What is Classification?

The purpose of the classification system is to measure the sailor’s ability, in order to:

  • Enable fair and equitable competition at all levels, for mildly, moderately and severely disabled sailors;
  • In some formats, encourage crews of mixed disability, from mild to severe, to compete together and complement each other;
  • Only measure functional limitations caused by physical disability;
  • Not be affected by the sailing skills, training or talent of the participant.

The main functions of sailing are:

  • Operating the control lines and the tiller (Hand function);
  • Ability to see whilst racing (Vision);
  • Compensation for the movement of the boat (Stability).
  • Ability to move about in the boat (Mobility).

These functions are evaluated by any one or combination of:

  • A physical examination; (Functional Anatomical Test – FA);
  • Observation of standardized simulated sailing functions; (Functional Dock Test – FD);
  • Observation of the sailor during competition and/or training and/or out of competition (Sailing Test – FS).

Blind Sailing Classification 

Blind Sailing events have a different classification system on a scale of B1, B2 or B3. Under this system the B1, B2 and B3 sailors currently race in three separate divisions, according to the vision classification of the helmsman.

  • B1   Total Absence of perception of light in both eyes, or some perception of the light but with the inability to recognize the form of a hand at any distance and in any direction. In IFDS Classification, a B1 sailor is often scored a 3. 
  • B2 From the ability to recognize the form of a hand to a visual acuity of 2/60 and/or visual field of less than 5 degrees. In IFDS Classification, a B2 sailor is often scored a 5. 
  • B3 From a visual acuity of above 2/60 to a visual acuity of 6/60 and/or a visual field of more than 5 degrees and less than 20 degrees. In IFDS Classification, a B3 sailor is often scored a 7. 

At this time, Paralympic sailing permits sailors with a physical disability to compete, but not sailors with only an intellectual disability. The only sensorial disability allowed for in Paralympic competition is impaired vision.

Sailors are allocated a classification on the point’s range of 1 – 7, where a 1 has the most limited functional ability and 7 as the highest level of functional ability.  Sailors will not be penalised for good performance due to training.

Classifications are valid for a Paralympic Quadrennium, and can be National or International, depending on the level and number of Classifiers performing the classification.

What do Classifiers Do?

The role of Classifiers is to act as impartial evaluators in determining an Athlete’s Sport Class and Sport Class Status. A Classifier should be a qualified medical practitioner, a qualified physiotherapist or appropriate qualified allied health professional, have sailing experience, and be familiar with the different boats used in Paralympic competition.

They may be National, Chief National, Trainee International, Level 1 (Junior) International, Level 2 (Senior) International or Head of Classification.

The Head of Classification appoints a Chief Classifier and a Classification Panel for an event.

Currently, New Zealand has one Classifier, Helen McKenzie, who holds Chief National Classifier status.

A Classification Panel consists of –

  • at least four IFDS International Classifiers (Two teams of two) at Paralympic Sailing Competitions and IFDS Level 1 Events
  •  or at least two IFDS International Classifiers at IFDS Level 2 Events.

What Do They Require At Events?

  • A private Room suitably equipped for interviewing and assessing applicants (usually the day before a regatta starts).
  • A RHIB and driver for the duration of a Regatta for On- Water assessments.
  • Inclusion/recognition as Officials for access to facilities (ie computers, copiers), transport transfers, accommodation, lunches etc.

How Does A sailor get Classified?

  1. Once a sailor has begun competing in regattas, and is considering competing in the higher levels of competition, it is recommended that they apply to Yachting New Zealand  for classification.
  2. YNZ will post on this webpage and in the Inclusive Sailing e-newsletter when classification opportunities are available. 
  3. Submit an application for Classification and a Medical Diagnostics Form for Vision Impairment (if applicable) to Yachting New Zealand. Classification will cost $25.
  4. Yachting New Zealand will allocate a time slot of approximately 40 minutes duration for you to attend your classification. Three days ahead of time Yachting New Zealand will send you a confirmation document with what to expect, what to bring etc.  You may be required to do a dock test, or be observed on the water after the land based classification. 
  5. After you have attended your classification session, Yachting New Zealand will notify you of your National classification status which is valid until 2016. 
  6. When you attend your first World Sailing event where classification is offered, you may be required to complete an International Classification. At this stage, you will be assessed by multiple international classifiers from more than one country and recorded by World Sailing.

Classes Guide

2.4mR -This boat can be sailed by any classification, but is often sailed by people who are classified 6 or 7.

Sonar - At paralympic events a combination of 3 persons who's classification equals a maximum of 14 points.

SKUD 18 - for Paralympic events, the Skipper must be classified as a 1 or 2, and the crew can be any classification, but there must be at least one female on board, or both female.

Other Hansa Classes - These boats are sailed internationally with any classification or no disability. Sailors compete on an even playing field where necessary by adapting the equipment with electronic sheeting and steering systems or other modifications where necessary.