Saturday, 16 June 2012

Protest HVMG

I'm at the Kieler Woche (again) and since there's no match racing here this year, I'm sticking to protests and rule 42 issues.

I'm giving you one I heard from one of my fellow judges. (NOT from this event)

The boats are high (VMG) speed boats - catamarans or skiffs - who sail a fairly high angle downwind. The wind speed is about 20 knots, so they are flying over the water. Two port boats (overlapped) encounter a starboard boat.

After seeing that the starboard boat has passed astern, the Purple boat took a penalty turn (one for this class is enough, R44 is changed)
Green protested Blue.

What is your decision and why?


  1. So the question is whether blue should be exonerated for breaking rule 10 under rule 64.1(c). I would say no; blue had the possibility to not break rule 10 by luffing and passing behind green. Disqualify blue.

  2. Are you sure?
    Why did Purple take a penalty?

    1. Probably for breaking 19. The question is whether that is enough to say that blue was "compelled" to break 10 against green. Given that purple failed to give room, could blue have kept clear of green? It seems like it from the diagram.

    2. If the situation was upwind with two port boats passing behind a starboard boat, Red would be entitled to room to pass astern as well, and Purple should give that room.
      Why is this different?

    3. There is no question that Blue is entitled to room from Purple if Purple decides to pass green to leeward. This might mean tubing or only bearing away, but in any case Purple did not give Blue that room and took a penalty accordingly.

      Which brings me back to my initial post. The question is whether Blue should be exonerated under 64.1(c) or not. If Blue, after realizing Purple would not give room, was able to keep clear of Green but failed to do so, she was not "compelled" to break 10 against Green by Purple. The fact that another boat breaks a rule does not give you a carte blanche to break the rules yourself. If Blue was able to keep clear of Green, even though she did not receive the room she was entitled to from Purple, she should do so. Based on the diagram, it seems like Blue could easily have luffed behind Green (Green was apparently slightly ahead of Blue, and managed to luff behind her as right of way boat nonetheless). So she should not be exonerated. If Blue was unable to keep clear after realizing Purple would not give room, she should be exonerated since then she would have been "compelled" to break 10 by Purple's breach.

    4. *luffing, not tubing. Autocorrect.

      Before position 3 (when Green luffs to avoid the port boats), it must have been clear to Blue that Purple was failing to give room, and should have luffed to keep clear of Green rather than sailing along hoping that Green would avoid as she did.

      This is why I don't think Blue should be exonerated under 64.1(c), and disqualified for breaking rule 10.

    5. ugh. * gybing. I meant gybing rather than "tubing"

    6. By the same token the windward port boat in the upwind situation can luff and tack to avoid a starboard boat. But the casebook says it is entitled to room. Why do you think this is different?

    7. Because the windward boat does not have to do so until (or if) hailed for room to tack. At the point when it is clear that the leeward boat is not giving room, it is very likely not an option for the windward boat to tack.

    8. I presume you refer to case 11. There is no question that Blue is entitled to room just as PW is in that case. Here is where I see both cases being different in a crucial way:

      Case 11: "PW could not have known that PL was not going to give sufficient room until she was committed to pass between S and PL."

      Can we state that "Blue could not have known that Purple was not going to give sufficient room until she was committed to pass between Green and Purple."?

      My argument is that Blue knew that Purple was not going to give sufficient room at a point when she could have luffed and kept clear of Green. This is a "luxury" that PW did not have in case 11. So Blue was not compelled to break a rule by Purple's breach; no exoneration under 64.1(c).

      If, however, that statement can be made, then yes, Blue should be exonerated under 64.1(c).

      Hoping that I have made my point clearer?

  3. It would be nice to have some more information.
    1. Did Green hail "Protest"?
    2. Did Green fly a protest flag at the first reasonable opportunity?
    3. Did Purple ever hail Blue as to her intentions? (to pass Green to leeward or to tack)?

    If Green's protest is valid, Blue did break rule 10. She did not take an alternate penalty and should be disqualified.

