Section O
Sailor Classification: World Sailing Regulation 22
Under World Sailing Regulation 22, the World Sailing Sailor Classification Code provides an international system for the classification of sailors as amateurs or professionals. Classification is based on one or both of financial involvement in boat racing, whether direct or indirect, and the use in the sailor’s work of knowledge or skill capable of performing the performance of a boat in a race. The Code classifies competitors into two Groups: Group 1 sailors take part in racing only as a pastime, while Group 3 sailors have been paid for work or services in sailing.
The Sailor Classification Code is not to be confused with the Para World Sailing Functional Classification System for sailors with disabilities for Para World Sailing Events.
Events and classes are not under an obligation to use a classification system. But should they do so, the World Sailing Code is the only system that shall be used.
If you are appointed to the protest committee of an event where classification limitations apply, you should familiarize yourself with the requirements of classification. A good place to start is the Guidance Notes for Officials which can be found on the World Sailing website.
The World Sailing Sailor Classification Commission administers the system of classification on behalf of World Sailing. The Commission has a number of responsibilities, ranging from:  
  • deciding competitors’ applications for classification; 
  •  hearing appeals; 
  •  liaising with classes and events; and 
  •  providing guidance on the application of the Classification Code. 

At some events where the Code is being used, arrangements are made for a Commission Member to be available in person or on the telephone. 

This chapter discuss some of the situations that may affect judges at a classified 
event. The Commission is available to provide assistance and guidance to officials at all times and can be contacted via the World Sailing Office at or, in urgent situations, via the Chairman of the Commission, whose details are in the World Sailing Yearbook. Where a referral is urgent the Commission can usually respond to or investigate a situation within a short time if you say the information is needed urgently. 
Classification problems can provoke strong reactions from competitors and the boat owners. Changes in classification can require a change in a crew list close to the regatta, with impacts on a boat’s ability to train and compete. It is known for legal proceedings to be threatened and for legal representatives to contact the event organizers. In the event of such problems, make immediate contact with the World Sailing Office and the Commission as they have experience of similar issues and will usually be able to help. 
Notice of Race/Sailing Instructions
Where the class rules do not do so, the Notice of Race or Sailing Instructions should contain crew limitation rules which mention sailor classification. 
For example, a boat may be limited to the number of Group 3 competitors who may be on board, or the helmsman might have to be Group 1. It is important that the requirements are drafted clearly and unambiguously. Model wording can be found in the Guidance Notes mentioned above and should be used wherever possible. 
It is for each class or event to decide how they wish to use the classification system; World Sailing does not require that any class or event must do so. The only requirement is that, if classification is used, the World Sailing system is the only system that can be used. 
Some classes have additional requirements, such as prohibiting helmsmen who have competed in an Olympic Games or America's Cup within the last ten years. These are not classification requirements and are permitted. It is also permitted (and recommended by World Sailing) that a class or event deems a competitor who does not hold a valid classification to be a Group 3 competitor for the purposes of the crew limitation rules. 
However, it is not permitted to have a rule which states that a certain type of individual is or is not Group 1 or Group 3. Only World Sailing can make this decision. 
Spot checks
For some events, a Commission Member may attend registration and conduct interviews with competitors. The Commission Member has the power to change the classification of a competitor at the event if there is a good reason to do so (e.g. if the classification is wrong). 
The presence of a Commission Member should be stated in the Notice of Race and attendance at interviews should be made mandatory as a rule in the Notice of Race. The Commission Member will draw up the interview list in consultation with the event organizers or class and publish it on the official notice board. Interviews usually take place before registration closes and always before racing starts. 
Interviews are initially conducted by the Commission Member alone. If the Commission Member has reason to believe that a competitor's classification might need to be changed, the interview will be suspended and the competitor called back for a second interview. The second interview is then conducted in the presence of a witness and it is usual for the Commission Member to ask one of the Jury members to be this witness. If asked to do so (and if you agree), the role of the judge is just to take an independent note of the interview. At the end, the Commission Member will announce his or her decision to the competitor. 
Competitors can appeal against a decision to re-classify them, but this must be done online and it is rare for this to take less than a month. Until then, the Code states that the decision of the Commission Member at the event is binding. The competitor cannot request redress as the Commission is not covered by RRS 62.1(a) and has no other redress procedure. 
A boat may be protested after the Crew Deadline and before the Classification Protest Time Limit (or 24 hours after a changed Crew List is posted) if: 
  • information, which would have led to a higher classification, was not disclosed when a competitor applied for a classification; or 
  •  a competitor has, since being classified, engaged in activities incompatible with his classification; 
.. and in either case, the boat would then break the crew limitations in the Notice of Race, Sailing Instructions or Class Rules. 
These types of protest are difficult and will need close liaison with the Commission. The protest committee will also need to consider the types of Group 3 activity (see World Sailing Regulation 22.2.2 for the list of activities) in the Code and how to best assess if a competitor falls into one of these categories. 
The FAQs issued by the Commission can be very helpful in applying these to different situations.
The Commission can give an indication of the types of questions and evidence that should be presented. 
As with measurement protests, where the protest committee is in doubt as to the classification of a competitor, a protest committee can refer the facts found to the Commission to seek its opinion on them. The response of the Commission then binds the protest committee. 
Under the Code, which changes RRS 63.3(a), the protestee is entitled, on request, to present evidence of a personal or private nature in the absence of the protestor. The protest committee must not then record that evidence in its decision. If the protest committee, on hearing the evidence, is not satisfied that it is of a personal or private nature, it must disregard the evidence unless it is offered again in the presence of the protestor. 
The penalties are set out in the Code. If the boat has not yet raced, she is not to be penalized. If she has completed a race or races, then the penalty is disqualification from each race (unless the protest arises as a result of a mandatory protest by the race committee acting on a report from the Classification Commission, in which case the penalty is at the discretion of the protest committee (see section WSJM - O6 below for more details). 
The protest committee has no power to change a classification, only to determine whether it should be different. It must report its decision on a protest to the Commission, together with details of all the evidence heard by the committee (including any evidence given in private). 
Protests about Crew Limitations
A protest under the RRS can, of course, be brought where a boat has simply not complied with the Notice of Race or Class Rules (for example by having more Group 3 sailors on board than permitted or having a crew member steer when not permitted to do so). In these circumstances the protest committee will apply the normal rules regarding time limits, validity, penalties etc. to the protest. The classification listed on the World Sailing website against the competitor is definitive in these cases. 
Changes by the Commission
If the Commission changes a competitor’s classification during an event (for example because of an interview) that change can be backdated to the start of the event by the Commission. If the Commission believes a boat would then break the crew limitation rules, it will report the matter to the race committee, which then must protest the boat. The penalty for a breach in this situation is at the discretion of the protest committee. 
Other Complaints or Information Received
If the protest committee receives complaints or information at an event that may cast doubt on a competitor’s classification, but for whatever reason there is no protest lodged, then it should report that information in confidence to the Commission via the World Sailing Office. This information can influence future decisions of the Commission. 
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