"IN reality. In a low key event, there is often a BTF official in attendance. The rules are applied, but they are practically adopted. You may hear a voluntary marshal verbally warn you for drafting at a corner, but it won't mean anything. If you are both wearing the same team kit it's suspicious. "
in ANY event which has a BTF event permit there will be a BTF race official - many of them if it's a big champ event. we hate drafting and will penalise offenders - usually aided by moto-officials.
however, just to clarify matters - the drafting zone is 10m in sprint and standard distance events and you have 20secs to make the pass; 12m in middle and long distance and 25 secs for the pass.
drafting is however OK at acute turns, within feed station zones, at the dismount line or for safety reasons (e.g. crash causing a bottleneck) and where the event has neutralised an area on safety grounds.
as a BTF race official (ref), I'd always prefer people enter permitted events as that means I can have a role to play..... however, don't write off all non-BTF permitted events as there are some very good ones out there who have their own comprehensive insurances in place - you just won't get my services at them as I'm not allowed.
ones I know of that are good are run by Fun2Tri - the https://www.uktriathlon.co.uk/ series. many off here have done ones at Stratford, Seaford etc (Seaford was my 1st ever tri) and Vic and Keith run a good ship.
and until this season, all the Castle Series events were non-BTF - but we've brought them on board now.
Aquabike has now become an official event with the ITU I believe. So maybe more will start appearing in future! My knee seems to be improving tho, so for now I'm going to keep including the run ... Always nice to have option though!
the ITU only recognise aquabike over Long Distance (middle distance and up), but the BTF also recognise it over shorter distances (sprint & standard). as yet (unless I've missed the info) there are no championship races for aquabike, but I think that's just a question of time.