World Sailing have reaffirmed their commitment to reducing sailing's environmental impact by indicating changes will be made to the way rule 55 is administered in the next version of the Racing Rules of Sailing.
Rule 55 applies to trash disposal and states:
- A competitor shall not intentionally put trash in the water. This rule applies at all times while afloat. The penalty for a break of this rule may be less than disqualification.
The next version of the Racing Rules of Sailing, which are revised and published every four years by World Sailing, become effective on January 1, 2021 and World Sailing have already decided that it will no longer be possible for national prescriptions, notice of race or sailing instructions to change rule 55. The option for penalties of less than disqualification will remain (unless there is a submission to change that in the meantime).
This means that using spinnaker bands that end up in the water and not recovered by the boat will break the rule, irrespective of them being made from bio-degradable material. This is a deliberate move for sailing to reduce adverse environmental impact.
Yachting New Zealand decided against a national prescription allowing changes to the rule when they published their latest Racing Rules of Sailing 2017-20, meaning rule 55 applies to all racing in New Zealand, no exceptions.