This is the second post in our series explaining some of the rules-issues in the America’s Cup 33.
Go back to the first post - AC 33 | Rules and explanations – part 1 – if you want to be reminded.
Before I can start to explain our first issue – the additional five minutes delta SUI earned in the first match - I’ll have to go into the rulebook a little bit. Specifically the definition of finish and the change to that definition that has been done in the Match Racing rules (App. C rule 2.1 & 7.2(d))
According to the changed definition, SUI could take that penalty anytime provided she did so before finishing. The wording in the rulebook says she could only finish after completing any penalties. (Unless that penalty is cancelled under rule C7.2(d). I.e. the other boat is also been given a penalty just before or after the boat crosses the line.)
In Match 1 SUI trailed USA, still carrying a penalty (from the prestart dail-up).
According to the video’s and virtual eye recordings I’ve seen, SUI crossed the line the first time – about ten minutes after USA - without having taken that penalty, but started to do so just after her bows crossed the line. SUI luffed below the line and turned up straight away into a tack.
A penalty on a downwind leg, as defined in the rulebook states:
(2) When on a leg of course to a leeward mark or the finishing line, she shall tack and, as soon as reasonable possible, bear away to a course that is more than ninety degrees from true wind.The penalty starts! when the boat passes head to wind and ends! when the boat has turned downwind. (More then ninety degrees from true wind).
Just after her tack SUI turned downwind and thereby completed her penalty. That was signaled by the umpires by blowing a whistle and turning of the yellow flicker-light. BUT – and this is crucial for the explanation, SUI did so while the boat was still – perhaps completely, but at least partly - below the line.
Going back to rule C7.2(d):
A penalized boat shall not be recorded as having finished until she takes her penalty and sails completely to the course side of the line and then finishes, unless the penalty is canceled before or after she crosses the finishing line.So the penalty was completed, but the boat had not returned completely to the course side of the line. I can understand that with a boat of that magnitude you make a mistake in judging if you are over or not-over the finishing line. But not heading the signal of the RC indicating that you have finished? Or taking that kind of risk in trailing position by doing your penalty turn on the line?
I can only explain this maneuver by guessing that SUI wanted to make the delta as small as possible. That is: crossing the line immediately after having turned more then ninety degrees from true wind. Match Racers do this often, by using one of the finishing marks as a turning point. With that mark they can at least be sure they return to the course side of the line!
But SUI sailed downwind without having any doubt of having finished. Only a radio-communication from the RC made them aware that in fact SUI was still not finished!
After that SUI sailed back upwind, passed the line and then crossed the line according to the rules to finish. This was the mistake that cost them an additional five minute delta in the first match. Instead of 9 minutes 56 second or about, the delta became 15 minutes and 25 seconds!
Before you start about the communication from the RC over the radio, that part of rule 41 was changed in the NoR/SI – and it is a moot point whether that is meant to cover information pertinent to one boat only…….
In our next installment of AC 33 | Rules and explanations we will have a look at the second match. Specifically about the prestart penalty and the red flag on SUI.