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Additional Information on Chest Protection for Summer Nationals

05/29/2018, 6:15pm CDT
By Devin Donnelly

As you may know, the USA Fencing Board of Directors has approved a recent rule change to the requirements for chest protection in foil–specifically, that protectors be covered with a soft material in a manner specified in the material rules. This rule applies to all selection events in foil at the 2018 Summer Nationals. Recently some fencers have asked how this rule change applies to older forms of chest protection, such as the individual protectors colloquially referred to as ‘hubcaps’.

This question has been thoroughly discussed by both the Referees’ Commission and the US SEMI Commission, who have jointly reached the following conclusions:

1) The rule in m.25.3 that chest protection for foil fencers must be covered by a soft material applies to all chest protection, regardless of style. The soft material addresses issues of competitive balance caused by the foil requirements for tip debounce, and as such, there will be no exceptions.

2) The RC and US SEMI are aware that manufacturers might not offer older-style “hubcap” protectors that conform to the rules. Therefore, we have decided to allow fencers to retrofit their existing protectors to bring them into compliance with the rules–that is, by attaching the required soft material to the protector. These retrofitted protectors are not required to have the manufacturer/FIE mark, but retrofitted protectors must be inspected at equipment check to ensure that they comply with the rules. Once inspected, the technician will apply the competition’s inspection mark.

3) Some fencers have indicated that they wear their chest protection in such a way as to make a referee’s inspection potentially invasive. For these fencers, the inspection technicians can issue the fencer an external marker (such as a card or token) that indicates their chest protection has passed inspection. The fencer may present this marker to the referee in lieu of showing the actual inspection mark on the protector itself, if the protector is worn in such a way as to make inspection invasive. The referee may ask the fencer to demonstrate, as unobtrusively as possible, that the inspected protection is indeed present under their conductive jacket/fencing jacket/plastron (e.g by asking the fencer to “knock” the protection to make an audible noise).

The Referees’ Commission has debated this issue at length, and we feel we’ve reached the best conclusion we can. A lot of factors have affected this decision, and we have striven to reach a conclusion that is as accommodating and inclusive as possible to fencer’s needs for protection, safety, and ability to participate while still addressing technical and competitive balance issues caused by unpadded chest protection.

Tag(s): Rules Blog