Saturday, 25 April 2009

ISAF Q&A 2009-026; Finished? NOT!

Have a look at:ISAF Q&A 2009-026

I've been stewing on this one for a couple of days and am still not happy.

Couple of additional questions:
What if boat X just skips one mark? Or rounds it the wrong way? Is she then not on the next leg of the course? She cannot - according to this Q&A - be finishing when crossing the line. She's never on the next leg, let alone on the finishing leg. She can and may correct her mistake any time, if the SI don't specify a time limit, the next day for that matter....

This one will be impossible for the RC to comply with. The people on the finish boat don't have the time nor the position to check if every boat that crosses the line, has complied with RRS 28.1. There are perhaps enough mark-boats at an International big event to check every rounding, but not at my local events. We just don't have the "manpower" or the boats. Do you?

So the people on the committee finish-boat will sound the horn and record a boat as finished. Only after protest, will the boat be DSQ-ed for not sailing the course.

Next, if the boat is not on the next leg of the course, what about rule 23.2? In a fleet race you cannot help but interfere with several boats who are then apparently on another leg. So you better be on a proper course ALL the time.

Also, rule 18 would be "off" for each subsequent mark rounding. Boats are not on the same leg of the course and one of the boats does not have a required side to which she must leave the mark....

Second half of this Q&A: What about the requirement in RRS 61.2; Informing the other party at the first reasonable opportunity?
If you don't want make your opponent aware that he has made a mistake - tactically sound - you should keep your mouth shut. If you protested later, the PC might ask "Was this the first opportunity, after you became aware of the error, that you could have informed the other boat?"
Answer: NO!
Out goes the protest with validity….

Or do you want to go with the premise that a boat hasn't broken RRS 28.1 until it's to late to correct that? Then you will have to wait until end of finishing time, find the boat or representative in the boat park and inform them of your protest.

We will have to comply with this interpretation of the rules, but in practice it will be very very difficult.



  1. Jos,

    As a Race Officer I have to agree with your assessment. For most race we don't have enough mark boats to police mark roundings. Doesn't this Q&A conflict with Q&A 2005-001?



  2. Actually you don't have to comply with this interpretation of the rule. Q&As are not binding at all. This one is just flat wrong. I will be ignoring it.

  3. I will make my comment in 3 sections.

    *When the other boat shall hail protest.

    This is covered in case 112. The other boat can hail protest when the boat X breaks rule 28.1, that is when boat X finish, but the other boat can also hail protest when it is clear that boat X is not sailing the correct course.

    I can agree with that a protest can me may when boat X finish, since the overall track is not completed until the boat finishes and she can correct any errors before that. The second part, that the other boat can hail protest as soon it is evident that X is not sailing the correct course, left me in doubt.

    The other boat should hail protest when the X boat has broken a rule, not when X boat has started making an incorrect path. So the PC should not ask to the protester "Was this the first opportunity, after you became aware of the error, that you could have informed the other boat?", but instead "Was this the first opportunity, after you became aware that boat X has broken the rule, that you could have informed the other boat?"

    The point, in my opinion, is that the protest should be about broking rule 28.1 and not about having made an error in the course sailed.

    However I think that this Q&A goes beyond what is said in case 112. It is saying that boat X has not finished when she crossed the finishing line. (see my next section)

    *Finishing line - turning it on and off

    If I have understood correctly, this Q&A is treating the finish line as non present before the final leg is sailed. It is not said explicitly, but if the finish line is "turned-off", then the boat X could be considered as just taking a large turn.

    So I think that it is really interesting to look at what is written in Answer 1 of the Q&A, and I think the the following answer also descend form what in written in Answer 1 and not only from consideration similar to case 112.

    In Answer 1 it is written "[...] a boat does not finish according to the definition if it passes between these marks on an earlier leg of the course"

    I can understand that this is a reasonable opinion. If this were not and the finish line is between two mark bounding a leg, a boat would finish when crossing that line.

    However I could not deduce this conclusion from the definition of finish.

    In the definition of finish it is written that
    a boat finish when she cross the finish line in the direction of the course from the last mark, either for the first time or ...

    I am omitting now what is written after "for the first time" and discuss that later.

    The definition only speak about the last mark to define the correct direction. It does not state that a boat finish only if she has sailed the correct course till the last mark and then, from the last mark, has sailed to the finish line and crossed it in this direction.

    If I only look at the words that are written in the first part of definition of finish (and with the first part I mean till the words "first time") the only logical conclusion that I can take is that any boats that cross the finish line in the correct direction has finished.

    So I will consider the finishing line as a "forbidden zone" for boats not intending to finish, with the only exception stated in the following part of the definition. (if this were the case the RC would just take the time for every boat crossing the line, and if a boat wants not to be considered as finished she shall not cross the finish line).

