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HomeHistory of Rule Changes

NCESA Scantling Rule Changes/Issues Over the Years

By Ted Beier/Matt Schmidt

The E Scow that we race today has evolved quite a bit from the “traditional wood boat with a rotating wood spar that had been sailed for many years. What follows is a short discussion of these changes during the time that I have been involved with the NCESA Rules Committee.

1970-1971 – Experimentation with deck stepped and bottom stepped aluminum masts occurred. Sections involved derived from the Soling and Tempest class boats, plus an un-tapered section being considered for the C Scow. A deck stepped Soling section adopted as an alternate to the rotating wood spar.

1972 – Initial discussions on fiberglass hulls. Scantling rules for aluminum mast being cleaned up. Minimum cloth weight for spinnakers set at ¾ oz. Discussion about Soling spinnakers being sanctioned and/or taking place of traditional asymmetric reacher. Board voted to allow two spinnakers of any type to be used at a regatta if they fell within the maximum dimensions. Board decided to license builders instead of measuring boats. Melges and Johnson will be considered licensed after Measurer Ed Malone measures and certifies one hull from each. Thereafter, changes which bring the hulls closer in shape will be encouraged, and changes that increase differences will be discouraged. By-law Article X on experimental projects initiated.

1973 – NCESA assumes control of E scantling rules from ILYA . Board approved Melges request to build fiberglass boat, requiring it conform to the shape of a 1972 boat (no action followed). Scantling rules approved for current large and small spinnaker dimensional ranges (except the foot max was set at 23 ft. instead of the current 22 ft.), and one large and one small will be allowed measured in for a regatta. All spinnakers built to previous rules are grandfathered. All spinnakers must carry numbers except grandfathered reachers.  Scantling rule for spinnaker pole rope downhaul as an extension of the topping lift approved.

1974 – In April permission was given to Johnson Boat Works to build a fiberglass boat, and sail the prototype in the Championship regatta. Concerns about the insufficient amount of flotation in hulls were discussed. The current flotation rule (By Law Article VIII, Section 14) was approved in form.  13 cu. ft. of foam were required. A request to build a cold molded wood-resin hull was denied. 1975 production of Johnson fiberglass boats was approved subject to verification of shape by Measurer Malone.

1975 – Discussions on masthead flotation initiated. 1976 production of Melges fiberglass boats was approved subject to verification of shape by Measurer Malone. The Rules Committee was authorized to reword the scantling rules to recognize fiberglass and wood hulls. For glass hulls, the fiber portion must be 100% glass fiber, local indentations or buildups for deck fittings were allowed, and indentations for travelers were allowed providing they were self draining and not below the shear line.

1976 – By-law Article X on experimental projects adopted. Measurer Malone presented a table of offset measurements for the Johnson and Melges fiberglass hulls. These were adopted as the official definition of the E Scow hull.

1983 – Scantling rule approved to change measurement of spinnaker pole to measuring the overall length to a limit of 10 ft.

1984 – Masthead flotation still a big issue in the spring. Two sets of foam pads for the head of a sail were tested during the ’84 season. Discussion about reducing the boat weight to less than 965 lb. Board declared that the weight should remain at 965 and the builders should use the “excess” weight to build strong boats. Scantling rule changes approved to reduce underweight tolerance from 96.5 lb to 50 lb. The spinnaker pole ring size was limited to 3 in. from the mast surface.

1985 – More experimentation with masthead flotation devices during the year. 
A proposal to allow mylar mainsails was defeated by the Board. Scantling rule approved to increase the mechanical advantage of the backstay to 4:1 and eliminate the requirement for a jib luff wire.

1986 – The Board approved the purchase of 100 sets of foam head panels covered in cloth with zippers attached. The class will sell these plus the mating zippers to members upon request.

1987 – Scantling rules approved that all mainsails starting in 1987 will be required to carry the mating zippers to attach foam panels, and panels are required to be carried on board, but their use is left to the decision of the sailor.

1989 – Experimental projects for:  8:1 backstay and backstays attached on hull centerline approved. Scantling rules adopted to define the foot of the jib to control notched clews and specification that the vang may be controlled by block and tackle only were approved.

