Sunday 1 April 2012

Taking a Penalty in Match Racing II; (MR02)

In Match racing the penalties are less severe than in Fleet racing. That is to give the penalized boat a fighting chance to do the penalty and still win the match. It is also the reason why the penalty does not have to be taken 'as soon as possible' after the incident. In fact - like I posted in the first post about penalties in Match racing - rule 44 as a whole, has been deleted (C7.1) and been replaced by what is written in C7.2, 3 and 4.
(Taking a Penalty in Match Racing; (MR01))

A penalty can be delayed until a moment in the race you have the best chance of doing it and don't lose control over your opponent. Or - if you decide to do it at the last possible moment - just before you finish. But that is for another posting.

Today I want to show you  the best possible place to take your penalty in the beat (either in the first or second upwind). Rule C7.2 (a)(1) states:
"When on a leg of the course to a windward mark, she shall gybe and, as soon as reasonably possible, luff to a close-hauled course"
The best place to take a penalty in the beat is just over the starboard lay-line to the windward mark, beginning your turn on port tack.

In the following animation Yellow is taking a penalty between positions 5 - when her boom passes the middle of the boat - until position 7 when she reaches close-hauled on starboard.

During that time she is keep clear boat (RRS 21.2) and rules of section A do not apply.

Yellow is approximately five or six boat lengths in front of Blue. Doing a penalty turn in the beat normally takes that amount of space. If you haven't practised and drilled with your crew - it will take longer. You do want to keep your boat moving at maximum speed, do you not?
Yellow completes her penalty and is now sailing on the starboard lay-line to the mark and both Blue and Yellow are approximately on the same distance to the windward mark.

But when Yellow comes 'out' of the penalty and has reached close-hauled on starboard, she's then right-of-way boat. Initially with a rule 15 limitation but that limitation is passed by the time she reaches position 8.
Blue must keep clear. Either by tacking and putting herself in the outside boat position (giving mark-room) rounding the mark or by ducking and sailing over the lay line - loosing ground to Yellow.

This manoeuvre does not work on the port lay-line, because then you come out as keep clear boat. It is still a good place to do your penalty, but you must have enough distance to be sure to cross a starboard tacker in front- seven or eight boat lengths, minimum.

Next episode in Taking a Penalty in Match Racing Doing it at the Finish.


  1. The principle is correct of taking your penalty there is correct. But as a match racer I think you should always end up one length below the layline. I can always shoot the mark to close any gap for my opponent, so there is no risk in sailing one length below the line. But sailing one length below the line gives me some advantage by rounding the mark. First of all I can make a smoother turn without sailing extra length. Second is that I have more time to prepare a spinnaker.

    1. But only if the trailing boat is not directly on your stern. Otherwise you run the risk of breaking rule 13....

  2. Btw... I would love to see some ideas of umpires how to take a penalty upwind when there is not enough distance between you and your opponent.

    1. That is in the pipeline. I will try to write that up in one of the future posts.

  3. Jos, I think LTW is a terrific balance of strategy - best way to take a penalty - and rules - how to write facts found, rules, conclusions etc. Well done. For the session on how to do a penalty at the finish, look at the YouTube video of Ferrarese vs. Brady in the ConCup final day (Saturday). To me, Ferrarese clearly breaks mark room rule by pointing too high.

    David S

    1. Thanks David. I'll have a look at the video.

    2. Here is the link to the video: can start around 7 min.
      Ferrarese was clear ahead at the zone, which is why he tried to sail to the committee boat and get another pen (I think Brady got a 10 or 12 to offset Ferrarese's penalty, so they were even in pens, but Brady moving faster towards the finish, so Ferrarese's only chance was try to give Brady another pen under 18). Brady slipped through.

    3. I'm writing a post about this - hopefully going on the net this week. I find the spinnaker in the water very interesting as to our discussion regarding stopping your boat... Rule 42 his amended in match racing, though.

    4. I have only just see this post, but surely the penalty turn isn't valid, shouldn't it be a 360 degree turn not a 270. Although the yellow boat could go through a full 360 and then turn back to the mark, probably still with some advantage.


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