Sunday, 7 December 2008

Equipment in normal position?

A decision straight from the rulebook, more specifically from the definition of 'finish';

At the Monsoon cup the winner of the World tour was decided in a Jury decision after a request for redress on who won the match between Peter Gilmour and Sebastien Col. From a post on Valencia Sailing:
Monsoon semi finals leaders focused and on fire

This request for redress was about that one example we all use when we explain about "normal position" in the definition of finish. Whether or not the spinnaker sheets are eased to get to the line earlier...
Here are the pictures:

Gilmour was back on the water for the first match of his semi final battle with Mirsky after winning the final and fifth race in his quarter final battle against Col in controversial circumstances.

Before reading what the Jury decided, you can decide yourself based on the pictures above and the following facts:All the parties accepted that the black spinnaker went over first (Gilmour) and the bow went over afterwards (Col). There wasn’t any contention about the facts.

Who won the match?

This is what the Jury decided:

Jury Chair Bill Edgerton explained the decision to award the final match to Gilmour. “The race committee evidence was that Peter Gilmour’s spinnaker went across first and Sebastien Col’s bow went over first. There is this thing (red: definition finish) about gear in its normal position. Both parties accepted that was the situation on the water. Then it was just a matter of whether the spinnaker was in its normal position or not. When they are reaching at 90 degrees, dropping the kite, that is where the kite would be in a normal manoeuvre.

“All the parties accepted that the spinnaker went over first and the bow went over afterwards. There wasn’t any contention about the facts. It was a question whether the spinnakers would be counted as part of the boat or not, if they deliberately eased the spinnaker to get a finish. They didn’t. They were both in the process of dropping their spinnakers.”

The Jury decision effectively handed Ian Williams the 2008 ISAF World Match Racing Championship trophy.
You can follow the live action on Sail TV



  1. From Alfie.Looking at the photos:-
    1).Looks like there is not a lot of breeze but there is an adverse current and Gilmour is leeward boat. Why drop the spinnaker there?

    2).Having eased the spinnnaker halyard a considerable amount there is no activity on Gilmour's boat to bring the spinnaker on board?

  2. I am puzzled about why you should be dropping a spinnaker before finishing.


  3. If Col had not tried the same move as Gilmour and released his halyard, would the jury decision been different?

  4. A close look at the video shows that the boats sailed past the finishing line and were in fact sailing upwind. This is why they were taking their spinnakers down. Also you can see the bowman pulling the spinnaker in on both boats. Because the spinnakers were being dropped as they went back upwind this would be 'normal' position for this manouver

  5. The photos clearly show the decisive moment of finishing. It is certain that "they were both in the process of dropping their spinnakers.” Then their spinnakers must be in normal position as defined.
    This case taught me a good lesson.

  6. There stand facts on their heads!!! This is never in "normal position". Every finish with spinnaker will be a gamble. The decision is wrong.

  7. To Wolfgang Hofmann;
    I also believed for some time that their spinnakers were never in "normal position".
    Because Dave Perry's book "Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing" shows a remarkable example with an illustration in the definition, Finish.
    But different places, different customs. "Uh huh".........Help!

  8. the decision was wrong!! Sea lawyers.

  9. Gilmour's boat was doing a reaching drop as they are on a reach: dump the halyard and pull on the sheet. This is a normal procedure.

    Col's boat was doing a running drop as they are on a run: dump the guy and ease the halyard. Again a normal procedure.

    Therefore, both sails are in normal position.

  10. This case shows that even a spinnaker drop at the finish can be normal.

    I'm receiving derogatory comments about people involved. Those will not be posted. Please, if you have an opinion, state your reasons and you can have your say...

  11. After reading more about this, I sea, this is a problem of the definition of the word "position".

    I don´t know what the Britannica says, but "position" is a terminus to say something static, and this cannot be a movement - a sail is up or down!

    See RRS 13 head to wind and clouse-hauled is defined as "position" and between you have no rights!

    Wolfgang Hofmann

  12. Maybe ISAF are not so sure about what is normal position? I hear that now ISAF will not answer questions about this. To me normal position is spi hoisted and sheet trimmed. I can not understand the decision of the jury.

  13. @ last anonymus - who said that ISAF will not answer questions about this? If you are interested please send what you like to know to as an Q&A or if you aren't an ISAF race official you might as Jos or another ISAF race official to submit this on your behalf.


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