Saturday, 29 January 2011

LTW Reader Q&A (49); Finished but still Racing

Since the Readers Q’s have been gathering dust in the attic, I’m trying to clear out the lot, so there’s room for new stuff. Most of them 'I’m answering directly by Email but some are of interest to the blogreaders. Like this one:

Earl has a question about the definition of finishing:


Hello.  I again want to thank you for the effort you put in your blog and let you know how informative I find it.  Even though my club races radio controlled  models we still try and do things "by the book" and I encourage our members to study your blog. 

We recently had an extended discussion about the following situation:

A boat is finishing to windward in very light air and before completely crossing  the line it catches a header and is blown back to the course side. While on the course side, it bears off and then sails around the end of the finish line to the non-course side.  Clearly, the boat has finished under the official definitions and is scored.  The question is, at what point is she no longer racing?

I must confess I find the Q&A (quoted below for your convenience) more than a bit of a muddle, and I also find it  strange that a determination as important as when the rules no longer are in effect is handled in a non-binding Q&A instead of a case.

I interpret the Q&A as saying that the point at which the rules shut off is the point at which the boat is sailing "away" from the line and marks, and the common-sense definition of "away" is that you can't touch the mark without reversing course.  In the situation in the diagram, this would be when the boat crosses the extension of the finish line and is "truly" on the non-course side.

As an aside, I find the second sentence to be internally inconsistent, in that the first clause states that the boat has cleared the line and is therefore no longer racing. I can only assume that the author really meant "finishes close hauled"  instead of "clears the finishing line close-hauled," in which case this is just one of many situations of "finished but still racing" and I fail to see why it deserves special mention.

It seems to me a much simpler clarification would be something like:

"A  boat 'clears the finishing line and marks' when she reaches a point where a reversal of course would be required for her to touch either the line or the marks."

I would dearly love to write this in our sailing instructions but  believe I am precluded from doing so by 86.1 (b), because it would involve changing a definition.

Comments welcome, by you or your readers.

Cheers, Earl


E 001 Q&A 2006-002

Revised: 12 January 2009


With respect to the definition Racing, when has a boat 'cleared' the finishing line and marks?


A boat clears the finishing line and marks when no part of her hull, crew or equipment is on the line and when neither mark is influencing her course.

A boat that clears the finishing line close-hauled and continues to sail toward the finishing line pin end mark, where current sets her into the mark, is still racing and has broken 31. A boat that crosses the finishing line, sails away from the line and marks, and then later hits the finishing line mark, does not break rule 31 as she is no longer racing.


I’m not responding to this one until you as readers have had some time to comment. Feel free to “dive” in.



  1. If the positions of the boat in the sketch were numbered, I think she is no longer racing at 5. At 4, she might go back to close hauled and be swept into finishing mark 2.


  2. Dear Earl and Jos;
    I have posted the subject "Racing or No longer racing" on my blog several times.
    But I have not reached a conclusion yet.

    1. QA2006-002
    The answer of QA2006-002 is unclear and equivocal.
    I attempted to make a diagram, but I still cannot understand the difference "Racing and No longer racing.

    Please click;
    and Download

    2. US APPEAL 16
    The explanation of US APPEAL 16 is "very" clear.
    "At the moment" a boat finished and cleared the finishing line and marks, she is no longer racing.

    Please click;
    and Download

    3. US APPEAL 26
    The explanation of US APPEAL 26 is "so-so" clear.
    When a boat cleared the line, she was well clear of the mark.
    It would be similar to US APPEAL 16.

    Please click;
    and Download

    4. CYA APPEAL 78
    The CYA APPEAL 78 is, if anything, similar to QA2006-002.
    When a boat had finished but she was sailing in the racing area, she had been racing.

    Please click;
    and Download

  3. I have actually heard a protest on this. The boat that had not cleared the marks was on starboard, a boat approaching the line was on port. The port boat had to avoid the starboard boat and protested. There was no overlap when the first boat reached the 3 length zone. There was no contact. We found that the starboard boat was still racing and had rights under 11 and that the port boat had broken rule 11. I had a really good time doing the research on this protest.
    Folks get hung up on the up on "have been racing" in the preamble. Remember that really only applies if someone goes back and messes with a boat still racing. In this hearing, the port boat was claiming 23.1 had been broken. The key was that the starboard boat had not cleared the RC boat and pin, was still racing and so they were both on the same leg of the course. 23.1 did not apply, but 11 did. I really don't think the port boat still gets what he did wrong. I wish that this LTW and been out when we had this hearing.

