Sunday, 28 March 2010

Three Green Flags

Team Heiner Logo The Team Heiner Match Race Winter Series had it’s final day on the water yesterday. Together with two trainee National Umpires I followed the two Max Fun 35’s for 15 matches.
In one of the matches we decided answered the calls with three green flags in short order. This was the situation:

First windward mark rounding, Match 2

Yellow an Blue approach the windward mark above the layline, overlapped.
Yellow luffs because she does not want Blue to gain mark-room as inside boat.
Blue displays the Yankee flag, shouting that boats are already in the zone.

Ump: Green flag.

Yellow breaks away and is able to sail clear ahead. Blue also is able to accelerate and before Yellow is at the mark gains again a windward overlap. Yellow does not give any room and Blue luffs to avoid hitting Yellow and/or the Mark and displays the Yankee flag again.

Ump: Green flag.

Blue is turning sharply and straight into a tack, while Yellow rounds the mark.
Blue looses a lot of speed in that maneuver and bears off to go round the mark. Yellow has now rounded the mark and, instead of going downwind straight away, points to Blue. Yellow has to bear of to avoid hitting Blue and calls foul with a Yankee flag.

Ump: Green flag.

These situations happen in very short succession. We discussed these calls and decisions in the debrief afterwards, to find out if we got it right and the different perspectives from the sailors.
The first green was because none of the boats were in the zone and Blue had not (yet) gained mark-room. She had to keep clear under R11 which she did. No foul.

On the second green there was a discussion if Blue was able to get the inside overlap before or after Yellow entered the zone. Facts established – confirmed by the sailors themselves – Yellow was clear ahead at one time after the luffing and subsequent bear away. Blue did have an inside overlap half a boat length before the mark. The Umpires based there green flag on the fact that they were not sure the overlap was established in time and therefore they assumed it was not – in effect going back to their last point of certainty. Blue had no right to mark-room, was still subject to rule 11 to keep clear and she did that. Again, no foul.

The last green. In its haste to get back to round the mark Blue in all effect almost stopped. When Yellow rounded the mark and then established the collision course she was the boat with right of way – subject to rule 16.1 – because her pointing was not her proper course to round the mark and therefore not to be exonerated under rule 18.5(b). She had to give Blue room to keep clear. Blue could do little because of her lack of speed and so Yellow had to bear away, complying with her limitation to give room. No foul, Green flag.

Specially the final green was very hard to decide. Was Yellow still sailing her proper course or not? We could have easily gone the other way and penalized Blue.



  1. 1. At positions 8 and 9, blue is not sailing her proper course (absent yellow, she would not be sailing that course.

    2. At positions 8 and 9, blue and yellow are on different legs.

    3. At positions 8 and 9, blue is interfering with yellow.

    Therefore, doesn't blue break 23.2? Isn't this an easy call?

  2. Two question

    a) was yellow subject to rule 17 before position 1?

    b) After rounding the mark, when yellow is in position 8 is she subject to rule 17?

  3. What about RRS 23.2 in the last incident.
    Did yellow sail her proper course when interfering with blue sailing on another leg?

  4. I don't agree that Blue might be penalised. I think it could only be yellow that might be penalised.

    I don't believe Rule 18 applied after position 8 because yellow was leaving the mark and blue was still approaching the mark (18.1(c)).

    I believe that blue is approaching the mark even though she is not yet pointing towards the mark, her future course will take her on the required side of the mark.

    But even if you believe that blue is not approaching the mark at this point, certainly blue no longer owes yellow mark-room because yellow has passed head to wind (18.2(c)) so 18.5 can not apply.

    However yellow is subject to 16.1, 17 and 23.2. If yellow was sailing above proper course then she could be penalised under either of the last 2 rules.

    If it was unclear whether yellow was sailing a proper course, a green flag is correct, otherwise it is a yellow flag.

  5. I don't think the situation at position 8 can be resolved within the rules as written, because the boundaries of a "leg" are nowhere defined that I can find. Is a mark rounding included in a "leg?" Is the zone? Does the next leg begin when a mark rounding is completed; if so, there's still a problem, because that isn't defined either. A fine mess :-)

  6. I agree that rule 23.2 is the most (of several) applicable rule. Principle: you can't hunt a boat on a different leg.

    As long as the umpires saw Y's course change between @8 and @9 as keeping or coming onto her proper course, rather than changing course to avoid B, then Green was the right decision.

