Classifiers are responsible for the classification of disabled sailors.

Medical professionals trained in the US Sailing Functional Classification System (FCS) are eligible to become classifiers.

The purpose of classifying disabled athletes is to “level the playing field” and rank persons with disabilities on their function and performance of sailing tasks.

The US Sailing Functional Classification System measures the sailor’s ability in order to:

  • ensure equitable competition at all levels for sailors of varied levels of ability
  • encourage crews of mixed ability to compete together and complement each other
  • quantify functional limitations caused only by physical disability

US Sailing classifications are valid for an Olympic quadrennium (currently 2017-2020). The Master Classification List (MCL) contains the names, class and status of athletes who have been classified. There is no fee for listing a competitor on the MCL.

Classification is required for all US Sailing Team qualifiers and the US Para Sailing Championship. Classification is strongly suggested for all other U.S. disabled sailors.

Personal Attributes of Race Officials

Because race officials play an important role in ensuring the fairness and quality of competition, racing sailors and US Sailing expect a high level of personal integrity and judicial temperament of certified race officials. To learn more about standards of personal conduct for race officials and how they are evaluated, please click on the button below.


What is Classification?

Adaptive Sailing

Adaptive sailing refers to programs that provide unrestricted access to the water and experiential sailing for persons with disabilities.  More information about these programs may be found on the Adaptive Sailing website.


Classification assesses the function of disabled sailors in order to quantify their level of disability, ranging from 1 (Severely Disabled) to 7 (Minimally Disabled). It also establishes their eligibility to compete in major events that determine championships and placement on the U.S. Paralympic Sailing Team for the three Paralympic keelboat classes (2.4mR, SKUD 18 and Sonar).

Functional classification provides an equitable means of quantifying a person’s ability to participate in a sport. The criteria in the US Sailing Functional Classification System (FCS) and Procedures Manual are based on the functions required to compete in sailing events, and may differ from those required for other sports or for the activities of daily living.

The main functions of sailing have been identified as:

  • Ability to compensate for the movement of the boat (stability)
  • Ability to operate the control lines and the tiller (hand function)
  • Ability to move about in the boat (mobility)
  • Ability to see while racing (vision)

These functions have been further refined to test:

  • Steering
  • Sheeting
  • Cleating
  • Transferring
  • Hiking

The level of disability assigned to the sailor is used to determine the athlete’s eligibility to compete in the three Paralympic classes:

  • One person keelboat – 2.4mR (up to 7 points)
  • Two person keelboat – SKUD 18 (M/F crew, skipper level 1 or 2, crew up to 7)
  • Three person keelboat – Sonar (total of 14 points)

The FCS Manual has no criteria for assessing some categories of impairment, so classifiers cannot evaluate sailors with:

  • Minimal physical impairment of the hands or feet (due to osteoarthritis, e.g.) that may not be significant enough to functionally impair a sailor
  • Functional impairments due to pain, obesity or hearing loss
  • Disabilities resulting from emotional or intellectual impairment

Individuals with these impairments cannot be classified and are not eligible to compete in US Sailing Championships or US Sailing Team qualifying events.

Disabled Sailing Organizing Authorities and Event Planners

If you intend to offer Classification at your Regatta, please contact the US Sailing Classifiers Committee as early as possible to facilitate scheduling and logistics. Please review the “Event Requirements for Classifiers” section C2.4 of theUS Disabled Sailing Functional Classification System and Procedures Manual 2013-2016

International Association for Disabled Sailing (IFDS)

The International Association for Disabled Sailing (IFDS) is responsible for promoting and supporting disabled sailing around the world. US Sailing is a member of IFDS. International Classifiers conduct classification of sailors at international events to determine their international rating and maintain current ratings of sailors on the World Sailing website. The IFDS Classification Committee maintains the Functional Classification System and updates it every four years. IFDS charges a €50 fee for classification once every Olympic quadrennium.

Functional Classification System

The system that guides the Classification program worldwide is managed by the International Association for Disabled Sailing (IFDS).

US Sailing is the National sailing authority for the USA. It is responsible for the day-to-day administration of sailing, including disabled sailing, in the United States. The U.S. Classifiers Committee is responsible for taking care of the classification needs of the sailors and the requests by Organizing Authorities in the U.S. for conducting classification at events. The U.S. Classifiers conduct classification assessments of sailors to determine their NATIONAL rating, and maintain an up-to-date database with current ratings of sailors posted on the US Sailing website (the Master List). This database also includes contact information for sailors to contact sailors. For these services, there is a $50 administrative fee that is charged to the sailor once every Paralympic Quadrennium (each four year Olympic period).

IFDS is responsible for promoting and supporting disabled sailing around the world.

US Sailing is a member of IFDS. The International Classifiers for IFDS conduct classification assessments of sailors at International events to determine their INTERNATIONAL rating, and maintain an up-to-date database with current ratings of sailors posted on the World Sailing website. The IFDS Classification Committee is responsible for updating and maintaining the Functional Classification System that provides rules and guidelines for quantifying anatomical and functional sailing ability. It is revised and updated every four years. For these services, there is a 50 Euro fee that is charged to the sailor once every Paralympic Quadrennium (each four year Olympic period).

