Monday, 10 November 2008

LTW Readers Q&A | 13

Received another rules question about sailing the course, this time from Luigi Cuccotti, IRO from Italy.

In his E-mail he writes: I have a Q&A to submit which I’m sending in the attachment. The facts are true, but in this race I was a competitor, not the chairman of the race committee. Thanks a lot for your kind attention.

His Q:


Race for Off Shore boats, with marks. Windward-Leeward course.
The Sailing Instructions establish:

  1. “The change course will be signaled according to rule 33.”
  2. “The boats are obliged to tune in on the official channel VHF 72. The race committee will be listening to boat communications during the race on this channel, and will make radio communications as well, when possible, about the race and, when required, will make changes to sailing instructions under rule 89.2(c) RRS ISAF 2005-2008”


  1. During the second leg (leeward leg) the chairman of the Race Committee said on the radio, on the official channel: “Change next leg, new compass bearing is 125° (the old was 120°) and the length of the leg is 2.2 nautical miles (the old length was 2.0 n.m.).”
  2. The Race Committee chairman didn’t announce any changes to sailing instructions.
  3. Near the leeward mark there was a race committee boat, she displayed only flag “C” and made sound signals.
  4. This boat did not show
    - a board with the new compass bearing or a triangular green flag
    - a board with +
  5. Change of the next leg of the course wasn’t made according to rule 33, as established on the sailing instructions.


Has a boat, who does not round the new mark indicated by radio, but rounds the old mark, sailed the course correctly according to rule 28?


My A:

No, in my opinion the boat has not sailed the correct course. If you apply the string test, it doesn't pass the new mark on the required side.

The change in the sailing instructions was done orally by radio, but that is permitted because the procedure to do so, is stated in the SI (Rule 89.2(c)). Boats are obliged to listen to CHF-channel 72 and the change was announced. She should have rounded the new mark.

However, in order to disqualify this boat, she must first be protested by someone, be it by the RC or another competitor. A boat may not be disqualified without a hearing for breaking rule 28. If the PC decided that the boat did break that rule, she is then entitled to ask for redress, because she will then be DSQ'd and that is a significant worsening of her score.

The boat might be able to get redress, since one of the requirements of rule 62.1 has been met (requirement a).Not showing the compass bearing or a green triangle and a board with a "plus" sign, as written in rule 33, is an omission by the RC.

But the boat must also show there was "no fault of her own". If this boat has heard the radio transmission, that would be very hard to uphold. Because she chose to ignore that message, there is, at least in part, some fault of her own.

Even if she didn't hear the VHF-radio message, the PC must find out why. If there was no good reason to not listen (and that does not include a broken VHF), part of the fault again lies with the boat.

If she just sailed to the old mark because she wanted to show how "wrong" the RC was doing, she is NOT entitled to redress and the DSQ will stand.


What is your opinion?



  1. I disagree with Jos's conclustion that boats are required to round the 'new mark'.

    Rule 27.1 provides that the RC shall designate the course to be sailed, if the SI have not stated the course, not later than the Warning Signal. So the course is fixed at not later than the Warning Signal.

    Rule 33 provides the only way that the RC is permitted to change a leg (and therefore the position of a mark) after the start. It requires specific signals. It is not changed in the SI. The Facts and conclusions state that the course was not changed in accordance with rule 33.

    In my view if the leg of the course is not changed in accordance with rule 33, that is not signalled in accordance with rule 33, then it has not been properly changed at all, and remains as originally designated by the RC before the warning signal. Boats that rounded the 'old' mark sailed the course correctly according to rule 28. Boats that did not round the 'old' mark did not sail the course correctly.

    Jos is absolutely right: no boat can be penalised under rule 28 unless there is a protest and a hearing.

    In my view if the boat rounding the 'old' mark protests boats that did not round that mark, those boats should be DSQ (if the protestor can prove that they did not round the 'old' mark). THEN, those boats have grounds for redress in that they were induced to sail to the 'new' mark by the improper action of the RC.

    As another possibility, the boat that rounded the 'old' mark, if its score was worse than boats rounding the 'new' mark, could seek redress without protesting the other boats. Now PC cannot DSQ the other boats because a PC may not initiate a protest based on information in a redress (rule 60.3(a)). What the PC might do is grant redress by giving the boat(s) that rounded the 'old' mark scores for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and so on in accordance with their order of finishing or corrected times, then give the boats that rounded the 'new' mark points, starting from one more than the last of the 'old' mark boats, again according to their order of finishing or corrected times. Justification is that the 'old' mark boats have had a fair race among themselves, and have sailed the correct course and deserve points for that. The 'new' boats have also had a fair race among themselves, although they did not sail the correct course and should not be awarded better scores than the 'old' mark boats.

