The IRSA – ISAF relationship and Appendix E

The IRSA – ISAF relationship and Appendix E


Henning suggested I try out the new “blog” feature of the new Web site, and I found myself writing about the IRSA-ISAF relationship and our racing rules in Appendix E…

The relationship between IRSA and ISAF could fill a large book, and starts from way back when model yachts raced each other.  For some reason, the relationship has been much more difficult for some sailors and for some sailing countries, usually English-speaking countries. Steering a reasonable and mutually rewarding path is thus notoriously difficult, and deserves close and thoughtful discussion on both sides.  In this blog article, I want to offer some comments on Appendix E from what I think should be IRSA’s point of view.

Historically, there were very good reasons for asking ISAF (IYRU as it was) to incorporate the racing rules for radio sailing into their rule book, and the same very good reasons remain.  The consistency and coherence between the racing rules for radio sailing and for full-size allows a much greater pool of Race Officials, especially for international events; allows common training programmes for officials;  and allows radio sailing to exploit the experiences of full-size, especially for handling protests, developing fleet umpiring, interpreting the rules, and managing fair racing.  In the bigger picture, having Appendix E in the RRS means that IRSA is part of the greater community of sailors world-wide, making radio sailing more attractive to prospective owners and making well-endowed clubs more interested in hosting significant events.  In the big picture, it is good to be part of sailing worldwide.

When the rules for radio sailing were incorporated into the RRS, however, no particular provision was made to give radio sailors a say in the special rules by which they race.  A tension inevitably arises when it is ISAF that controls Appendix E on the one hand, whereas on the other hand it is pretty much exclusively IRSA and radio sailors who are affected by Appendix E and who are the only significant stakeholders in what it says.

By various processes of grace and favour, ISAF has from time to time received requests about Appendix E and has largely responded positively to these requests.  This has been through sympathetic ISAF MNAs making submissions on behalf of IRSA (RSD as it was), and more recently through sympathetic officials connected to the ISAF Racing Rules Committee.

Sadly, grace and favour do not provide the transparent and sustainable processes that a modern association of worldwide members expects, and sympathetic officials do not necessarily provide the rules changes that IRSA owners want.  One of the election promises made by the CEEFIE group was that, if voted in, the new IRSA Executive Committee would seek to introduce procedures to yield the kinds of rules that radio sailors want, and to yield an effective management of Appendix E which emphasises transparent consultation with all stakeholders.

Following Gordon Davies’ work as an ISAF International Judge and his connections with the ISAF Racing Rules Committee (RRC) and other interested parties, I am now hugely optimistic that IRSA can achieve these ambitions through existing ISAF procedures and structures for “Working Parties” (WPs).  A WP under the ISAF RRC would review all Appendix E submissions, and would include members of the IRSA Racing Committee.  In turn, the IRSA Racing Committee under Gordon’s chairmanship would ensure formal communication of proposals, feedback, and consultation with all IRSA Members (DNMs and IOMICA) and informal communication with radio sailors through the members of the committee.