Tuesday, 30 August 2011

ISAF Q&A 2011 - 018 G12: 10 seconds

The latest ISAF Q&A (2011-018) deals with recalling boats that are over the line at the starting signal.
And the timing of the individual recall for four boats, which in this case is made after 10 seconds!

As always the question is if a specific time is too long. Like how many seconds you should raise a protest flag or how long after an incident you should do penalty turn(s).

The panel has answered as we can expect: "it depends" and finds subsequently in the described circumstances, that ten second was (too) long. It is long if you count 10 seconds in your head, but it is not long on a heaving deck of a committee boat with force 7 blowing your ears off and you can't hear what the second line sighter is saying. Like the Q&A panel states: 'It depends'.

One of the issues I've learned doing starts, is that your communication with the pin-end boat must be flawless.
Better to repeat your agreed on method for the 50th time, then to have to wait in asking for conformation a second time on how many boats were over. Then those ten second will have passed and then some.

Look at it this way.
If you give an individual recall because you think there was a boat over, but are not sure, subsequently get no conformation from the other people on the pin-end nor the second linesman, you may have hoisted that flag for nothing, but you don't have score anybody OCS.
If you think someone is over and wait for conformation before hoisting the flag, it may be already to late when you get that. And you will be unable to score anybody OCS. Or if you do, that will be overturned in a subsequent redress hearing....

Sure, it is always better to be sure before you hoist the X, so there's no chance that any boat returns unnecessary. But in my opinion to hoist and then find no boat over, is the better of two (not the best) choices.

You can read the Q&A here:  ISAF Q&A 2011 - 018 G12


  1. I call lines several times a year, and race in a few big-fleet regattas a year. As a line-caller, I have never been in doubt about whether at least one boat was over early. If you can't see the other end of the line, blow the horn and yell for X-Ray flag. The problem is identifying the boats that were over early, and the bigger problem is identifying all the boats that were over early, if that's your goal. A related problem is dealing with dubious requests for redress from cometitors who claim they weren't over early.

    There seems to be a presumption that over-early boats should be notified so quickly that they have a sporting chance to restart and get back in the race. I sympathize, but I think the penalty for over early in lost time should be bigger than the lost time for a two-turns penalty. The goal is to have a fair start with no-one over the line early, and a severe penalty aids that goal.

    My idea of a fair but severe penalty is an announcement by radio 1 minute after the start.

    Tom Donlan
    Annapolis MD

  2. As a competitor I mostly agree with Tom. A boat that's starting early does not only give an advantage to himself, but also disadvantages boats around him. Even if this boat will end up with an OCS, the surrounding boats will only win one position (or not even), while they probably have lost much more at the start. The penalty should be huge.

    When I am in doubt whether I am on or over the starting line at the start signal, and an X is hoisted, I have to make my own decision whether I go back or not. I don't think it is the race committees job to inform me about this other then hoisting a X flag. If using radio, I fully agree with Tom that the one minute after the start is the moment to spread the word. Early starters are out, and other sailors will get free air again. As a competitor with an OCS boat in front of me, I have to bite my tongue for only 60 seconds.

    But don't let a competitor get away with a early start: it makes sailing unfair.


  3. I think one factor that slows PROs down on raising the Individual Recall is the question of whether there's going to be a general recall -- and the PRO can't know that until he gets information from the pin end about how many of the OCS boats can be identified. But as far as I can tell, nothing prohibits raising X and then, if the PRO determines that there are OCS boats he can't identify, raising the First Substitute. In fact, in re-reading rule 29, it's not clear that this isn't a requirement, as noting in rule 29.1 says it doesn't apply when rule 29.2 does!


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