    I am afraid that Jos has also been too generous to the RC about the radio transmission. The SI requires that the RC will makd changes to the SI by VHF radio 'under rule 89.2(c)'. Rule 89.2(c) requires that 'changes to the SI shall ... be communicated to each boat before her warning signal'. There is no way that SI can be changed once the warning signal is given.

    Even if the RC did attempt to change the SI before the warning signal, rule 89.2(c) requires that the change be 'communicated to each boat': If the RC was doing this by hail, they would fly Flag L, come within hail, and keep a strict list of each boat that sailed by and received the shouted change. With VHF radio, the RC cannot just broadcast into thin air and hope that boats will hear: analogous to what they would do with the hailing procedure, they should make sure that they obtain a radio acknowledgement from each boat to meet the rule 89.2(c) requirements.


  2. I think the correct course was round the new mark. The signalling of the new course was an improper action by the RC. The question is, has a competitor's score been made significantly worse by it, through no fault of her own.

    I think the competitor was at fault. He should have known there was a change of course because of flag C. He knew of the arrangements for radio transmissions. If he had missed the instructions on the radio, he could have asked.

    I think the RC should protest the boat which rounded the old mark so as to avoid a fudge.

    Some new information might come out in the protest hearing.

    The RC should not be afraid to say 'Sorry'.


  3. Change of course

    I believe the boat has sailed the correct course, and its result stands.
    The other boats then have to be considered for redress.
    The race committee did not change the sailing instructions – Fact found
    The display of “Charlie” was of no effect as under the rule if no flag or + or – was not shown it was of no effect.
    The boat therefore sailing in accordance with the originally posted course must have been correct.
    There is no information as to whether the sailing instructions specified whether there would be a new mark or not and no information as to whether these were fixed marks.
    In the alternative, considering the radio broadcast as a purported change of sailing instructions.
    The broadcast could have been an oral change of instructions, but it
    1. Should have said it was a change of sailing instructions, and specified the change, such as Charlie alone.
    2. Should have required acknowledgment, so the race committee knew all boats had received the broadcast.
    In the absence of either or both then there was in my opinion an improper act or omission, that a request for redress to be founded on.
    The other factors, such as no fault, and the effect on score need to be proven.
    Do not forget the broadcast was completely in line with RRS 33 and no change of instructions could be implied, but a boat would then expect the correct signals or assume no change of course had yet been posted.
    If the race committee say they intended this as a change of SI, then unless the boat, says it understood this, but because it saw an incorrect procedure, went to the old mark regardless, I believe the boat should get redress and be given a finishing position.
    As to the other boats:-
    Here we have:-
    1. A new mark (further away and to one side) but the original mark was still there.
    2. A broadcast of information.
    Here we have to be careful when considering what the improper act or omission may have been.
    Placing the new mark would not seen to fall into this category
    What of the broadcast?
    This was consistent with an impending change, but boats should not have acted upon it unless it was correctly signalled. If they did therefore there was a fault on their part and thus no redress. Preferred by me.
    If we considered the broadcast to be an improper act, and the incomplete Charlie, to be improper and confusing in view of the broadcast (a generous approach) we could then give redress if the other parts of the rule were complied with.
    Here redress would be to give them their finishing position. This could mean two firsts one for those on the correct course and one on the second course. If there was other information as to places available this could be reviewed.

  4. I think Jos’s and Wag’s opinions are reasonable.
    1. VHF 72 is often used in case of calling OCS or changing the leg at our club’s regattas, but not for the official broadcast. It is an only supplementary for the racing signals.
    2. In the SIs, the boat are obliged to tune in on the channel 72.
    3. The RC made an improper action which was “only” not showing the new compass bearing or a green triangle flag and plus sign. But I think the RC’s broadcast was good enough to substitute these improper actions.
    4. Then the new mark rounding is only correct.
    5. However, by my test calculation, the distance from the old mark to the new one is about 500m apart. The distance is not the nearest and then it may not easy for some boats to find the new mark, even if those boats confirm flag C and sounds. If there was good reason to not listen the broadcast, the boat may be entitled to ask for redress. ------ Two consistent marks are the root of the confusion.


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