Thursday 30 June 2011

Extreme Sailing Series 2011: Act 4: Boston

After a long journey I'm in Boston for Act 4 in the Extreme Sailing Series. I did have a very late bedtime but managed to get some sleep.

My watch says it's 06:05 but my computer says it is 12:05. After morning posting and some mails I'll do breakfast and walk over to Fan Pier where the race village has been set up. The teams have been here for the last couple of days getting there boat ready and racing will commence this afternoon at 14:00 hours.

Watch the quick rig for Act 4 Boston at Fan Pier from the 11 international teams

The ESS is a totally different series then the SWC. Because of its 'commercial' background the RRS are but a tool to make sure that things run as fairly as possible with, sometimes, very difficult circumstances. No open water, no room for eleven boats at the windward mark, and limited redress. At a Sailing World Cup event the International Jury has a lot of influence, here we are to serve the show. That does not mean we don't use the same principles, but it does mean we sometimes accept situations that would be unthinkable in a normal regatta.

I'll report on the rules issues as best I can, with a little more direct involvement. Watch this space.

Monday 27 June 2011

KIEL 2011 International Part; Day 8, 9 & End

motiv_4_254_5287I was ashore for today and helped prepare some protest issues for later that day. In the afternoon we started to do the protest. In Kiel we can run up to four simultaneous panels. I was in panel 1 and we did hearings pretty much one after the other from 17:00 – 20:45. Nothing very special, save for one issue:

Let me explain:

There’s a protest, and the facts are pretty much the same as told by both parties. The boat breaking a rule has taken a penalty and did her two turns.
There’s damage but both boats finish the race. The right of way boat did not break rule 14

There are two ways to write the decision:

  1. Protest dismissed
  2. Protest upheld, but Boat X is not further penalized because she complied with 44.1

In my opinion only protest were no rule has been broken should be dismissed. If there was an infringement it should be upheld, regardless if the boat took a penalty or not.

Please leave a comment regarding this issue.

The last day in Kiel went very quickly. One race on the water, back to shore and a couple of protest to do – actually a reopening of the day before is all we did in panel one.

I drove home that evening and hit my pillow late – or early in the morning.

It’s now Monday evening and I’ve sorted out my luggage and started on getting ready for the next event. I leave on Wednesday for Boston USA for an Extreme Sailing Series event.

Friday 24 June 2011

KIEL 2011 International Part; Day 7

Today I chased 29ers. The wind increased during the darker clouds to 20-22 knots and some of the boys and girls had a hard time keeping their skiff upright. But those who did, went very fast indeed. And we followed them to the windward mark and back to the gate downwind.

With eight races it was a long day, but very nice nevertheless, if only by the speed these boats can reach. In the International Part we are allowed to whistle and show a red flag when we see a boat break a rule. It is then up to the competitors to decide if they want to take a penalty. And all of them did. It does not restrict their right to protest – only that we are there watching and hopefully keep the rules infringements to an acceptable level.

An excellent job for a Match Race umpire who has to watch a fleetrace, imho.

For the rules I have no new items today, save it to point you to Matt’s post on his blog Unruly about Video Evidence. Have a look at the Optimist overhauling the AC45s.

Thursday 23 June 2011

KIEL 2011 International Part; Day 6

Kiel-week is actually several regattas in the same week. The first five days are part of the Sailing World Cup, when the Olympic Sailing classes go on the water, the final four days are for many other Classes; The International Part of Kiel week. (and actually bigger, with more boats and more competitors)

Today I was on the off-shore course (Course Alpha, halfway up to Denmark) looking at the X-99’s and Far 30s. Big boats with lots of things happening around the windward mark. I saw a few incidents which should go to the protest room / arbitration.

For the International part arbitration is mandatory. Protestee and Protestor have to get an opinion from an arbiter (provided there’s no damage or injury) and can subsequently accept a 30% penalty and/or withdraw the protest. If they don’t agree, the case will then go to a formal protest hearing.

Sounds as if we are doing double work, you say?

