Removing Weed from Keels


TO: YWA Offshore Committee
FROM: YWA Racing Rules Committee
DATE: 25th November 2014
REF: Removing weed from keels

In 2000 YWA RRC answered a question from an offshore skipper regarding legal/illegal methods of removing weed from keels while racing. A copy of the answer is published on page 23 of the current YWA Offshore Handbook.

YWA RRC advised: “However using a halyard, harness, hobbles etc. to help project or lower a crewmember overboard would break rule 49.1 as this would be considered ‘a device designed to position their bodies overboard’.”

The ISAF Q&A Panel has recently issued Q and A L004 which gives a different interpretation. Whilst halyard, harness, hobbles etc could be a device designed to position a crew member’s body outboard, when being used for the purpose of removing weed they would not be considered as a device ‘designed to position a crew member’s body outboard’ so rule 49.1 would not be broken.

As a result of the ISAF interpretation YWA RRC has updated the original advice.

We attach the updated document, together with the ISAF Q and A L004, and request that you pass this information on to your offshore fleets.

John Standley
YWA RRC Chairman

Advice provided by YWA’s Racing Rules Committee – 25th November 2014

These are probably the methods competitors use to remove weed.

The rules permit a crew to leave the boat to swim, but he must be back on board before the boat “continues in the race”. This implies the boat must stop if a crew is swimming to remove weed.

Crew position
Crew leaning (or even being lowered) over the side to check for weed or to use a weed stick breaks no rule. Even when the boat has lifelines this is permissible if the action can be considered “brief and to perform a necessary task”.

Rule 49.1 would not be broken if a halyard, harness, hobbles etc were used to help lower crewmembers over the side to remove weed because in such a case the items are not being used as ‘a device designed to position their bodies outboard’. See also ISAF Q and A L004.

No rules prohibit the system of dropping a sheet over the bow and holding the ends while walking it back (or letting the boat sail over it) then pulling one end to wipe it across the front of the keel.

Weed sticks
A ‘weed stick’ manipulated from the deck breaks no rule (unless used like an oar).

Some boats have had cutters built into the front of the keel. These or similar implements constructed as part of the boat are legal unless they contravene some class rule. (Examples of class problems could be a one-design class requiring the keel to fit a standard template, or a cutter projecting from the hull when the class has specific “appendage” restrictions.

ISAF Rules Question & Answers Service

L 004 Q&A 2014.016


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