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Clarification on World Sailing Speed Record claims

by John Reed - Secretary to the WSSR Council on 13 Feb 2008
Finian Maynard, speed sailing king 48.70 kts . .
There have always been unsubstantiated speed record claims, to such an extent that this was the reason for the establishment of the ISAF World Sailing Speed Record rules in the early 1970s. As WSSR rule 1 states ' the purpose of these rules is to enable attempts to be made on Sailing Speed Records in any part of the world under comparable conditions'.

There can be a number of ambiguities connected to any claim - for example:
1. The course length (500m) may be inaccurate.
2. The timing equipment may not be accurate.
3. The record craft may be power assisted or even be a power boat
4. The record attempt may be current or tide assisted.

The independent ISAF WSSR Council has initiated a series of safeguards to cover any such eventualities, with the sole reason of fulfilling the principle of rule 1. In the same order as above, these are:

1. A qualified surveyor shall carry out all necessary measurements and provide a report for the WSSRC..

2. Timing equipment shall have a certificate of accuracy published by an official timekeeping body. The attempt shall be videoed so that the timing can be subsequently checked.

3. Attempts shall be made in the presence of a WSSR Commissioner (one of a small group of experienced officials appointed as a result of their experience and probity)

4. Current is checked by our commissioner and allowance made for the resolved component of any tide or current. A venue is not suitable for record breaking if the current is more than 1 knot.

Any attempt where these checks are not in place cannot be said to fulfill the requirement that it was made 'under comparable conditions'.

The situation regarding personal GPS units is currently under review. At present they cannot demonstrate sufficient accuracy. but there is every hope that they may achieve improvement in the near future, and, if so, there is anticipation that rules could be produced to enable such equipment to be authorised for recording record attempts.

A final point: the WSSR Council has a responsibility to protect the achievements of the current record holders as well as permitting correctly authenticated attempts on such records. The current World Sailing Speed Record holder is Finian Maynard with a speed of 48.70 kts and, to date, there has been no claim to the WSSR Council that this record has been exceeded.
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