Monday, 1 December 2008

LTW Readers Q&A | 16; Penalty acknowledgment

Today's Q&A was send in by Luigi:

We are in a Match Race. Yellow is ahead with an outstanding penalty at the windward mark on port, Blue is very close to Yellow on starboard.
At the windward mark Blue infringed a rule but went out of the zone, leaving the mark, ahead. The umpire signaled a Blue penalty with a Red flag. In the mean time Yellow sailed to the left side of the course (looking downwind) more or less abeam of the Ump rib. The Umps are looking at the Blue boat taking a penalty and they decide that Blue is still ahead after having taken her penalty. They give another Blue penalty with a Red flag.

During this time Yellow decided to clear her penalty and she did her turn but without any acknowledgment (whistle or flag) from the Umpires (the didn't see her take the penalty).

The Umpires give another (third) penalty, again Blue+Red to the Blue boat, because she's still ahead after having taken her second turn. After that Yellow is ahead of Blue and both run to the finishing line. Blue in a position one length astern of Yellow.

The Umps realize Yellow cleared her penalty at 4 to 5 boat lengths to the finishing line and they lower the Yellow flag (which was still on the pole) without any sound. Blue see Yellow cross the finishing line without clearing her penalty and, looking at the umpire rib, see there is no Yellow flag on the pole anymore.

Blue request redress by raising her Red Flag.

During the hearing Blue said she was waiting for the penalty of Yellow without interfering because Blue didn't need to do anything else for winning.

The delayed time for lowering the Yellow penalty flag on the umpire boat and the absence of any sound signal were instrumental in this tactic. If Blue had known there was no longer an outstanding penalty for Yellow, she wouldn't have waited until the finish to do something.

Blue is asking for a re-sail of the match. What is your decision?

On a personal note: I'm back home; safe and sound, but have a tale to tell about the conclusion of my Italian adventure, which I hope to post in a couple of days...



  1. C7.4 (c) makes it clear that the umpire's display of flags does not change the number of penalties outstanding. The failure of the umpires to remove a flag does not mean that a penalty is outstanding.

    Everything else is either assumption (blue assuming that yellow had not taken a penalty) or blunder (umpires continuing to give red flag penalties believing yellow to have not taken a penalty). Assumption includes fault ('through no fault of their own' in redress), and blunder of the umpire is final (C9.1). Sad, but no redress.

  2. Firstly I am intrigued: how can Yellow on port be very close ahead of Blue on starboard at the windward mark, then end up with B in such a controlling position that it takes three red flag penalties to put it right?

    But to come to thee meat of the problem.

    Umpires are required to sound-signal an uncompleted penalty (rule C7.4(b) last sentance), but although a signal is provided in rule C5.5, umpires are not required to sound-signal when a penalty is completed or a penalty flag or shape is removed (rule C7.4(c). no sentance corresponding to last sentance of rule C7.4(b) in rule 7.4(c)).

    There is no improper action by the Umpires.

    In any case, B's request for redress is 'invalid' because rule C9.1 states 'There shall be no request for redress ... from a decision made under rule ... C7 ... . The umpires' decision that Y had taken a penalty, and the action in removing the flag or shape was made under rule 7.4(c). So B is not even entitled to request redress, much less be given it.

    The RC may not request redress for B under rule 60.2(b), and the PC may may not consider redress for B under rule 60.3(b), because rule C9.3 provides that 'no proceedings of any kind may be taken in relation to any action or non-action by the umpires except as as permitted in rule C9.2 (about improper actions by official boats).

    The result stands UNLESS, the RC, after considering the consequences for B and Y, abandons the match under rule 32.1.


  3. Well,.. I'm a bit surprised...
    None of you thought the delayed downing of the flag and the total absence of a sound signal (by the way: C5.5 state "One short sound means ‘A penalty is now completed.’" so.. is the SOUND the crucial point) could conditioned the tactic of the trailing boat?
    Also C9.x talks about "action". No sound and no downing the flag is an "action" or a "no action"?
    And the 2nd par of C9.2 is talking about "interfering"; it's only if we knock a boat with the rib or also inferering in the decision, in the tactic,..?

  4. Hi Luigi,

    I'm sure we all think that what Paul has described as a 'blunder' by the umpires probably did affect the tactics of Blue (although after the umpires have gone to the trouble of three red flag penalties to put Yellow in control, maybe there was not much Blue could have done?)

    What we're saying is that umpire 'blunders', even if they cost a competitor a match, are protected by rule 9, and can't be fixed by a redress.


  5. Leave the result as it is you cannot give redress.

    If there can be no redress MR2 MR 19 there can be no redress here.

    There should be no abandonment see MR27.

    Mike B


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