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?)

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Ultimate trapeze?!?

A picture send in by Stevie Kouris I think you shouldn't miss:

He had the following questions:

Then I went to the IJreport website to read the report from the regatta and there was a protest against that boat but the protest was dismissed because no rule was broken. Thinking it over and over and reading the Rule book it seems that actually they don't break any Rule, but the following question (more like a curiosity) came to my mind.
Is the helmsman considered to be on board? If yes, what does being on board mean? Is he considered to be on board only because he is not in the water? If a crew member is in the water holding himself onto a sheet is he considered to be on board?

Stevie is referring to rule 47.2 which states: No person on board shall intentionally leave, except when ill or injured, or to help a person or vessel in danger, or to swim. A person leaving the boat by accident or to swim shall be back on board before the boat continues in the race.

One thing is for sure. These guys will have a hell of a climb to make when they tack.....

Sunday 23 September 2012

Penalty Done?

At an event this summer I was involved in a protest where a boat claimed she was interfered with, by another boat which was taking a penalty.

These are the facts found:
In race 4 on Tuesday close to the finish line, three Centaurs were involved in an incident
Boat A (Blue) on starboard approached the line on a close hauled course. Boat B (Purple) was on a collision course, also close hauled, but sailing on port tack. Boat B thought she could pass boat A in front. Boat A bore off behind Boat B and hailed protest and put up a red flag. She continued saying "You have to do a turn". The incident was observed by boat C (Red) approaching the finish also.

Boat B bore off, gybed and tacked almost immediately, ending up sailing close hauled on port again. Boat C (Red), also sailing on port tack, established an overlap while boat B was finishing her tack.

Both boats sailed a boat length in overlap and then Boat B started luffing to fetch the finish mark. Boat C hailed protest and put up a flag. She luffed also and the distance between the boats remained the same throughout the incident, approximately 2 meters. Both boats luffed to head to wind and crossed the finish line. After passing the mark boat B bore off and sailed clear, shortly followed by boat C.

Boat C handed in a protest form claiming an infringement of rule 21.2
And the diagram the PC made based on these facts:

What should the PC decide?

Sunday 2 September 2012

The (less) strange case of the (non)competitor

In response to my post about the (non) competitor, I received a mail from Lynne in Canada. She's a member of the appeal board and they had a similar case. One that provides some insight in how to deal with this issue. I've asked and been given permission to publish it:

Racing Rules of Sailing
New Case - Basic Principle, Sportsmanship and the Rules
A submission from the Canadian Yachting Association

Purpose or Objective
To provide a Case clarifying when a boat is participating in a race.


Basic Principle, Sportsmanship and the Rules
Rule 3, Acceptance of the Rules
Rule 4, Decision to Race
Part 2, Preamble
Rule 69, Allegations of Gross Misconduct
Rule 75, Entering a Race

A boat that meets the requirements for entry in a race, and sails in or near the racing area, and participates in a race is racing from her preparatory signal until she finishes or retires from the race. The Racing Rules of Sailing apply to such boats. She does not have the option to claim that that the Racing Rules do not apply to her.
The boat’s sole responsibility to decide to participate in a race does not include the right to choose whether or not to be governed by the rules once she participates in the race.
By participating in a race, competitors are governed by the Racing Rules of Sailing, including action by a protest committee under Rule 69.
A boat that breaks the rules over a protracted period commits a gross breach of the rules and shows bad manners and bad sportsmanship.

Summary of the Facts:

During three sailing seasons at her yacht club’s weekly races, boat A entered the series, started and sailed in the races for a fleet of which she was not a member, rather than starting with her own fleet five minutes later. In the third season, two protests were filed against A under the Racing Rules of Sailing, Part 2. The protest committee found in both cases that A had been racing, and disqualified her for breaking rules of Part 2. Later that year, there was a further written complaint against A’s skipper alleging abusive behaviour during other races in which she sailed in the wrong fleet. The protest committee conducted a hearing under Rule 69 against A’s skipper, alleging that by his actions constituted a gross breach of the rules, good manners, and sportsmanship. It found that the competitor had committed a gross breach of the rules, and had also shown bad manners and bad sportsmanship, all over a protracted period. It upheld the allegations under rule 69. It imposed penalties to the competitor and to the boat, disqualifying the boat from the races in question and excluding the competitor from all competition for which the yacht club is the Organising Authority, for a period of two years.

