The iShares cup is a fleet race which is directly judged on the water by umpires. In previous posts I've told you that this is done with the rules written for the Medal Race in Olympic classes: Addendum Q.
There's however a big difference between Olympic classes and these 40 foot catamarans. They still are cats and therefore capable of stalling in light air when they are tacking. It takes some energy to get these big boats moving again. With tight races on a small area and almost no wind, we are discovering that one rule in particular doesn't seem to have a fair outcome. I'm talking about rule 18.3.
In fleet racing the rule state that when a boat completed her tacks within the two-length zone when the other is fetching the mark, the tacked boat shall not cause the other boat to sail above close hauled to avoid her and, shall give room if the other boat becomes overlapped inside her.
There are two problems to this issue:
First of all, with a little speed, the apparent wind angle makes it very easy to make it look like an Extreme 40 is above close hauled. Just don't tighten the gyb and it will back in front straight away. Having to avoid a tacked boat makes it look like that boat breaks rule 18.3, while in fact the boat just luffs up to a close hailed course.
Secondly, a boat several lengths ahead tacking inside the zone, which then somehow gets stalled next to the mark, is thereafter "fair game". Any boat already on the layline coming at her can decide to go for the gab between, the mark and the stalled boat, getting an inside overlap and claiming room. Not being able to do anything, the stalled boat then breaks rule 18.3. Or the approaching boat can luff above close hauled going round at the outside and again the stalled boat breaks rule 18.3.
In the umpire team we discussed a solution for this 'undesired' effect and talked to all the skippers. Because the iShares cup is a "special event" we can ask ISAF to grant permission for changing this part of the rule book and instead use the changed rule 18.3 from appendix C. (the match racing rules)
That would make it not only easier for the sailors but also for us as umpires. And a more fair competition.