Friday, 2 April 2010

The Finish Trap

In last weekends Match Race one of the matches ended in a boat 'fight' between the leading yellow boat and the trailing blue boat all the way to the finish line. Yellow had an outstanding penalty and slowed down as much as possible to get Blue to commit to a side and hook them. Blue did everything (and succeeded) in staying clear astern.
Finally at the finish line Yellow ended up almost next to the committee-boat end and had to luff hard to clear the anchor and line. Blue found a gap and went in , believing there was space to go.

Yellow did not gybe back an closed the gab, although she had entered the zone clear ahead and was entitled to mark room. Blue ran a great risk of going there, but as long as Yellow allowed it....
(this picture is from the rapid response call; Yellow and Blue are opposite to our match)
We discussed the incident at the debrief and I referred to Rapid Response Match Race Call 2009-005

After a two days I received an Email from one of the sailors asking about this incident.
What if the leading boat HAD closed the trap correctly, did sail a proper course to get to the finish? The trailing boat would then be breaking rule 18.2(b), and if Yankee'd by Yellow (in our case) get a penalty. That would cancel the Yellow boat's penalty and the match would be decided by whoever crossed the finish line first.

The question the sailor wanted answered was: If in that situation the trailing boat crossed the line first, and won the match, would that constitute an infringement according to C8.3 (a)? That is, gained an advantage by breaking a rule after allowing a penalty.

My first instinct was to answer no. Because of the outstanding penalty the trailing boat already had the advantage. But the more I think about it, the more I'm in doubt.
What do you think?

I've arrived in Hamburg for Alster Acts 16 & 17 at the Hamburger Sailing Club during Easter. Hope to post nevertheless.


  1. Jos, Have you got Blue and Yellow reversed in the diagram? You refer to 'the trailing Blue boat', the diagram shows Yellow trailing.

  2. @Brass, Yes, you are right. But the picture is from the RRMR call. I should have seen that.

  3. First and foremost, this is a screw-up by the leading boat, getting too deep below the RC Boat's anchor rode: OL plan, poor execution.

    Firstly, if the leading boat sailed her proper course to and at the mark, from position 1, there will never be room or opportunity for the trailing boat to fall into the trap by sticking her nose in between the leading boat and the mark.

    Secondly, even if the leading boat did open the door a little, as indicated by the RR Call, a 'mark trap' at a finishing mark doesn't work the same way as at an ordinary leeward mark, because the proper course of the boat entitled to mark-room is NOT a the course around the mark, but is the quickest course to the finishing line. Thus, once the leading boat 'opens the door a little', by sailing a little past the finishing mark before baaring away, giving the trailing boat space to 'stick her nose in' then the leading boat's proper course will be the course straight to the finishing line, which will still leave the trailing boat space between the leading boat and the mark.

    Leading boat will NOT be sailing her proper course at the mark, trailing boat, now inside, will NOT be failing to give Leading boat mark-room. If Leading boat Y flags, GREEN. If Leading boat on port, sails any closer to trailing boat on starboard, then Leading Boat will be in rule 10 trouble.

    Suppose this was happening at the pin finishing mark (mirror image), in that case, Leading boat, after she gybes, will be coming in on starboard, against trailing boat on port, but leading boat will still have rule 16 problems.

    Either way, I don't think it is practically prossible for leading boat to get a penalty on trailing boat so the extra penalty question doesn't come into play.

  4. I think you may be looking in the wrong place.In the circumstances you describe, I would be looking to see if a rule was broken deliberately and the tests in Call MR31 wouls suggest the answer is yes. If not sure what of a red flag? If there has been a change of control.

    Mike Butterfield

  5. OK, I have had a little re-think about a leading boat (A), that swings wide attempting to mark-trap a trailing boat (B), not being able to sail a proper course that shaves the mark and effectively traps B. On reflection, while A's proper course at a finishing line is not 'around' the mark, it is quite possible that her proper course is a hot angle, intended to accelerate out of the gybe, that shaves the mark, and which B obstructs.

    Turning to Jos's basic question, does B, having been legitimately mark-trapped by A still have an advantage, I think the answer could be Yes. B breaks rule 18.2(b) by preventing A from sailing her proper course (presumably as A bears away to avoid contact with B), thus A comes out of the incident sailing slower than her proper course and B squeaks across the line first: I think B has gained an advantage from depriving A of mark-room, and should be given a second penalty.

    I don't agree with Mike B that 'deliberately breaking a rule (C8.3(b)) applies. While B may have been deliberate in sailing into what she believed was sufficient room, that was a misjudgement of the space, not a delibearate breach of the rules.


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