Support person is a defined term in the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS). This definition includes a parent or guardian, a coach, a medical or paramedical practitioner, a boat maintainer, a personal assistant to a disabled competitor or any other person working with or assisting the sailor to prepare for or compete in a race.
RRS 4 requires a support person, including a parent or guardian of a competitor that is racing, to accept the rules. It requires also that the competitors agree that any support person is bound by the rules. Acceptance of the rules includes acceptance by a support person of any penalty imposed or other action taken under the rules, as well as of the protest, appeal and review systems provided for in the rules.
Additionally, the RYA has prescribed a new RRS 4.7 that 'Each competitor and boat owner shall ensure that their support persons comply with the rules.'
A support person is not permitted to protest, nor will the race committee or protest committee consider protesting a boat as a result of information from a support person, unless there was serious damage or injury as a result of the alleged incident.
While racing, a boat is generally not permitted to receive help from an outside source, including from any support person. However, exceptions may be permitted for disabled competitors, either specifically as RRS E3.9 for radio sailing or by the notice of race or sailing instructions for an event. Further guidance may be sought from RYA Sailability at email@example.com
As well as providing a set of rules that apply on the water, the RRS requires every competitor and support person, at all times, not to breach good manners, good sportsmanship or indulge in unethical behaviour, and to avoid conduct that may bring the sport into disrepute; see RRS 69.1.
The notice of race or sailing instructions (SIs) for a particular series of races may also place specific restrictions and requirements on the actions of both competitor and support person, on and off the water.
If the protest committee learns of a possible breach of a rule by a support person through any source, including the race committee, it may call a hearing under RRS 60.3(d).
If the protest committee finds that a rule has been broken, it can issue a warning, remove any privileges or exclude the support person from the event or club. It could also penalise a competitor by time or scoring penalties or a race disqualification if the competitor has gained an advantage or has been previously warned that a repeat of the support person’s actions may result in a penalty; see RRS 64.5.
Examples of actions of a support person that could lead to a hearing are:
The Racing Rules of Sailing, the RYA prescriptions and the RYA Racing Charter can be accessed from the RYA website.
The notice of race and sailing instructions for a particular event are available from the race organisers.