    1. Green hailed protest.
      Green flew a flag at the first reasonable opportunity.
      Purple hailed nothing.

      If the situation was upwind with two port boats passing behind a starboard boat, Red would be entitled to room to pass astern as well, and Purple should give that room.
      Why is this different?

  4. Green is a boat that Blue and Purple must keep clear of so Green is an obstruction (definition).
    Purple has right of way over Blue so can choose to pass the obstruction on either side (rule 19.2a).
    Purple chooses to pass in front. As overlapped outside boat, Purple must give Blue room to pass on that side also (rule 19.2b). No hail for room is required.
    Blue breaks rule 10 but is compelled to do so by Purple breaking rule 19.2b so Blue is exonerated under rule 64.1c.

    Some related questions:
    1. This incident happens near the end of the leg to the bottom mark and Purple waits till after the bottom mark rounding to take their penalty. Even though Purple has taken a penalty, Blue can probably never be SURE that Purple took their penalty because of this incident. Should Blue protest Purple to protect themselves?
    2. Purple goes in to the room as a witness for Green. Both Purple and Green want Blue disqualified. In trying to increase their chances of winning the protest, Purple claims their penalty turn was for a different incident. Should the Protest Committee protest Purple under rule 60.3a(2) because it "learns that the boat, although not a party to the hearing, was involved in the incident and may have broken a rule."?

    1. A1; That would be a prudent move for Blue. To be able to be exonerated Purple must be found 'guilty' of not giving room...
      A2; If the penalty turn was NOT for this, but for a separate incident, then yes, the PC should protest Purple.

  5. Purple is a continuing obstruction for Blue. Blue as the windward boat must keep clear of Purple
    Green is an obstruction to both of them
    If Blue had asked for water then Purple should of tacked.
    So under 64(1)(c) Blue should be exonerated

    1. You can only ask for room to tack if you are sailing close hauled or above.
      I think you mean gybed, and there's no rule to ask for room to gybe.....

  6. Purple was a continuing obstruction for Blue as she had to keep clear
    Green was a obstruction to both of them
    If Blue hailed for water then Purple had to tack
    Rule 64(1)c will exonerate Blue

  7. There is a difference with two boats passing behind. In this case the boats are passing ahead. There is a rule that allows boats to call for room to tack but there is NOT a rule that allows a boat to call for room to gybe. In this case Blue should have luffed and she would also have to give room for purple to pass behind as well if purple had chosen to pass behind.
    By crossing in front Blue broke rule 10. She was not compelled to break the rule so she should be DSQ. Purple presumably took turns because she felt she had also broken rule 10.

  8. I think that Green is an obstruction to both Blue and Purple because of rule 10. Therefore, Purple (as leeward ROW boat) may choose to pass Green on either side (rule 19.2(a)). I think also that Purple is (at say position 3) the outside boat so must give 'room' to Blue to pass between Purple and Green (rule 19.2(b)). However, if Purple gybes is she passing the obstruction or is she simply avoiding it? Also once Purple finishes gybing Green would no longer be an obstruction, so what happens to Blue then? Does 'room' for Blue to pass between Green & Purple include room to gybe? I can't see anything that Purple does that stops Blue from maneuvering (i.e luffing) in a seamanlike way to avoid Green.

    Alternately could one argue that when the overlap between Purple & Blue began it wasn't possible for Purple to provide 'room' for Blue to pass between her and Green simce neither Purple nor Blue were going to be able to pass ahead of Green?

    1. (My mistake, Green would of course remain an obstruction to Purple as Green would be the leeward ROW boat).

  9. With the speed of the bopat and a luff to avoid a collission causing more trouble, the boat should be exonerated. There is no necessity to call under 19.

    Mike B

  10. Most of the comments above apply R 19 and then exonerate Blue under 64.1.c as Purple did not provide room.

    My issue with applying R 19 to this situation is that Green altered course to avoid the port tackers at Pos 3. The definition of Obstruction includes a one boat length requirement. At Pos 3, the boats were three or more boat lengths apart. This suggests that we cannot use R 19, and without that, Blue is not exonerated.