    However in the Q&A Answer 1 the finish line is considered as not existed and turned on only after the boat has correctly completed the course till the last mark.

    I can not understand how this can be deduced from the definition.

    And I can not understand how answer 1 and 2 can be compatible with answer 1 and 2 of the case 112.

    The only difference I can see between the two cases is that case 112 is treating the boat as already having committed an error in the moment she rounded the mark on the wrong side. In the case of the Q&A the boat is treated as passing the finish line only by chance and that she can still be doing a correct course.

    I can see that there is actually a difference in the two cases. In case 112 if at the time she crossed the finish line the string representing her track when drawn taut would be incompatible with a correct track (partial or full) even if the finish marks were not present. In the case of the Q&A if the same is made and the the finish marks considered as not present, the string would be compatible with a boat sailing the proper course, with the boat not having already turned in full round the mark.

    However in either cases no references is made to these facts. It is just assumed as fact that in case 112 the boat made her course wrong and in the Q&A that she did not sail a wrong course.

    However nothing in situation of case 112 would prevent to sail back so that a correct course can be made. If what is written in answer 2 of the Q&A is universally true, this should have applied to the boat in case 112 too.

    The very beginning of Answer 1 of the Q&A starts with "the sailing instructions describe [...]". It would be interesting to be able to read the these sailing instructions.

    * Last part of the definition of finish

    Now I consider the final part of the definition.
    The part about the penalty clearly does not apply in the circumstance of this Q&A (and of case 112).

    But what about
    "[...]after correcting an error made at finish line, under rule 28.1"

    First of all I see a formal logical problem. Rule 28.1 required the definition of finish to be know, but the definition refers to rule 28.1.

    Second I can not actually understand well what an error made at finish line can be. The only one I can think about that is if the line is first crossed in the wrong direction (I omit the detail here, since my post is already very long)

    But shall we consider having crossed the finish line before completing the full course an error
    made at finish line?

    In the Answer 4 of the Q&A there is a part with the words "Any error made at the finishing line, even after finishing,[...]". But how can a error be made after finishing?

    The definition speak about error made at finish line, not about error made after finishing.

    Perhaps the intention of the answer 4 is to speak about after crossing the finish line for the first time when this does not make the boat to finish (because of an error at the finish line).

    *Proper course
    Breaking of rule 23.2 is interesting. But where it is written that a boat should sail the correct course? Rule 23.2 says "except when sail her proper course" and in the definition of proper course no mention is made to the correct course or to rule 28.

    Actually I only now realized that the definition of "proper course" and "finish" are logically problematic. In the definition of proper course the world finish, written in italic, is intended, I think, as to do all that is required before finishing (that is round marks, etc.) and than finish. But this is not what is written in the definition of finish.

    If I took the definition of Proper course and of Finish and consider them for what is written I should conclude that a boat is sailing is proper course only if she is going toward the finish line.

    I think that the definition of Proper course should be rewritten so that the word finish is substituted with a longer specification (to go to next mark or to the next zone required to be passed, or to the following mark or following zone to be passed if currently turning at a mark or passing a zone required to be passed, or to go to the finish line is all marks and required zones has already be passed).

  4. If a boat crosses the finishing line, no signal is necessary.
    What shall the race committee do, if a boat fails to comply with 28.1 when she crosses the finishing line together with other boat of the same class, and the race committee does not know this?
    Scoring the boat DNF is wrong (see case 80).

  5. Our local club has exactly this situation. Allowing a boat to correct her course, after crossing the line too soon, seems to me the fairest solution by far.

    They used strange logic to get to this solution. Why not answer Q1 this way?:
    "Yes X did finish according to the definition, carrying a violation of 28.1. However, X may now correct her course (final paragraph 28.1) and finish again (final clause definion finish)."

    Sailors finish, make an error, take a penalty, and finish again in other situations. The RC records each finish and confirms with the sailor which was the true finish.

    Case 113 answer 1 says one can correct a course before finishing 'but not thereafter'. I can't find support in the rules for that 'but'. An effort for consistency with 113 might have caused the strange logic in the Q&A.

    I see no problem, though, with protest timing. Case 113 answer 3 clearly allows delay in the protest hail for rule 28.1. The fair sailing rule seems powerful in practice. Sailors tend to RAF if they obviously have broken 28.1. Sailors also try to hail each other on the spot for less obvious errors that might be arguable later.

  6. If you compare Q&A 26 and ISAF Case 112 there appears to be a conflict.

  7. Jos - many of the issues you raise might be valid but they exist irrespective of this Q&A. I think the same approach can be adopted for a boat that misses a mark as for an OCS boat that doesn't return. They are treated the same as other boats on the leg and normal rules apply.