No, not true. If a protest gets solved in arbitration we have at least saved a five person panel half an hour work. Arbitration is done by one person and takes eight to ten minutes.

I’ve tried to introduce arbitration at my local regattas but it never ‘caught on’. Here is works great.

SWC Kiel 2011; Day 5

Medal racing with Addendum Q. A special set of sailing instructions for the final race in a regatta for Olympic Classes. The top ten compete in a 30 minute race that scores double points. Medal Races are also judged ‘directly’. I.e. umpires on the water decide on an incident straight away, if one of the involved boats protests.

It involves a lot of preparation, has a big attraction to the Media – being so compact and with so few boats – and has changed Olympic sailing.

It is however – and pardon my expression – very ‘tame’ compared to Match Racing for an Umpire. In the five races I judged on the water today, there were two incidents. One resulting in a red flag (by another umpire) and one in a voluntarily taken penalty by the infringing boat. That’s it.

And when Oscar was up, the Finns starting ‘air rowing’. Huge pumps with the sails throwing their whole bodyweight in the pull. Personally I do not think that is sailing anymore. The sailor who’s been pumping iron the most, will win….. All other factors are of less importance.

Sailing should stay more complicated.

Tuesday 21 June 2011

SWC Kiel 2011; Day 4

Quarter finals done, Sail offs done and Semi finals done. Only the finals and petit finals are left  for tomorrow. I will however, not be umpiring those, nor buzzing around the match race boats as one of the wing boats.

For the Olympic part of Kiel-week, tomorrow is also Medal Race day and apparently they need a few extra umpires to do addendum Q umpiring. I’m a bit disappointed but not surprised to be out of the MR-Team.

I’ve already brushed up on Addendum Q, but since the extreme Forties are also using them, I’m already quite familiar with them. The trick will be to wait and wait and wait before showing any flag. Unlike in MR umpiring the protested boat must be given the opportunity to take a penalty voluntarily.

Anyway, that’s tomorrow…. Back to day 4, and…..


In shifty wind conditions most match race officers use the three windward marks solution. Besides the ‘regular’ mark they put in two extra coloured marks on each side. And then start the matches according to the shift at the entry to one of the those three windward marks by using a Charlie flag with a coloured flag (corresponding with the colour of the windward mark the match should sail to).

So far, so good.

But with each shift the starting line is also biased. Either Blue or Yellow has an advantage, not so much at the start, but at the entry on the preparatory signal.

The RO however cannot shift the pin-end mark. Boats already racing are using that same line as a finishing line and have planned there strategy according to how the line was, when they started. Changing that would unfairly influence the match race…….. or does it?

MR entry1C

The Entry (with dail-up) in a Match Race

One school of thinking is to change the pin-end according to each wind shift, so that the entry is as equal as possible for Blue and Yellow. Another is more inclined to not touch the pin-end during the whole flight, for reasons I described above. And also for another reason;

The rulebook says a mark of the starting line may be moved no later then the preparatory signal. So between the start of one match and the entry of the next, the RO can move the pin-end according to the rules. That is not restricted in Appendix C. But is that fair? The Blue boat has timed the length to the pin end to the second. So I’m pretty sure redress will be asked when a mark boat is towing the pin-end to a new location just before entry.

What do you think?

Give me your solution to the Pin End Problem.

Monday 20 June 2011

SWC Kiel 2011; Day 3

A great day on the water with a nice wind, sunshine and only one five minute rain shower. The second round robin was completed after nine more flights and the final eight competitors are now determined. Every crew has sailed 20 matches in three days. Tomorrow we will hopefully sail the quarter finals and the semi finals.

The level of skill is very high, like in Medemblik, as I expect it was in all the Sailing World Cup events. That also means we have to be vigilant about every possible rule – and the call book, rapid response calls and al in and outs of a particular scenario are discussed and analysed.

I haven’t been involved in any protests as of yet, but I expect I’ll be able to do a few in the second part of Kiel week.

What I have been doing, besides umpiring, is talking to different people about the future of LTW. Questions like: Do I continue with the blog or build another website? Or go more interactive and/or create a separate members part?

