Monday 31 March 2014

Back to the Basics (Part 6); Room

A blog post in a series: Racing Rules for Novices*
(*I'm going to try to do one of these on Mondays)

In this series I would like to give you my insights into those issues in the Racing Rules for Sailing, that nine times out of ten are asked in one of my rules talks, I do for clubs, sailors and/or class organizations, during the winter season.

In a great many rules a boat is entitled to "room". Room to keep clear, room to sail a proper course, room to tack, etc. etc. Even the definition "Mark-room" starts by giving room to pass the mark on the required side.

Frequently I get questions about room involving a specific distance; "If I keep half a meter away from the other boat, do I give enough room?" or "10 centimetres was enough, wasn't it?"

Sometimes I feel almost guilty in having to answer: "It depends". The actual space and time a boat is entitled to when she's been given room under the rules is depending on a number of factors. These factors are all described in the definition of "ROOM";
Room: The space a boat needs in the existing conditions, including space to comply with her obligations under the rules of Part 2 and rule 31, while manoeuvring promptly in a seamanlike way.
Let's go over these factors one by one:
Existing conditions; 
These include things like wind-strength, wave-height and all other environmental conditions. A boat needs more distance in high wave, hard wind conditions then in no waves and low wind. If there are rolling waves shifting the boat to one side, the distance it needs is bigger then when these waves are not there. But existing conditions also include the boat-type. You can imagine that a laser doesn't need as much room as say, a tornado, or a 12 meter yacht.

Manoeuvring promptly;
A boat is entitled to the room it needs to do the manoeuvre efficiently and promptly. But she does not get more room, if the crew are beginners who need more time and space to, for example hoist a spinnaker, or gybe or any other manoeuvre. The rules make no allowances for incompetent boat handling. If you are still learning you better make sure you do it away from other boats, because mistakes may result in being protested for taking too much room.

In a seamanlike way;
You are allowed to manoeuvre in a seamanlike way; that is to say with sufficient regard for the safety of the boat and crew. The room you are entitled to, is not so small that only, for instance, a crash-gybe, is possible. Especially rule 15 and 16 are interpreted that way. A keep-clear boat must do everything to keep clear, but not so that only an unsafe - "unseamanlike" - manoeuvre accomplishes that. Than the room provided is not enough.

Including space to comply with her obligations under rules of Part 2 and rule 31;
This addition is from the latest rulebook. But in fact it was already more or less done that way for a long time. The middle boat in a three boat overlapped mark rounding has to give mark-room to the inside boat and that means that the outside boat has to give that middle boat room to not only round the mark in the existing conditions, manoeuvring promptly in a seamanlike way, but also room to be able to give room to the inside boat, which is more room than the previous three conditions provided.

If you consider all these conditions, then you can make an educated guess on the distances involved. An experienced sailor can usually tell if a boat takes more room than the definition provides. As a jury-member I usually ask the sailors at the table, if I don't know the boat well enough. And also going out on the water observing the racing boats can tell you a lot.

And finally the principle of last certainty applies. Only when it is quite clear that a boat is taking more room than she is entitled to, can you start concluding that a rule might be broken.

Monday 24 March 2014

Back to the Basics (Part 5); Barging II

A blog post in a series: Racing Rules for Novices*
(*I'm going to try to do one of these on Mondays)

In this series I would like to give you my insights into those issues in the Racing Rules for Sailing, that nine times out of ten are asked in one of my rules talks, I do for clubs, sailors and/or class organizations, during the winter season.

This post continues last week's post on barging. If you haven't seen it, I suggest you do so now, here's the link: Back to the Basics (Part 4); Barging I

Barging boats break rule 11 by not keeping clear of the leeward boat. As I said, take away the committee boat, and you see immediately what is what. But that committee boat is there and at the end, it does have an effect on the situation.

This is because of rule 16.1; the rule that puts a general limitation on the right-of-way boat, in our situation the leeward boat. Rule 16.1 says. When a right-of-way boat changes course, it shall give the other boat room to keep clear.