The US Sailing Classifier Committee based The US Sailing Functional Classification System and Procedures Manual on the IFDS FCS 2013-2016 manual. The US Sailing document guides the Classification Process and is the basis for Classifier Training and Certification.

IFDS Classification Information | IFDS Functional Classification System and Procedures Manual 2013 – 2016

Classification Forms and Documents

US Sailing Status Categories

Status National/Review (NR) – Official class and status assigned by a US Sailing Classification Panel. Athlete status reviewed at all events where classification is offered during the current Paralympic quadrennium. There is no additional administrative fee for these reviews.

Status National/Confirmed (NC) – Official class and status assigned by a US Sailing Classification Panel. Athlete must present to a Classification Panel for review if disability status has changed. If no change in disability has occurred, the athlete’s status is accepted without review during the current Paralympic quadrennium.

US Sailing National Classification

Status NR and Status NC – To compete in U.S. Disabled Sailing Team qualifying and US Sailing sanctioned Disabled Sailing Championship events in the USA, you must have a current US Sailing Certified National Classification and you must be listed or in the process of being listed on the US Disabled Sailing Master Classification List.

The US Sailing Functional Classification System Manual 2013 – 2016 is used by US Sailing National Classifiers to determine and assign class and status to athletes who register for disabled sailing events. The sailor should read the entire assessment portion of this manual so he/she gains a deeper understanding of the classification process and what to expect during classification prior to a US Sailing sanctioned disabled sailing event.

American Sailor Information Forms

The Appendix A2 of the US Sailing FCS Manual is for those individuals who are applying to be classified for the first time or have had an earlier classification which is to be reviewed. Completion of these forms (“Sailor Information” sections) will facilitate the classification process.

Master Classification List Administration Fee

There is no charge for the Functional Assessment provided by US Sailing National Classifiers. US Sailing charges a one-time per Paralympic Quadrennium Master List Administration Fee of $50. This fee will be paid during registration for classification.

Blind and/or Visually Impaired

Download, complete and submit the Appendix VI Classification Consent and medical information form to the U.S. Paralympic Committee. The athlete and medical provider must complete this form which is then submitted to USP for review and approval of Blind rating (B1, B2, B3). The USP then authorizes the US Sailing Classifier Committee to assign eligibility based on the points designating each Class (B1= 3; B2 = 5, B3 = 7). Note: some B3s are ineligible for the Three-Person Keel Boat format (Sonar).  The USP may deem these Class ratings “Status C” (confirmed). If not, the US Sailing Classifier Committee shall assign “Status R” (Review). Disabled sailors without an official US Sailing Certified Class and Status participating in sanctioned “Open” events with able-bodied sailors should be scored with the able bodied sailors.

International Classification

To compete in International disabled sailing events that are an IFDS Level 1 or 2 (i.e., a World Championship event or Paralympic Games), you must have an International Classification Passport. International classification is offered at major IFDS Disabled Sailing Events. Following International Classification, the sailor’s Class and Status are entered into the IFDS Disabled Sailing Master List. The administrative cost, paid directly to IFDS for this listing and the International Passport is €50. For more information, visit the IFDS Competition & Ranking page.

Classifier Training and Certification

Physicians, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists and other allied health care professionals with a knowledge of sailing and training in the US Sailing Functional Classification System are eligible to become classifiers. Although the need is great, there are very few US Sailing Certified National Classifiers. US Sailing must build a team of Certified National Classifiers to serve this need and expand access to disabled sailing.

Presently, the U.S. has a relatively small number of disabled athletes participating in our sport. Given its population, the number of Americans with disabilities and the participation rates of other industrialized countries, the United States could have nearly 1,000 athletes participating. US Sailing has fewer than 100 Classified disabled sailors. We believe if we build it, they will come. We need your help.

If you are a member of US Sailing, have racing experience, have a medical background, are interested in giving something back to the sport you love and want to help the disabled, please consider becoming a US Sailing Classifier and contact a member of the Classifiers Committee.  Training opportunities may be reviewed on the Classifier Training Seminars calendar.

For detailed information about Training and Certification please refer to Part C, Section C1 of the US Sailing Functional Classification System Manual. The US Sailing FCS is based on the IFDS Functional Classification System and Procedures Manual 2013 2016, adapted for use in America. You may review all the IFDS documents on their web site:

There is a path to becoming an International IFDS Classifier defined in these IFDS documents. The first step is to become a Certified US Sailing Classifier.

Classifier Committee

The  Classifiers Committee administers the Classifiers Program, which provides functional assessments to establish the Class and Status for disabled athletes. The Classification Committee appoints US Sailing Classifiers, delivers services and education throughout the U.S. and recommends the appointment of International Classifiers.

If you need more information, feel free to contact any member of the US Sailing Classifier Committee.