  4. Dear Edith;
    There is one question in your story.
    Did the starboard boat clear the finishing line and marks or not in the facts found?
    Sen Yamaoka

  5. My bad, I meant RRS 10 not 11.

  6. Earl

    I don’t share your sense of muddle. It seems to me to be a clear and straightforward interpretation. Perhaps it runs contrary to some preconceived opinion that you had. Maybe you thought it was necessary for a boat to clear the finishing line and marks on the non-course side. This has never been the case, at least since my 1947 copy of the European IYRU rules, which specifically stated ‘ it is not necessary for a Yacht to pass across the [finishing] line; she may drop astern of it, … ‘ Many rules commentary books include the example of finishing then dropping astern of the finishing line as an example of finishing properly then properly clearing the finishing line and marks.

    The Racing Rules Q&A Panel may propose Q&As that have been published to be added to the Case Book, but to be published as a case in the Case Book, the issue must significantly clarify an important meaning of a rule or increase the understanding of a complex rule (ISAF Regulation 28.3). I guess the Q&A Panel doesn’t think that this Q&A meets those criteria.

    Maybe you are exaggerating the importance of the issue. The fact that a boat ceases to be racing does not mean that ‘the rules are no longer in effect’ or that ‘the rules shut off’. Certainly the rules of Part 4 do not apply to a boat that is no longer racing, but the When Boats Meet rules of Part 2 certainly continue to apply to boats that are sailing in or near the racing area after they have been racing (Preamble to Part 2).

    Perhaps the most important rule that needs to be ‘shut off’ when a boat is no longer racing is rule 31 Touching a Mark, which may explain why the Q&A focuses on marks.

    I don’t think everyone would agree with your ‘common-sense’ definition of ‘away’. The common dictionary definition of ‘away’ is ‘from this or that point’ To the extent that any amplification of the meaning of ‘away’ is necessary, I suggest that it is sufficient that the boats is sailing so that the distance from the line and marks is increasing. There is no sense of ‘reversing course’.

    I think you are missing the point of the second paragraph of the answer. For a boat to have ceased to be racing she must have 1) cleared the finishing line, AND 2) have cleared the finishing marks. The first sentence of this paragraph gives an example where both of these criteria are not met, and the boat breaks rule 31 by touching the finishing mark. The second sentence gives an example of both criteria being met and the boat no longer being racing.

  7. Sen, and everybody,

    For those who remain confused, I suggest the Race Management Manual Part 2, slides 70 and 71 may be helpful.[6937].ppt

    I think the only confusing item in Sen's discussion is the CYA Appeal 78, which appears to be attempting to introduce a concept akin the match racing 'H' fitted around the finishing line and marks, and say that a boat that is inside the H has not cleared the finishing marks.

    I don't agree that such a concept is necessary and I don't agree that CYA Appeal 78 is right.

    Looking at the diagram in CYA Appeal 78, it is abundantly clear to me that S is 'clear' of both finishing marks at all times after position 3. S has finished and cleared the finishing line and marks. She is no longer racing and is exposed to rule 23.1.

    Applying Q&A 2006-002 to CYA Appeal 78, S's course is not being influenced by either finishing mark at least from position 3. She is no longer racing.

    Looking at the two US Sailing Appeals (16 and 26), the diagrams both show boats inside the 'H' which each Appeal determines 'are no longer racing' which means that they have cleared the finising line and marks.

    Likewise, the Race Management Manual slide 71 shows boats inside the H, as having finished adn cleared the finishing line and marks.

    I think the CYA Appeal 78 is inconsistent with all the other authorities, and should be disregarded.

    Sen, I think your Interpretation Diagram in you blog discussion of Q&A 2006-002 isn't right for the Red boat. The Red boat is in a very similar situation to the Green boat in Race Management Manual slde 71. Put it this way: at some point after first crossing the finishing line, as Red bears away, but before she reaches the beam reaching course illustrated, Red will have reached a point when she is clear of the finishing line, but she is still pointing high enough to clear the pin mark, despite the current: at this point she is sailing away from the finishing line and marks, and has thus ceased racing. When she further bears away and reaches towards the pin mark, she is no longer racing.

  8. Dear Brass;
    Hasten to say thanks so much.
    I will think it over carefully.
    Sen Yamaoka

  9. Sen,
    That the starboard boat did not clear the marks was CERTAINLY listed a a fact found!


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