The ERS and In-house Certification – How it Can Apply to Radio Sailed Classes

The ERS and In-house Certification – How it Can Apply to Radio Sailed Classes

A number of skippers, concerned about measurement issues for ISAF radio sailed International classes, have wondered about how the Equipment Rules of Sailing (ERS) and the concept of in-house certification         might ease the measurement burden.

Until a few years ago, most sailors had not heard of the ERS. Before you take a look at them and find the text overwhelming, one should understand that they are intended as sort of a smorgasbord of definitions, where  classes may choose the entries that are helpful to the class. You can  find the current version of the ERS on the ISAF web site at

The purpose of the ERS is to provide standard definitions and methods of measurement for all sailboats, from radio-sailed boats to the largest yachts. As you will see, this is a monumental undertaking. The ERS has no force of rule on its own; it must be invoked by class rules or by the sailing instructions for an event. By allowing classes to use standard definitions, the measurement process becomes much simpler. For example, big boat sailmakers are strongly encouraging classes to transfer  their class rules to the new format because it makes it so much easier for them to do their job accurately and efficiently. In addition, any measurer certified in the process should, in theory, be able to measure any boat, big or small. That means any authorized big boat measurer should be able to measure radio-sailed boats.

Further, class rules can be simplified. For example,  sail specifications can be handled by a table of dimensions for defined measurements. Potential confusion over meaning, such as the exact position of a measurement point, is eliminated.

For non-international classes, use of the ERS is strictly voluntary. Such classes are completely free to do what they wish in regard         to the ERS. New ISAF International classes, (models or full size) or International         classes rewriting their rules are expected to have their rules conform         to the current ISAF standard class rule format. That format specifies         employing the ERS. The IOM class is currently updating and revising its         class rules and will address these requirements.

Besides encouraging the use of the ERS, ISAF is also         developing a procedure whereby major producers will be given authorization         to measure and certify products in-house. Granting and supervising in-house         certification will be left to individual ISAF Member National Authorities.         Such certification will further ease the measurement burden.

Manufacturers will affix a tamperproof seal to their         product that will clearly indicate that the product complies with the         appropriate class rules. It should be mentioned that such authorization         would not be awarded automatically to anyone who requests it, as it is         considered a position of trust. Further, should that trust be violated,         the authorization would be revoked. Although the ERS would not logically         be required for implementation of in-house certification, these rules         make the process easier and probably more reliable.

Certification and marking of individual components will         be allowed. This means that certain parts, say a fin or rudder for example,         may be easily substituted.

Measurement certificates will still be used for ISAF         International classes, but for One-Design classes the certificate might         only apply to the hull. Inspections at events will consist of reviewing         the measurement certificate, and checking for the appropriate certification         marks on various parts of the boat.

Implementing this process is a large undertaking, so         it is not possible to suggest when it could be adopted by International         radio-sailed classes. However, when in place, perhaps some non-international         classes may also wish to use this or that feature of the system for their         own purposes.

Larry Robinson        
RSD Publicity Officer        
April, 2000