Please compare these three situations:

  situation A
Blue sails a straight course toward the stern of the committee boat 
situation B
Blue leaves a gab, but luffs before reaching the committee boa.

situation C
Blue leaves a gab, and luffs next to the committee boat.

In situation A, the leeward (right-of-way) boat never changes course. Therefore it never has a rule 16.1 limitation and all barging boats must keep clear, without Leeward having to give them room to do so. If the windward boat forces the issue and Leeward is forced to go down - she has to, in order to comply with rule 14 - the windward boat has committed a serious breach of the rules and may well be penalized for rule 11 AND rule 2.

In situation B, the right-of-way boat initially leaves a gap between its course and the stern of the committee boat. Windward, can go there and is able to keep clear of Leeward. As long as both these conditions exist, this is within the rules. However, before Leeward reaches the committee boat, she luffs, closing the gap. Because she's changing course she must give room to Windward to luff as well and keep clear.

In situation C initially the same thing happens. But the luff made by Leeward is at a moment that Windward cannot luff any more without hitting the committee boat. She has no safe (seamanlike) 'escape,' any more. Because of this, although Windward is not keeping clear, she's now 'protected' by the general limitation of rule 16.1. If Leeward luffs, she does NOT give room to Windward to keep clear and therefore she is breaking rule 16.1 and Windward is exonerated for breaking rule 11.

What you have to take away from these situations is that either you leave no gab between the course you are sailing and the committee boat from the beginning, and if you do, to close it before the windward boat cannot go anywhere else. Once Windward gets her bow next to the committee boat you cannot force the issue any longer, without breaking a rule yourself.
This last part is that much harder if there is not one, but several boats to windward, who all want to barge in. Under the general limitation rule 16.1 they ALL have to be given room to keep clear.
Sailing a straight course is you safest bet....


Haven't chosen next week's issue yet, but am sure to come up with something.

If you want to go back to previous posts in this series, here are the links:
Back to the Basics (Part 4); Barging I
Back to the Basics (Part 3): Sweet Seventeen
Back to the Basics (Part 2): Where's the referee?
Back to the Basics (Part 1): Keeping Clear

Monday 17 March 2014

Back to the Basics (Part 4); Barging I

A blog post in a series: Racing Rules for Novices*
(*I'm going to try to do one of these on Mondays)

In this series I would like to give you my insights into those issues in the Racing Rules for Sailing, that nine times out of ten are asked in one of my rules talks, I do for clubs, sailors and/or class organizations, during the winter season.

This weeks issue is about Barging.
It looks like that I need more than one week to write this up, so next week I'll continue.

Two Traditional Thames Barges in the Lower Thames Estuary, 1935
The dictionary has a whole list of explanations when you type in the word "barging". What is most obvious when reading that list, is that "barging" is associated with rude behaviour, to barge in when not appropriate, aggressively and clumsily. In short; a foul nobody wants to make...... or is it?

Barging in sailing happens very early in the race, before the starting signal and is mostly done either by boats who have no clue about the rules or are especially inapt in timing there approach to the start. But wait, it is also done by people who think they can get away with it, because if successful, it has potentially great benefits. The boat that is most close to the committee boat gets free air and can tack as she pleases.

Let us first have a look at why this rule infringement - basically a very simple windward-leeward issue - is still misunderstood by so many.

It begins with that there is a mark involved; a mark of the starting line. That mark can be - and in many cases is - a committee boat. The committee boat at the end of the starting line - if so described in the sailing instructions - is a mark of the starting line, and boats must pass it on the correct side in order to sail the course.

That committee boat is also - by definition - an obstruction. When sailing directly towards it and one of her hull lengths from it, a boat must make a substantial course change to avoid it. The committee boat is big enough to fall into that category, hence it is "an obstruction"

These two facts about the committee boat - it being a mark and also an obstruction - leads by many to the assumption that the rules, governing mark rounding (RRS18) and passing obstructions (RRS19), apply. And that is - surprisingly - partly true.
But - and this is the part a lot of sailors have a hard time grasping - NOT when boats are approaching the committee boat to start, until they have passed it.