One thing is clear to me. The people I talk to and who subscribe or feed-read LTW, want me to post more, not less. I’ve not been very active for a couple of weeks, but I’m determined to improve.

I will dig to the archives and find the Emails that have slipped trough the cracks. In the mean time; please send in your scenarios and questions.

Homework for those who are not at an event: UMP Call 22; It will help you with the questions from the previous days.


PS: Next FTBD I will hopefully have a plan and will ask your opinion about LTW’s future. But suggestions are welcome anytime.

Sunday 19 June 2011

SWC Kiel 2011; Day 2

Ten flights today. Another nine and we will have completed the second round robin. For results, please go to the Kieler Woche results website. USA is doing extremely well in the Match Racing with the two T’s in first and second place.

When is a boat no longer ‘at the mark’? In case the boat does not gybe or tack directly after – a boat is no longer ‘at the mark’ as soon as her stern has left the mark behind, will be the answer most of you will or are going to give.

And when no longer ‘at the mark’ a boat still might have mark-room – that continues until both boats have left the zone – but it does not ‘exonerate’ a boat for breaking a right of way rule any longer. Simply because he’s no longer rounding the mark. The boat is no longer ‘at the mark’ where RRS 18.5 can protect its manoeuvres.
But a boat is still at the mark when she, for instance, tacks around it. Her stern will first have passed the mark, but then after the tack, maybe again not.

I’m having trouble with the grey area in between. I’m usually stating what I think at the moment I feel the boat is no longer ‘at the mark’, only to discovered sometimes I spoke to soon.

In the pre-start you see the trailing boat chasing very very close behind the leading boat – if possible to force a tack once she gets her nose overlapped

If that happens, while rounding the leeward mark, which rule do you think Yellow breaks?


Saturday 18 June 2011

SWC Kiel 2011; Day 1

Lots and lots of rain. Typical Kiel-week weather. In between some shifts and wind we managed to do nine (of the ten planned) flights with four matches each. If we manage to do the double round robin by Monday, we have Tuesday for the quarter – and semi-finals, and Wednesday for the finals.

Sometimes it’s just doing the matches. Not all are exciting, not all are fought over with tooth and nail. Some are just matches, practically over and done with at the starting signal, because of a better pre-start by one of the boats. The cover the leading boat is doing on the beat, usually is enough to prevent the trailing boat of gaining on the downwind. We as umpires just have to follow and stay close enough (and concentrated enough) to be able to pick up if boats are getting close to each other again.

For those of you who want to follow what is happening here in Kiel, there’s is some extensive television coverage during the day.
Go to: I’m afraid it’s all in German for the most part, but the action is no less spectacular on the water.

As for Homework this time: Study Call Ump 43 and the answer a THIRD question: When is a boat no longer ‘at the mark’?


Friday 17 June 2011

SWC Kiel 2011; Day 0

Back to Kiel for another year. This will be my seventh. But since the Sailing World Cup Events have been increasingly ”upgraded” in level, no doubt this one will bring new and interesting rules situations, as well.

First Jury -meeting went smoothly, although some of our group had a hard day. The format had to be changed drastically, since the number of competitors was dramatically low. Instead of the anticipated 24, only eleven!

We are now going to do a double round robin – every boat sails twenty matches – and then use the best eight to go to quarter finals. Hopefully the weather will cooperate in letting us do the 110 matches.

Our homework from the chief: Rapid Response Call 2010-006.

Situation 1
Yellow is a leeward boat subject to rule 17. She is sailing her proper course, which is nearly 140° from the true wind angle. Blue is keeping clear. From position 1 to position 3, Yellow pulls the boom across the centreline to the starboard side of the boat, and almost immediately pulls the boom back across the centreline to the port side of the boat. The force of the pulling action back to the port side causes the mainsail to completely fill in position 2.


Question 1a: Does Yellow change tack in position 2?
Question 1b: Does Yellow gybe between positions 2 and 3?
Question 1c: Does rule 17 still apply in position 4?

Read the whole call after you’ve answered the questions:
ISAF Rapid Response Match Racing Call 2010/006


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