ISAF opens up advertising to the sailing world

New Advertising Code gets rid of old complications

Friday December 8th 2000, Author: Andy Rice, Location: United Kingdom
The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) has simplified its Advertising Code following the Annual General Meeting in Edinburgh a month ago. A class is now either allowed to advertise - with virtually no restrictions - or it isn't. There is either Category A or Category C, not the halfway house called Category B, which has governed the vast majority of racing classes over the last few years.

From 1 January 2001, when the new regulations come into effect, all Olympic classes will become unrestricted Category C - full blown advertising - whilst all other ISAF classes have the right to choose A or C. If a class does not make a decision one way or the other, then Category A - no advertising - applies.

As for national classes, such as the popular RS range of boats in the UK, it is up to the National Authority to decide which category applies. In other words, the RYA will decide whether or not an RS800 sailor is allowed to display advertising on their equipment.

Debates have gone on for years as to whether ISAF should charge a levy for sailors taking advantage of Category C, and indeed teams with full-blown advertising have often had to pay more to enter a regatta than other competitors remaining within the bounds of Category B. This rule no longer applies - a sailor can now emblazon their whole boat with advertising, hull, spars and sails, with the exception of a portion of the bow. ISAF has reserved this area for event sponsors, the front 25 percent for boats under 6.5 m in length, and the front 20 percent for boats measuring over 6.5 m.

But an interesting addendum to this is that any competitor can refuse to carry event advertising if it relates to alcohol or tobacco products. Also worth noting is that there is absolutely no restriction on advertising displayed on clothing, regardless of the Category under which the competitor is racing. So expect to see some lurid outfits appearing on the professional racing scene over the next few months.

ISAF, however, has reserved the right to draw fees from some high-profile sailing events, which it has listed as:

Special Events
America's Cup Match, and Challenger/Defender Series
Volvo Ocean Race
Global Ocean Races
Trans-Oceanic Races
ORC World Championships
Professional Windsurfers Association Events (PWA)

Events of Classes
International America's Cup Class
Volvo Ocean 60
Maxi One Design
Open 60 Mono-hull Class (incorporates Open 50 Class)
Open 60 Multi-hull Class
PWA Classes
49er Grand Prix Series

In principle, the new regulations are a great simplification of what has gone before, and open up the potential for commercial backing of sailing like never before. But the regulations are a little unclear in some areas, and could lead to dispute unless ISAF provides further clarification.

Since we first published this story we've had one feedback comment saying that the classes themselves could apply limitations on Category C and effectively create something like the old Category B regulations. This is just one of the grey areas we'll look at in more detail in part two of this story, next week. If you've heard of further queries or potential problems with the new advertising code, let us know through the feedback and we'll be putting all these questions to ISAF next week.

For a full copy of the Code, go to the ISAF website.

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