They really are not new, a shape is added to the center of the existing flags so they can be distinguished in low light, when backlight by the sun, or in other situations where the color would be difficult to see. WHY? I had one competitor late for a start because they did not see a brown class flag. I was PRO at the time and I can assure you a brown flag was flown and I checked our inventory that day and we did not have a red flag aboard. A second competitor agreed it was red, however they did start on time. I asked if we have any color blind sailors and was told yes.
In my days driving submarines, I was trained to look at flags in shades of grey. Typically we don’t put the scope up in broad daylight, so I learned to look at flags in grey tones. I did that exercise with the PHRF class flags and learned that the Spinnaker, Non-Spinnaker, and yes a red flag are dark grey. The multihull and Cruising flags are light grey. The grey shadings are so close that in difficult light they could not be easily distinguished. If you look at all the other flags used, they have distinctive shapes that allow them to be distinguished in poor lighting. I meet with a few of the PRO’s to brainstorm how to make flags easy to identify and the following shapes were added to the flags.
For Spinnaker which had been solid purple, a white triangle is added. The triangle looks like a spinnaker so it should not be a surprise.
For Non-Spinn, the problem flag, it had been solid brown. A bold white X is added to the center for NON.
For Cruising which had been solid light blue, after much brainstorming, we agreed upon a black block C.
For multihull which had been solid pink, we added a black equal sign for the two plus hulls.
These should now be easily distinguishable from each other and not confused with the solid color flags in use. Those flags are Q flag (solid yellow), the starting/finishing line flag (orange) the change course to port flag (red), the RC is on station to finish flag (Blue), and the early starting penalty flag (black) to name a few. Of these the only two the Squadron uses are the start/finish (orange) flag and the blue flag on a mark/finish boat to tell you it’s anchored and ready to finish boats. This is borrowed from the RC flag which has a blue background.