Friday, 29 February 2008

Delayed Posting

Because of a post on I'm trying out a new feature in blogging: Delayed posting. I've written this 5 minutes ago and schedule posting for 18:11
See if it appears...

18:13 RIGHT, it works!

Airport Mussolinis

Since becoming an IJ I've been traveling by airplane a lot more than before that. Booking, tickets and stuff like that is not difficult anymore; the Internet provides you with plenty of good search sites, where you can find, compare and price your needs. The difficult bit starts when you are deciding what to pack into your bag. Tillerman from the Proper Course Blog had some experiences with this as a sailor (Airline Paranoia, Tillermans Tiller and Airline Paranoia revisited) Luckily as a judge or umpire, I don't need to bring my tiller-extension.

Like all of us, as a judge I have to deal with people I would
classify as "Airport Mussolinis".
Those hardworking, honest, open and friendly security people who check your bag, pockets, coat, laptop, shoes, belt, ears and underwear for explosive gels.
People you stand hours in line for, to help you;
People who let you pass a portal that beeps and emits other strange noises, whenever someone has the audacity to step trough;
People who confiscate your nail clippers as a terrorist treat;
People who track you down on the airport, because they want you to open your checked baggage for an inflatable life-jacket, and then remove that explosive cylinder containing oxygen, so the plane doesn't blow up;
People who don't smoke, so they don't recognize a travelers ash-tray when they see one and have to ask a supervisor;
People who want to take away your laptop-lock because it's attached to a steel cable and you could strangle the pilot with it, at 10.000 feet;
People who take away your water bottle, because you have to buy them at the airport;

Those people. You know them. You've met them.......
Please stay calm, remember THHGTTG and DON’T PANIC:
The Airport Mussolinis have something new to look for:

Effective January 1, 2008, travelers may no longer pack spare lithium batteries of any kind in checked baggage. Passengers wishing to carry spare lithium batteries for devices such as laptops, cell phone and cameras are now required to pack them in their carry-on baggage with the terminals covered/ insulated or stored in plastic bags. Travelers may check bags that contain batteries, as long as they are installed in electronic devices. Lithium batteries found during the screening process may be removed by the TSA. -

Note to self: pack duct tape in hand bag, with certificate of non-flammability, tension strength below 5 Psi and no electrical conductive properties at all.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

How to time the regatta starting sequence?

The answer is: Autohoot. No, it's not the sound of a Porsche with a cold, encountering a pedestrian. It is the name of a device made by Richard Paul Russell Limited from Lymington, UK. Autohoot automatically controls the sequence of sound signals used to start sailing races.
  • Simplifies starting sailing races
  • Avoids timing errors
  • Compatible with all standard starting sequences
  • User programmable for non-standard sequences and pursuit races.
  • Auto-repeat for successive class starts
Aimed as an aid to race officers, there’s no easier way to start a race, just switch it on and the sequence begins, all subsequent signals will then sound automatically on time. The timing order can be set by the user, it has been designed to be compatible with most international starting methods including the Match Racing 10, [6], 5, 4, [2], 0 and the ISAF 5, 4, 1, 0 sequences. For non-standard sequences there are two user programmable options that are ideal for pursuit race starts.

Additional sound signals for recalls or finishing can be made at any time, just by pressing the separate red hoot button. Two LED’s and an internally sounding beeper warn when the horn will sound and give the race officer notice to prepare for flag changes etc. Accurate and reliable, AutoHoot is constructed from high quality materials suitable for the marine environment. It uses a microprocessor to control the solid-state electronic horn relay. Generally, a low cost car horn can be used, but if a louder signal is required, then AutoHoot can control switch currents up to 20A. An error indication is given if the power is interrupted during the starting sequence. Once AutoHoot is turned on, the starting sequence will repeat, this facilitates successive class starts. If the unit is accidentally left running it will stop sounding the horn after 3hours.

Specially for starts where multiple classes have to be started in a five minute sequence, this device is ideal. Find out more on this extensive website. With detailed specs, instructions and prices. Also Q&A's and comments from club PRO's on its usage.

They ship all over the world! Looks like a very good deal to me!

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

New Judges Seminars in 2008

NEW Judges Seminars in 2008, both in October, one in Belgium (Ghent) and one in Bulgaria (Sofia)

From the ISAF Website; forthcoming ISAF International Seminars & Clinics:
14 May 08 - 16 May 08 Race Management Clinic, Turkey
04 Jun 08 - 08 Jun 08 Umpires Seminar, Poland
17 Oct 08 - 19 Oct 08 Judges Seminar, Bulgaria
24 Oct 08 - 26 Oct 08 Judges Seminar, Belgium

Entry closes for both end of September (30/09 and 21/09)

ISAF Launches Introductory Rules For Racing

UPDATE 28/02/08
Due to overwhelming demand, the Experimental Version 1.01 of the Introductory Rules for Racing has been published on the ISAF website.
The one-page Introductory Rules for Racing, designed as a simple start point to competing on the water, are now available to download from the ISAF Training and Development microsite at (Alternatively click here to download the Introductory Rules.)