    Rule 17 DOES apply, but if you rely on rule 23.2, you don't need it. In answer to Anyfile's questions:

    1. Pretty unusual for a lee-bow boat to get there from clear astern within two hull lengths, and I'm sure that Jos's umpires would have called 17 ON if it had been @1.

    2. Rule 17 probably comes ON between @7 and @8. At about @7.5, as B, having reached close hauled, continues to bear away, she will 'show her transom' to Y, putting Y momentarily CASTN (Give, rule 12), then, with B still bearing away, she and Y will become overlapped with Y to leeward within 2 hull lengths, thus rule 17 ON.

  7. Thanks all.
    We did not consider 17 nor 23.2, both should have been. In hindsight we should have penalized Yellow for either. She was above her proper course and interfering with a boat on another leg.

  8. Anon on 28 March asked about the meaning of 'leg'.

    This is dealt with in ISAF Q&A 2009-032. (I knew it was out there somewhere).

  9. Referring to the call book, isn't the last call exactly the situation in Ump 11? By the book the call is green flag as neither boat broke a rule (there is no rule preventing blue from being where she is or losing way).

  10. Anon in Post 9,

    No this does not match MR Call Ump 11 because in that case neither rule 17 nor 23 applied: both apply here.

  11. Brass in 10

    I respectfully disagree.

    Rule 17 does not apply as the overlap was established as a result of Blue's action to turn down into it, so Yellow's luff is not restricted.

    Rule 23 does not apply, IMO, until position 9 when Yellow is clearly on the next leg. At 8 she is still 'rounding' so not on the next leg.

    In the write-up, it was stated that Blue came to essentially a stop, meaning she could no longer take effective action to keep clear. So I don't believe the application of 17 or 23 matters....Blue is unable to keep clear under the rules, and Yellow does keep clear even though initially hunting. That is the basis of Ump 11.

  12. Anon in Post 11,

    You seem to be confusing rule 17 with rule 15. There is nothing in rule 17 about _how_ the boats become overlapped, except when the windward boat is tacking (subject to rule 13).

    You're not persuading me about rule 23.2. Yellow has completed the leg she was sailing on (rule C7.2(c)). Blue was still on that leg. @8 the umpires decided that Yellow was not sailing her proper course at the mark, therefore, if it be true that a boat 'rounding', or 'at' a mark is not on a leg at all, Yellow was on her new leg.

    Anybody else got any views about whether a boat 'at' a mark is thereby not sailing on a leg of the course?

  13. Brass at 12....

    I had mis-remembered C7.2(c) as the boat having to cross the extension line, not just pierce it, so I felt that she was not around at position 8. I withdraw the leg issue.

    No I am not confusing 17 and 15, though maybe I would have had to be there to decide whether Blue was still subject to 13 when the overlap began. The drawing is unclear, but I was thinking she likely was.

    However, I probably shouldn't have addressed the rules thing anyway. My main point is that Ump 11 make the point that, when Blue loses way, she is no longer ABLE to keep clear and cannot be penalized for failure to do so. I don't think it matters which rules apply until she regains way. Further, Yellow can hunt her initially to try to draw the penalty, but commits no foul so long as she heads down and avoids.

    To dismiss Ump 11 because some different set of rules is in play misses the point of the call, I believe.

  14. Anon at Post 13,

    I'm afraid you are seriously misunderstanding the effect of a boat being unable to keep clear.

    Being unable to comply with a rule does not generally exonerate a boat (rules 18.2(e) and 19.2(c) being exceptions).

    The point is that if a give way boat is unable to respond, a right of way boat that changes course so that the give way boat does not have room to keep clear breaks rule 16, and in so doing will exonerate the give way boat for breaking the right of way rule.

  15. Anon at Post 13,

    Why not set MR Call Ump 11 aside? It is readily distinguishable: before the start so no rule 17 or rule 23.

  16. I'm afraid you are seriously misunderstanding the effect of a boat being unable to keep clear.

    No, I am not misunderstanding that at all, seriously or otherwise.

    This follows directly from rule 16.1 and the definition of room. If blue is stopped, and cannot maneuver then no amount of room is sufficient for her to keep clear under current conditions. The limit of what she is expected to do is 'all she can', and she meets that standard since she can do nothing while stopped.

    The write-up for call Ump 11 specifies pre-start to simplify describing the call. Concluding that it can never apply anywhere else is not sensible.

    That is all...


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