Non-ratified RCD standards meant that many boats at the Southampton Show were flouting the rules

Many of the boats at the Southampton International Boat Show appeared to be openly ignoring the Recreational Craft Directive, which became law on 16 June this year. Yet they can hardly be blamed when it seems that many of the fifty-odd separate standards are still at the discussion stage.

Forward-opening hatches, miniscule cockpit drains, low cockpit sills and sundry other minor infractions were reported, but none of the offending boats was breaking the law. Until all the standards in the RCD have been ratified, builders are free to choose any existing set of standards to build their boats to. This explains to some extent the lack of consistency among the yachts at the show.

‘For example, the draft standard relating to cockpit drains has changed twice in the last year,’ commented Ken Kershaw, the RYA Technical Manager, ‘from requiring large drains to requiring small drains.

‘The standards are only one route to compliance,’ he added.

Mr Kershaw said that many of the boats exhibited at the show were still not displaying CE marks. ‘There are still a lot of people ignoring the RCD,’ he said.