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Offshore Special Regulations

Sailing boats The latest developments of the Offshore Sailing Regulations have been deemed a "positive evolution" for clubs and sailors.

Its not often that the development of regulation is termed as a “positive evolution” but that is exactly what the new edition of World Sailing Offshore Special Regulations is – a breath of fresh air in regards to usability and common sense approach.  

The Offshore Special Regulations (OSR) have been the safety blanket of races and events around the world for nearly 30 years. The OSR have gently evolved as lessons have been learnt and as technology has developed into yacht racing.  

At the recent World Sailing conference, a significant step in the OSRs evolution was discussed and passed. The changes are not only formatting changes designed to make the OSR easier to navigate and use, there have been some wide reaching changes which is hoped to have a positive effect on the majority of keelboat racing around the world.

 The first of these changes has been to revise the differences between Category 4 and Category 5. Most club racing for keelboats or cruiser racers is held under Category 4 which details not only the carry on safety equipment required but also looks at some of the structural aspects of the boat being used such as cockpit drain sizes and some basic fitting out requirements. Because in large parts, these have been considered to be beyond the level of the event – which is normally raced by standard production yachts, the level of detail that is required to comply is beyond the average club racer.  

By rewriting Category 5 – which by its definition is aimed at inshore racing in protected waters with effective shelter and/or rescue available along the length of the course  - it is much more suitable for the Sunday afternoon club cruiser racing which is held in standard yachts. The rewrite therefore looks to cover only the additional carry on equipment that each owner needs to provide which may not have been supplied with the boat.  

Category 5 also looks to deal with Inshore Dinghy Racing, again looking to identify the a suitable level of carry on safety equipment required for dinghy racing.  

The second area of significant development has been to remove many of the “recommendations” from the Regulations and concentrate primarily on the actual requirements for racing. This is an on-going development which will result in clear regulations which the owner should comply with and a second set of advisory notes for an owner to consider as best practice, both documents being written designed to complement each other.  

The third and final development which will have an impact on most yachtsmen racing around the UK is for the requirement for the owner to carry a spare lifejacket inflation cylinder for every lifejacket type carried on boat. Whilst this is simple where the owner provides all of the lifejackets on board but were each of the crew turn up with their own (something that is becoming common place within the sail racing community) then it is likely that this will need some additional coordination from the owner/skipper to make sure that where a lifejacket is supplied by the crew member themselves, that they remember to bring a spare inflation cylinder with them.  

The World Sailing Offshore Special Regulations are available to download free of charge form the World Sailing website.

For further information on how a club might wish to make the best use of implementing the OSR into their club racing, please contact the RYA Technical and Racing Services team.

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