Friday, 10 April 2009

Fact Finding Friday | 007 - Paris Pussycat v Oslo Ocelot

From “the Room” by Brass


The aim of this series is to practice judges' skills in writing Facts Found, Conclusions and Rules Applicable, and Decisions as required by rule 65.1.These are not intended to be 'difficult' rules problems: concentrate on the writing skills. You are not expected to 'discuss' the rules or the scenarios, or enter into 'what-if' considerations. I suggest you write against the clock, and include a note of your time taken when you post your answers on LTW, to compare with others.

Hearing and Evidence

You are the scribe for the protest committee of the LTW Yacht Club, which races in Port Liberty Roads. You have received a written protest, decided it is valid, and have heard both parties and witnesses as shown.
Write Facts Found, Conclusions and Rules Applicable and the Decision for this protest. Please post your effort on LTW, for us all to share and learn. Don't be shy.

Description of Incident

The description of the incident from the protest form is as shown.
Paris Pussycat and Oslo Ocelot are keelboats, approximately 10m LOA.
Wind conditions were about 10kts. Sea conditions smooth.

P7 090409 PPvOO

The Hearing

Paris Pussycat's Description of the Incident
  • I was steering Paris Pussycat. We were approaching the leeward mark, to be rounded to port, with the wind over my starboard quarter. Oslo Ocelot was sailing a similar course about a boat length to windward.
  • We reached the zone overlapped about three quarters of a boat length ahead of Oslo Ocelot.
  • I sailed a course about one and a half boat lengths clear of the mark to allow me to gybe and come away from the mark on a favorable upwind course.
  • I heard Oslo Ocelot shout something confusing that I could not understand properly.
  • I called for Oslo Ocelot to keep clear because I could see she was getting closer. Ocelot did not appear to respond.
  • I gybed for the mark when I was level with it, about one boat length away.
  • As I completed my gybe Oslo Ocelot bore away and closed the gap between the boats and Oslo Ocelot's boom hit the stern rail of Paris Pussycat.
  • I hailed 'protest' and my crew immediately displayed a red flag.
  • Oslo Ocelot then sheered off and fell behind me.
Oslo Ocelot's Questions to Paris Pussycat

Q. Why did you sail so wide of the mark when you know you are only entitled to mark-room to sail the direct course to the mark?
A. I was right of way boat and could sail as high as I liked.

Protest Committee's Questions to Paris Pussycat

Q. Did the contact result in any damage?
A. No.

Q. When and how did the boats become overlapped?
A. Oslo Ocelot managed to blanket my wind and became overlapped to windward of Paris Pussycat
some considerable way up the downwind leg, before coming near the mark.

Oslo Ocelot's Description of the Incident
  • Both boats were on starboard tack coming into the leeward mark to be rounded to port, Paris Pussycat was inside Oslo Ocelot at the zone.
  • Paris Pussycat was sailing well outside the mark, pushing me up to windward.
  • I hailed to Paris Pussycat that she was taking too much room and to sail to the mark.
  • Paris Pussycat did not respond to my hail.
  • The gap between the boats closed up. I was trying to sail my proper course to the mark.
  • Paris Pussycat gybed and our boom hit her stern rail.
Paris Pussycat's Questions to Oslo Ocelot

Q. Do you claim that I should have gybed any earlier than I did?
A. No.

Protest Committee Questions to Oslo Ocelot

Q. Was there any damage?
A. No.

Q. Did you take any penalty turns?
A. No.

Paris Pussycat's witness evidence
  • I was tactician on Paris Pussycat, standing beside the helm.
  • About 10 lengths from the mark I noted that we were overlapped with Oslo Ocelot and would have inside rights to mark-room.
  • I reminded the skipper to sail wide in and close out.
  • We sailed a straight course for a point about one and a half lengths outside the mark.
  • About two lengths from the mark I heard Oslo Ocelot hail something that I did not understand.
  • Oslo Ocelot closed the gap between the boats.
  • We gybed for the mark and Oslo Ocelot's boom hit our stern rail.
Oslo Ocelot's Questions to Paris Pussycat's Witness

Q: Didn't you understand that I was hailing you to sail your direct course to the mark?
A: No, but that would not have made sense to me even if I had heard it.

Oslo Ocelot's Witnesses

Oslo Ocelot had no witnesses.

Paris Pussycat Summing Up

  • Paris Pussycat was inside right of way boat with rights to mark-room.
  • While we were on starboard tack Oslo Ocelot was required to keep clear as well as give us mark-room.
  • When we gybed, we were sailing our proper course at the mark and entitled to mark-room.
  • Oslo Ocelot did not keep clear and did not give us mark-room.

Oslo Ocelot's Summing Up

  • Paris Pussycat took more mark-room than she was entitled to. Paris Pussycat broke rule 18.2.
  • When she had gybed, Paris Pussycat was on port tack and failed to keep clear of Oslo Ocelot on port tack. Paris Pussycat broke rule 10 and 14.
  • I had no reason to do penalty turns because I was in the right throughout.

