Friday, 28 September 2012

Alpari World Match Racing Tour Rules

I'm currently umpiring at the Alpari World Match Racing Tour in Marseille (France).

This event has been given permission by ISAF to 'tweak' the Match Racing rules (appendix C) to better fit the needs of the event. More close encounters, giving the trailing boat a fighting chance when she catches up, more consistency in umpire decisions, things like that.

It is a lot harder to tweak the rules as they are, than you think. I know everybody has his/or her specific ideas what should be changed (including me) but the consequences are not always directly apparent. You change one or two rules and think you have the situation well under 'control'. Two days later a situation pops up that isn't anticipated and there's a problem. The changes at the AWMRT have been well thought out and seem to work so far.

We have a changed penalty system. One that has been tried out years and years ago, but seems to make a comeback;
Changes to Rule C7.2 All Penalties
Add new C7.2(a) and change current C7.2(d) then renumber all points.
C7.2(a) After being signalled under rule C5.2 or C5.3 and within the limitations of rule C7.3, a penalized boat may elect to take the penalty immediately by crossing behind the stern of the other boat.
In order to take this penalty a boat must cross behind the stern of the other boat:
the hull of the boat taking a penalty must cross completely from one side of the centreline to the opposite side of the centreline of the other boat in the match.

To clarify this, a AWMRT Call has been published. Have a look: AWMRT 2012 CALL 002.pdf

Having done the Round Robin with 66 matches in 17 flights I would have expected to have seen this happen a couple of time. Alas, in the matches I've umpired, none. Nevertheless I think this is worth to keep in. It keeps the boats together and most penalties in match racing are not for big crashes. 'The punishment to fit the crime' as they say.

Because when 'the crime' is more serious, we have another tweak:
C6.5(b) The red-flag penalty in rule C5.3 shall be used when a boat has gained a controlling position as a result of breaking a rule.
In order to be consistent this needs a new definition:
C2.21 Add the definition Control
A boat has control of another boat in her match when she is in a position to be able to impede, affect or change the actions of that boat.
This one is a harder to implement. Sometimes boats can affect each other. For example take a standard windward/leeward situation after the start. Leeward can luff and affect Windward, but cannot pass head to wind without risking not keeping clear. And so Windward can prevent Leeward from going to the other side. Boats affect each other. It also depends on where the boats are on the leg. Windward's control is greater when nearing the lay-line to the top mark…. There's a balance of control. Sometimes all to one boat and sometimes a little more to one but not zero to the other.

With this definition umpires look at the control issue and decide if a boat has gained enough control - the balance is tipped enough to their side - to warrant a red flag penalty. A penalty they have to take immediately. Which might be a crossing penalty.

I'm still trying to get my head round this new definition, but at least we are now consistently thinking about the control balance.

I'll talk about the changes to rule 16 and 17 another time.

(PS: The download link of the AWMRT CALL is on Data Host File; not on the webspace of my provider. So you need to download the file instead of getting it directly. Sorry about that, but I've used up all my space and am looking for additional room..... Do any of you have suggestions?)


  1. Would it satisfy my penalty against you if you tacked and as a result I "crossed" your centreline in the process?

    Also, can I exonerate myself by crossing your stern when we are on different legs?

    1. Answer 1: Yes, if my tack made your boat cross my centerline it would satisfy the conditions in the rule.
      Mind, I would rather prevent you from crossing, so I might just do the opposite....

    2. Answer 2: Also Yes. But the Umpires must be satisfied that the crossing was done immediately. Might be hard when boats are sailing on different legs...


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