From the ISAF website:

Introductory Rules For Racing

In order to help newcomers to sailboat racing, ISAF have produced a one page set of Introductory Rules for Racing complete with some explanatory diagrams.
The aim of the Introductory Rules for Racing is simple; make as it easy as possible for people to start racing. Consequently the Introductory Rules are as basic as possible, although they remain compatible with the principles and fundamental rules in the full ISAF Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS).

Initially the Introductory Rules are experimental and ISAF invites organizations involved in race training to apply to trial the rules and to provide their comments and recommendations on them. It is hoped that the development of these Introductory Rules will progress sufficiently to make them generally available before the end of 2008.

The Introductory Rules are being developed as part of Objective 2 of the ISAF Strategic Plan to encourage new entrants to racing and to ensure the rules are not a barrier to participation. ISAF intend that people of all ages can race using these rules without needing any knowledge of the full RRS.

I've immediately applied for a set, because I think this is a great development. I will translate them asap for use in the youth sailing program of my local club.

Look To Windward Readers Q&A | 1

Because I'm receiving more and more E-mails in which readers of this blog ask me questions, I've decided to answer those in a regular posting series. I'll try to give answers to the best of my ability, but will no doubt come across questions where I need help from other readers. Please don't hesitate to comment. Together we might get it right.

The first one is from Gert Lerno. He's the chairman of the Nosepasa, the North Sea Patin Sailing Association. Find out more about this oldest sailing catamaran, on this site:
He's presenting a situation from their last Race Officer and Jury course, in which a heated discussion ensued. Gert made a TSS-diagram and gave the following evidence and questions:

You can download the TSS-diagram here, and a static picture here (updated)

Yellow protests Blue ( for RRS 13 and 15) at position 4, Blue argues that there was no need for a change of course of Yellow, while Blue was tacking.
CONFLICT 2 : At the mark; Blue protests Yellow at position 6 ( for RRS 18.2 (c) and 18.2 (e)). Yellow's boom touches the mark just after position 6 and protests Blue (RRS 18.3(b))

Questions :
About CONFLICT 1; Does the fact that Yellow changes course means that Blue is not giving her room to keep clear? Is Blue infringing Rule 15?
About CONFLICT 2; Blue enters the two-length-zone on completion of his tack. Is Blue infringing 18.3(b) when Yellow establishes an overlap inside and Blue doesn't give her room at the mark. Which rule is applicable in this situation: 18.2 (a) or 18.3 (b) ? It all depends on the meaning "completes a tack in the two-length-zone" ! Does this mean Blue has to be in the zone before starting his tack, or passes the zone during, or ends in the zone?

In my opinion the problem divides in two separate parts:
Part 1 (involving Conflict 1) and Part 2 (involving Conflict 2).

In this first part rule 18 is not applicable; boats are on a different tack.
If Yellow had to change course before Blue came to a close hauled course, Blue is DSQ for not keeping clear while tacking, RRS 13. If Blue did come to a close hauled course, before Yellow had to respond, she becomes r-o-w boat (RRS 12). If she gave room to Yellow to keep clear, in other words, if Yellow could keep clear in a seaman like manor by bearing away to avoid hitting Blue, Blue has fulfilled her obligations under rule 15. There's nothing in the rulebook stating that "giving room" includes the keep clear boat not to have to change course.
In the diagram I would say Blue has not broken RRS 13 and has not infringed RRS 15.

Part 2 hinges around one fact. Yellow is fetching the mark, that's not an issue. But did Blue complete her tack inside the 2 BL-zone or not?There's no definition of tacking, but we can deduce completion of a tack from rule 13: If that rule switches off, the tack is complete; in other words, when Blue is on a close hailed course, she is no longer keep clear boat under rule 13 and her tack is therefore completed.
The only criteria for the tacking boat in rule 18.3 is completion of the tack. She doesn't have to luff inside the 2 BL-zone, she doesn't have to pass head to wind, inside the zone, only if she is inside the 2 BL-zone before she comes to a close hauled course, rule 18.3 is applicable.

In this diagram Blue reaches the zone before she is close hauled on Starboard. Rule 18.3 is on and therefore rule 18.2 is not. After that Yellow has the protection of rule 18.3 (b). Blue must give her room to round the mark as inside boat. Yellow becomes r-o-w boat in pos 5 but doesn't have to give room because rule 15 is switched off.
Yellow is exonerated for hitting the mark (RRS 3.1) under RRS 64.1(b), because Blue didn't give enough room. DSQ Blue.

What if Blue completed her tack outside the 2 BL zone?
Then rule 18.3 is not applicable, but rule18.2 (c) is! Blue becomes clear ahead boat, reaching the zone first and Yellow clear astern without an overlap. Yellow stays keep clear boat until both boats have passed the mark. She has not entitled to room inside, and because she also hits the mark she will be DSQ'd for breaking rule 18.2(c) and rule 31.1.