1990 – Scantling rule to allow an 8:1 backstay was approved. The latest glass Johnson and Melges boats have been measured, and little to no difference in geometry was found. A table of offsets can be defined with a + ½ inch tolerange which will envelope both shapes. These are the official shape, and any changes will be required to fit in this envelope.

1991 – Use of epoxy and vinylester resins for new hulls approved.

1992 – Ban on Kevlar, carbon and honeycomb reaffirmed.

1993 – Scantling rule approved increasing the required hull flotation to 19 cu. ft. of styrofoam or other material of equivalent buoyancy.

1994 – Jib measurement template modified to reflect the configuration of the headboard. Letter sent to builders reminding them that boats weighing less than 615 lb before adding ballast are not legal. Also, fiberglass hulls must be delivered with fiberglass only decks attached to be legal.

1995 – Foil shaped rudder experiment approved, but no action followed.

1996 – Proposal for a mylar main with full battens and an asymmetrical spinnaker were not passed by the Board. The current mylar main experiment was terminated. Numbers on spinnakers are no longer required. It was reaffirmed that the only legal masthead foam panels are those available from the class organization. 

1997 – Much discussion at the November Board Meeting about prototype boat with no aft deck, and that rules on experiments were not followed. By-laws governing experiments updated, and experimental project required for any modification that may improve boat performance. Builders will be allowed to build any number1998 boats without aft deck, but they will be considered experimental. They will not be legal for subsequent years unless the membership approves a scantling rule change allowing same.

1998 – Request approved for experiment on aerofoil rudders and asymmetrical spinnaker at beginning of year for the 1998 season. Pole at annual meeting was “overwhelming” against asymmetrical spinnakers. Change in scantling rules approved to remove the requirement for aft deck and to allow “non-wire” backstays. Discussion about foil shaped rudders, which indicated significant Board interest in continuing experimentation. Existing asymmetrical spinnaker experiment expired and was not renewed. Johnson Boat Works purchased by Melges, 1 July 1998.

1999 – Melges Boat Works encouraged to continue study of more efficient rudder.

2000 – Scantling rule approved to eliminate mastline black marker band on deck and replace with scribe line cast into deck. Experiment approved for 3 - 5 sets of foil rudders to be used during 2001 season (only one set was produced).

2001 – Experiment on foil rudders expanded to allow 10 sets for 2002 season. Scantling rule change approved to allow “non-wire” jib halyard.

2002 – Foil shaped rudder approved for 2003 on. Significant discussion on asymmetrical spinnakers. Consensus was that experimental process must be followed, and no action could be taken until a proper experiment was proposed.

2003 – Experiment initiated for 10 boats to use full-length top mainsail batten and longer length on other three main battens. Initial scantlings for asail boat documented. 

2004 – Longer mainsail battens approved for 2005 mainsail production. A multi-year experiment on asymmetric spinnakers was initiated. Boats invited to Nationals, but not officially scored. Rig configuration did not include upper spreaders.

2005 - Some concern about several failed spars on asail equipped boats. Adoption of asail configuration vote at the end of the year obtained a simple majority, but not the required 2/3 majority.

2006 – Requests to approve “non-wire” forestays and headfoils not approved by Rules Committee and not passed to BOD for consideration.

2007 – An additional asail experiment approved on a configuration with a second set of spreaders to further stabilize mast. Asail received a 2/3 majority vote at the end of the year as “an approved configuration”.

2008 – Rules committee undertook a study to update some of the by-laws and the scantling rules to remove definition of configurations that are no longer used such as wood hulls, limitations on aluminum alloys, etc. Epoxy removed from approved materials in this exercise. Membership approved the changes.

2009 – A proposal to prohibit the use of GPS based electronics while racing for five years was not approved by the membership.

2010 – Rule defining use of the bowsprit and fine-tuning of asail dimensions approved by membership.

2012 – Jib Attachment method changed to add headfoil and/or zipper attachment. Measurement method modified by adding ¼" to jib sail cord in jib measurement and requiring attachment method to be within the measurements. Allow Epoxy Resin to be used as a modification/repair material. Changed jib top batten length to extend from the luff to leach. Change in hull bracing wording; longitudinal member in place of "truss" and redefining lengths. First season of boats with centerline launcher systems – molded into hull and deck. Approved by membership.