The competitor appealed using Rule 70.1 of the Racing Rules of Sailing. The competitor argued that A was observing the government right-of-way rules, as was his right. He further argued that he had informed the club that he was no longer racing at the club, and therefore, he had no undertaking to observe the Racing Rules of Sailing. Specifically, he was not obligated under, rule 3(a) to be governed by the rules or by 3(b) to accept the penalties imposed and any other action taken under the rules. He further objected to the jurisdiction of the protest committee that convened the Rule 69 hearing. He argued that they had ignored rule 4, which made the responsibility for a boat’s decision to participate in a race or to continue racing hers alone. He appealed the findings of the Rule 69 hearing as outside of the Protest Committee’s jurisdiction, asking the Appeals Committee to find the decision to be null and void and ultra vires.

A’s actions directly contradict the assertion that she was not racing under the Racing Rules of Sailing. The boat took the decision under rule 4 to participate in the race, as evidenced by her own actions. Evidence of her participation under rule 3 is that she sailed in or near the racing area, she started races, often finished races, and claimed her rights under the racing rules when she met other boats competing in the races. A was racing from her preparatory signal until she finished or retired from each race. Her actions demonstrated that she was not a cruising yacht or a spectator boat who sailed into the racing area.

There is no contradiction between rule 4 which gives the responsibility for a boat’s decision to participate in a race to the boat alone, and rule 3. The decision is observed through the boat’s actions. Participation in a race is evident by the boat’s actions, such as by starting races, sailing the course, rounding the marks, or finishing. Boats racing under the rules are entitled to proceed under the assumption that other boats that are participating in the race are also observing the Racing Rules of Sailing. The responsibility allotted in rule 4 is not a choice whether or not to observe the Racing Rules of Sailing.

The Racing Rules of Sailing did apply to Boat A.

Since the skipper of A had participated in the race under rule 3, he was a competitor in the sport of sailing. He was, therefore, governed by a body of rules that he was expected to follow and enforce under the Basic Principle, sportsmanship and the rules and Rule 69. The protest committee did have the authority to convene the hearing under rule 69. The competitor’s actions described in the written complaint did constitute a gross breach of good manners and sportsmanship. The competitor was properly found to be in breach of Rule 69. The competitor was subject to penalty under rule 69. Rule 3(b) did, therefore obligate the competitor to accept the penalties imposed and other action taken under the rules, subject to the appeal process which he used

The appeal is dismissed. The protest committee did have the authority under the Racing Rules of Sailing to convene this hearing and to impose an appropriate penalty on the competitor. The decision of the protest committee and the penalties imposed are upheld.

Current Position

This Case provides a clear interpretation that a boat that participates in a race has agreed to be governed by the rules. The case clarifies that there is no contradiction between rules 4 and 3: A boat has made her sole decision to participate in a race once she does participate in the race. With that participation, she has agreed to be governed by the rules and accept any penalties imposed under the rules. A boat that participates in the race may not claim that she has decided not to participate, and that she is not governed by the rules. The case also confirms that the protest committee’s jurisdiction includes persons who participate in races but claim that they are not competitors under Sportsmanship and the Rules. They are subject to protest, to action under rule 69, and to any penalties imposed under the rules.

The appeals committee has submitted this particular appeal to ISAF for inclusion in the Casebook. It will be on the agenda in this year's November conference.

Saturday 1 September 2012

LTW Readers Q&A (62): Backwards

From BerkCan in Greece:
Yesterday while training we had a situation during pre-start and we had doubts about it so I thought best thing to do is to ask you.
Here is the situation:

During pre-start two boats wait head to wind, one is slightly ahead and overlapped. Then the one which is slightly ahead (Yellow) starts to go backward by backing her sails and the other boat (Blue) bears away in order to pass ahead of the backing up boat.  
Our question is: What if Blue decides to bear away more and goes on to Yellow boat? What should Yellow do in that case? 
If she continues to back up her sails and go backward she could be interpreted as continuing her maneuver and doing nothing to avoid Blue. But on the other hand the best thing Yellow could do to avoid Blue is to continue going backward.

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