Rule 41 of the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) state
"A boat shall not receive help from any outside source, except ...", and the exception 41 (C) which states "help in the form of information freely available to all boats;"
The interpretation given for the words “freely available” as used in RRS 41(c) was "free of cost" for all competitors. Therefore during racing, competitors are limited to only using the free package of PredictWind. Please note the free package of PredictWind includes the 7 day 8km & 60km resolution forecasts maps, 12 day 100km resolution GRIB files and Maps, and 1km resolution forecasts in the tables/graphs.
We recommend that competitors create a free account (in addition to their paid account) that they can legally use whilst racing. Before the start of the race competitors may use the PredictWind paid packages.
The Notice of Race/Sailing Instructions for any particular event may allow the use of PredictWind during racing. We recommend that competitors lobby the organizing committee to make a provision to allow the use of PredictWind whilst racing. There are many prestigious regattas that have changed their sailing instructions to include PredictWind include Sydney to Hobart, Chicago Mac, and many more!
A suggested edit that can be used in the Sailing Instructions from a rules advisor is as follows:
COMMUNICATIONS WHILE RACING
RRS 41, OUTSIDE HELP, RRS 41(c) is changed to read as follows: Help in the form of information freely available to all boats and any publicly offered internet or broadcast weather information from sources available to all competitors, whether on a subscription or free basis is allowable. ALLOWABLE INTERNET SOURCED SERVICES RECEIVED BY A BOAT WHILE RACING MUST BE COMPUTER GENERATED AND NOT HAVE ANY DIRECT HUMAN INPUT FROM OUTSIDE THE BOAT. Competitors may use any means to retrieve the data. Accessing other information during the race will be considered a violation of RRS 41.
In our opinion the reasons are compelling to make a case to the organizing committee.
1) It is impossible to know if competitors are using the free or paid PredictWind packages during a race. We have feedback that many competitors have used the paid version when racing.
2) PredictWind is a widely used public service, and whilst not free of charge it is very inexpensive in relation to the costs associated with yacht racing.
If you have any questions please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org as we welcome any feedback on this important issue!