Chasing the Extreme forties yesterday in perfect sailing conditions we were confronted with an unusual situation.
Before the race one of the sailors asked us a question: “Can I slow down an opponent when it’s no longer influencing the results in this regatta, but only on the total series result?”
In order to slow down an opponent – bringing him to the back of the fleet, so he gains points which will result in a lower ranking – you have to use match race tactics. Covering his airflow, preventing him from tacking, making him give you room when needed, etc.
You need a lot of skill to do this effectively and even more skill to make sure you don’t break any rules while doing it.
Normally in any fleet race everybody will sail as fast as they can to the finish without worrying to much about other boats. At the end of the race some do consolidate there place by covering the boat directly behind them, but that’s about it. There are however – what else is new - exceptions.
If you’ve been following the (pillow)Cases, you will have seen Case 78. In that Case a boat directly went for her opponent and made sure that opponent ended up at the back of the fleet. That is allowed as long as it is reasonable that doing so will benefit the result of the boat in the series. AND – this is a big AND – if the boat breaks a rule in order to achieve that objective, it not only breaks that (row) rule, but it also breaks rule 2.
If the PC draws that conclusion, the decision must be a DNE. The question how deliberate the infringement was also needs to be addressed.
Worst incidents end up in a rule 69-hearing. Have a look at case 34. You must know what you are doing, before you attempt this.
We answered the sailors question according to case 78 and in the final two races it indeed happened. He started covering his opponent, already looking for them in the prestart. And he did it with great skill.
We were watching for this – being made aware of the possibility by his question – so we hooked up pretty quick and covered the two boats as if we were following a match race. And I can tell you that was not easy. These cats do have some speed!
The other boat very soon discovered what was happening and its crew got very emotional. They started shouting at the other boat and at us, demanding we should do something.
They got angrier and angrier – up to a point they flagged with their Yankee flag. As there were no rules broken we answered with the Green/white flag. That did not calm them down. They were now last but one in the race.
The other boat – having fulfilled its objective – did not push that hard any more, only made sure it stayed in front and that was the race.
We tried to tell the “aggrieved” boat about the rules after the race, but they were too emotional and too angry. I’m afraid these guys need to catch up with the rules – perhaps in the next event there’s an opportunity to talk about this.
Shouting angrily to the umpires about “team racing” is NOT helping things…..
I’ve returned home after a long day of travelling. It continuously amazes me what people put up with once they are at the mercy of a plane ticket…..