They asked me to post this as they wrote it, without me giving any answers. They want you - as experienced LTW readers - to do this. I'm happy to oblige. Tell us your answers in a comment.
Finishing Line Problem – Seaweed
Here is a problem at the finishing line. Your comments are invited.
- The course to be sailed was windward-leeward with four legs. The leg length was 1 mile. The leeward mark was a gate comprising marks (3A) and (3B).
- The gate marks were set approximately 12 boat lengths (300 feet) apart.
- Sailing Instruction 7.7 said. "In the event, that the race committee decides a change of course is necessary for the first downwind leg, leg 2, one of the gate marks (3A) or (3B), will be removed and the remaining gate mark, set in it’s new location, shall be rounded to port.
- There was no change of course signal made.
- The race committee displayed the “S” flag with two sounds after several of the lead boats had rounded the windward mark at the end of leg 1.
- The race committee intended the course to be shortened by boats passing through the gate in accordance with rule 32.2(c).
- Because of difficulty in anchoring, the race committee boat was moored amidships alongside Gate mark 3B with the mark on her port side and gate mark 3A to port. Due to the light winds and strong current the race committee signal boat subsequently aligned itself with the current and the starboard side of the signal boat faced towards the course side of the course obscuring Mark 3B from boats approaching the gate.
- When sailing the downwind leg and approaching mark 3A Seaweed could not see mark 3B nor hear any sound signals and, was unable to distinguish the “S” flag displayed. Other boats sailing near Seaweed corroborated this.
- Seaweed said that she did not see a change of course signal made at the windward mark but when she saw only one gate mark, mark 3A, she considered the possibility that a change of course signal could have been made at the windward mark and that she simply failed to notice it which, in the absence of a sound signal and the apparent absence of gate mark (3B), led her to believe mark 3A was to be rounded to port according to SI 7.7.
- The wind was very light, approximately 2 knots, and the “S” flag was not “flying” but rather “laying limp” (drooping down) on it’s staff.
- Seaweed rounded the gate mark 3A to port. Seaweed was approximately 8-10 boat lengths in front of the nearest boat behind her when she rounded the gate mark.
- When rounding mark 3A Seaweed saw the gate mark 3B on the leeward side of the signal boat and then made out the “S” flag displayed on the signal boat. Seaweed sailed back between the gate marks to the course side of the shortened course finish line then sailed back across the finish line between the gates in the direction from the previous mark as shown in the diagram.
A. Did Seaweed make an error under rule 28.1 at the finishing line?
B. Has Seaweed corrected any error made at the finishing line under rule 28.1?
C. Has Seaweed finished in accordance with the definition of finish?
D. What should the Race Committee do?