Rule Interpretation RI-02-17

Q1: What is the meaning of "long-term shipmate and friend" in rule 3.4?
A1: It has often been said that the J/105 class is an "owner/driver" class, and most J/105s are in fact driven by their owners. However, Rule 3.4 establishes two exceptions to an owner/driver requirement. It provides that the driver of a J/105 must be either an Owner (as defined) or a Group 1 competitor who is either (a) a member of an Owner's immediate family or (b) "a long term shipmate and friend" of an Owner. Note that for either of the exceptions in clauses (a) and (b) to apply the driver must be group 1 competitor. Note also rule 1.1: "These rules are to preserve J/105's recreational features . . . while maximizing participation at J/105 events." In light of the foregoing, in the view of the TC, the exception for a "long term shipmate and friend" must be narrowly interpreted. In particular, it seems inconsistent with the language of the exception and rule 1.1 to permit owners to hand the helm of their boat to a casual friend and "ringer" “ a person who is on board to assist in the owner's plan of winning a particular regatta, but not because he or she has been sailing with the owner for a long time and is a good friend of the owner. Based on the foregoing, the TC believes that an individual who is a friend of the Owner meets the "long term shipmate and friend" requirement for a regatta if (i) during the immediately preceding 12 months, the person sailed with the owner on at least 6 race days and (ii) during the immediately preceding 24 months, the person sailed with the owner in at least 50% of all races in which the owner competed. Given the focus of the language of rule 3.4(b) on relationship with the owner, it is not necessary that the racing referenced in clauses (i) and (ii) took place on a J/105. Thus, a long-term crew of an owner new to the J105 class can qualify under this ruling, provided the foregoing conditions are satisfied.

While the foregoing applies to regional or national level regattas, the TC believes that for local fleet racing and to encourage local fleet building, it may be desirable for a local fleet rule to interpret the "long-term shipmate and friend" requirement more flexibly on the fleet level, as long as the fundamental purposes of the requirement are satisfied.

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