If the PC can find enough evidence to determine the crucial fact - completion of the tack by Blue inside or outside the 2 BL-zone - everything else is deduction.

I hope this series of Q&A continues. I only will ask, if you have a question, please state your dilemma, not just ask for the solution.


Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Definitions | 4

On our continuing series about definitions in the Racing Rules of Sailing, today some thoughts about Obstruction;

Obstruction An object that a boat could not pass without changing course substantially, if she were sailing directly towards it and one of her hull lengths from it. An object that can be safely passed on only one side and an area so designated by the sailing instructions are also obstructions. However, a boat racing is not an obstruction to other boats unless they are required to keep clear of her, give her room or, if rule 21 applies, avoid her.

The used wording clearly avoids a fixed dimension in defining an obstruction. Something can be an obstruction for a smaller boat and at the same time, not be an obstruction for a bigger one. The definition is a hypothetical test from a distance of one boat length. Something doesn't cease to be an obstruction, when you are not pointing at it. Also, the course change must be substantial, a few degrees is not enough. This part is clear enough. It gets tricky when another boat becomes an obstruction. This happens more often than most sailors think.

Each time a keep clear boat meets a r-o-w boat the latter is also an obstruction according to the definition. Same for a boat that has to give room, or encounters a boat aground, capsized or helping another. It never becomes an issue, whether the other boat is or isn't an obstruction, because the right of way rules in part two, sections A & B (and D), will govern the outcome of the encounter, without Section C (rule 18 or 19), ever coming into it.

But this changes when there's a three (or more) boat encounter. Rule 18 and 19 may come into play, between two boats, which both have to keep clear from a third r-o-w boat. There are several calls and cases about this.
Sometimes boats can even become a continuing obstruction. This is something I personally always found very strange. Nevertheless, once you understand the reasoning it is at least consistent.
For instance: two boats close hauled with eased sheets waiting to start, are continuing obstructions to a third boat coming from clear astern. If there's room between them, the boat from clear astern can fill the gab and sail between them, but if there isn't enough space, the boat can't force her way in, by establishing an overlap and then claiming the windward boat has to give room and keep clear.
If you compare this situation to the classical shore situation it would be like: the leeward front boat is the shore (unforgiving, cannot go there, have to keep clear) and the windward front boat is the boat you want to pass. (If there's room, can go there, thereafter she has to give me room)

The SI can also define certain areas as obstructions. In my home lake we have a standard sentence defining the - with buoys marked - navigation channel, as an obstruction. Nothing physical prevents boats to go there, but because of safety issues we want them to stay out of the channel. We enforce this too, by protesting boats that are in the channel; otherwise it becomes an empty addition.

Most protests where an obstruction plays a part are related to the shore and rule 19. Because of the uneven shore, it is sometimes hard to get the necessary evidence that there's room to pass at the moment of first overlap. And because of the many different classes sailing together in a given regatta and the related depth issues, the smaller ones have the advantage in that the bigger ones have to stay well away from shore.

Together with hailing protest, rule 19 is the only time mentioned in the RRS a sailor is obliged to communicate verbally with another boat. Approaching an obstruction close hauled or above she may hail for room to tack. She must give the other boat time to respond and shall not hail unless safety requires her to make a substantial course change to avoid the obstruction. I've noticed that sailors think this also is applicable at any other angle approaching an obstruction, for instance on a reach and then wanting to gybe when approaching a shore. This is not so. But because the hailed boat doesn't know what the rules say either, it does succeed half the time .....


Version 2.5D is released

Main changes are:
  • Correct of a problem introduced by 2.5C with manual sail triming
  • Wrong directory for pictures pickup

Go here for the download link

Monday, 25 February 2008

Test on Monday | 2; Answers

Last week I promised to publish the answers for the test from Speed & Smarts.
You can find them here.
If you want to discuss an a particular answer, please leave a comment.

IJ Seminar Study questions

Keeping up the rules test sequence on Mondays, I have the ISAF IJ Seminar Study questions for you today. These questions are used as preparation for participants in ISAF Judges Seminars. No answers are given, candidates have to fill in those themselves and discuss them at the seminar.

I contacted the author and received his permission to publish them. In his E-mail he added: A number of these questions have no absolute answer. They are intended to get a knowledgeable judge to think deeply about a situation, as he or she will have to do at a high level event. ISAF wants candidates to open up their rule books and consult the cases when confronted with questions that have no quick and easy answers. For other questions (like Q4, for example), the answer is relatively easy but the implication provides room for lots of discussion in the seminar.

Yesterday the Seminar in Italy ended and I wanted to wait for that to happen, before I published. I have split the 20 questions in two parts of 10 each. This week part 1: ISAF IJ Seminar Study Questions bp1.pdf

Sunday, 24 February 2008


Yesterday at the Matchrace Winterseries 2007-2008 on the Braassemermeer, we discussed an incident in one of the matches in the debrief.

