In Match Racing the umpires give penalties to boats they think have broken a rule or rules. But even that can be very complicated, sometimes.
There’s first of all the decision that a right of way rule has been broken by a boat and if so, was she forced to do so, by something the other boat did. I.e. did the right of way boat break one of the general limitations (Rules 15 – 17) forcing the keep clear boat not to keep clear?
Then there are the questions: did the boat do it deliberately or did the control of the match change? And also, did the boat gain an advantage after allowing for a penalty? In other words is this a red flag penalty?
Normally you can first put up a colour and, when you discussed this some more, there is still time to put up the red flag, indicating that the penalty should be taken immediately.
But there is an exception (Of course there is, whenever is there not an exception?). When you already have an outstanding penalty and then decide to give the other boat a penalty, you must display the red flag immediately with that colour. Otherwise the colours would cancel each other out and there’s no possibility to use the red flag any more. The only thing you can do in this case, is delay the displaying of the colour, until you are sure there shouldn’t be a red with it.
But as with many things, you first have to get it wrong and make this mistake, before you figure out the correct way, you should have done this. A lesson learned – something you will not forget.