Sunday, 5 October 2008

Match Race Training TT; uncertainty factor

This weekend I attended a Match Race Training for our National Talent Team. But instead of sailing today we spend the day in a class-room setting, going over cases, rules and tactics, because the wind was blowing to hard to go out on the water. WindGuru predicted a change around noon, but it never panned out.

One of the discussions we had, was about the uncertainty factor of proper course
In the following diagram Blue and Yellow are on the downwind leg of the course to a gate.
Yellow to windward has to keep clear under RRS 11. Blue - having established an overlap to leeward within two boat lengths - may not sail above her proper course under rule 17.1

In position two Yellow calls with Yankee because she wants to go to the SB-end gate mark. The umpires answer with Green.

In position three Yellow again shows the Yankee-flag. She has reached lay line to the P-end gate mark and wants to gybe. Blue should not sail any further and gybe too. Again the umpires signal Green.

Umpires always operate under the basic principle that they will green flag any incident, unless they both are certain a rule has broken. In this incident Blue- the r.o.w. boat - has not yet reached her lay line to the P-end gate mark. Therefore she is not sailing above her proper course and not breaking RRS 17.1.

The uncertainty of the exact lay line will grow depending many factors. The first one is the distance to the gate. The further away, the longer Blue can continue in this position
Only when the gate is very close and there is no doubt that Blue "oversailed", will she get a penalty for breaking rule 17.1

Which gate-mark is going to be used to determine the lay line - even when the SB-end is positioned favorable - is not something umpire are willing to decide.

Knowing all this, what should the answer be from the umpire on Yellow's Yankee in position four?



  1. Penalize Blue.
    Even if they choose to go on the right marck of the gate (looking windward), Blue in cleary over the layline.
    It's up to the umpire to decide if the boats are below or over the layline and in pos.4 they clearly was.

  2. It looks easy in the diagram, but at this distance over a possible lay line I am not sure I could be certain a proper course was not being sailed. I see this as a green.

    A boatlength more and it would be different.

    Mike B

  3. In the diagram it is a foul on the water there are no nice lines marking the layline or 2 boatlengths. I would be hard pressed to give a foul until a boat is well past the layline and ging down wind this is not so clear espcially when a boat can sail from close reach to by the lee.

  4. Juan Manuel Duarte7 October 2008 at 17:08

    This is a very common situation because on the water it´s really hard to see if the boats are below or over the lay-line. I think that the best that the umpires can do in those cases, were is uncertain if the leeward boat is or is not over the lay-line, is delay the decision for just a few seconds. If the leeward boat keeps her course, in a few seconds is going to be clear that she is over the lay-line and then she must be penalized. In the other hand, if in those seconds the leeward boat gibes; the umpires must see the angle that she has to sail to go to the mark; if this angle is more luffed than the usual she must be penalized, if not, umpires must display green and white flag.
    Juan Manuel Duarte


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