TSS diagram: UMP_LTW007.TSS
Static image: UMP_LTW007s.gif
Umpire Calls Directory

Match between Blue and Yellow. Green is a boat not racing!
Blue on Starboard and Yellow on Port. Green is not an obstruction because Blue is r-o-w boat, and because C2.9 states that Green shall not interfere if reasonable possible.

Yellow does not keep clear of Blue in pos 2. Blue gybes to avoid contact and protests. Umpires gave a green flag exonerating Yellow.

A couple of questions:
Should Yellow be exonerated or penalized?
Can Green be penalized? And if so, how?
(See also call MR 18)

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Fair play and RRS 2

Last night at a rules-evening I was asked if umpires could penalize for a "schwalbe"?

The word is derived from soccer - voetbal - and is a used to describe a situation where a player falls in an exaggerated manner to emphasize or claim they have been fouled.
The only answer I could come up with at that moment, was to apply rule 2. But then it has to be clearly established that the principles of sportsmanship and fair play have been violated. There's no definition of "fair play" in the rule book.

In the dictionary: Unabridged (v 1.1); fair play: just and honorable treatment, action, or conduct,
and Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary; fair play: honest treatment; an absence of cheating, biased actions etc

Is a Starboard boat "cheating" or "dishonest" when she alters course for a Port boat, who's passing in front, when there's no need for it?
In the discussion I agreed that any Umpire should be aware that this can happen and not penalize the Port boat. But to flag the Starboard boat? Perhaps if it was repeated.....

What is your opinion?

Friday, 22 February 2008

Race Officials Application Procedure For 2008

News from the ISAF website:
Race Officials Application Procedure For 2008

Application forms for ISAF International Race Official status will be available on the ISAF website from the end of March. The application forms will be available on the ISAF Race Officials area at and will need to be completed and returned to ISAF by email.

This year ISAF will also be trialling a new online application system. A random sample of candidates will be identified and asked to help ISAF trial the system by completing their application online, alongside the standard application form.

ISAF will publish a further news story when the application forms for 2008 are uploaded to the website and email all current ISAF Race Officials whose status is due for renewal.

Blog improvement

In improving traffic to this blog, I've been reading up on how to do that. Found sites like, Beautiful Beta and Blogger Buster to get ideas. Some of those I'll definitely try out.

The first one I'm implementing, is to create a table of contents. (there's a new widget top right)
All posts are archived in a more accessible manor by listing them. You can sort them alphabetically by clicking on the header, or by post dates. Clicking on a label will filter out all similarly labeled posts, and back by clicking on the Labels header.

It has taken me half the night to get this tweaked... still want to reduce the font size a bit, but that can wait.... i neeeeed some sleeeeep

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Uncle Al's Miniature College of Racing Rules Knowledge

When you click on this link you will end up on a really extensive website done by a Wayfarer sailer who goes by the name of "Uncle Al". If I go by the number of pages he has put up, he's been doing it for a long time. This rules college is part of the Wayfarer International website. I'm still in the discovery phase and haven't read all his pages, but so far I'm impressed. Particularly interesting is his photo-based rules explanations and photo-based rules quizzes. All rules have an real photo to illustrate and pictures are used to create a question.
This is more difficult than a clear cut diagram, and approaches the real situations you would come across on the water when you are racing. Further on the website he's put up space for outside questions - and all the rules with links to definitions. This site is definitely worth a look!

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

IJ Seminar Italy

Next Friday (22 February) an International Judges Seminar starts in Bari, Italy. I wish all participants interesting days in the classroom and best of luck with the Exam on Sunday. If you have new information on how seminars are conducted or useful insights for future candidates, please drop a comment and share those. Or send me an E-mail.

If you want some fresh cases to look at, because you're sick of reading the case book for the umpteenth time, here is a page with appeal cases:
When I studied for my Seminar I looked at a lot of appeal cases and tried to come up with a decision (actual writing it out) only based on the facts, before reading what the actual verdict was.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Definitions | 3

In our series about definitions the next one in my rulebook is the definition of finish.

Finish A boat finishes when any part of her hull, or crew or equipment in normal position, crosses the finishing line in the direction of the course from the last mark, either for the first time or after taking a penalty under rule 31.2 or 44.2 or, under rule 28.1, after correcting an error made at the finishing line.

In an earlier post I've talked about a situation where a boat crosses the line twice. You can go here and here too refresh you memory.

The definition specifically defines a normal position for anything on board. For instance, if a boat finishing on the run, lets the spinnaker blow forward by easing the sheets and halyard gaining a couple of meters in front, it doesn't finish when that spinnaker crosses the line, but when the bow crosses. Only the bow is then in a "normal" position. Same if a crew member stands on the bow and reaches forward with a hand.
The direction from which side the line is to be crossed is also defined. When a race committee commits an error in putting that line, for instance by choosing the wrong side of a rounding mark when the course is shortened, you have a case for redress if you stick to the course and cross from the wrong side and are not scored. Remember to always make a note about who finishes in front of you and who finishes behind.