2018 - Delete Article XII.6.D of the NCESA Constitution (to send appeals to the NCESA Judicial Committee) because the Board of Directors have determined we are not in compliance with US Sailing’s prescription that appeals of protest decisions of RRS issues be sent directly to US Sailing.


2019 – Spring vote - scantling changes to remove previous configurations and grandfather previous configurations. Approved by Boat Owner membership.

  1. Mains made of woven polyester only (3.8SM oz min) of panel construction
  2. Jibs made of woven polyester (3.8SM oz min) or Mylar laminate (2.1SM oz min) of panel construction
  3. Asymmetric spinnakers made of woven ply nylon (0.7SM oz min) of panel construction
  4. Battens made of fiberglass only – no carbon
  5. Rig attachment point location are tightened to +/- 1 inch for upper spreader, lower spreader, forestay, upper shroud, lower shroud, spinnaker halyard, jib halyard, and mastline
  6. Upper and lower spreader length are tightened to +/- 1 inch, sweep angle fixed
  7. Carbon allowed in bowsprit, tiller extension, and blocks only
  8. Removal of backstays, symmetric spinnakers, plate rudders
  9. Addition of M24/C scow boom extrusion

2019 Experiment approved to fabricate jibs of laminate with center aramid ply to determine any improvement in longevity. Experiment terminated at end of season with no request for scantling rule change.

2020 – Spring vote – significant scantling changes to move class towards one design specification. Previous configurations of boats are grandfathered, and will remain legal provided they sail as delivered, or any modifications move them closer to the 2020 configuration. Approved by Owner Membership.

  1. Hull/Deck shape including rudder/board placement shall be MBW digitized shape +/- 3/8in
  2. Epoxy clarified as modification/repair material only – not new hull construction
  3. Bilgeboard and rudder shape and sizes defined with digital files
  4. Rudder shaft material clarified as 2024-T4, not 6061-T6 aluminum
  5. 2 letter club designators on mainsail shall be side-by-side, not top/bottom/back to back
  6. Jib material clarification – polyester ply material only – no Carbon, Dyneema, Kevlar, etc.
  7. Splash board required
  8. Weighing process implemented – requiring 7 day drying period with maximum of one weight change per year.
  9. Formal addition of flotation panel specification
  10. Addition of 2020 Melges E boom extrusion
  11. Addition of rig, sail, board, and class logo diagrams
  12. Removal of previous spar extrusion spec, sliding gooseneck, jib luff wire, topping lift, anchor, floorboards, spinnaker pole.

2022– Spring vote – approved by Owner Membership.

  1. Change from COMPASS to tactical/navigational instruments using magnetic compass or GPS – no external or remote sensors such as hull thru water speed, air speed/direction, or load. This clarifies that devices such as Velocitek ProStart, Velocitek Shift, Raymarine Tacktick Micro, Raymarine Tacktick RaceMaster, Vakaros Atlas, Sailmon Max, or other similar devices are allowed. This removes a gray area of the scantlings from a previous vote in 2009.
  2. Splashboards shall be only factory original or part of a launcher upgrade kit. New supply shall be the 2012 and newer design – 3.5” height and 50” arm length.
  3. Cleanup/updates to the SAIL scantlings. Most of these revisions bring the scantlings closer in line with World Sailing Equipment Rules of Sailing.
    1. Was girths, now widths.
    2. Was Vertical girths, now foot median.
    3. Added foot median to kite and jib.
    4. Removed spinnaker clewboard.
    5. Reduced spinnaker foot roach from 24” to 9” max. – current sails fit well within this revision.
    6. Revised jib measurement diagram.
    7. Added spinnaker measurement diagram.
    8. Clarification of flotation panel usage as defined by sailing instructions.
    9. Added spinnaker recovery points and retrieval line.
    10. Added spinnaker retrieval hole hatch or cover.
    11. Clarified that spreaders can be fixed or adjustable, but adjustments not allowed during a race.
    12. Removed topping lift.