Measurers Corner

Measurer’s Interpretations and Recommendations

Topic:Basic Rules
Question:Can hiking be assisted using existing lines? What are the limits on athletic hiking?
ID Number:000016
Short Answer: 
Status:In Process
Action Date: 
Fri Dec 9 15:17:05 2022
2008-07-15HL DevoreI believe the original intent of the rule was to avoid excessive hiking and hanging on rigging. I believe we want people to "hang on", but only to standing rigging that is unadjustable and "safe". Running rigging including sheets, halyards and other moveable objects pre-existing on the boat such as spinnaker poles should be specifically excluded. Otherwise I believe it is a slippery slope taking the boat in a more unsafe direction and towards more athletism thereby limiting crew and limiting participation.
2008-07-15Richard RobbinsCurrent rule:

Extraordinary means of hiking are prohibited in all sanctioned class races. When hiking in the sitting position, no part of the body between the middle of the thigh and feet shall be outside of the sheerline. When hiking in the prone position, one half of the body shall be inboard of the sheerline. No hiking straps or other device shall be rigged by any member of the crew for the purpose of supporting his weight outboard of the sheerline.
2008-07-15Com CrockerClearly if you ever want to be able to adjust your sails without having to move into the boat, you'll need to be allowed to hold onto control lines. To HL's point, however, if we don't want crews using control lines to assist in hiking then we should change the language. There's a difference between "hanging onto a line" and "hiking off a line". I find the "one half of the body" language a bit vague. Whereas we have an additional "mid-thigh" rule in Fleet One that seems pretty cut and dried, I'm not even sure what one half of the body means. Is it the 3' mark on a 6' person? Or is it your center of mass. And if it's the center of mass, then what happens as the boat heels over? If you kept your upper body vertical while the boat heels it seems to me you'd be moving your weight outside the sheer line, and if you didn't you'd risk falling into the boat.
2008-07-15Richard RobbinsMy recommendation is that crew may only grasp onto the deck, winches, fittings or standing rigging and that using any working or rigged line is not allowed. I am not sure you want to say "you can't hold on to something". We might consider limiting sitting hiking to keeping the back vertical; I have never seen a prone position used (assuming that means one's front facing the water surface).
2008-07-30Andrew BurtonProne is the way they used to hike Stars. The crew would lie down along the rail sometimes with just a foot and a hand inside the rail. A rule limiting backs to be vertical would be rather hard to enforce. As would banning hanging on to lines. Perhaps we could say no looping feet under lines rigged for the purpose of hiking? My crew will sometimes put a foot under the vang but that is more to keep them aboard in weather, it also stops them getting their weight outboard.
2008-08-22Richard RobbinsThe Etchell Class allows the following:

7.4 Hiking Devices - No rope, wire, handhold or other device shall be used by any member of the crew for the purpose of supporting his weight outboard of the sheer line. However the use of the headsail, spinnaker and/or main sheets and/or a single line attached to the the top of the midship console (Safety Line) and held solely by the hands, is permitted. Said Safetly Line shall be of a constant diameter of no more than 10mm and when extended perpendicular to the shear with all knots removed, shall not extend more than 30cm beyond the deck edge. There may no loops, knots or splices in sail Safety Line other than where necessary to attach to the console. When hiking in the sitting position no part of the crew's body between the middle of the thigh and the feet shall be outboard of the sheerline. When hiking in the prone position at least one full arm and one full leg shall be inboard of the sheerline. Hanging on the mast of shrouds to promote roll tacking or gybing is prohibited.
2008-11-13Technical CommitteeThe following is proposed as an addition to the current rule: Crew may hold onto existing parts of the boat or control lines for safety purposes, but may not do so in order to assist with hiking.
2008-11-13 The rules state that if something is not specifically allowed it's banned. LEAVE THE RULE ALONE. THIS IS ANOTHER CASE OF A SOLUTION LOOKING FOR A PROBLEM!
2008-12-05Jamie HiltonThe technical committee's note dated 11-13-2008 seems correct ,as does the comment dated 11-13-2008 without name . I believe there are other areas such as splashboards to prevent sinking and longer jib battens to prolong jib life that are more important to the class than allowing hiking . The hiking rule is not broken , please don't fix it .
2011-10-06kristian martincicI think current rule works well. Since no one really hikes prone, the key guidelines are no part of the body below mid thigh outside the sheer, and no fabricating hiking lines or devices. (Didn't a boat turn their seats into folding hiking rackss once?) Adding an interpretation based on why someone is holding a line seems impossible to enforce.
2011-10-21Richard RobbinsThe question continues to arise whether one can hold on to existing equipment. I think we need to answer this question. The follow interpretation does answer that question - changed the words "assist with hiking" in the 2008-11-13 comment to the following:

Crew may hold onto existing parts of the boat or control lines for safety purposes, but may not do so in order to enhance hiking.
2011-10-24Mark SwansonI think there is a problem. Adding the wording the Richard suggests is a good idea and would be enough.
2011-10-31Kristian MartincicClarity is nice, but I still don't understand how it's possible to to tell when someone is holding a line for enhancing hiking or for safety. Is it possible to enforce the rule?
2011-11-09Richard RobbinsAt the Governing Board meeting on 11/8/2011 the interpretation proposed was rejected.
2012-01-23Richard RobbinsProposed Interpretation: Ordinary hiking in the sitting position is limited so no part of the body between the middle of the thigh and feet shall be outside of the sheerline but does allow holding on with hands and feet to any piece of the boat or equipment in its normal position. Holding on to the shrouds, winches, working or non-working jib sheets, main sheet, traveler, backstay and coaming are examples of what is allowed. Holding on to spinnaker sheets, pole downhaul, pole lift, twig lines, cunningham, boomvang and any halyard are examples of what is not allowed as part of hiking.
2012-05-14Kristian MartincicI like the proposed interpretation, although there are some very minor potential problems with a few of the control lines i could see. For example: -at the windward mark, if the 2nd crew is hiking and they have the topping lift in their hands, and then hoist the pole while hiking, is that a breach? -upwind, if the forward crew is hiking and trims or eases the cunningham, is that a breach? To go in an alternate direction, what if we were instead to begin measuring the sailors instead of the boat, and accurately assessed and marked "mid thigh" with a tasteful black band tattoo for each sailor? It would make for easy on-the-water identification of legal and illegal hiking, and generate some great fleet camraderie as everyone would match. I believe HL already has one, and could perhaps comment?