On January 3, 2017, AKC is making some changes to the FAST class in order to make the trial day move a little faster. Clubs will have the option to offer one course for all levels, allowing Novice, Open, and Excellent/Master to walk and run together. According to AKC’s official blog for judges, “At the clubs discretion any of 3 levels courses may be combined into one course with embedded Sends (which will allow one course build and walk through for all levels); or may be run as separate courses.”
There are a few rule alterations that go along with this change. For example, Novice dogs will have to do 9-12 weave poles in FAST since those are required in the higher levels. There will be new send distances in Open and Excellent/Master. There will be no tire on any FAST course (that has been the case in the past but was never an official rule). See all the details on the AKC Agility Judges Blog.
Please note that the rule changes do not eliminate the use of the tire in all classes – only FAST.