The preamble specifically switches off section C (all rules regarding marks and obstructions) during that very brief period. When boats are sailing around in the start area, a couple of minutes before the start and they happen to pass the committee-boat together, overlapped, rule 19 is applicable. Only during the short time approaching the startline these rules are switched off.

So, depending on the type of boat your are sailing, how good you are in slow speed and the angle of approach, that time may vary from a minute or two to 10 seconds before the starting signal.
During that time the rules that dictate the situation are only the rules in section A, B and D. With rule 11 (Windward must keep clear of Leeward) the main right-of-way rule. During that time, windward boats are not entitled to room from the leeward boats to pass the committee boat on the specified side. They are not allowed to barge in.
Both Red boats are "barging", trying to get to the starting line. This is not permitted.

Because of this, an accurate depiction of the situation would be to forget the committee boat and treat the situation as if it was not there. In open water, a windward boat would have no doubt that she could not come down. She would know she had to keep clear. (This is an oversimplification, but on that subject more next week)

To make things even more complicated, there is an exception. If the starting mark (i.e. the committee (boat) is for example on the end of a long pier and therefore NOT surrounded by navigable water, the preamble of Section C does not kick in and rule 19 is once more applicable. In other words, if barging boats have no water to escape on the outside of the starting mark, you have to let them in, you have to give them room. This is not something that happens in normal racing, but I have seen Extreme Sailing Series races, in very narrow and restricted waters, where the committee boat was so close to a harbour wall that, for all intends and purposes, it was no longer surrounded by navigable water. So it does happen, occasionally.

The leeward boat can sail is high as she wants, it does not have to be close-hauled. Even with a rule 17 restriction she may go up to head-to-wind. All windward boats have stop or tack or whatever it takes, to keep clear.

If you can't wait for next week, you can go back to one of my earlier posts on barging:

Otherwise, to be continued.

Next week: Barging II

Previous episodes in this series:
Back to the Basics (Part 3): Sweet Seventeen
I am a little disappointed that no courageous sailor, umpire or judge came up with an answer to my last question. Fear not, you can keep trying, I'm not going to tell you.
Back to the Basics (Part 2): Where's the referee?
An uniform is not required, but did you check if the B-flag was where it was suppose to be?
Back to the Basics (Part 1): Keeping Clear

Wednesday 12 March 2014

ISAF Q&A's; Five new ones!

The panel has awakened from it's long winter-break, or so it looks. I received five new Q&A's in my mailbox. Some also very 'useful' for Race Committees.

Q&A 2014.002 B008
As the B indicates, this one is for boats; a clarification on a previous Q&A from 2013, number 017 B005 to be exact. In order to understand the question (and answers) you need at least this diagram:

Diagram from Q&A 2013.017 B005
Both Q&A's, the new one and the one from 2013, hinge on one issue: Has the Blue given mark-room (pas tense) or does she still have to. For (yellow) sailors: If you want to avoid this 'nitpicking' by the rules gurus: Don't go around the mark with so much leeway, stay close, gybe round it and you are covered.....

Q&A 2014.003 F002
Race committees, please pay attention. The Q&A Panel is putting the hammer down. Results are no longer provisional, final or any other adjective you care to give them: They are, from this day forward "RESULTS". Make it so!

Q&A 2014.004 L002
When it rains, it pours. Race Committee, you are again ordered to change your wicked ways. No more multi-discipline races with boards, boats and what not. They can be harmful to your health and create risk of collision, damage and injury.

Q&A 2014.005 F003
Will they never stop? Again and again the poor line-sighting volunteers get it wrong. Identifying wrong boats under the black flag. No wonder the Q&A-panel has to step in, to sort this mess.
No, wait.. at the end a sailor is also ....
Well, you should find out yourself, I can't bear this any more...

