Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Crashing the Gate

Today a analysis of a situation from the ESS Act 1 event, recently sailed in Muscat, Oman.
The fleet is comprised of eight boats this year and because of the short courses that means that at any given mark there are usually multiple boats involved. Particularly so at the first windward mark and first gate.
(I've left out non-relevant boats to make it a little less confusing)

Here is the static picture of the incident:

Three boats on port and one on starboard, all approaching the leeward gate.

The Grey boat is right of way, Red has to keep clear. Purple is crossing Yellow and keeping clear under rule 10. When Grey enters the zone of the right-hand gate-mark she gets mark-room from all other boats for that mark. Grey can, as long as there are only other port boats and no starboard boat on a collision course, make a 'tactical' rounding. She's not sailing to the mark, but pointing above it to get a better 'out of the mark' position.

Subsequently Red also enters the same zone en gets mark-room from Purple and Yellow. She must however give mark-room to Grey and keep clear as windward boat.

The first critical moment comes when purple gybes to starboard. She becomes right-of-way boat on a collision course to Red and Grey. She keeps clear while gybing and changes course within the restrictions of 16.1. But, from the moment Purple has gybed, Grey is no longer right-of-way boat, only the boat with mark-room.

Grey sails another couple of lengths before starting to turn. Remember, she's still doing that 'tactical' rounding. Purple is 'forced' to bear off because of Red. Red is forced in that position because she must keep clear of Grey. Rule 10 is infringed and Grey is forcing Red to do so, but outside the room that mark-room provides.

She cannot be exonerated under rule 18.5. In order to get exonerated Grey should have turned towards the mark much earlier and forget her tactical rounding. As soon as Purple gybed, Grey should have responded.

Next we have Yellow and Purple. Because of (Grey forcing) Red, Purple never enters the right hand zone. Yellow enters first and is now keep clear, inside boat (with mark-room) toward Purple in position 6. But she must still give mark-room to Grey and Red.

Hoping for an opening she continues, but next to the mark sees no path and crashes into the mark, getting stuck on it, with her bows on either side.
After Yellow has entangled herself with the mark, she's hit by Purple from behind.
Purple breaks rule 12.

Here is the animation of the incident:

Several boats protested in this incident by raising there Yankee flags. Grey was penalised for forcing Red to break rule 10, outside the room mark-room provided. Red was exonerated. Purple was penalised for breaking rule 12. Yellow took a voluntary penalty for hitting the mark.

That's it.

You've just witnessed 20 seconds of an ESS race from an umpires point of view.


  1. Why not a 18 also for Purple? In Pos 6/7 there is an iside overlap with Yellow

    1. It depends on which gate mark you look at.
      Purple is outside Yellow for the right hand gate mark.
      And in position four inside for the left hand one.
      But in order to get rule 18 'on' they both must be rounding the same mark and that is the right hand gate mark

  2. Thank you for sharing Jos!

    This is an interesting case to talk about obstructions... from position 6 onwards, red was an obstruction to yellow (and purple); would yellow be protected by 19 if, instead of crashing onto the mark, she had decided to pass astern of red and break 11 against purple?

    1. Purple has to give mark-room to Yellow, including room to go behind Red. And Yes, based on rule 19, Purple also has to give room to Yellow from position 7 (when she became outside overlapped to Yellow) to pass behind Red.

  3. And all because grey was attempting a tactical rounding. And yet there are numerous magazine articles by David Dellenbaugh and others saying that the tactical rounding is a fallacy!
    George Morris

    1. Ask any sailor and he/she will not agree with that.....

  4. Looks a bit tough on Grey to me.
    When Purple gybes and becomes RoW rule 15 comes into play. Assuming the animation is in real time Grey changes course towards the mark in less than 2 seconds of Purple becoming RoW.
    Surely this is an adequate response.
    Yes Grey can make a tactical rounding in respect to Red as 18.4 does not apply at a gate.
    Why does Purple not have to give room to Yellow?

    1. Rule 15 does come into play and I agree that Grey has some time. But Purple is sailing two/three boat lengths before Grey adequately responds. Boats on port toward the gate must be aware of all starboard boats and act accordingly.
      It is however always a judgement call by the umpire.

      Purple does have to give room to Yellow. She's outside boat when Yellow enters the zone. But she also has to keep clear.

  5. in all these cases, I see the three boat length circle that makes it so easy to see who has inside overlap. However, when I have been on the water, I never see these circles, how come?

    1. It's because paint doesn't stick on water. Believe me, we've tried.....

    2. LOL... I was all excited to find out about the new comments about the case. It is the internetz after all :P

  6. 20 seconds indeed!! Far too quick for me. Don't know how the umps can do it.


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