Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Yankee flag on day One

Extreme Sailing Series Act 7 in Nice, France:

110928 ESS6 Pd1

An on the water umpire decision for two boats at the leeward mark.

The Yellow boat puts up a Yankee flag in position 8: During the incident we were sure that according to our observations Yellow was clear ahead until position 3.

But because we were not sure that Yellow entered the zone before Green, we decided that not rule 18.2(b) dictated the mark rounding but rule 18.2(a)

We gave a Green/white flag. The sailors disagreed.

This call hinges on the finding of the fact which of the boats entered first. We were in a ideal position to see overlaps, but had a hard time deciding if the Yellow boat was pointing at the zone or was sailing above…

We needed a wing telling us where Yellow was pointing.

Comments welcome,


  1. Wouldn't the more conventional position for the U boat to be trailing between the competitors, with a wing outside calling overlap?

    Do you have some special guidance for U boat positioning?

    Appears that Y luffed between @1 and @2, possibly to be sure of no overlap at the zone, but by doing so, got too far from the zone.

    It's a 3 hull length zone. My feeling from a copetitor's point of view is that it is easier to be sure that you are IN a 3 length zone. Apparently, from an umpire's point of view it is easier to be sure that a boat IS NOT IN a 2 length zone.

  2. Last point of certainty before the zone was that Yellow was clear ahead of Green.

    There is doubt both as to whether Green was overlapped on the inside when the first boat reached the zone, and as to which boat entered the zone first.

    Umpires agree that when both boats were clearly in the zone Green was overlapped on the inside.

    In which case I would apply 18.2(d) and presume that Green had not obtained an overlap before the first boat entered the zone. This would apply whichever boat first entered the zone.

    Yellow was therefore presumed to be clear ahead at the zone and entitled to mark room.


  3. I think it is also important to know whether yellow has overtaken green, or green is closing in on yellow to decide if rule 18 applies (18.2d).

  4. "But because we were not sure that Yellow entered the zone before Green ...". Why is it important for Yellow to enter the zone before Green. Rule 18 applies when one of them enters the zone (not both of them). At the moment Green enters the zone, there was no overlap with Yellow (18.2a and 18.2b) and Yellow was not clear astern (18.2e). So there is no consequence for Yellow (or Green) according to rule 18.

  5. Why doesn't 18.2 (D) apply? If the overlap was clear before point 3, then not clear at the zone, why wouldn't you defer to the last point of certainty?

  6. With the larger zone (3 lengths for many, 4 lengths for RC sailing), it is quite possible for a non-overlapped boat clear astern to enter the zone before an outside boat that is clear ahead.

    The issue in this case is the uncertainty about when the overlap begins relative to when the outside (clear ?) ahead boat entered the zone. Green appears to enter the zone first. Yellow luffs before the zone to break any overlap, then bares off to enter the zone. It appears that they become overlapped as Yellow enters the zone and green is already in the zone.

    If it is certain that Yellow was clear ahead as she entered the zone, then 18.2.b and c apply and give ROW to Yellow. But it is not certain. . .doubt exists.

    I looked at Case 2 and Case 59 and US Sailing Appeal 92.

    It is not clear where the zone is (there is no line in the water) and so it requires judgement. So in situations like this one, there will be doubt about the existence of an overlap when entering the zone.

    So I would use 18.2.d.

    To me, there was no rule was broken, and no contact so green flag the incident.


  7. After my test tomorrow, I'll have some time to go over all your comments. J.

  8. So, Green is first in the zone. There is doubt about the overlap at that time, and 18.2d then says no overlap. When there is doubt about Yellow being clear ahead upon entry, then clearly she is not clear ahead. 18.2b shuts down, and 18.a takes over. Voila! No fouls. Problem seems to be that 18 expressly handles the doubt about an overlap. Doubts about being clear ahead is handled implicitly. Maybe the whole thing would go away with a two-length zone.

  9. I'm very great-full for all the comments on this post. It brings to light a part in the rules that seems to be more or less misunderstood.
    Let me try to explain.
    We had no doubts about the overlap; there wasn't one. Regardless of who entered first at that moment Green was clear astern of Yellow.
    We had doubts if Yellow entered the zone first or was still pointing above it.

    IF she was entering as first boat then rule 18.2(b) dictates she has mark-room and Green should not have gone in and should have been penalized when a Yankee flag was displayed.

