I went to a sabre tourney in Ohio today and had an interesting issue occur, both with the same ref, about the legality of cross-straps on masks. PS, if YOU are the ref in question (or the head ref, for that matter), no worries here, dude. I am not complaining here about what you did nor trying to misrepresent you; I only want a definitive answer.
He ruled that the cross straps on my mask were illegal in both pools and DE's. A horrible MSPaint drawing of my mask is attached, but it's a Blue Gauntlet sabre mask with two crossing straps from the top to opposite middle, forming an 'X,' and a single horizontal middle one.
For pools, since I didn't have a rule book on hand and didn't want to be ornery, I removed the two straps that formed the 'X,' leaving the horizontal one.
This was not desirable as it not fit very loosely on my head. When pools ended, I went to call a good friend and rated ref on the subject. He said my mask was good and texted the rule back to me with citation, quoted below.
The mask must contain a horizontal safety strap at the rear of the mask, with the two ends of the strap firmly affixed to the two sides of the mask. This strap may be elastic or of any other material that may be approved by the S.E.M.I. Commission.
Redoing my mask with the cross strap, I went to my first DE bout, with the same ref. Again informed that this was illegal and I appealed (risking a red card for removing a yellow was a trade I was willing to make for my mask to fit comfortably).
Head ref was summoned and explained to me two things:
1) Only one horizontal strap across the back of the mask is allowed, according to the text of the rules, BUT
2) If the mask bears an official inspection mark, the ref must accept it as is (it was).
So, now the only reason my mask was allowed was, following from the head ref's pronouncement, the armorer did not check it properly. This unfortunately leaves me with a quandary in all future tournaments. So, does anybody here know of the current USFA legality of cross-straps? Is this just a misapplied rule or is this how the high-level referees and armorers interpreting this rule?
Pictured below is my crappy MSPaint drawing, the key is:
Gray = Mask (1 total)
Red = velcro the starps attach to (4 total)
Blue = the elastic straps (3 total)
Yellow = the tongue (1 total)