As of September 1st, 2014 fencers at FIE competitions will need to adhere to the new ruling on fencing masks needing two independent security devices. This was already discussed in the Armory section of the Forums when Alex Paul posted a FAQ on the new mask rule and how it impacts the current masks.

The text of the FIE letter from July 15, 2014:

We wish to inform you that starting from September 1st, 2014, only masks with two independent security devices will be allowed for use at all FIE competitions.

To summarize, the FIE was concerned over some incidents of the fencing mask coming off, or being tilted up and off of the face by a blade action, so mandated that all fencing masks at FIE events need two have two security devices.

The following 2 Types of Masks will be allowed at FIE Competitions:

  1. Traditional fencing mask with the metal back (tongue) and horizontal elastic strap.
  2. Leon Paul Contour Fit Plus mask with horizontal back elastic strap and a horizontal non elastic strap.

If you use the Leon Paul Contour-Fit X-Change masks, then you’ll need to get an upgraded bib to be FIE legal.

Leon Paul has posted a video demonstrating the new design for the Contour-Fit mask:

The video clip of the blade lifting the mask (at about 1:16 in) seems to be the incident referred to from the Women’s Foil event in Tauber in March 2014.

Leon Paul’s new modification is already “in the wild” as it was picked up here at the 2014 World Championships (see the fencer on the right at 1:45 in)

[Editor’s note: Leon Paul is a company that tries to advance design and safety whenever they can. The Contour-fit masks are an extremely safe option. I’ve seen the traditional masks fly off of fencer’s heads during actions and no additional changes have been required of that design. A lot of this has to do with the fencers and their coaches knowing how to properly fit and adjust the fencing mask – take some time to learn how. I also think that user twisterfencing is on to something in his post.]

If you don’t feel like reading the extended discussion, here is the FAQ posted by Alex Paul to the forums:

From 1st September 2014, only masks with two independent security fixings will be allowed for use in FIE competitions.

What does that mean?

Only 2 types of mask fitting will be acceptable at FIE fencing events, a traditional mask with a metal back and horizontal elastic back strap and the Leon Paul Contour Fit Plus mask with horizontal back elastic strap and a horizontal non elastic strap.

I have a Leon Paul Contour Fit FIE mask can I upgrade it to meet the new F.I.E. rules?

If you have an X-Change Leon Paul mask you can upgrade to comply with the new F.I.E. rules by buying a new bib with a second safety strap. For non X-Change Leon Paul Contour-Fit F.I.E. masks it is not possible to upgrade at this time.

Can I use a Leon Paul Contour Fit mask at domestic events if FIE equipment is not required?

Yes, the new requirement is only for events where FIE equipment is mandatory. For example in the UK, USA, France and most other countries you can fence at your club or in domestic competitions with any type of Leon Paul mask.

Is the old Contour Fit system mask safe?

Yes. When you consider that in the 14 years the contour fit mask have been around and with over 60,000 mask sold, not a single injury has been recorded. If a mask has been fitted correctly and the Velcro at the back of the mask is in good condition then there is no difference in risk between the Contour Fit mask and a traditional mask. We have no plans to alter our Contour-Fit non FIE masks.

Why have the F.I.E. updated the rules then?

At F.I.E. events the required levels for safety equipment is greatly increased but this does not mean that equipment below the F.I.E . standard is not safe. An example of this is that at F.I.E. events you are required to use a maraging blade and 800 Newton clothing but in most countries you only need standard blades and 350 Newton clothing. The fencer has the option to minimize any possible risk by using FIE equipment but it is not forced upon them. The F.I.E. have been advised that 2 safety systems is better than one and Leon Paul agree with this and recommend fencers to use F.I.E. equipment wherever possible.

What is the new system and how does it work?

While we could have added a metal spring to the back of the mask to mimic traditional mask design, we feel that the system is heavy, not very effective at securing the mask and restricts air flow. We decided to look outside the current systems and design a solution that allows the Contour Fit Plus mask to remain the lightest on the market while allowing the maximum airflow. The additional safety strap has a revolutionary clip that has been developed for use in extreme sport helmets and is designed to be quick and simple to use with one hand making it ideal for fencing.

Can I buy an X-Change mask with a traditional metal back and elastic strap?

We are starting the process for applying for approval for a X-Change mask with a traditional back strap. This will add 20% to the overall weight of the mask but we would like to offer customers a full range of masks to choose from. We hope to have this on sale by late in 2014.