for hull definition

Published on January 11th, 2021

In the 2021-24 Racing Rules of Sailing that went into effect January 1, there is a new definition of Start and Finish. In the new definition, no longer will the crew or equipment be considered when deciding if a boat is over the starting line early or has crossed the finishing line. It is now only the “hull” of the boat that matters.

But what is the “hull” as it is not defined in the rules. Does it include bowsprits, prods, pulpits, racks, or anything else that’s been attached to the boat? To give guidance, the World Sailing Racing Rules Question and Answer Service provides some clarity:

Meaning of ‘hull’ in the Racing Rules of Sailing

Situation
The term ‘hull’ is mentioned in several places in the Racing Rules of Sailing.

Question 1
What is the applicable definition of ‘hull’?

Answer 1
The term ‘hull’ is not defined in the Racing Rules of Sailing, therefore, under the introduction/ terminology which prescribes that other words are used in the sense ordinarily understood in the nautical or general use, the definition in The Equipment Rules of Sailing for 2021-2024 is appropriate:

D.1.1 Hull
The hull shell including any transom, the deck including any superstructure, the internal structure including any cockpit, the fittings associated with these parts and any corrector weights.

Question 2
Are bowsprits, fixed or retractable, part of the hull?

Answer 2
No. See answer 1.
The Equipment Rules of Sailing rule F.1.4(c)(i), defines bowsprits as hull spars. The Equipment Rules of Sailing rule F1.4(c), defines hull spars as spars attached to the hull. The Equipment Rules of Sailing definition of hull excludes hull spars, therefore bowsprits, whether fixed or retractable, are not part of the hull.

Question 3
Are the wings of a skiff, fixed or retractable, part of the hull?

Answer 3
Yes.
Neither the Equipment Rules of Sailing nor the Racing Rules of Sailing define whether or not the wings of a skiff are part of a boat’s hull. Unless the class rules define wings otherwise, the wings are considered to be an extension of the deck and therefore part of a boat’s hull.

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