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UK’s Maritime & Coastguard Agency Targets Uncoded Race Yachts

3rd February 2021
UK’s Maritime & Coastguard Agency Targets Uncoded Race Yachts

The UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) says it wants “to send a clear message” to owners and operators of commercially operated yachts that their vessels — including those engaged in racing — must be coded.

The message comes after the MCA agreed to discontinue prosecution against the owners of two yachts, Scarlet Oyster and Playing Around, under the condition that both enter into a written agreement to ensure their vessels are coded when engaged in any commercial activity.

Small, commercially operated yachts must hold a valid code certificate when being used for any commercial purposes, including racing and training, while vessels must also only operate within the category of water for which they have been authorised.

A failure to comply will result in enforcement action, with the MCA saying it is committed to maintaining the rigorous standards of the UK flag.

Despite initiatives to address concerns raised in 2019, such as the publication of an information leaflet and officers attending Gran Canaria for the start of the ARC, investigations were begun into several yachts.

The Regulatory Compliance Investigation Team found a number of breaches, resulting in the owners receiving official cautions, paying several thousands of pounds in intervention costs to the MCA and ensuring their vessels were coded for future commercial use.

Other yachts were sold or removed from the UK flag and are no longer entitled to be UK-registered.

Mark Flavell, lead investigator at the MCA as part of the Regulatory Compliance Investigations Team, said: “A misinterpretation of the code concerning yachts engaged in racing had developed. The MCA want to send a clear message and dispel this misinterpretation.

“Commercially operated vessels, including those engaged in racing, must be coded. This is to ensure commercial vessels are subject of an independent survey and inspection regime. The aim being, as with any scrutiny of commercial operations, is to keep employees and public safe.

“We will not hesitate to take enforcement action against yacht owners who don’t want to hear this message and fail to get their yacht coded.”

Published in Racing
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