Saturday, July 16, 2016

Support Persons

I am a bit of a geek when it comes to the Racing Rules of Sailing.

There has long been the issue of how to deal with coaches, parents and others who cause trouble. For the time being there is no way to really deal with them under the RRS.  

But, starting 1 January 2017, “Support Persons” will be covered and will be required to comply with the Rules (which include Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions).  The 2017 - 2020 version of the Rules are available at

Who is a Support Person?

A Support Person is any person who
(a) provides, or may provide, physical or advisory support to a competitor, including any coach, trainer, manager, team staff, medic, paramedic or any other person working with, treating or assisting a competitor in or preparing for the competition, or

(b) is the parent or guardian of a competitor.

Are Support Persons Covered by the Rules?

Rules 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3 make it clear that Support Persons are covered:
3.1 A support person by providing support, or a parent or guardian by permitting their child to enter a race, agrees to accept the rules.
3.2  Each competitor and boat owner agrees, on behalf of their support persons, that such support persons are bound by the rules.
3.3 Acceptance of the rules includes agreement…
(d) by each competitor and boat owner to ensure that their support persons are aware of the rules.

Who can protest a Support Person?
There is no right for an individual competitor to protest a Support Person.

Only a Protest Committee may “call a hearing to consider whether a Support Person has broken a rule, based on its own observation or information received from any source, including evidence taken during a hearing.”  So, presumably a competitor could inform the Protest Committee who would then have the discretion to call a hearing.

What Penalties Can be Given for Breaches by a Support Person?

Penalty on the Support Person

When the protest committee decides that a Support Person who is a party to a hearing has broken a Rule, it may
(1) issue a warning,
(2) exclude the person from the event or venue or remove any privileges or benefits, or
(3) take other action within its jurisdiction as provided by the Rules.

Penalty on the Competitor

The Protest Committee may also may also penalize a competitor for the breach of a Rule by a Support Person by changing the boat’s score in a single race, up to and including DSQ, when the protest committee decides that

(1) the competitor may have gained a competitive advantage as the result of the breach by the support person, or

(2) the Support Person commits a further breach after the competitor has been warned by the protest committee that a penalty may be imposed.

Rule 69 Misconduct

A Support Person is subject to Rule 69.


  1. Excellent. A step in the right direction. Apart from Rule 69, what Rules could a Support Person break?

  2. Here are a few that come to mind.

    Rule 2 Fair Sailing which basically says you must compete in compliance with recognised principles of sportsmanship and fair play.

    Rule 41 Outside Help seems an obvious possibility.

    In addition, those that will be contained in Sailing Instructions - such as spectator/coach boats staying out of racing areas.

    Any other thoughts?

  3. I think the reference to SIs is the most significant thing, Plus the opportunity to penalize the competitor for a breach of a rule by their Support Person.

    Personally I would have made the link even stronger without the need to prove the competitor gained a competitive advantage.

    Coach breaks a rule in the SIs. DSQ their competitor. That will stop the bad coaches pretty quickly.


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