Crew Hiking Positions Clarified

After several occasions where a crew's hiking position was questioned as to legality, a request was sent to the FSSA for clarification. Chief Measurer Bob Neff's response can be found at this link. It is interesting to note that standing rigging, (like the side stay) is not currently legal to use as a hiking aid. No one in our fleet knew that!  -  D. Grimes, FS3360, Fleet 150

hiking_clarification_from_fssa_cm_bob_neff_12-5-12.pdf32.72 KB



Since the Scot class has gone through nearly every permutation of question about hiking straps and other hiking aids, and have settled on the hiking line, which is pretty well defined, this makes sense.  Many other classes have hiking straps and very aggressive hiking.  If one wants to out-hike the competition, boats such as the Thistle are perfect.   A few of the new classes, like the new sportboat classes, limit hiking very closely. I think this helps the longevity of the class, as a wider range of ages and body types can be very competitive in the boat.

An example of hiking in the Scot.

This Terhune family seems to do well without holding the shroud:

Phil Scheetz

FS 4086

Fleet 163, Nockamixon Sail Club

Hiking Positions

So does all this mean that the boat #68 is the linked photo is disqualified?

What about boat #07?

Or boat #49?



Good question

I think that is the question you are asking.  If they were protested by a competitor, how would the RC rule?hiking is not monitored by referees on the water, so a protest is the way to resolve.

Phil Scheetz

FS 4086

Fleet 163, Nockamixon Sail Club

My 2¢

It would seem to me that the defining issue would be whether or not you are using the shroud to support your weight in a hiking position, as opposed to just using the shroud to stabilize yourself while sitting on the rail. Obviously, there is a whole lot of gray area here. The first two examples in bhmsailor's post are in that gray area, but probably OK (my opinion). The last example looks like he is leaning out more and putting much of his weight on the shroud, and so, is hiking, using the shroud as an aid. I used to lean heavily on the shroud with one hand, and the jib sheet with the other, in a laid out position. THAT would not be legal. Nowadays, I find that using the jib sheet in one hand and the hiking rope in the other is much more comfortable, and legal too.

Dean Grimes


Fleet 150, Lake Eustis Sailing Club

I don't think the RRS ban the use of the shroud for hiking

I am not sure exactly what Bob is saying in the "hiking clarification" (the document linked above) nor is it clear to me that the "hiking clarification" qualifies as an official Chief Measurer's Ruling which would become part of the class rules as set forth in the class handbook.  However, if Bob is assuming that RRS 49.1 by itself bans the use of the shroud for hiking, then I do not think that assumption is warranted.

Bob quotes RRS 49.1 as prohibiting most "device[s] designed to position their bodies outboard" unless otherwise allowed by class rules.  However I would not include a shroud as a device DESIGNED to position a sailor's body outboard. The shroud or sidestay is DESIGNED to hold up the mast.  Any other use of it, including sometimes for hiking, is ancillary and is not its DESIGNED use.  

So if the device -- the shroud -- is not designed for hiking, then its use should be permitted for hiking.  The same logic would appy to other parts of the boat used for hiking:  the jib sheet, the inner seat lip (where I often hook my heels to help me hike), the underside of the forward coaming (which my extremely tall crew sometimes hooks his foot under), etc.  

In contrast, items specifically designed for hiking (hiking line, hobbles, flushdeck handholds, footstraps, trapeze) are prohibited unless specifically allowed by class rules.

I would hate to see a Flying Scot class rule or CMR providing that the use of the shroud for hiking is a violation of RRS 49.1 potentially resulting in disqualification.  The layout of the Scot is such that sometimes the shroud is convenient for hiking.  Its use does not confer an advantage over the other chief hiking method, the hiking line.  Therefore there is no good reason to make the use of the shroud illegal, and I would challenge any interpretation of RRS 49.1 purporting to show that the use of the shroud is currently illegal for hiking.  I don't want to have to worry that each time my crew is hiked and grabs the shroud, I might be protested by a nearby competitor.

If there is more behind Bob's interpretation than I understand (such as a published appeal, or some Flying Scot class rule which I have not considered), then I would welcome anyone letting me know what I have missed.

So what is the "Hiking Clarification"?

I agree with Jay that this string is somewhat odd.  The class has not had this clarification up to this point.

So it seems that the folks who are holding the shroud while  sitting on the rail in the normal crew position are ok.  What if they were sitting outboard of the shroud, straddling it, and hanging onto the shroud or chainplate with both hands?  It seems that would be illegal.

Does this need to be clarified?


Phil Scheetz

FS 4086

Fleet 163, Nockamixon Sail Club

Phil, I would say someone


It looks to me like Bob is saying that the RRS 49.1 makes the use of the shroud for hiking illegal and that because it's customary in the class to use the shroud for hiking, the class should institute a rule or a CMR which clarifies that the shroud can be used for hiking, but only from a seated position.  I would say such a rule is not necessary because of the alternative interpretation of RRS 49.1 which I have described above (the shroud is not a "device designed for" hiking.)

I would say someone sitting outboard of the shroud and straddling it is a non-issue, as that would not be fast.  Not only would the crew's front leg be trapped in front of the shroud, preventing quick movement aft or inboard, but also the crew's weight would be too far forward.  The class probably does not need to go out of its way to ban hiking methods which are not fast.




I agree that the shroud should be fair game to hold.  I see many people hold the shroud, to steady themselves in the boat.  If someone is siting on the rail, legs-in, there should be no reason you can't hold the shroud.

If we need a class rule to specifically allow then let's do it.


Phil Scheetz

FS 4086

Fleet 163, Nockamixon Sail Club