Protest Committee's Assessment of the Evidence

Your fellow protest committee members agree that there is no evidence that Paris Pussycat as a right of way boat changing course, did not give Oslo Ocelot room to keep clear and that Paris Pussycat did not sail further from the mark than was needed to sail her proper course before gybing.


  1. Facts Found:
    1. PP and OO were overlapped when they entered the zone. The mark was to be rounded to port.
    2. PP and OO were both on starboard with PP inside and to leeward of OO.
    3. When at the mark, PP gybed to sail her proper course and PP’s stern contacted OO’s boom. The contact did not cause damage or injury.

    1. OO to windward did not keep clear of PP to leeward. OO broke rule 11.
    2. It was reasonably possible for OO to avoid contact with PP. OO was not the right-of-way boat or entitled to room. OO broke rule 14.
    3. OO outside overlapped at the zone did not give PP mark-room to sail her proper course at the mark. OO broke rule 18.2(b).
    4. It was reasonably possible for PP to avoid contact with OO. When PP, did not act to avoid contact with OO, PP was the right-of-way boat entitled to mark-room, and the contact did not cause damage or injury. PP may not be penalized under rule 14.
    5. PP did not break rule 16.1.

    1. OO is DSQ’ed, rules 11, 14 and 18.2(b).

  2. Dick said...

    Oops. I forgot to include my time for deliberations and for writing the Facts, Conclusions and Decision.

    The time for the deliberations was 4 minutes.

    The time to hand write the facts, conclusions an decision was about 12-15 minutes.

    Interestingly, my time to enter the facts, conclusions and desision on a computer, ready for printing, using the "Protest Wordings/Conclusions Spreadsheet" was 2022. minutes.

    The time to read the decision to the parties was; 1 minute to read it and another minute for Oslo Ocelot to get the dumb look off his face.

  3. Facts
    1 PP and OO were overlapped when they entered the zone.
    2 PP and OO were both on stbd with PP inside and to leeward of OO
    3 OO was keeping clear.
    4 PP gybed onto port to sail to the mark
    5 As pp gybed there was contact between OO's boom and PP's stern rail.
    6 There was no damage.
    1 The incident happened 1 and a half boat lengths from the mark.
    2 The boats were not at the mark
    3 OO gave room for PP to sail to the mark.
    4 When PP gybed she did not give room for OO to keep clear

    PP broke rule 16 and is disqualified. (Note A boat cannot be exonerated for breaking rule 16 while sailing to the mark.)

  4. Paris Pussycat and Oslo Ocelot
    Facts Found:
    1.PP and OO are 10 meter LOA keel boats.
    2.The wind was 10 kts. and the sea smooth.
    3.The boats were sailing to a leeward mark to be left to port.
    4.An overlap was established with OO coming from clear astern well before either boat reached the zone.
    5.PP was inside, overlapped, leeward boat and at the zone.
    6.Both boats were on starboard gybe before and upon entering the zone.
    7.PP gybed to port to round the mark.
    8.There was contact with no damage or injury.
    1.Rule 18 began to apply when the first boat entered the zone.
    2.PP was inside boat and entitled to mark room. Rule 18.2
    3.PP was also the leeward ROW boat with luffing rights, and entitled to sail here proper course to the mark. Rule 11 and 17.
    4.PP sailed no further from the mark than was needed to sail her proper course.
    5.OO did not keep clear.
    1.OO should be scored DSQ for breaking rules 11, 14 and 18.2.
    2.PP broke rule 14 but shall be penalized, rule 14(b).

  5. PP V OO
    PP and OO were approaching a leeward mark to be rounded to port.
    At the Zone PP was the inside boat with OO about a boat length to windward, both boats were on starboard gybe.
    PP had become overlapped to windward of OO from clear astern.
    When level with the mark and about 1.5 lengths away PP gybed for the mark.
    There was a collision with no damage.
    18.2.b OO failed to give PP mark room.
    14. OO failed to avoid a collision when it was reasonable possible to do so.
    18.4.PP sailed no further from the mark than was needed to sail her proper course.
    14. PP could not have avoided contact but in any event as there was no damage, cannot be penalised.
    OO is disqualified.

    Mike Butterfield

  6. Anonymous at 12/04/2009: 11:02 got all the facts correct but clearly does not own a rule-book. Another possibility is that he owns a rule-book but does not read it.

    Rule 18 applies to PP and OO. Under 18.2(d), Rule 16 does not apply when the inside boat changes course to round the mark. In this case, PP course was always her proper course and the fact that she would gybe to round was evident. OO failed to keep clear when PP altered course *as she was required to do*, which fact OO knew as she hailed for PP to alter her course towards the mark. OO disqualified for breach of 18.2(a). PP exonerated under 14(b).

