A readers Q&A from Joep Straus, who's currently hard at work preparing for the Seminar in Ghent. He's posing a question about an off-shore race.
Place: on the sea , two miles from the harbor. Windward finish, current 1,5 knots in the same direction as the wind.
At the finish line following incident took place: Boat F crossed the finish line laying over port tack, close hauled. Then she tacked to starboard, drifted with the current 25 meters below the finish line. She tacked again and crossed the finish line for a second time. While doing this, she made contact with her hull and rig on the finishing yacht which was situated as the starboard end of the line and had her anchor ball hoisted. There was damage, her boom made scratches on the hull and deck of the finishing vessel. The R.C. members on the finishing vessel had to seek shelter behind the cockpit.
The RC protested boat F. The protest was accepted as valid. The protester and the protestee agreed both about the description of the incident.
Boat F crossed the line and drifted back on the course side.
She then crossed the line again, but fouled the committee boat.
She then sailed off.
Conclusion:Boat F had ceased to race when she fouled the committee boat.
Decision: Protest dismissed.
Rules applicable: Not filled in.
Joep adds as his comment and questions:
The facts and conclusion mentioned above are very understandable. But also RRS 31, which is original mentioned to protect the Yachts which were voluntary marks for a yachts race. We do not like to have damage on the water. See also RRS 14. Also the preamble of part 2 RRS states: When a boat sailing under these rules meets a vessel that is not , (like a finish vessel with anchor ball) she shall comply with the IRPCAS or government Right of Way rules. Only the race - or protest committee is allowed to protest against a breach of the IRPCAS. In this case the RC protested because an anchored yacht with anchor ball should be respected and a sailing vessel should stay clear. Boat F infringed this rule. RRS 64.1.C : If a boat has broken a rule( preamble) when not racing, her penalty shall apply to the race sailed nearest in time to that of the incident.
When reading these rules, was the decision "protest dismissed" correct ? What is your opinion
Looking at the facts found I agree with the conclusion that during the contact boat F was no longer racing according the definition. She crossed the line and finished, then cleared the line. Subsequent collisions or rule infringements that might happen, are when she is no longer racing.
If we look at the preamble of part 2 we can read that the rules in part 2 also apply between boats that have been racing. But only the the rules in Part 2!
The question then becomes: Which rules is boat F breaking?
Boat F made contact with the anchored RC-finish vessel and broke rule 31. Rule 31 is in part 3, not in part 2 and is therefore not covered by the preamble.
Joep also talks about rule 14. In my opinion rule 14 is not applicable. That rule is between a right of way boat and a boat that has to keep clear. Avoiding a RC Boat is not a right of way rule.
Perhaps we have to look at rule 21? "If possible, a boat shall avoid a boat that is anchored". Again - in my opinion - not applicable between a RC-boat and a boat that has to keep clear.
So only rule 31. Rule 31 is not something that can be protested when a boat is no longer racing. It would be like protesting a spectator boat that hits a committee vessel.
The only remedy that I see, is to claim damages under the applicable government right-of-way rules. But it has no bearing on the outcome of the race and no influence on the scoring.
I agree with the PC that this protest should be dismissed.
This all depends on the conclusion that boat F was no longer racing. If the PC would have found as fact that the boat crossed the line for a second time, after correcting an error made at the finish line, she would have been racing and that would change everything.
I've gone trough the case-book trying to find a case that would be applicable, but have not found one. All cases involve a boat that is racing and one that is not. But I am open to other interpretations.
What is your opinion?