Q&A 2014.006 K002
I'm glad this is the last one. The RC has enough on their plate for now. At least this one is about ties in Match Racing. A favourite subject by far, among the scoring people who are volunteering to do it.

Perhaps a decent flow-chart would help. What do you think?


Ooh, I almost forgot: Here's the link to the updated booklet: ISAF Q&A Booklet
Put it in your library now, before you are caught, not having it.... and the Panel comes after YOU!

Monday 10 March 2014

Back to the Basics (Part 3): Sweet Seventeen

A blog post in a series: Racing Rules for Novices*
(*I'm going to try to do one of these on Mondays)

In this series I would like to give you my insights into those issues in the Racing Rules for Sailing, that nine times out of ten are asked in one of my rules talks, I do for clubs, sailors and/or class organizations, during the winter season.

This weeks issue is about rule 17.
Why is rule 17 so difficult for many sailors? Or  - a better analysis - why is "Hé you, so and so [insert appropriate swearword], sail your proper course" so frequently heard on the racecourse, when it is, even without the swearword, completely inappropriate?

First of all, ask yourself, do I understand what "Proper Course" actually is?
If yes, skip one and go to two. If you're not sure, start with one.

Proper Course is defined in the rulebook.
A course a boat would sail to finish as soon as possible in the absence of the other boats referred to in the rule using the term. A boat has no proper course before her starting signal
"A course a boat would sail to finish as soon as possible...."?

We all know that when you are racing you want to finish as soon as possible - no wait, that's not correct - you want to finish before the other boats do! That means you sometimes want to sail a course that benefits that last goal, but is not the fastest way to finish. If you are the right-of-way boat, you will be able to sail any course you want - provided you don't break a rule. Well, nowhere in the whole rulebook is any rule that states you MUST sail your proper course. So, even when most times, most boats do sail to finish as fast as possible, there's no obligation to do so.

And to make things even more complicated, there might be more than one course that lets you get to the finish faster. Sometimes it is just choosing what you think is best.
There's a patch of wind 50 meters to the left; luff up, go there, and you might gain enough to compensate (and more) for the extra distance you sailed. Than that IS a proper course. As long there is a reasonable assumption that the course you are sailing, might get you to the finish faster, it is - by definition - a proper course.

" absence of the other boats referred to in the rule using that term" ?
Let us have a look at which rules are using the term:
Definition Mark-Room:  The other boat is the boat that must give you that Mark-Room
Rule 17: The other boat is the boat to windward you are making an overlap with.
Rule 18.1(b): The other boat is the boat on the opposite tack.
Rule 18.2(c)(2): The other boat is in fact your boat.
Rule 18.4: The other boats are any other boats. The rule actually has no other boat(s)
Rule 24.2: The other boat is the boat taking a penalty or sailing on another leg.
(there are a couple more in the appendixes, but those you can figure out yourself)

If you encounter a situation with multiple boats, the definition does NOT "take away" all those other boats to determine what the course would have been to finish as soon as possible, only the boats that I indicated in the list with rules.

Lets do an example:
Grey has a rule 17 limitation; Is she sailing above her proper course?
Green is taken out (of the picture). What is the answer now?

Two boats sailing on a beam reach encounter a third who luffs. Grey has a rule 17 limitation. She's shall not sail above her proper course. But because she has to keep clear of Blue, she has to luff and forces Green to go up with her. Now Grey is surely sailing above her proper course! Or is she?
The "other boat" referred to in rule 17 is Green. So take away Green.
Then you are left with Grey and Blue, and in absence of Green, Grey would also have luffed to keep clear. In order to finish as fast as possible (without breaking a rule) she must go up. Therefore she is still sailing her proper course. cah-PEESH?

"... A boat has no proper course before her starting signal"

That, as they say, is more or less self-explanatory. You can't sail a course to finish before the starting signal. Or, any course is good. Even head-to-wind.