  7. To Anonymous 14th April
    I do have a rule book and believe I have read it. That of course does not mean I have a full understanding of all the complex situations and I, along with others , contribute to this blog in order to learn and clear up misunderstandings that occasionally arise.It would be a shame if this site lost the spirit of mutual help and descended to simply insulting others.
    That said,my copyof the rule book does not have any reference to rule 16 in 18.2(d). (Unless of course I refer to the 2004-2008 version of the rules! -Which I have also read.)
    Anonymous 12.4.09

  8. Facts found

    1. PP and OO were sailing on a starboard gybe towards the leeward mark, which was to be rounded to port.
    2. When the boats entered the zone, PP had an inside overlap. PP was sailing to leeward of OO.
    3. PP sailed one and a half boat lengths clear of the mark, and then gybed and commenced rounding the mark.
    4. PP was sailing a course in which she was turning on an axis whereby she could commence the following leg close to the mark.
    5. After PP completed her gybe, OO’s, who was still on a starboard gybe, bore away towards PP.
    6. There was contact between OO’s boom and PP’s stern rail.
    7. There was no damage.
    8. Neither boat completed a penalty.


    1. PP, as the overlapped, right of way boat, sailed no further from the mark than was needed to sail her proper course.
    2. OO failed to give PP mark room and thereby breached rule 18.2.

    Rules applicable

    18.2, 18.4


    OO is disqualified

    Time taken: 40 minutes

  9. After writing the above response, I have noticed that other people have referred to rule 14. If there is no damage, is it necessary to even mention that rule, merely to say there is no penalty? Isn't that just creating a "straw man".


    Firstly, Anon, Nice answer. Lets keep it constructive and practice our skills for 'dealing with difficult judges' :-)

    Tom, Dick, Mike B, John G, there was contact between boats on opposite tacks. Doesn't this mean that one of them must have broken rule 10? I think you needed to have concluded that PP on port did not keep clear of OO on starboard and thus broke rule 10.

    You can then correctly conclude that PP was taking mark-room to which she was entitled and is exonerated under rule 18.5.

    Since contact occurred when boats were on opposite tacks, and OO was the right of way boat, rule 16.1 did not apply to PP. I did try to steer participants away from rule 16.1 by saying in the 'Protest Committee's assessment of evidence ' that there was no evidence that PP broke rule 16.1. Anon, you should think twice before writing conclusions which your fellow protest committee members will disagree with.

    In answer to Anon's question about whether you should take the trouble to make a rule 14 conclusion if you will inevitably find that one or both boats may not be penalised because of rule 14(b), I think that you should go through the process, and particularly go through the process of deciding the 'reasonably possible' bit of rule 14.

    As I said in comments on KK v LL, Although it may seem laborious to write a conclusion that a boat broke a rule, then write another one that the boat is exonerated (or protected under rule 14(b)), I think that a protest committee should reach a conclusion about every rule that it sees is broken in an incident. This helps the parties understand the decision and promotes rules-knowledge generally.

    Bear in mind that if there was new evidence that there was damage or injury (which seems to happen quite often) that, suddenly, rule 14 will assume its full importance.

    Don't forget that in situations like this, where the give way boat (PP) is entitled to mark-room, both boats get rule 14(b) protection.

    We have evidence about some distances. It think it is useful to include this quantitative evidence as facts: the are the basis of our conclusions about 'reasonably possible' and so on. Don't you think that an Appeals Committee would want to see these facts?

    We still have some facts shown as conclusions and conclusions shown as facts, and some 'rules discussion' conclusions.

    'The incident happened one and a half boat lengths from the mark' is a fact, not a conclusion. What exactly was it that happened one and a half boat lengths from the mark? The contact? the breach of rule 18.2(b), the breach of rule 10? Perhaps this could have been more specifically stated.

    'OO was keeping clear' is a conclusion, not a fact: it requires the application of the quite complex definition of 'keep clear' to the facts.

    'Rule 18 began to apply when the first boat entered the zone' is a 'rules discussion' or 'intermediate' conclusion. If you go on to conclude that OO broke rule 18.2(b), then finding that rule 18 switched on at the zone is superfluous.

    We can see some old fashioned rules language from previous rules versions. For example:

    * a boat does not 'establish an overlap': boats 'become overlapped'

    * a boat does not 'have luffing rights', she may or may not be limited by rule 17, and if she is not so limited, it need not be mentioned.

    * boats make 'contact' they do not 'collide'.

    * rule 18 applies in the zone, while a boat is sailing to the mark and at the mark: 'rounding' a mark is not now meaningful in a rule 18 sense.

    I think we should make an effort to use the language (and hence the concepts) of the current rules. It makes it easier for everyone, but particularly newer sailors that are not familiar with the old rules and concepts.

    Lastly, of course, we need to make sure that we are using the current rules.

    Thanks everyone for participating. I see that Mike B took 15 minutes to do this one, so it must have been quite difficult.

    Anyone who has not yet submitted a solution, please feel free to do so.

    Likewise, anyone who wishes to add to or discuss these comments, please feel free.


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