Monday, 29 August 2011

(pillow)Case of the week (35/11) – 47

(This is an instalment in a series of blogposts about the ISAF Call book 2009-2012 with amendments for 2010. All calls are official interpretations by the ISAF committees on how the Racing Rules of Sailing should be used or interpreted. The calls are copied from the Call book, only the comments are written by me.)

(pillow)Case picture


Rule 2, Fair Sailing

A boat that deliberately hails ‘Starboard’ when she knows she is on port tack has not acted fairly, and has broken rule 2.

Assumed Facts

An experienced helmsman of a port-tack boat hails ‘Starboard’ to a beginner who, although on starboard tack, not being sure of himself and probably being scared of having his boat holed, tacks to port to avoid a collision. No protest is lodged.

One school of thought argues that it is fair game, because if a helmsman does not know the rules, that is his own hard luck. The other school rejects this argument, on the grounds that it is quite contrary to the spirit of the rules to deceive a competitor in that way. It is known that such a trick is often played, particularly when novices are involved.


In such a case, has the port-tack boat broken rule 2?


A boat that deliberately hails ‘Starboard’ when she knows she is on port tack has not acted fairly and has broken rule 2. The protest committee might also consider taking action under rule 69.

RYA 1980/1



Bullying should not be tolerated. That’s what this is.

It does happen more often than we know. The problem is to catch someone, because there’s never a ‘policeman’ around when the bully does this.

But wait, all sailors are also policemen! They also have to enforce the rules….

So, please consider seriously to protest behaviour like this, if you come across anything similar!



I’ve returned from Kiel-Schilksee, from the Match Race Clinic I was “rules-advising”. We had good wind and could sail the whole program. Hopefully the participants will have some benefit from the ideas we introduced.

Kiel sure does look different without the whole Kiel-week circus.

And no free wire-less available. But that you must have already guessed from the lack of posts.



  1. Even without a protest a port tacker that knows he is on port calling starboard labels himself. And a label the starboard folk won't forget. I won't worry much about the protest etc.

  2. "Bullying should not be tolerated. That’s what this is."

    I beg to differ.

    This case is about deliberately deceiving and imposing on the credulity of the other boat.

    It's cheating, but it's not bullying.

    There's no evidence of using superior strength, overbearing, or owerawing here: those are the hallmarks of bullying.

    I really don't see how, between two skippers of different boats, separated by a length of water, one can ever 'bully' the other.

    Certainly one competitor may attempt to intimidate or attain pshychological dominance over another: within the rules this is perfectly allowable: close lee-bowing, or slam-dunking, aggressive luffing, downwind gybing matches and so on. As long as it's within the rules, that's how we expect the game to be played: hard and aggressively; is it not?

    Equally certainly, actual or verbally threatened physical violence, or verbal intimidation, 'trash-talking' with the intent to 'put the other off their game' and so on are beyond the rules, but please don't let us follow the RYA Marketing Department in their efforts to make our sport a nursery school on the water.

  3. What about hailing “Port” with the same tone of authority that one has previously hailed “Starboard?”

  4. @ Sam
    I wouldn't worry so much, if I saw that your "social" pressure had enough of an impact to change peoples behavior.

    @ Brass
    Perhaps it is my lack of understanding of the meaning of 'bullying'. In any case, if the 'stronger' takes advantage over the 'weaker' by unfair means, it should be condemned.

    @ Dana
    If the statement was to intimidate, the effect will be the same, but under the 'law' it might not be punishable....

  5. Helmer Schweizer31 August 2011 at 05:21

    * From Helmer Schweizer:

    I read with interest the part on ZERO TOLERANCE in Scuttlebutt 3416. In my opinion, judges sometimes overact and want to make use of their power, demonstrate it to themselves and the others on the water. In other words: They police more than the police does.

    This reminds me of the famous experiment where people were given power to switch higher and higher the penalizing voltage, even beyond the kill point indicator and the artificial pains screams of the sufferer.

    Sure, I do not want to say the starboard yelling port sailing guy was right, especially if he was known to be an experienced sailor. What else other than a formal protest and dsq could a judge do?

    He could walk up to the sailor and tell about the observation and very brief on the possible/potential actions by the judge and the resulting consequences. And then, suggest/recommend him to do two things on his own will:

    - provide the other boat an apology
    - withdraw from the race finish and be classified as a DNF.

    This has two effects: It allows the wrongful sailor to take things back in his own hands, and show that he is a gentleman after all, regain his future credibility; as well as teach all a lesson who hear about it.
    Only if the sailor would be stubborn would/could the judge lodge a protest.
    This is similar to get caught in the car going too fast, but being let go with a (lower priced) ticket/warning instead of being charged and prosecuted by the full power of the law. Some common sense should be implied in all we do all day.

    (from Scuttlebutt 3417)

  6. @ Helmer,
    I would be very much in agreement if you did as you state here yourself. I'm not the policemen, you yourself are, as fellow sailor in that regatta.

  7. Jos,

    I am just catching up on my reading. While I don't think it is ever reasonable to hail "Starboard" I think the context will change the appropriate reaction.

    I am attaching a link to an article I wrote on this topic about a year ago.

    You might be interested in the full set of articles. I write them monthly for our yacht club newsletter.

  8. Thanks Aalberti, I'll will try to catch up on your articles.


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