Tuesday, 25 May 2010

MATCH RACE Germany; Red Flag Squared

Although the Round Robin and Quarter Finals were pretty calm in terms of Yankee Flags, that was made up by the number of calls in the Semi-Finals.
Well, in one of the pairs at least.
I’m going to give you the facts found by way off a diagram and animation.

Animation & BSS-file

The first incident was before the start, just below the committee-vessel. The start signal was made when boats where approximately in position 5. Before I start explaining what the umpire answered to the two Yankee- flags, try and make up your own mind.

Blue broke a rule in position 3 by not keeping clear of Yellow, keeping them away from the start and gaining a controlling position.That’s a red for Blue.

In the previous match the right side of the course was the favourite one. Blue did not only win the start, it also was free to choose that side. By all accounts it should at least have a penalty that put it back behind Yellow.
When Blue took their first red flag penalty they came out so close to Yellow that a second contact occurred. Blue was just ROW after coming to close hauled-course after taking the penalty on Starboard Tack, but that gave Yellow no time to keep clear. Blue broke rule 15.

In normal circumstances that would be a blue penalty. But because the Umpires wanted to make sure that Blue was put back behind, they gave another red flag with that blue penalty.

If you have a comment, please don’t hesitate to comment.


  1. First, beware of diagrams.

    Based on the diagram, I would have given a Green flag @3, because @4, had Y kept her course, she would not have needed to take avoiding action, thus B would have kept clear.

    However B is taking a penalty @9 to @12, and the narrative says 'when B took their first red flag penalty they came out so close to Y that a _second contact_ occurred'. So there was contact about @3.5, and a red flag penalty on B.

    When I am diagraming I put a star or asterisk at the point of contact, with maybe a bubble saying 'Contact!'.

    Second, I think the second red flag penalty on B is a close call.

    In Bill Edgerton's article he says:

    "Equally it has never been clearly described what the criteria for a red-flag penalty is, being variously described as gaining an advantage taking into account the penalty, which was already there and required a double penalty, and change of control, which is not referred to anywhere in the RRS."

    "Gaining an advantage will be judged by either a change of right of way, or gaining a 'strategic' control such as winning a side when the umpires are certain that that a 'strategic' advantage is a constant feature for that match for that side."

    So before umpires give a red flag penalty, they should be 'certain' that control has changed.

    The narrative says that in the previous match, the right side, where B is sailing towards after the incident, was favoured, but it does not go so far as saying that the umpires were certain that it was favoured.

    Perhaps the umpires thought that Y being forced away from the side she was trying to go to was enough for them to be certain that B gained an advantage.

    If the umpires were not certain that B gained an advantage, then they should have given a routine penalty to B.

  2. It looks to me like the first penalty should have been a double - (A deliberate foul that close to the start that forces the other boat away deserves two. Also how can the umpires determine a change of control? If blue had luffed at position 2 and kept clear there is every likelihodd she would have got an even better start as she would have been half a boat length nearer the line and started exactly on time). - then she would have had to take the penalty for the second incident straight away - problem solved and no red flags!l

  3. John Christman29 May 2010 at 16:42

    The biggest question I have is whether Blue actually met the requirement of taking her penalty as soon as ‘reasonably possible’ as required in C7.3(d). By starting and then tacking to the favored side, I don’t think so. It would have been more appropriate if, after starting, Blue had borne off and done a counter-clockwise turn. I probably would have already indicated another penalty (not red) under C8.2 and MR36. This would have resulted in Blue having three penalties at position 13, a red flag penalty from the pre-start incident, a non-red flag penalty for not taking her turn as soon as reasonably possible, and a non-red flag penalty for the second incident. Match over.

    However, this leads to another interesting question. Suppose a boat has a red-flag penalty and that the second penalty is not red-flagged. The rules say that ‘if a boat has two outstanding penalties, she shall take one of them as soon as reasonably possible’. But which penalty is actually being taken or cleared? By themselves, the first penalty already has to be take as soon as possible. The second does not. So when the boat performs her first penalty turn, which penalty is being cleared, the first or the second? If it is the second penalty then Blue must do both penalty turns as soon as reasonably possible; the second one because it is the second penalty and the first because it was a red-flag penalty. If it is the first, then the second penalty could be carried until right before the finish.

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