    So my sense is that both Blue and Purple break R 10 and Blue is DSQ.


    1. I agree with your conclusion of disqualifying blue under 10 (because I believe Blue should not be exonerated in this case), but not that rule 19 does not apply.

      The "one boat length" defines green as an obstruction (since green is "An object that a boat could not pass without changing course substantially, if she were sailing directly towards it and one of her hull lengths from it."). What it says is that Green is in a sense big enough that if the port boats were sailing directly towards it and one hull length from it, they would have to change course substantially. This does not mean that Green becomes an obstruction to these boats only at a point when they are sailing directly towards it and one of her hull lengths from it.

    2. The definition of obstruction has this one length test to make sure that different size obstructions are recognized.
      A skippyball might not be an obstruction for a 40 feet yacht but can be an obstruction for a 20 feet catamaran. The first doesn't have to make a substantial course change when one length away, but the catamaran has to.
      And latindane is right, rule 19 does not switch on at this one length....

  11. The one length defines an obstruction the distance between the boats is not relevant 19 applies

  12. Most judges I talked to were unhappy about the outcome. To exonerate Blue 'feels' some how not right.

    Anonymous brought up an interesting point:
    "Alternately could one argue that when the overlap between Purple & Blue began it wasn't possible for Purple to provide 'room' for Blue to pass between her and Green simce neither Purple nor Blue were going to be able to pass ahead of Green?"

    I have to think about if I can similarly create a situation upwind....

    1. If most of the judges were unhappy about the outcome, why was this the outcome? I agree that Blue should be exonerated, but are you saying that the judges thought the rules were applied correctly but that the rules don't necessarily handle this situation well? I'd like to know why most of the judges were unhappy?

      There is no rule that requires Purple to gybe but if she chooses to pass an obstruction on a particular side then Purple must give room for Blue to pass on that side also because the boats are overlapped. In boats that sail at these angles downwind, Purple can't sail lower to pass infront of Green because she would slow and would still not be allowing Blue to pass on the same side. So, to pass on the side of the obstruction that she wants to, and to allow room for Blue, her only option is to gybe.

      Further, there are several ISAF Cases that say that a boat doesn't need to anticipate that a boat will break a rule or not give room. Most applicable here is Case 11, but also Cases 3 and 27. In other words, Blue doesn't need to anticipate that Purple will not allow Blue room to pass. For example, Blue does not need to leave herself a way out (e.g. the option to luff and go behind) and if there was contact resulting in damage or injury, I believe that Blue would be protected from being penalised under Rule 14.

      If Blue, Purple and Green were boats with symmetrical spinnakers running much closer to square, I don't think there would be any confusion at all. If the rules were such that Purple didn't have to give room, forcing Blue to luff behind Green, or slow and gybe, then we would have a very different game on our hands. Picture that scenario in Farr 40s or some other boat that runs closer to square.

  13. On the 'one boat length' component of the definition Obstruction,

    US Appeal # 71 says that R 19 does not apply until you are 'at' the obstruction.

    To me, this is precedent that Purple and Blue are too far away from Green for R 19 to apply.

    US Appeal #6 looks similar to the above scenario, but the boats are much closer together and R 19 is applicable in this case.


    1. I'll have a look at the case.
      Never heard this before. My assumption always was that the 'one length' in the definition was only to 'test' if something was an obstruction for a boat, or not.

      If this premise is true, it would mean that rule 19 only applies in this case when Purple and Blue are close to Green - which never happens until Green already decides that they are not going to keep clear. That would get Purple & Blue breaking rule 10, and Blue DSQ-ed. Purple would not be DSQ because she took a penalty turn....

      I'll definitely look at that case - if I can find it.

    2. I've found case 71.
      The test is not 'one length' as you assume, it is stated in rule 19 (and the case) as when a boat is 'at' an obstruction.
      That can be more than one length if boats are moving fast as these do.

      But it is an interesting solution. I'll talk to judges here at Kiel Week and see what they think.
      Thanks, John.

