Here are a few questions and answers about the new FIE rules in regards to masks.
All new masks sold by Leon Paul are compliant with the FIE rule changes that will come into effect next season in Septembre 2018.
Why are the FIE changing the rules for all FIE masks?
Over the past 6 years, the number of masks, made by all fencing manufactures, falling off during competition has increased.
Why do masks fall off?
This is very complex and the issues include but are not limited to; poor fitting masks, bad quality hook and loop fastener (Velcro®), old worn masks and a change in the style of fencing. The biggest contributor to masks falling off was Velcro failing.
Here are some example of the studies Leon Paul did for the FIE and the fencing community.
What is changing on the FIE masks?
The FIE and Leon Paul worked together to study the issue and come up with a way to test and analyse the problem, this resulted in the mask strain tester below:
Many designs and solutions to try to prevent this issue were submitted and tested with over 50 fencers from around the world. Each manufacturer then selected a solution that was assessed by the FIE. It is almost impossible to prevent the issue completely because if a person with a very small head uses an extra large mask then it will always be possible to have the mask fall off and user error is very difficult to avoid. You could, if desired, lock the mask to the head but this might cause problems if a medical emergency occurred and the mask needed to be removed quickly. Therefore, improvements needed to be made that were realistic but also didn't add too much cost but still feel comfortable and do not exacerbate the aforementioned issues.
What has changed on a Leon Paul mask?
We made a whole host of improvements in 2013 such as adding double locking Velcro, increasing the length of the metal tongue, lowering the backstrap and changing some of the padding. For the latest improvements, the only change is having metal loops to hold the back strap in place and using a Stretch Velcro® band with a special non-hair catching Velcro® fastener.
This system can be retrofitted at events if needed, we will aim to have agents in our bigger markets and at some events who will have the training and equipment needed to retrofit the new system. The System is very adjustable to fit a range of sizes and I feel that this is a good improvement over the previous system.
The FIE have released a timeline for the changes. The new styles and systems and the new rules:
Mask technical specifications
To sum up, from September 2018, for FIE sanctioned competitions, masks that fit the above requirements will be needed. At the 2018 Junior and Cadet World Championships in April masks that meet the new FIE requirements will be needed. Leon Paul will have a stand at the event and hope to be able to retrofit the new system to Leon Paul masks. At the World Championships in China masks will be needed that fit the new requirements.
How much will an update cost?
Depending on the manufacturer each company will have a different price and policy for retrofitting.
Retrofitting old Leon Paul masks with the new FIE system £18, the backstrap can be bought separately.
Currently, as of 13/12/2017, only Leon Paul's main office in London can update masks.
DO I NEED TO CHANGE?
For the UK, USA, France and countries that do not follow all FIE regulations, you only need to update if you compete at FIE competitions or are going to the World Championships this season.
Germany, Italy and other countries that follow the FIE rules for domestic events you will need to check with your federation.
Is my Leon Paul FIE mask fitted with the new system or the old?
If your mask has metal loops attached to the sides of each mask then it is the new FIE system. See the image below.
Spring Case fitting system
A traditional mask designed in the 1920s and still the most common type of fencing mask. A metal tongue is bent to hold the head in the mask and protect the back of the head from being hit. Then in the 1970’s Leon Paul added an elastic back strap for the sole purpose of stopping masks falling off when the metal tongue was not bent correctly. This was the first FIE approved mask and subsequently, all traditional style masks were forced to add the elastic horizontal back strap.
This is the horizontal band of elastic that is supposed to sit under the occipital bone (bulge on the head) to prevent the mask falling off. This can be velcroed on either side of the mask or fixed with rivets.
Contour Fit Mask
This is a Leon Paul design of mask that replaced the metal tongue at the back of the mask with a plastic disk, shaped like the back of the head. It is lighter and many say more comfortable than the metal spring case. It is an FIE approved design from the year 2000.
Second Strap or Magnetic Lock
During the 2012 Olympics, the Leon Paul Backstrap was replaced by a non-Leon Paul back strap to allow the wireless scoring system used. The hook and loop (Velcro®) that attached the back strap to the side of the mask failed and the mask came off. After this, Leon Paul worked with the FIE to make a second security system on our Contour fit masks so that if the hook and loop (Velcro®) failed, the mask could still not come off. This strap is locked using magnets and sits low on the head.
FIE Approved and SEMI commission
The FIE are the governing body of Fencing. Like FIFA for Football. They make rules and regulations for the sport. To fence at an FIE competition which can count towards World ranking, you need to use equipment approved by the FIE. The group in the FIE that write the rules for equipment in Fencing is the SEMI commission, a group of fencers, scientist, and experts in fencing and technology.