Mainsail flotation

I noticed on the cover of the new Scots n Water that the scots all had mainsail flotation on them. Is this legal to race? How does the flotation device effect the sail's properties?

The boats on the cover are all from Fleet 184, Hunterdon Sail Club, in NJ. At our Lake Nockamixon, in PA, several of our regulars use the flotation and it doesn't seem to make much, if any, difference in speed. We race with these guys from Hunterdon regularly and nobody seems to be slowing down due to the flotation.

Sailing the boat well makes a world of difference, much more than any negligible difference that the float could make.

It does seem to make the boat resistant to turtling, thus easier to self-rescue. It is still possible to sink the mast tip, if the wind is blowing really hard on the hull, as a Scot sits really high in the water on it's side. The mast tip will sink more slowly, if at all.

It is legal for racing, and it if gives you that extra edge of confidence, then go for it. By the way, the swim ladder adds a few pounds, but makes scrambling back into the boat after a capsize easier. Many of the boats are our lake have both.

Phil Scheetz
FS 4086

I'm considering Scots for a college Phys Ed instructional program.  Specifically, what seems to be the best mast float to buy and use?  I have heard about one that goes up the mast track above the main, which would allow the float to be used only when it's blowing.  When the Scot turtles, do you have issues with the centerboard retracting into the trunk making righting more difficult?
John Brady
Dartmouth College

The float can be purchased from Flying Scot Inc.  It goes up with the main, and the halyard shackle holds it in place.
The centerboard can retract abruptly, but a bigger impediment to righting is that the boat will be swamped if turtled.  When you bring it back up it will contain hundreds of gallons of water.  Lots of bailing.  
Thus the float dramatically improves the self rescue capability of a Scot.  
If you arequick and nimble you can right a Scot without the float before the mast sinks.  The float gives you a LOT more time to get it back up and makes it very hard to turtle.
Keep in mind that the class rules require a flotation bag in the bow, and a transome port.  The bow bag is meant to keep the bow up, so you can bail.  The port allows water to drain if you are being towed by a resue boat.

There are two great videos on YouTube demonstrating the recovery of a Scot.  The first is from North Carolina Community Sailing and show the recovery techique with the masthead float without turtling:
The second is from DCsail and shows (1) how quickly a Scot can turtle without the masthead float, and (2) some of what is involved in recovering a turtled Scot:
Capsizing without turtling is a minor inconvenience.  Capsizing and turtling involves several hours of work and likely some repair $s.