So, finally we arrive at


Because most boats want to get to the finish as soon as possible, thinking that that is the whole ballgame - which it is, most of the time, but not always - they assume every other boats must do the same. So when they are held up, usually by a boat that luffs them, or sails a course they don't think is faster to the finish, they get frustrated and start yelling about "proper course".

It is only ever useful, when that other boat has a rule 17 limitation. If that other boat has not, she can sail any course she wants and boats that have to keep clear of her, must keep clear, Regardless if that forces them on a course away from the finish.....
Only a right-of-way boat can HAVE a rule 17 limitation. A keep clear boat never has. And that limitation under rule 17 can only happen to a right-of-way boat, when a set of four conditions are fulfilled. ALL of them. Not one, not two or three, all of them.
Those conditions are:
  • The boats are on the same tack
  • The boat comes from clear astern
  • She makes the overlap to leeward of the other boat
  • The distance between the boats is less than two hull lengths (with two different size boats, the hull length of the leeward boat)
If one of these conditions does not apply, or no longer applies, rule 17 does not apply, or no longer applies. The limitation is lifted, when a boat gybes. It is lifted when the distance becomes more than two hull lengths. It never applies when the overlap is to windward. It never applies when the boat is tacking into that leeward position.... etc. Remember? All of them.


I'm skipping three, four, five all the way to sixteen, so we finally can get to:


Under a rule 17 limitation a right-of-way boat SHALL not sail above her proper course.
(we used to have a rule restricting sailing below a proper course, but those days are over, forget that)

'Above her proper course'.... hmmm....
The keep-clear boat might have another idea about what a proper course is..... well, tough, she's not the one choosing. The right-of-way boat has that privilege.
The keep-clear boat might think the right-of-way boat IS sailing above her proper course. Again, tough luck, it does not mean she no longer has to keep clear.

I'm doing an animation again. In most rule-talks that seems to work best:

Course to the next mark (Finish) is downwind after the mark.
Two boats, approach a windward mark to be left to port, before going downwind toward the finish.

In position 1, Purple on starboard-tack, establishes an overlap from clear astern, with Grey on the same tack. The distance is less than two hull lengths, therefore from that moment on, Purple has a rule 17 limitation. Purple shall not sail above her proper course.

In position 4 Purple luffs head-to-wind. Is she sailing above her proper course?
According to the definition we first must take away the "other boat" mentioned in the rule. That is Grey in this case. Would Purple have headed up, to finish as soon as possible, in the absence of Grey?
Answer is yes, Purple would have done the same. Shooting the mark takes her to the finish sooner.
In position 4 Purple is NOT sailing above her proper course.

Now we look at positions 5 and 6. Is the rule 17 limitation lifted? Or, does one of the conditions no longer apply? Answer is no. She still has a rule 17 limitation.
Next, take away Grey. Would Purple sail the same course, to finish as soon as possible, if Grey was not there? Answer is NO!
Purple would have gone down toward the finish. So in positions 5 and 6 she IS sailing above her proper course and breaks rule 17. Note: Grey is keeping-clear. If she wouldn't, she also would break a rule (rule 11)

Sweet enough for you?

I'm leaving you with some "homework":
Please tell me what Purple has to do, in the same animation, so she can sail this course without breaking rule 17?


Next week: Barging

Previous episodes in this series:
Back to the Basics (Part 2): Where's the referee?

Back to the Basics (Part 1): Keeping Clear

Saturday 8 March 2014

Match Racing with a Leeward Gate

Perhaps for some of you not completely new, but for a lot of sailors and umpires it still is: a new course configuration in Match Racing. Specifically, the use of a Gate instead of a single leeward mark. I myself first encountered this set-up last year, in a German National MR championship in Berlin. And this year we use it locally at the Team Heiner Spring Match Racing 2014 series in Lelystad. I like it!

