From Stephan Zeyn out of Hamburg. A question I had to think about… He presented the following situation in Match Racing:
But - the trailing boat passed outside the finishing line to leeward and then crossed the finishing line to back to windward. The boat then turned and crossed from the direction of last mark the finish line again. The race officer scored this boat as first, while the other was still taking his penalty.
Later on we had a heated discussion about this incident. There is case 90 showing similar story at the start and there is the string rule from RRS 28.1.
I did not find any case or call regarding finish specifically dealing with this issue.
The more we discussed, the more it became unclear what the meaning of the word ‘until’ in rule 28.1 entailed. Does it include the procedure of finish, or does it lead to the finish, but not include the finishing procedure itself?
Basically the string rule is a tool to describe how to round the marks on a course. But it is only a tool. Our sport is SAILING, not STRING LAYING.
Believing that the string rule is valid until (including) finish, there is a good chance to get rid of a penalty for a leading boat. Believing it means until (excluding) finish, it would lead to a bigger chance for the trailing boat to finish before the other boat took his penalty turn.
Knowing that you are very much involved in the details of rules, I would be very much interested in your opinion.
Well Stephan, there are always new situations the rule makers haven’t thought about. This is a situation I never have seen before.
First I looked at the word until in the dictionary. Until is described as:
- up to the time that or when; till: He read until his guests arrived.
- before (usually used in negative constructions): They did not come until the meeting was half over.
- onward to or till (a specified time or occurrence): She worked until 6 p.m.
We can draw the conclusion that Rule 28.1 is in effect before the boat ‘finishes’. Everything before that must comply with the ‘string rule’.
If you consider sailing around the finish mark to the other side and then returning over the line to cross from the course side, part of ‘finishing’, your second premise would be true.
But ‘finishing’ is defined. The RRS describes exactly what it is. And in this particular situation the boat does NOT finish until she crosses the line from the correct side. Only then she has finished according to the definition and I agree that the RO should record her as such. But her whole maneuver to go to the outside is something she does before finishing.
So now we come to RRS 28.1. When we draw the string taut, it does not touch the finish mark on the correct side. By going around below the finish mark first, the string touches the outside, and not – as required by RRS 28.1 – the inside.
In order to change the outcome of this match race is to protest the boat for breaking rule 28.1. Either by the RC or by the other boat. And in my opinion the boat should then be disqualified by the PC for not complying with rule 28.1
Scoring the other boat as winner without a protest, is however not correct. She has ‘finished’ before the other boat has completed her penalty and – hopefully – finished also. Was there a red flag by the other boat?
If you have another opinion, don’t hesitate to comment.