  14. Doesn’t this come down to the meaning of “compelled” in rule 64.1(c)? It is a strong word. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “Constrain, force to come or go (in some direction), bring about or evoke by force”.

    I agree with Latindane’s first comment. Blue was not forced to sail ahead of Green. There was another option open to her, which was to pass astern of Green.

    It could be argued that Blue was entitled to sail with the expectation that Purple would give her room under rule 19, and hence, pass Green on the same side as Purple does. That argument may apply in the situation posed by Jos of port tack boats passing astern of a starboard tack boat, sailing upwind.

    However, in the situation in the diagram, it was clear before position 3 that there was no way that Purple could give Blue room ahead of Green. Purple herself was converging with Green. Blue could not make such an assumption. At that stage, Blue still had the opportunity to pass astern of Green, and was not compelled to do otherwise.

    It is possible that Purple may not have been able to give Blue room from the time the overlap began, as Anonymous says. We need more information to determine that. However, we shouldn’t have to go so far back.

  15. It would probably be impractical to determine whether at the start of the overlap Purple could give room (e.g. the overlap started at the windward mark and the incident occured near the leeward mark). I only mentioned it because I felt that it was a significant change from the upwind situation where usually the leeward boat can bear away and give the room that is required.

  16. This incident is more complex than it appears when we look at the rules involved and try to figure out which rules to apply.

    Green is on stbd, while the converging boats are on port, so R 10 applies, Blue and Purple must stay clear.

    Purple and Blue are overlapped on the same tack, so R 11 applies to them. Blue as windward boat must stay clear of Purple.

    Green is an obstruction, so does R 19 apply and from what position? When R 19 applies, Purple is ROW boat relative to Blue under R 11 and so gets to choose how to avoid Green – either pass ahead (not possible in this case) or pass behind (or gybe over to avoid) and leave room for Blue as inside boat.

    Does R 20 apply? R 20 does not apply as they were not on a beat. So there are no mandatory hails for this situation. Green can hail Starboard. Blue can hail Purple that she needs room to gybe, but there is no rule requiring a hail.

    The definition of OBSTRUCTION also needs to be considered.

    There are two main ways of looking at this incident in the protest room.

    First way is to consider that Green is an obstruction and R 19 applies. Purple failed to give room for Blue, so while both Purple and Blue break R 10, Blue is exonerated under R 64.1.c. As Purple took her penalty, no further action is required and the finish positions stand.

    Second way is to consider that R 19 does not yet apply as the port tack boats are not yet ‘AT’ the obstruction (Green). Green headed up and passed astern of the port gybe boats while they were over three boat lengths apart and an even greater distance until they converged. In this case, there is no defense or exoneration for Blue and she is DSQ under R 10. However. a variation of this option is that Green altered course while some distance from Blue and so her alteration of course was not yet necessary as Blue may still have been able to stay clear. In this version, the protest is dismissed as no rules were broken.

    So which version is correct?

    Green is an obstruction, so does R 19 apply and from what position? If we back up the boats (say) ten boat lengths, Green may still fit the definition of an obstruction, but the port gybe boats could never be described as ‘AT’ the obstruction as it is as much as 20 boat lengths away. There must come a point where R 19 turns on. I would argue that if Blue can avoid Green by her own actions, for example by luffing up and passing astern of Green, then it would be too soon to apply R 19: the test of ‘AT’ the obstruction is not met. If Green did not head up (and pass behind), but continued on the convergence, then after position 3, there comes a point where Blue cannot escape on her own; she become the meat in the sandwich. Clearly Blue and Purple may be considered ‘AT’ the obstruction and R 19 would apply.

    My sense is that when Green altered course, the port boats were not yet AT the obstruction, so version 1 does not apply. This leaves us with version 2 and disqualify Blue under R 10 as the stbd boat Green felt it necessary to alter course to avoid a collision. Given the prevailing conditions of high wind and high boat speed, I prefer to support this argument, as to deny it only encourages Green to go even closer to the other boats and the risk of collision increases



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