When is the Alpari  WMRT going to use a Leeward Gate?
I've uploaded a couple of papers written by Dave Perry, - 4-time US Match Racing Champion, 2-time Congressional Cup winner & Chairman, US Match Racing Committee - about the subject. I agree
with his rationale and assessment one hundred percent. You can find the links at the end of the post.
He writes about:
  1. The race course in match racing should provide the most opportunities for the trailing boat to pass the leading boat while still maintaining a fair test of skill.
  2. A well set gate opens up the game tactically for the trailing boat, and gives them some options that can increase their chances of passing the leader
  3. The race course configuration should be whatever provides for the best game for the competitors and spectators / media
The leading boat has the advantage of being able to choose which gate mark to round; the trailing boat has the advantage of being able to choose to round the same mark as the leader, or not. This makes the game much more interesting for both boats, and makes rounding behind the leader much less disadvantageous.

When the trailer rounds the same mark as the leader (which they are forced to do with a single leeward mark), they have two not-great choices: stay on the same tack and sail in the disturbed air and water of the leader; or tack (often when downspeed after the rounding). The problem is usually that the leader will tack with the trailer, ending up in a very strong position to start the second beat.

With a second mark to choose from, the trailer will normally round the other mark than the leader did, starting the beat in clear air and water, and out of phase with the leader. This opens up far more tactical options for attacking and trying to pass, or stay close to, the leader.

In the German Championship last year the outcome of the Matches was never clear until at least the second upwind mark. Because of the gate the trailing boat - if not too far behind already - had a fighting chance to get back in the game. Some sailors grumbled - they had to sail that much harder to stay in front, some sailors loved it - they could get past the leading boat. The match got more exciting and not boring in the second half, as you see with a lot of matches.

Of course everybody has to figure out what the best attack and defence manoeuvres are, with a gate. But once you do, the game gets more interesting.

As an umpire I had no trouble using the rules around the gate. We had to find the best position for our rib, but that was sorted out quickly - just trail the boats going trough.

I'm uploading a video a friend made in the TH Spring Match Race. This was shot during in the semi-finals on board of an umpire boat.

The trailing boat takes the left hand gate mark and immediately gets clear air and out of sinc with the leading boat. Instead of having to follow....

Perhaps you'd like to try this in your local Match Races? In the second paper there's some advice on how to re-write your NoR and SI's to do this.

Let me know how it goes!
Next step: Windward gates?


Papers by Dave Perry:
Tactics at Leeward Gates in Match Racing.pdf
Use of Gates in Match Racing.pdf

Thursday 6 March 2014

Basic Principle & the 35th America's Cup

Going trough the last America's Cup Racing Rules I noticed that the Basic Principle as printed in the RRS was not used. I asked some people connected to the AC and was told that because of rule 2, rule 69 in the RRSAC and art. 60 in the Protocol (code of conduct), the basic principle was not needed.
(The protocol can be found here: The Protocol Governing the 34th America's Cup
And article 60 is in one of the amendments:  Protocol Amendment No.11
And the latest RRSAC (v1.20) are here: ISAF Racing Rules of Sailing AC Edition v 1.20 )

For the most part I can agree with this. Rule 2 covers good sportsmanship and fair play, rule 69 covers more serious breaches and misconduct. And article 60 in the protocol more than covers anything that is done or said or written (negatively) about the AC.

But the Basic Principles in the RRS does one thing more, in my opinion. 
I quote:
Competitors in the sport of sailing are governed by a body of rules that they are expected to follow and enforce. A fundamental principle of sportsmanship is that when competitors break a rule they will promptly take a penalty, which may be to retire."
Nowhere else in the rules it is written that competitors are expected to 'enforce' the rules. All rules involving protest all have the word "may" which is permissive, not mandatory (shall).
A boat may protest another boat, but there is no obligation in rule 60.1

The only place there is any expectation that boats should do anything, against another boat that is breaking a rule, is in the basic principles.