    BUT IF she did not enter first, but Green did, it becomes a whole other kettle of fish.
    Rule 18.2(b) specifically states:
    "If a boat is clear ahead when SHE reaches the zone, the boat clear astern at that moment shall thereafter give her mark-room."
    Green enters first, but is NOT clear ahead, Yellow is. So rule 18.2(b) does NOT apply.
    We need to fall back on rule 18.2(a)
    And in that scenario Green is inside boat a few second later and Yellow must give her mark-room.

    Rule 18.2(d) is no help because that only covers overlap or not. Yes Noodle, it also is written to resolve doubt about clear ahead - clear astern.
    The doubt must be resolved some other way. We decided that because we where not sure that Yellow was first in the zone we would go back to our last point of certainty. The distance between the boats was two (or more) boat lengths all the way down, so Yellow was pointing above the zone until she bore off to go down to the mark.
    That scenario ended in Green getting mark-room and a Green/white flag.

    It would have been help full to have a second boat who could have given us information about the direction Yellow was pointing. (above or in the zone). Yes, that can be accomplished by the same umpire boat trailing these boats, but in a field of eleven you don't want to get in the middle. AND, more importantly, then we would not have been able to see if there's was an overlap or not.

    A couple of wing boats, perhaps....

  10. Right, I´ve been set straight. I got it wrong in my last comment.
    Even if Yellow reaches the zone as second boat, if she then is still clear ahead she is entitled to mark room. After studying case 2 and the rule it nowhere states that she has to be the first one to be in the zone to get mark-room.
    Apparently, this is one of the changes in this cycle, and I was still using the old rules.
    Penalty on me, this time.

  11. I see what you mean, Jos, but the first sentence of 18.2b deals with overlaps when the first boat reaches the zone. The second sentence says 'if a boat is clear ahead when she reaches the zone, the boat clear astern at that moment shall thereafter give her mark room'. It does not say the boat clear ahead must be first into the zone to get her mark room.


  12. How the mighty are fallen - Jos is human after all!


  13. This situation demonstrates a problem with the rules. By the definition of overlap, yellow is clear ahead, but green enters the zone first and is closer to the mark and is ahead on the racecourse. The current R 18 does not handle this well.


  14. I agree with comment 11.

    Also I have to point out that the second part of 18.2(b) is not written in a so clear way. It is not symmetric to the first part. While in the first part it is written "when the first of them", in the second part (the one with no overlap) there is no more reference to the first of them. It is generically written "if a boat [...] when she reaches the zone".

    Now maybe who has written the rules has thought that the only boat that can be clear head must be the one that reaches the zone, but that cannot be the case.

    If I read the second part of the rule, I found the indefinite article "a". From this I should conclude that every time every boat reach the zone, if this boat (A) is clear ahead to another boat (B) than boat B shall give mark room to A.

    But this may conflict with the first part of rule 18.2(b). There would be no conflict if only the first boat that reaches the zone could be the clear ahead boat.

    Now suppose boat C is well on the outer side of the layline and ahead of boat D, which is closer to the lay line (D is the inside boat). It can happens that boat D can reach the zone first and suppose that at this moment the boat are overlapped (with C ahead and D on the rear part). Now according to the first part of rule 18.2(b) C must give D mark room.

    But what happens if the overlap is broken and C became clear ahead before C enter the zone? Now C is clear ahead and when she reaches the zones, the boat C satisfied the condition required by the second part of rule 18.2(b) ("If a boat is clear ahead when she reaches the zone") then, according to this second part of the rule, boat D is required to give mark room to C.

    What is written in rule 18.2(c) is of little help. From rule 18.2(c) you can conclude that even if C has broken the overlap after D has entered the zone, C shall continue to give D mark room.

    However nothing in rules 18.2(c) makes the second part of rule 18.2(b) not too be consider when C reach the zone. On the contrary rule 18.2(c) also say that if C is entitle mark room from D by rule 18.2(b) (without distinction between first case and second case) than D should continue to give mark room even if a new overlap begins.

    So what happens in this case?
    Both boats are entitle mark room from the other

  15. Really get frustrated with umpire calls like this. Umpires 'blame' their failure on the rules to be wrong or unclear, or that they didn't have a wingboat....?

    This situation wouldn't have been different under the old or new rules. The point of last certainty was that there was no overlap. Also look from the point of the sailor, the circle is not painted on the water... No overlap, no room for green!. Green was taking a chance and should have been penalised for taking the risk. Why bending over backwards trying to argue that perhaps green has right of way... I think this is very simple... The problem with the umpires is that they act like racing rule professors, which is different from umpiring a game where you have to weigh up probability from the sailors point of view. And then you are complaining that the sailors get frustrated with the umpires?! These sailors are the best in the World and train 3/4 hours in the gym and hours on the water per day and expect a high level service from the umpires.


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