Thursday, 12 June 2008

Abandoning a Match Race - ISAF Policy

Each day I check the Documents & Rules list on the ISAF site to see if anything new appears. For several days it has been very quit, but today something new appeared.
Well, not exactly new, a policy document from February 2005 about Abandoning a Match Race - in Light or shifting winds. With an effective date of 2008-06-01?

The criteria in this document have been used in match race events I've been attending and are therefore certainly not new.
This is what the document states:

Version 1.0; 27 February 2005
Abandoning a Match Race – Light or shifting winds
In match racing there is normally not an overall time limit for a race. This is because the last thing you want to do is to have to abandon a race that is a bit too long and then find you have no time to run another one. This means that when deciding whether to abandon a match race due to insufficient wind, there is no absolute measure. There are two different approaches to this problem. Both approaches should be seen as an extension of match race call MR 27 that gives other criteria for abandoning.

Approach 1. Focus on Consistency
A match race should be abandoned when:
(a) At the preparatory signal, either boat does not make enough progress to be able to fulfill the entry requirements,
(b) In the pre-start, boats are unable to circle and maintain steerage,
(c) On the first beat, either boat sails into the two-length zone around the windward mark without tacking after starting, or
(d) Neither boat makes significant progress for two minutes.

The decision to abandon must be irrespective of the position of the match at the time. Even if one boat is ahead and the other has an outstanding penalty, the match must be abandoned if one of the above criteria is met. Otherwise the decision becomes; if Yellow wins the race will stand, but if Blue catches up we will abandon. The aim of the criteria is to reduce judgement in favour of consistency, and competitors have difficulties understanding that one match is abandoned while another match in the same conditions is not.

Approach 2. Focus on Judgement
The decision to abandon is solely the responsibility of the race committee; the umpires can suggest or recommend, but not decide. For the race committee, the criteria above are guidelines, and not directives or hard and fast rules. They must use discretion in the application of the criteria. Abandonment must always reflect the fairness of the competition, so the longer a race continues, the less fair it is to abandon. Therefore, some of the criteria above are changing importance throughout a race. Criteria (d) is more applicable in the pre-start and on the first leg. It becomes less and less applicable on each succeeding leg.

Calpe (ESP)

I have acouple off questions regarding this document:
Firstly: What is it? How should we treat a 'policy document'?
  • It's not a rule- unless it's mentioned in the SI or NoR as a document governing an event.
  • It's not a Call, although the wording suggest it is an extension of one (MR 27)
  • It's not a Q&A,
  • It's not a Rapid Response call,
Is there no other recourse then to treat it as a policy suggestion, to be discussed at the first umpire meeting?
But it's the RC which decides if a match is abandoned. So is it a policy advice to them?

Secondly: Who wrote this?
Racing Rules Committee? IUSC? Rapid response Match Race Call Team? ROC? WHO?
(also: written in 2005, but effective from July 2008? and still version 1?)

With all due respect for the author, I think ISAF should be more precise in how we as umpires and race officers, should treat documents like this. Give it a place in the existing structure by making it a call or Q&A or whatever. But something we can deal with. I know sailors will regard this as a fixed guideline and will expect Match Race abandonments will be done according to this policy, and perhaps rightly so.
But at the moment I would categorize this document as being "In Limbo" and every event will have to determine if they will abandon a Match Race with these criteria or not.

What is your opinion?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jos,

    The document was part of the IU Library since 2005 but disappeared for whatever reason during the transition of the website. We published this document again in the IU Library where umpires, race officers and sailors can find it.

    The effective date is computer generated and has no relevance for this document.

    ISAF documents:
    A policy document is document in which ISAF (or one of its Committees/Sub-Committees) provides guidelines how to handle a specific situation. There are similar documents in the IU library, e.g. Damage Policy.
    The Q&A Panel is a service provided by the Race Officials Committee to answer questions for ISAF race officials. This panel must follow the relevant regulations and the procedures. You can ask the panel what to do if something happened and the panel should provide you an answer within the racing rules - but they won't give you guidelines for the decision to abandon a match race. The same with the Rapid Response Calls - they shall only confirm or reject a specific call, nothing more.

    David restructured the IU library quite recently and I do believe this will help to find the right papers right a the beginning of an event.

    Effective date is something which should only apply for class rules changes etc - when the class decided that a rules change will apply from 1 Aug 2008 on, that's the effective date. I didn't manage to hide the effective date for my postings.

    Helmut Czasny-Bonomo
    ISAF Competitions Department


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