Use of Bilge Pumps

The IDA Technical Committee has received a number of requests by Dragon sailors to clarify the Class Rules with regard to the installation and use of bilge pumps. This has arisen because a number of recently built Dragons are using several electrical pumps to manage the amount of bilge water in the boat during the race.

The Technical Committee’s conclusions are summarised in the memo below, which they have asked us to bring to the attention of our members, especially those travelling to major championships, such as the World Championships next month.



The Technical Committee has been asked to clarify the rules and regulations regarding the use of bilge pumps on the Dragon and would like to make the following statement in this context:

The following Rules apply in this context:

Class Rule 2.193 a, and
RR S 51 – Movable Ballast

CR 2.193 a, specifies: One manual Bilge Pump shall be fitted. This is mandatory! In addition an electric bilge pump may be fitted. This is optional!

After careful consideration the TC has concluded that the rule concerning the manual bilge pump is a matter of safety (similar to paddles, buckets etc) and therefore has to be read as a minimum requirement whereas the option to fit an additional electrical pump is limited to one electrical pump only.

However, the class rules do not specify, how deep, or to which point the suction pipe leading in to the bilge shall reach. It is therefore permissible under Class Rules to have several manual pumps at different positions in the boat, but only one driven by electric power.

The usage of bilge pumps is regulated by RR S 51 which in its last sentence says: “…bilge water may be bailed out.” It does not say, how often, or when, or to which level. This means: It is up to the crew when and how much water is bailed out at any point in time during racing.

However, RR S 51 also says: …”Water, dead weight or ballast shall not be moved for the purpose of changing trim or stability.” This means: If the pumps, or other equipment are used to move water forward, or aft, or from side to side within the boat, this will be considered a clear infringement of RR S 51. Also please note that there is precedence that such an infringement can give rise to penalties under RR S 69.

International Dragon Class Technical Committee