Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Worst Sailing Innovation Ever?

Tillerman’s group writing project this month is about the Worst Sailing Innovation Ever… And true to the basic principle of this blog, I went looking for the “worst” rule in the rulebook.
Perhaps it should be rule 2?   the Basic Principle? (red 11/02/10)
Competitors in the sport of sailing are governed by a body of rules that they are expected to follow and enforce.
To enforce the rules? What is that? Do I really have to “enforce"?
Better to let someone else do it…, I didn’t bring my police-hat…

Or should it be rule 30.3? BFD – which stands for Black Flag Disqualification.
If a boat breaks this rule and is identified, she shall be disqualified without a hearing, even if the race is restarted or resailed, but not if it is postponed or abandoned before the starting signal.
Can’t we find a better punishment for that? After I’ve sailed a whole race I’m out because I was half a meter over the line. No hearing, no redress, no nothing, BFDeed!

I think most sailors will go for rule 42 – specially if Appendix P has been switched on in the Sailing Instructions – as being the worst rule in the RRS.

As soon as you wiggle your butt, a bloody judge waives a yellow flag at you!
When I pull my sheet in, once to often, there goes another whistle…
I want to go faster, not slower!

Perhaps you can help me?
What do you think is the worst rule
in the Racing Rules of Sailing?


  1. I don't say that I could write it any better but the way the definitions interact with the rules. eg Clear ahead, clear astern, overlap depends on whether or not rule 18 applies.


  2. I've been pondering the quesion myself and thinking of writing a post at Proper Course on the topic. I think I'm going to go for 30.3.

  3. Rule 16.
    It gives too much power to the keep clear boat. If you have to keep clear then just do it or take the turns!!

  4. OHara gets a clue, and irony,10 February 2010 at 20:47

    How dare you suggest that part of the Basic Principle [sailors are expected to enforce the rules] is the worst rule ever ?! It's not even rule 2; it's the Basic Principle! You know that 99% of sailing is fleet racing with no umpires? I'm lucky find RC volunteers! You want the bullies to rule the course? . . .

    Oh. I see. Irony.

  5. That strange thing listed under RULE 2. See October 8, 2009 Laser Fundamental Rule 2 Regatta.

  6. The basic principle is probably the most important rule in the rule book. It is the rule that distinguishes sailing from other sports, in that competitors not only have to play by the rules but have to participate in ensuring that other competitors do so as well.

    Taken in conjunction with rule 2 the basic principle deals with situations such as the infamous Thierry Henry handball incident in the Ireland France qualifier for the soccer World Cup. If sailing rules had applied, not only was the player at fault for not admitting that he had handled the ball, but his teammates were also at fault, for not pointing out that a rule had been broken. Under soccer rules, the referee didn't see the infringement - so there was no foul. Not only does the goal stand, but, as there was no infringement, the player is not disciplined.

    Do we really want a sport in which cheats can prosper? Are competitors willing to pay for on the water policing of the rules? I think not.

    In the same way, if you remove the automatic disqualification for breaking 30.3, do want a hearing to be obligatory for all boats that are in the triangle in the last minute. In this case it would be reasonable to insist that all disqualifications for OCS should not be automatic, because they are the same infringement. Imagine if there had to be a hearing for all the OCS decisions. As it is a boat that is BFD or OCS may be granted redress if they can provide convincing evidence that they were not over the line.

    Finally, rule 16 is, I believe, a much misunderstood rule. It imposes an obligation on the right of way boat to ensure that her change of course does not put the keep clear boat in an impossible situation. It is a rule that protects boats and crew, it is a rule to prevent us breaking boats. Rules 14,15 and 16 make sailing a non-contact sport. These rules benefit the sport.

    Rule 42 may be unsatisfactory, until you watch the Olympic air-rowing event and see what a ridiculous sport sailing would become if we remove rule 42. Which is not to say that air-rowing is a very athletic sport - it is just not the sport of sailing!
    At present the worst rule in the book is, IMHO, 18.3(e). By limiting the restriction on the establishment of an overlap by the inside boat only to overlaps from clear astern the rule drafters have given us a rule that is too complicated for sailors (and umpires) to apply on the water. The match racing rewrite, rule C2.12 is far more satisfactory, as it applies in all cases,and does not require a difficult (either on the water or in the protest room) about whether an overlap was established from clear astern or not.


  7. Rule 42, with Appendix P, works just fine but requires trained and experienced judges - and there are still too few of those. It also helps if judges have a history of "jiggling" the boat in their younger days. Most importantly, we need many more younger dinghy sailors to become judges.

  8. I agree with the first comment.

    The definition section is even really difficult to read and understood.

    It is evident that the rules are written first and the definition later.

  9. Basic Principle, without a hint of irony.

    Rules should tel us what we must or must not do.

    A "Basic Principle" that does not even have a rule number, and only gets dragged into the "Rules" by means of the Definitions, and tells us, not what we "must" or "must not" do, but what we are "expected" to do (expected by whom? might I ask?) is in my opinion not worthy of being a rule.

    I don't have any quarrel with the sentiments in the Basic Principle, but in my opinion there is nothing in it that is not covered (and better covered) by the properly written rules (the ones with numbers).

    Keep the Basic Principle around at the front of the Rules for guidance by all means but take the pompous, pious moralising out of the definition of "Rules"


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