You don't have to cross the line completely.(RRS 28.1) You can shoot the line and after crossing with your bow, fall back to clear the line. Once you've done that, you must - if reasonably possible - not interfere with a boat that is racing (RRS 22.1) Rules of Part 2 however, stay in effect (Preamble part 2). If you touch a finishing mark after you have crossed the line but haven't yet cleared it, you must do a penalty round (anywhere, but clear of other boats) return to the course side of the line and cross again (RRS 31.2). Once you've cleared the line and then somehow touch the mark, you don't have to do anything.

It's usually a good idea to record your time when you finish. If you add the time stated in the SI for protests - or two hours if it's not, you have a rough idea on when you have to hand in the protest form.

Two abbreviations in the scoring sheet have to do with finishing: DNF: Did Not Finish and RAF: Retired After Finish. The first is pretty obvious, but is the second? Retiring after Finishing can be done anytime after the race. It can be done right away - don't forget to inform the RC - or in a series, even after a day or longer. It happens most often after a sailor becomes aware he or she has made a error and infringed a rule. If for instance in a protest hearing it becomes clear that there is serious damage, the boat who has broken a rule, should be given the opportunity to retire. I've served in panels where the chairman specifically asked if anyone wished to retire, after all evidence was presented. You run the risk of a DNE (Disqualification not Excludable) if you don't, because in addition to have broken a rule in part two, you then also break rule 44.1.

The race committee can score you, without a hearing, for not finishing only if you don't cross the line according to the definition. They can't give you a DNF if they see you sail the wrong course or touch a finishmark. All they can do is to score you according to your finishing place and then hand in a protest. (RRS A5). If they do score you DNF in that situation, you should request for redress under rule 62.1(a). Because a hearing can only be about the incident described in the form, a PC may not disqualify you for not sailing the course in that redress hearing. You should however consider retiring, because you haven't sailed the course. It may not make any difference in actual points, but is RAF not better then DNF?

Blue flag or shape; This race committee boat is in position at the finishing line.

flag S; The course has been shortened. Rule 32.2 is in effect. If the race committee signals a shortened course (displays flag S with two sounds), the finishing line shall be, (a) at a rounding mark, between the mark and a staff displaying flag S; (b) at a line boats are required to cross at the end of each lap, that line; (c) at a gate, between the gate marks.

Oh, in most races the committee on the finish boat, blows a horn or a whistle when a boat finishes. Be aware that is only a courtesy. Nowhere in the rules it is stated that the RC has to do that. You can still be scored OCS even when when you hear a sound signal on the finishing line.

After this long piece I have a question for you to think about: Just before she crosses the finish line a boat capsizes. Both crew in the water, push the boat - with her masthead in the water - over the line. When does the PC score the boat as finished ?

Monday, 18 February 2008

ISAF MR Damage Policy 2008

New on the ISAF Site the 2008 publication on Damage Policy in Match racing.
This appears to be only a document upgrade, because I can't find any changes in the text.
I've put the file here and added it to the forms list.

Test on Monday

This weeks test is a Golden Oldie. Some of you will no doubt have come across it on the internet or elsewhere.
How well do you know the new 2005-2008 Racing Rules of Sailing? New Rules IQ Test. Made by David Dellenbaugh from Speed & Smarts. It was made just after the rule change in 2005, so no excuses, you have had almost three and a half years to get use to them. I'll post the answers next week.

'Flog the Blog' Day (3)

In Google Analytics I can track the referrals from other sites. In the past three months the list with the first 20 looks like this:
Rising in this list is nr. 11 My posts are displayed in their front page reader and apparently some visitors are clicking for more. I cannot discover the source of nr. 8: When entered in Firefox I get a Yahoo sign up page for an E-mail box. The same for nr. 19 Anyway, thanks for all the referrals, whoever you are.

If you have comments, want to exchange links or just leave a message, please don't hesitate to mail me. The E-mail address is just below my profile-widget.

Sunday, 17 February 2008


Matchrace Winter series 2007-2008
Yesterday I spent the day on the water with national Umpires in training at the Matchrace Winter series on the Braassemermeer (near Schiphol).

While the planes circled above in a sunny clear sky with a nice breeze, we practiced umpiring in 10 flights with 3 matches. It was a cold (4 degrees) but otherwise perfect day. Main focus of the day was to try to communicate in the Decision stage. Instead of telling each other what happens on the water by reciting facts (i.e. luffing, tacking, on port etc.) we tried to communicate in rights, obligations and opportunities (i.e. keep clear, have to give room) and in decisions (i.e. giving room, keeping clear). This proved to be a challenge for most people. Clear advantage in communicating in this stage is that you already have an answer when a Yankee flag is displayed by the sailor and can signal instantly. We'll keep at it, in future sessions. If you want to know more, read chapter D11 in the IU Manual.