Please don't misunderstand, even with the basic principle this obligation is in practice, pretty weak, but in the 34th AC even that was missing.

I would like to hear your opinion. Should the Basic Principle; Sportsmanship and the Rules be included in the next America's Cup or not?
Rules - 35th America's Cup?


I wrote this some time ago, but in light of Monday's blogpost thought it would fit...

Monday 3 March 2014

Back to the Basics (Part 2): Where's the referee?

A blog post in a series: Racing Rules for Novices*
(*I'm going to try to do one of these on Mondays)

Where's the referee? 
Or, why is there never anybody around to see all those infringements?

In this series I would like to give you my insights into those issues in the Racing Rules for Sailing, that nine times out of ten are asked in one of my rules talks, I do for clubs, sailors and/or class organisations, during the winter season.

To answer this week's questions, we will have to go into the rules that make the sport of sailing pretty much unique. Sailing is one of the few sports - perhaps only Golf  is the other one - that is mostly done without someone "refereeing". We don't have a couple of persons, dressed in black and white, zipping around in little rubber boats, blowing whistles and penalizing boats. Or do we?

Look at what is written in one of the BASIC PRINCIPLES:
Competitors in the sport of sailing are governed by a body of rules that they are expected to follow and enforce. A fundamental principle of sportsmanship is that when competitors break a rule they will promptly take a penalty, which may be to retire.
Right in the middle, as if it wants to hide, is the word "enforce".
Competitors are expected to ENFORCE the rules. In other words, you yourselves are the referees when racing, you are the ones with the whistle. You do not need to get a black shirt, you don't need an actual whistle (shouting "Protest" is good enough) but you are still the ones who control which infringements are called out.

My analogy is a little overstated, I know, but that is how you should approach it. When you are agrieved by the actions of another boat, you must decide what you want to do. Either put up with it, and not complain that somebody should do something, or, as the basic principle is stating, enforce the rules and protest. Put up or shut up - that's the phrase, isn't it?

This self-regulation in sailing is deeply woven into all rules. For example, even when there are "umpires" on the water - like in match racing or team racing - they seldom penalize on their own. First a boat must protest another, by showing the protest flag, only then the umpires respond by assigning blame and giving out a penalty. (There are exceptions, but they almost all have to do with deliberately breaking a rule, or when no other boat is around to protest).
Even in the protest hearing this principle is upheld. All parties are expected to present "their" case in the best possible way as to convince the Jury that their facts are what has happened.

Back to the race course. You "blow your whistle" whenever you are involved or see a boat breaking a rule. And you are expected to do this as soon as reasonable possible. You wouldn't accept a football referee blowing a whistle half a minute after a tackle when the game has already progressed because of the foul... (excuse me, soccer referee).
By shouting "protest" the other boat becomes aware - if she doesn't already know - that they might have broken a rule. They have a choice then too. That boat can either take a penalty, usually a Two-Turns Penalty or, well, not.
If not, the ball is again in your court. If you feel strongly enough about the issue, you then can lodge a written protest with the Jury or Protest Committee. But that's again, up to you. You are expected to enforce, but it's your decision. Nobody will penalize you for not doing it, but you must then also accept the outcome.

Once the protest has been handed in, the PC will schedule a hearing and invite all parties to come to tell their stories about what happened. Parties can bring witnesses to help with their side. But the whole process starts on equal footing. The PC does not give the protester more "weight" because they brought the issue. The incident is decided on "a balance of probability", as close to the truth as they can get.

If you think that the PC will sort out the problem for you, you are in error. Even then YOU enforce the rules, so you better get all your ducks in row and be convincing.

Oh, on a final note, being a referee is not always the most thankful job. Usually nobody likes the person who's telling them that they are doing something wrong. It is a little mitigated in the rules, in that protest are "against" boats, not against a person. But I admit that that maybe only semantics....


Next week: Sweet seventeen

Previous episodes in this series:
Back to the Basics (Part1): Keeping Clear
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