Tuesday, 31 January 2012

LTW Readers Q&A (59): ORC and stamped sails

Manuel from Portugal has the following questions:
(I've edited some of his text for clarity)

I was asked to say my opinion about the following issues:
Type of regatta: ORC cruisers racing (club regatta) around an island.
1st question: Is the direction of rounding the island free, if nothing is stated in Sailing Instructions?
The SI only describe the starting line, the finishing line and the words “rounding the island”.

My answer was YES (RRS 28.1)

2nd question. After finishing (the ORC event only had one regatta) a boat presented a measurement protest against another boat referring to the main sail as being not measured (the sail did not have the normal stamp/signature of any measurer person). Before the regatta the boats were not supervised by any Measuring Committee. The Protest Committee accepted the protest (no red flag was displayed on board of the boat) and confirmed the non existent stamp/signature.
The protested boat confirmed the measurer forgot to indicate on the sail any reference to proof that the sail was really measured. There are serious doubts if the sail was measured by anyone. The protested boat says that the protested sail has a smaller area than the sail expressed in the boat certificate.

To answer I looked at:
ORC Rating System 2010
304 Owner’s Responsibility
304.1 The owner or his representative shall be responsible for:
  • a) Preparing the boat for the measurement in accordance with the IMS
  • b) Declaring any required data to the measurer
  • c) Ensuring compliance of any measurement data to those printed on certificate. Measurement shall be deemed to comply with the one printed on the certificate if all the measurements are smaller or equal to those on the certificate, except MSW, that shall be bigger or equal. Sails shall be deemed to comply if the sail area is smaller or equal to the respective one printed on the certificate.
  • d) Using the boat and equipment as prescribed by the RRS, IMS Rules and ORC Rating systems.
The owner or his representative shall sign the statement on the certificate: “I certify that I understand my responsibilities under ORC Rules and Regulations”.
And also at:
305 Measurement Protests
305.1 When, as a result of any pre-race inspection or measurement, it is determined that a boat does not comply with her certificate:
  • a) When the non-compliance is considered to be minor and can be easily corrected, the boat may be brought into compliance with her certificate, and, when necessary, a new certificate may be issued. The Measurer shall inform of such correction to the Race Committee who shall approve a new certificate issue.
  • b) When the non-compliance is major (even if it can be corrected) or if it cannot be corrected without requiring significant re-measurement, a boat shall not be eligible to enter a regatta. The Measurer shall inform the Race Committee who shall act in accordance with RRS and inform the Rating authority.
RRS 2 and 3 may also apply
My answer was to suggest the following decision: The protested boat must be DSQ under ORC Rating System 2010 (rule 305.1b). The red flag was not necessary in that case .

Can you comment?

I wrote back to Manuel asking him if I could get some help from my readers, since my experience with ORC is very limited. I would appreciate any and all comments - specially on the second question.

Here are my thoughts:

If there's no direction stated in the SI and the description of the starting line or the finishing line do not give any indication about which side is the course side, I think that the Race Committee has a big problem. There will be boats starting on both sides of the line. I wouldn't know how to solve the problems between the rules in section A, B, C and D. Is a boat returning to start? Is a boat OCS?
Any boat who got into trouble over this and could show it considerably effected her score, would have a good chance to get redress.

If there was an indication in the description of the starting line about which side was pre-start and which was course side, but that line was laid out so, that it did not give any indication about in which direction the island should be rounded, then I agree with your answer.

The second answer is harder. 305.1 states ..., as a result of any pre-race inspection or measurement, .....
This protest was AFTER the race, and - if you don't assume the "pre-race" should also be applied to measurement in this sentence - the sail was never actually measured at the event. Therefore I'm not sure you can use it to decide a protest after the race, without getting a measurer to actually measure the sail.

If you do get a measurer to come to the event and have a look at the sail, then you can use 304.1(c) to decide if the boat should be DSQed or not.

Does the OCR Rating System have a rule stating that a sail must have a stamp or signature? Or is it in the Portuguese RRS? In the Netherlands this done by a MNA prescription. Is that also done in Portugal?
If it is, then the protest is about rule 78.1. And rule 61.1 should be on the table and validity is an issue.

When did the protesting boat became aware of the lack of stamp/signature?
Did he see this on the water? If so, then a Red flag is necessary to make it a valid protest.
If he saw this after racing on shore, what did she do to inform the other boat?

Provided the protest was valid, then any DSQ should be for failing to comply with rule 78.1.

I've also had a look at the latest ORC Rating System 2012 and found this:
305.2 When, as a result of any measurement protest by a boat or by the race committee, it is determined that a boat does not comply with her certificate, the non-compliance shall be calculated as a difference in percentage of GPH:
a) If the difference is less than or equal to 0.1%, the original certificate will be maintained, the protest will be dismissed and the protestor will have to cover any cost involved. RRS 64.3(a)  will apply but no corrections are needed.
b) If the difference is more than 0.1% but less than 0.25%, no penalty shall apply, but a new certificate shall be issued based on the new measurement data and all races of the series shall be rescored using the new certificate data. The Protest will be considered accepted and the protestee will have to cover any cost involved.
c) If the difference is 0.25% or more, a boat shall receive a 50% place penalty in any race in which her rating was incorrect. The Protest will be considered accepted and the protestee will have to cover any cost involved and the yacht shall not race again until all non-compliance issues are corrected to the limit defined in a) above.
Was 305.2 in the 2010 ORC Rating System? Problem solved.

Anybody else?