At the debrief with the sailors we tacked about a situation after a dail-up. I've made a TSS-diagram to illustrate

TSS diagram: UMP_LTW006.TSS
Static image: UMP_LTW006s.gif
Umpire Calls Directory

After entry both Blue and Yellow end up head-to-wind with some distance (about a boat-length apart) Blue looses way and passes head to wind to Port. She's subject to rule 13. Yellow still head-to-wind on Starboard tack bears away toward Blue. Blue tries to luff up but is unable to respond because she has no speed. Yellow protests. There was a discussion if it makes a difference if Blue ends up in this position by design or involuntary. I've had a look at CALL-UMP 11 in the Call-book, and think it does not make any difference how Blue ends up in this position. As long as she's making every effort to keep clear, she's protected by 16.1 because Yellow changes course.If you are of a different opinion, please leave a comment.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

RYA Arbitration advise

The RYA has already a long standing policy to be more "flexible" towards the whole protest hearing issue, mentioned in yesterdays post. I was send a file called RYA RACING BEST PRACTICES Arbitration.doc by one of my readers (thanks Mike!) in which their advise on arbitration is outlined. I haven't had time to study the whole document, but already found the last page very interesting. It's a changed template of the backside of a protest form adapted for Arbitration. The RYA is working on an updated version, which will become available on their website soon.

Update 22/06/2009 at 18:44
Sooner rather then later the updated version has become available!
On this page of the RYA website, you can find the 2009 version together with a standard and comprehensive protest-form.


Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Coaching and the rules

For my club KWS, I organizes in winter a couple of evenings, were we talk about rules and all related race issues. Yesterday evening we had a professional coach as a guest-speaker. He's involved in out National Talent Program for sailors and made some interesting points, specially about young sailors.

He expressed his concern about the unwillingness or inability of protest-committees to adapt the protest hearing to the age of the sailors. Children from 12 or 13 in the room, without help from parents or coach, no help with the language and very formal settings.
At that age, sailors are basically willing to play the game fairly. They want to tell what happened and accept that sometimes mistakes are made and they want to learn. If a panel doesn't give them the chance to do that, they feel treated unfairly and don't understand the disqualification. It's usually better to allow an observer in the room who can explain things afterwards and give feedback. If you allow observers, tell them what their roll is and what you want them to do or not to do.
If the panel has the time and the ability, they should set up a more informal hearing, where the young sailor is at ease and given the opportunity to express himself. An explanation on the rules afterwards is also very much appreciated by this age group.
Oh, don't expect at that age they can draw on a piece of paper. Model boats are better, which should be at least 5 times bigger than the ones you would use for a little older sailors (16 and up) or adults. For Optimist kids, the coach told us, he has boats 40 to 50 centimeters and uses the floor to explain situations.

We also had a discussion about alternatives for protest hearings, like arbitration. And perhaps allow a less severe penalty than DSQ, like a percentage penalty. Specially the ones who hand in the protest, sometimes express there unhappiness with a DSQ for the other. They want to make clear that they feel it's unfair what has happened, but don't want to trow the other out of the race. That's perceived as too much.

The coach did want more action when sailors at a young age express there emotions inappropriately. He thought for example that judges on the water who were subject of foul language should use a rule 69 hearing much sooner. Don't let it "slide" because a sailor is emotional about a yellow flag penalty or a penalty in a medal race. This should be used to educate young sailors, as with protest hearings.

Attention span of children is much less then for adults. Long races are boring! This coach wanted more shorter races on a day. His rule of thumb was: with 10 children, do 10 minute races and with 20 children, do 20 minute races. Agreed, much more to do for the race committee, but when a child had a bad race he or she could do another one shortly thereafter, with a better score forgetting the bad result easily. And positive experiences are essential for the learning curve.

Finally he talked about the role coaches play at an event. The RC should use them, give out information and expect feedback on how things are going. Coaches are mostly professionals and know more about "the game" then most RC-volunteers. Less forced removal from the race area, more cooperation with each other. Most coaches will take care not to disturb the sailors, but need to be close, to be able to give feedback on the performance of their charges.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Definitions | 2

Today in our Tuesday cycle on definitions, one which is appearing in the rule book only a couple of times; in RRS 60.2(a) & 60.3(a), RRS 63.4, RRS 71.1, and Appendices E1.3(a) & N3.3:

Interested Party A person who may gain or lose as a result of a protest committee’s decision, or who has a close personal interest in the decision.

Examples: Any other competitor in the same race, regatta or series is an interested party. Any family of a competitor is an interested party. If you have a working relationship (employee/boss) with a competitor, you might be an interested party. Someone with the same nationality in an International event is not, because of that fact alone, an interested party. In a request for redress, a member of the Race committee is regarded as an interested party.

An interested party has to "fight his own battles". If he or she wants to protest another boat, they will have to do it themselves. They cannot run to the RC or the PC and ask them to do it for them. RRS 60.2 and 60.3 prohibits that.

