Umpires will be enforcing the new 2012 rules at the first event of the season, Match Race Germany on 23 - 28 May PHOTO:Brendon O'Hagan/Subzero Images
London, UK - 14 May 2012: Several rule changes have been confirmed for the 2012 Alpari World Match Racing Tour, coming into effect at the first event of the season, Match Race Germany in Langenargen on May 23 – 28.
The Racing Rules have been amended in order to continue the positioning of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour (AWMRT) as the most compelling, competitive and pioneering action on the water. Craig Mitchell, Alpari World Match Racing Tour, Tour Director, expects the alterations to have a positive effect on the Tour, as well as match racing in general: “Match racing has evolved to the point where we currently have a great set of rules, producing some fantastic sporting action, as we saw quite clearly in the 2011 series.
“Nothing major has changed in the past few years and we are enthusiastic in our responsibility to keep developing the rules to challenge our world class athletes and create the best possible spectacle we can.”
Following the decision by the America’s Cup to move away from monohull sailing and subsequent revision of their rules, organisers at the Alpari World Match Racing Tour began a re-think of the rules, inviting comment from sailors and event organisers to establish what, if anything, they would like to see changed for the 2012 season. The resulting discussion paper identified a number of areas which were generally agreed to be open for experimentation and ultimately permission was given by the International Sailing Federation to implement the final decisions under RRS86.
Several changes have been included in order to tidy up existing wording and define certain aspects more clearly but amongst the slightly more controversial additions are a revision of the penalty process, limiting boat requests for redress and an amendment of proper course restrictions which it is hoped will allow the trailing boat increased chances to overtake - expected to get a mixed reaction amongst sailors and sailing aficionados alike.
The removal of proper course restrictions which will allow a trailing boat to gain an overlap from astern and luff their opposition away from the mark should increase opportunities for a trailing boat and may well see a change in how the leading boat will choose to defend their advantage. The added opportunity afforded to challenge the match leader is designed to encourage a tighter margin between teams. Mitchell, said: “We are the most competitive sailing series in the world and we hope that these changes, amongst others, continue to create the closest, most intense battles out on the water.”
The major change in the penalty process for 2012 is the removal of double penalties for serious rule infringements. It was felt the old process tended to ‘kill-off’ a match and officials will now award a red flag instead of a double penalty, for which the infringing team will need to take an immediate penalty turn. Should that same team still be in control of the match after the turn, umpires can award another penalty.
Limiting boat-requested redress is aimed at cutting time wasted on the water and lessening breaks in play mid-match. The increased empowerment of officials is expected to reduce gamesmanship from competing boats, whilst giving umpires the opportunity to step in when things go wrong. Craig Mitchell, said: “The Tour is a dynamic proposition and we are always looking to improve the spectator experience at our events and for our TV viewers. Like all big sports, being in control of match timeframes is vital in maintaining our appeal commercially.”
With Match Race Germany just under two weeks away, the changes will come under scrutiny as the season develops and their true effect becomes clear. Mitchell, said: “We are committed to trying out new things on the Tour and if it doesn’t work as we’d hope, we’re not opposed to returning to previous rules.”