Yachting Australia SPECIAL REGULATIONS 2013-16
The Yachting Australia (YA) Special Regulations ( SR’s) set out the criteria for yachts, their equipment and crews that are required when racing under YA endorsed races ( all ORCV races). They are updated every three years and are published in the YA “Blue Book” but now are also available on-line.
The on-line version is always up to date and any errors that find their way into the printed version do get corrected but the Blue Book still needs to be carried on board!
Though the rules are in force for the following three years, YA does from time to time make interim amendments that in some cases apply immediately so it is a good idea to keep a weather eye on these amendments.
The latest version of the SR’s come into force on the 1st of July 2013. Focusing on category 1 and 2 races, there are many changes, some minor but some of more significance so this coming winter would be a good time to make sure you are all ready to go for next summer by reading up on the latest changes. Below is summary of most of the key changes that are likely to be of interest to most boats but it is certainly a good idea to read them in more detail for yourself.
1. Hull Construction
All new boats made after 1st July 2010 must be built in accordance with ISO 12215 and other past standards (EC Cat A, ABS) will no longer apply (see also Amendment 7). Older boats are grandfathered into the previous standards so no problem there! Keep in mind, that where significant repairs or modifications are made to a boat, they also must be certified to the boat’s original construction standard.
For boats built after 2010, minimum hatch dimensions were defined and in the new SR’s these have been specified in even more detail.
The prohibition from using carbon fibre in stanchions has been removed.
Lots of changes here! YA has acknowledged the growing role of satellite phones but this technology, though now being recommended, has not replaced the requirement to have HF radio for Cat 1/2 racing. New HF radios after 1st July 2013 must be DSC (Digital Selective Calling) capable so if buying a new radio be warned! Previously installed non-DSC radios are still fine. VHF only can be used for Cat2 races where it is clear that adequate coverage is available throughout the entire race (getting there but not quite in Bass Strait yet!). For VHF transceivers, DSC is recommended recognising the likely increasing usage of this technology in the future. Any new VHF radio fitted after 1st of July 20123 needs to incorporate DSC.
Also, should you already have a DSC radio(s) and do not have an MMSI identification number, you should look into getting one to take maximum advantage of DSC capability (uniquely identifies your boat during a May Day transmission). Finally, DSC radios are capable of being easily interfaced to your GPS so that your position information can be automatically transmitted in an emergency situation with obvious benefits so if you have not already done that, look into it now! Actual testing of radio performance (like we do before all Cat 2 races) is now required and VHF testing to a base station of at least 8 nm away is now mandated. Hand held VHF radios must have 5W power (most do!) and must also be tested as required by a Notice of Race.
5. Fire Extinguishers
These need to be serviced or tested in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
6. Medical kit
A number of new recommendations have been made together with lots of changes to the items that need to be carried in the medical kit so best to check it out for yourself.
7. Radar reflector, Fog horns
After July 2015 an AIS (Automatic Identification System) transponder will be mandatory for Cat 1 and recommended for Cat 2. Clearly the benefits of this new technology are recognised by YA and we will see more of this in future products (e.g. MOB systems, PLB’s that have AIS capability). Prices have really come down here so don’t’ even think about just a receiver system, go for the transponder models.
From July 2015, all GPS’s must be GPS enabled. If your current non-GPS EPIRB unit(s) is coming up for battery replacement, don’t even think about going down that path, since prices have really come down here. Replace it now with a GPS model.
9. Life rafts and Grab Bags
This section has been significantly re-written with many changes covering the life rafts themselves, the equipment to be carried, servicing and storage so it is best to read it for yourself. Also YA is currently looking more carefully at how life rafts are secured to a boat so expect more news in this area very soon!
Spray hoods are now recommended so think about adding one to your current PFD or getting one of the latest models incorporating a spray hood since they will likely become mandatory at some point.
After July 2013, all tethers have to include a middle clip or be of the double (short/long length) variety.
From July 2015, all PLB’s must be GPS enabled. Crew must be trained in their use so make sure all of your crew are current in their SSSC. If you are buying a new GPS/PLB, look for the models that have the maximum number of GPS channels as these are detected more rapidly by the satellites.
13. Boat Stability
For boats that have been able to rely on the SSS rating from their IRC certificates, those days are almost gone! After July 2013, SSS will no longer be acceptable as demonstration of resistance to capsize for Cat 1 or 2 racing. Only the ORCi stability index or certification to ISO 12217-2 Category A will be acceptable. The actual stability rating ( stability index for ORCi or STIX for ISO Cat A ) is more demanding for Cat 1 compared to Cat 2. For a boat not already certified to the ISO Cat standard, getting a stability index via the ORCi path is easier and involves a low angle inclination test by an approved measurer. For older boats, this may well be the most significant implication of these new SR’s so more to come about this aspect in coming weeks.