A protestor or someone who's protested can object to a member of the PC, who they percieve as an interested party, but they will have to do so, at the beginning of the hearing. Hollering afterwards about it, will do no good The committee must act on an objection in most cases, but it's their decision. If a party doesn't know the relations between others in that hearing, they can ask. Most judges will excuse themselves before it gets to that, but they still can appear as a witness and give evidence. RRS 63.4
By having this provision in the rules, any decisions a PC makes can be solely based on the rules and not on any other (perceived) biased point. This is standard legal practice.
The same principle is the reason for RRS 71.1, so that in an appeal no interested party can influence the appeal decision.

It is customary that the PC asks all parties in a hearing if they have any objections to the members of the panel. (N3.3). This is however a recommendation, not a rule. If you know about a conflict of interest, it's a good idea to talk to the PC before the hearing or bring it up right up front, even if you are not asked about it. When you bring it up after the hearing and the decision has not gone your way, objectivity will be hard to find.

Monday, 11 February 2008

IJ Seminar Questions

Only a couple of weeks left, before a new IJ Seminar starts in Italy on the 22th of February. As preparation I'm posting a document with some test questions in the style of the IJ-Test: ISAF Q JC-15&16pl.doc
Don't hesitate to contact me if you have additional questions.

New Rules

If you have to stay at home you have a lot of time on your hands to find new rules:

Saturday, 9 February 2008

I have the flu

I apologies to all of you who have been visiting last couple of days and found nothing new posted. I've been down with the fly and stayed in bed. I hope to be sufficiently recovered on Monday to start posting again.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Sailing World Article

New article in Sailing World by Dick Rose:
Fleet and Match Racing Rules Compared
Scrutinizing the "dial down" by Alinghi against Emirates Team New Zealand in the 32nd America's Cup, Dick Rose identifies the critical match racing rule on which the Swiss syndicate capitalized. "Rules" from our January 2008 issue

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Definitions | 1

For rules issues you need a thorough knowledge of the definitions. As the word indicates, they define the parameters where a particular rule or part of the rule has effect. Starting today I will post about a definition once a week, and will try to give some background and insights on them. Here's the first:

Abandon A race that a race committee or protest committee abandons is void but may be resailed.

The meaning of abandonment is clear to all sailors; it is as if that race has never happened. There are no results and protests about Part 2 infringements cannot be penalized. The race is void and can't be scored. (RRS 89.3). That is however not entirely true. Even abandoned races can have some effect on boats trough the series.
  • Abandonment is signaled by flag N, sometimes accompanied by flag H (further signals ashore) or A (no more racing today). (Race Signals)
  • If a boat breaks RRS 22.1, even a boat in a later abandoned race, can successfully protest that boat.
  • Abandonment can be signaled for ANY reason by the race-committee before the starting signal. (RRS 27.3)
  • Abandonment after the race is started, has "no effect" on penalties under RRS 30.2 (20% penalty) and 30.3 (Black flag disqualification). Those are not voided. The 20% penalty will be used on the score of the resailed race and a Black flag penalty prohibits a boat to sail in the resailed race.
  • The reason why the race committee may abandon a race after the start, are described in RRS 32.1. Of those reasons one - the fairness of a race - is sometimes used by sailors, to get a race trown out. Sort of reverse use, you might say. Because the sailor thinks a race has been unfair, a request for redress is handed in, claiming an improper action by the RC for not abandoning the race. There is however never an obligation, the RC may abandon, not should! (RRS 32.1(e))
  • There is an obligation to abandon, when no boat finishes within the time limit. Even when the first boat is a couple of meters from the finishing line. (RRS 35)
  • Once the first boat has finished, the RC shall not abandon the race without considering the consequences for all boats in the race or series. (RRS 32.1)
  • If a redress hearing leads the PC to think about abandoning a race, rule 64.2 obliges them to hear evidence from all appropriate sources. If a race is abandoned, all effected boats may claim redress.
  • In Appendix P the penalty from her first or second protest is canceled, but it does count in the number of penalties in the series.
  • When abandonment is signaled all effected boats stop racing, mind you, the rules of part 2 stay in effect, but boats are no longer racing. That's why coach-boats can come into a field, directly after abandonment has been signaled. (Definitions)

Monday, 4 February 2008

Updated Judges & RO Manuals

ISAF has published updated version of the Judges Manual and of the Race Officers Manual
You can find the download links to the 2008 versions on this page

US Sailing Judges Study Questions 2005

Another Monday, so another test. Pretty soon I will run out of material and have to start making up questions myself . If any of you have tests you want to share, please send them to rrs-study(a)
But for today another file from US-Sailing: US SAILING Judges Workshop Study Questions 2005
Answer the questions by stating if they are True or False, and for good measure find the applicable rule that goes with it.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Evidence and the facts

or "The difference between what is said and what is written" *

During a protest hearing everything a witness tells or shows is evidence. What the parties say and show and draw is evidence. If both parties agree that they were on port tack that is still only evidence, not a fact. If one of them brings a broken tiller extension, that extension would be evidence. Every drawing or description or placed model on the table, still is only evidence. The opinion of another official, say a measurer, is evidence, so is a video or a photograph. Some evidence may be of little or no value, for instance if it's hearsay evidence and the original person who said it, isn't available for questioning. Or a written statement, which can be introduced if parties agree, again without the person who wrote it, may be of limited value. All is evidence!