  1. Dear Jos;
    1. This is not rare matter at the keel boat regattas.
    2. ORC Rating System 304.1 c) ii) states:
    ii) The sail area shall be smaller or equal to the respective one printed on the certificate.
    3. First of all, the Protect committee (PC) has to apply RRS 64.3, Decisions on Measurement Protest.
    4. If there is not a measurer at the venue, the PC may ask the measurer over the telephone.
    5. Finally, PC will have to make a decision according to ORC Rating System 305.2.
    Is the difference less than or equal to 0.1% or more than 0.1% but less than 0.25% or 0.25% or more?
    Please pass on my best regards to Manuel.
    Sen Yamaoka/Japan

  2. Q1 -

    I don't think you have a problem -- Rule 28 and the definition of starting do not depend upon which side the first mark is rounded. Both depend upon which side of the line is the closest to be "in direction of the first mark."

    A big mistake (but great for television) is for a R/C to set a starting line where the line is directly inline with the first mark. That can happen if the mark is a small ball or a large island.

    It is only when the person calling the starting line is also looking at the first mark that the starting video is likely to go viral.

    v/r, Pat Healy

  3. ONE

    As long as the island which is identified as the mark of the course is wholly on one side or the other of the Start Line and its projections, I can't see any problem. In that case the course side and the non-course side will be pretty obvious.

    If the island mark is off to one side of the Start Line, so that one projection of the Start Line runs through the island, then there might be a bit of a problem, but no race committee could be that silly … could they?


    The ORCi/IMS rule requirement is as follows

    G7 Sail Measurement Stamp

    All sails shall be available for measurement. The measurer shall mark the sails complying with the IMS with an ORC-approved stamp, enter the measurements found, date and sign them.

    This rule creates an obligation on the MEASURER, to mark the sails. It does not create an obligation on the owner to ensure that the sails are marked, or only to have on board sails that are marked.

    Unless there is a requirement for sails to be marked in the MNA Prescriptions to the RRS (as in the Nederlands, but not, for example in Australia), or the NOR or SI, there is no obligation for a boat racing ORCi to have its sails marked as in IMS rule G7. This does not affect the obligations that the sails must COMPLY with the rules.

    In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, the protest committee may infer that any sail not bearing the approved stamp either has not been made available for measurement or does not comply with IMS/ORCi, and thus, if it was on board while racing the IMS/ORCi rule (Class Rule) has been broken.

    In this case, the owner has given evidence in the protest hearing that ‘the measurer forgot’ to mark the sail. There are several possibilities:

    • The measurer did measure the sail, decided that it complied, and indeed, forgot to mark it;

    • The measurer did measure the sail, decided that it did not comply and did not mark it intentionally;

    • The sail was never made available to the measurer to measure.

    The owner has also given evidence that the protested sail has a smaller area than the sail expressed in the boat certificate. This again suggests possibilities:

    • The boat has had more than one mainsail measured (and the measurer forgot to mark the smaller sail);

    • The owner knows that the protested sail has not been measured, but believes that it is smaller

    The protest committee could do the several things to resolve this.

    The protest committee might measure the sail itself:

    • If the dimensions match those on boats measurement certificate, the protest committee might conclude that the owners explanation that he measurer forgot to mark the sail is credible and dismiss the protest.

    • If the dimensions are significantly less than those on the certificate, the protest committee would need to get further evidence about whether there are more than one sails, but, if the owner gave such evidence, the protest committee, again, might accept the explanation and dismiss the protest.

    • If, on the other hand, a measurement significantly exceeded those on the boat’s certificate, the protest committee might find that the owner’s explanation that the measurer forgot to mark a complying sail was not credible, and that the boat broke the Class Rule (ORCi) requirement that all sails comply with the Class Rules.

    The protest committee could have this measurement done by a measurer (at a cost to be borne by the unsuccessful party (rule 64.3(d)).

    If there is a measurer appointed for the event (rule 78.3), and the sail, when measured did not comply, that measurer could report in writing to the race committee (rule 78.3), and the race committee would then be obliged to protest the boat (rule 60.2, last paragraph), whether the other boat had protested or not. This would take care of any doubts about validity of the original protest.

  4. I just had a more careful look at ORCi rule 305.2

    Depending on the magnitude of the breach, rules 305.2(a) and (b) say that, even though the rule has been broken, the protest will be or that no penalty will apply. Wow, I don't think Class Rules can do that.

    Rule 84.1(c) says Class Rules (handicap system rules are Class Rules: Definitions Rules), may amend ONLY rules 42, 49, 50, 51, 53 and 54.

    Rule 64.1 says when a protest committee decides that a boat has broken a rule the protest committee shall disqualify her unless some other penalty applies.

    To tell a protest committee that, when it decides that a boat has broken a rule, it shall dismiss the protest or not impose any penalty at all contradicts rule 64.1. Rule 64.1 is not one of the rules that Class Rules are permitted to change.

    I think ORCi rules 305.2(a) and (b) are invalid.

    They could have said 'a penalty of 0% shall be imposed': that would have applied 'some other penalty' without contradicting rule 64.1(a). But they didn't.

    I also note that, unlike similar IRC rules, these rules purport to apply to ALL measurement protests, not only to those where 'there is no fault of the boat's own'.

    Measurement protests frequently have some suggestion of cheating about them, even where this is not expressly alleged in the protest.

    So a protestee in a measurement protest under ORCi might be wise to include a specific allegation of breach of rule 2, so that the protest was not just a 'measurement protest'.


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