    O'Hara - I think this might be the approach adopted after the definition of "Finish" is changed but the current wording ".. after correcting an error made AT the finishing line, under rule 28.1" and Case 112 make your suggestion untenable for the time being.

    I think this Q&A, although being a bit creative, solves a number of more difficult problems with windward - leeward courses where the start line is also the finish line. Consider for example:

    - the 3 lap course referred to in the Q&A where one boat "finishes" after 2 laps.
    - when there is a leeward mark for earlier laps placed just upwind of the start/finish line and a boat rounds very wide of the leeward mark and crosses the finish line.
    - when an individual recall is signalled at the start and a boat that was not OCS returns and crosses the finish line.

    In all these cases with the previous interpretation, she "finishes" when she crosses the finish line in the direction of the course from the last mark. It is left to common sense or the goodwill of the competitors or RC that no-one protests her for failing to sail the course. Unfortunately, common sense and goodwill aren't always present.

    This Q&A may raise some other problems but I think it solves more than it creates.

  8. I think the answer that a boat that crosses the finishing line from the direction of the last mark, but having omitted to round one or more marks does not finish according to the definition of finish is not correct, based on the words of the definition. On the face of the words in the definition a boat in this situation complies in every respect with the definition.

    The Q&A answer flatly contradicts Answer 2 in Case 112 and Case 80.

    I can, however, understand why the interpretation has been made this way.

    This Q&A is intended to correct a problem arising under Case 112, where it is said that a boat that has omitted to round one or more marks does not break rule 28.1 until she finishes, but by doing this, Case 112 denies that boat her chance of correcting her failure to round correctly (given to hear by rule 28.1 second last sentence), because once she has finished, she may not correct her error.

    Perhaps the Case 112 problem could have been solved by changing the definition of finish, possibly by deleting 'made at the finishing line', but the Q&A seems to be trying to avoid an out-of-session rule change.

    Of course this Q&A worries us, after we have been accustomed for years to rules problems with race committees improperly scoring boats DNF without a protest. I'm sure we have often advised race committees to 'record as finished every boat that crosses the finishing line from the direction of the last mark'

    I think this practice should continue. Rule 63.1 remains that a boat may not be penalised under rule 28 without a protest hearing.

    How can we deal with the interpretation in this Q&A?

    Remind ourselves and race committees of the guidance in Q&A 2009-12

    The primary responsibility for protesting breaches of the rules is with the competitors, not the race officials.

    A race committee should not normally protest for [breaking a] rule unless that breach appears to be a breach of good sportsmanship (rule 2), such as an apparently deliberate or knowing breach.

    The bottom line

    This Q&A should be used so as to allow a boat that has missed a mark to avail herself of her right to correct her error given to her under rule 28, and, possibly, to avoid penalising a boat under rule 18.

    Otherwise we should apply Case 112 and the longstanding practice that a boat is taken to have sailed the course and finished according with the rules when she crosses the finishing line, unless she is protested and penalised in a protest hearing.

  9. I think the rule is fine and indeed sought clarification on this point myself from my MNO.

    Attached is their reply, and I wonder if this was taken to the Q + A committee?

    The problem is greater if the finish is in the middle of the beat!

    Mike Butterfield

    CASE 0808

    Following a meeting of the RYA’s Racing Rules Committee, a decision has now been reached in respect of the above case, which is set out below:

    Even though a boat will cross what is to be the designated finishing line more than once while racing, she does not finish until she crosses it having completed the required number of rounds. A race can be shortened at a line only when the sailing instructions require that line to be crossed at the end of each lap.

    The sailing instructions defined the starting and finishing line as a transit, marked by poles on a jetty, and bounded by a pier at its outer end. The course set stated three laps were to be sailed but it did not include the finishing line as part of the course except when finishing. However, the physical limitations of the sailing area required all boats to pass through this line when sailing between the windward and leeward marks of the course.

    Do boats “Finish” three times in this race, namely when they cross the finish line from the direction of the last mark on each lap?

    No. When a line is crossed at the end of each round, it is not a finishing line for a boat until she approaches it from the direction of last mark after sailing the required number of rounds. This answer will be the same if the course set had required the finishing line to be crossed at the end of each round.

    Can the course be shortened at the defined finishing line before boats have completed the full three laps of the course?

    Unless changed by sailing instructions, rule 32.2 describes the finishing line for a shortened course. The defined finishing line was not part of the course set and was not a line or a gate as described in rules 32.2(b) or (c).

    Rule 70.3 permits an affiliated organisation to request an interpretation of the rules, as defined. Several of the questions asked do not involve an interpretation as they concern the proper preparation of sailing instructions. The RYA Race Management Group provides assistance to affiliated organisations in writing sailing instructions and the club is advised to seek their help.


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