Only the protest committee can find facts. Based on the evidence, usually in private and only after a valid protest hearing. If the protest committee decides the tiller extension is broken or both parties were on port tack, it becomes a fact. Even if that fact has not actually happened or isn't true. If the PC agree on it, it becomes a fact. The drawing endorsed or drawn by the committee becomes fact.
And facts cannot be appealed!

It is therefore important to give the evidence that will lead the committee to find what you consider to be facts, which reflect what you think actually happened. Don't try to guide them in applying the appropriate rule. Make sure they find the correct facts.

The committee will draw a conclusion on the facts found. If they draw a - in your eyes - wrong conclusion you have a case to appeal. But the appeals committee cannot change facts found, only the conclusion. If the facts are unreasonable or not consistent, the appeals committee might return the protest for reconsideration or appoint a new committee to start all over again. The latter happens more often, when the procedure hasn't been followed correctly.

There's no burden of proof or something like "beyond a reasonable doubt". Only weighing of the evidence. If your opponent is a gorgeous intelligent blond, you might have a slight disadvantage... deal with it. The rule book allows no other way.

Scientia potentia est

* source: PROTEST & APPEALS by Brian Willis, 1995

US Sailing

Like you would expect from a sailing nation, US Sailing maintains a extensive website with much information on their program. The Judges and Umpires have their own sub pages with lots and lots of material. For Judges go here and Umpires here.
You can download for instance, lots of forms usable in the protest-room. And if you want to have a look at the latest appeal go here. Certainly worth a visit!

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Ynglings in Rolex Miami OCR

If you've followed Rolex Miami Olympic Class Regatta at all, you must have noticed that a very special team is competing - one of our Dutch hopes for medals at the 2008 Olympic Sailing event - in the Yngling Class. With no less than nine ladies, who sail three boats in different compositions. First, let me congratulate Mandy Mulder, Marije Faber and Merel Witteveen sailing NED 1, with their splendid victory in that class and Renee Groeneveld, Annemieke Bes and Marije Kampen in NED 111, with Bronze!

Before the medal race the difference in points between NED 1 on 62 and #2 RUS 8 on 66, was only four points, with the third place NED 111 on 96. Even if either NED 1 or RUS 8 would come in last in the Medal Race, they both were certain of a medal. Mandy, Marije and Merel only had to make sure they never let RUS 8 out of their sight and stick to them as glue. Coming in one place after RUS 8, any place, would bring them the gold. According to the result on the website they came in seventh in the medal race with RUS 8 on tenth. I'm dying to know how that race went. Unfortunately our own Watersportverbond hasn't published any information about this Regatta. You would expect a little more.
To get the bronze, NED 111 had a much harder job to do. Going into the Medal Race in fourth position with 96 points, with GBR 12 on third place with 95 and three boats (GER 261, ESP 3 and CHN 1) behind them with each 101 points. Sticking to GBR and finish in front of them would not be enough, Three other boats would need to be not more than two places in front! Specially the German boat who came very close finishing on second place. But they pulled it off, finishing fourth in the medal race put them on the podium! Well done!
I don't envy the job of the project leader, Maurice Paardenkooper, who has to pick the final three ladies who will compete in the Olympics. Even the third boat Dutch boat, NED 11 with Janneke Hin, Brechtje van der Werf and Floortje Hendriksma, came in twelfth in a very strong field. Full results in the Yngling Class here

On the website of the event you can also follow a little about the work of the International Jury, chaired by another Dutch lady Josje Hofland. The Protest Hearing Schedule is published and the Rule 42 Notice Board. Follow this link to find them both.
In the latter the boat receiving a penalty under the new Appendix P is published, but in the first the name of the representative of the boat involved in a protest is mentioned. According to the rulebook a boat is protested, not a person. What if the boat is represented by the crew, not the helm. Is that name then published?
I'm grateful for any information which lets someone follow the regatta and the protests involved, but this means I have to go back and forth between the competitor list and the protest schedule to find out which boat is involved. I find that strange.....

Friday, 1 February 2008


This Umpire Call is from one of the Acts on the America's cup. It's included in the TSS sample downloads. The reason why I picket it, was that at first glance I could not understand why rule 15 was used. Here is the diagram:

Blue: America One and Yellow: Prada
What the umpires saw:
At position 2 ,Yellow bore away and gybed onto port tack in front of Blue and was always keeping clear. Blue bore away at position 4 and Yellow double gybed finishing on port tack again at position 5. Blue could have kept clear as windward boat but chose to gybe at position 5 and pass astern of Yellow. Immediately after Blue's gybe there was contact between Blue's spinnaker and Yellow's rigging.
Penalty Blue. Rule 15 .

TSS diagram: UMP_LTW005.TSS
Static image: UMP_LTW005s.gif
Umpire Calls Directory

Can you find out what fact needs to be clear before rule 15 is applicable?
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