Thursday 29 May 2014


The use of the Answering Pennant?

In a couple events fairly recently I was confronted with the use of the answering pennant - AP in short - in combination with a numeral pennant;
AP over one and a bunch of class-flags
AP over four with another set of class-flags.

Here's a picture from the last event I was attending; The Delta Lloyd Regatta. We had a beautiful week with lots and lots of sunshine but, alas, also a couple of days with less than perfect wind. In fact, no wind. Hence the postponements.

During the day, when these combination of flags were used, I was confronted with a couple of discussions about the exact meaning. I though it was obvious and had not considered the arguments given.

In my understanding the numeral pennant under the AP gives you the number of hours the start is postponed from the ORIGINALLY scheduled time.
For example: The Finns were scheduled to start at 14:00 hours (2PM)
AP over numeral pennant three over the Finn-class flag would make that start time: (2+3=5) Five o'clock.

At half past four the signal flags are changed and now the same flagpole shows:
AP over numeral pennant four over the Finn-class flag. That would make the start-time in my opinion: (2+4=6) Six o'clock.

But then someone argued: With the hoisting of the first flags the scheduled time becomes 17:00 hours (5PM). If you then hoist the AP over four, the new starting time must be taken from that new time
i.e.: (5+4=9) Nine o'clock in the evening.

So it depends what is meant by "scheduled" starting time. I am always using the 'scheduled' time as (obligatory) printed in the SIs. But was confronted with a couple of knowledgeable sailors who used the second system.

In my opinion the signal should be clear, precise and not being subject to any other possible interpretation. Suppose you use the number one pennant repeatedly?
The first one makes the (printed) schedules time an hour later. But the second one, two hours, and the third one, three hours later!
If any sailor missed looking at the mast and noticing that the one was lowered and hoisted again, he would have a hard time figuring out at what time he was suppose to start. In contrary to always using the printed (SI) time. No matter how long you haven't looked, the pennant shown is always added to the printed time and that gives you the new time.

I would appreciate some feedback and/or comments.


  1. At some big and important events I met a presumption of the RC, that because:
    1. Boats are moored in precisely assigned berths in one harbour (camp),
    2. boats only can go afloat when their particular flag is hoisted ashore,
    3. boats have to sign out before going afloat, and sign in after coming ashore,
    that they "HAVE" to watch and follow the signals ashore.
    According my oppinion the above way of thinking is (similarly as yours judgment) not correct, alibistic, and unfriendly to competitors. And as still active competitor - I hate that way of behavior of RC.

  2. Originally intended time stated in the NoR or SI, plus the numeral pennants' value. Otherwise too much confusion.
    It is scheduled only once - in the documents, the signals just postpone it, not re-schedule it.

  3. Good post. Something I've also thought about it and haven't understood it. Seems to be common now at regatta where I sail that instead of using numeral pennants that the AP is hoisted with the L flag and a notice is posted on the board advising the time that racing is postponed until. I.e "Racing is postponed, no warning signal will be made until xxxx hours".

  4. I was also at the Delta Lloyd Regatta and witnessed the arguments regarding this, and I share the view that the method outlined above is the method that communicates most clearly to the sailors the new intended starting time. One might argue that if people pay attention the other way works as well, but why not just use the way that gets the message through regardless of how much attention people pay.

    The only issue I have with the method of postponing from scheduled time is that in the RRS it says that AP can be flown over numeral pennants 1-6. Thus in order to postpone for more than 6 hours from scheduled starting time one will either have to fly just AP, or one will have to change the scheduled starting time to later in the day. An easy fix here would be to change the RRS to allow pennants 1-9. If there's more than a 9-hour delay it's so late in the day you might as wel fly AP over nothing for the rest of the day.

  5. In my humble opinion the amount of postponement hours would be from the original schedule start time of 1400 hrs.

    Paul Jr.
    CRO – Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club

  6. I can only agree with your opinion. Scheduled starting time must be the official starting time from the SI, if not changed by a notice, and the postponement must be from this.
    To make the signalling more clear AP could be set over 2 flags, signalling the new starting time - i.e. AP over "1" and "6" = New start at 16:00.
    Easy and not to be misunderstood?
    Another confusing flag is "L" ashore. When does it come up and down?
    Above solution with numbers might be used? - maybe a topic for a new tread?

    Hans Vengberg.
    IJ - DEN

    1. That would bring back the old use of numeral meaning of the pennants. Nice and clear. I like it!
      It would require a submission to change the rulebook....

  7. I can find no reference in the RRS to any limit on the numeral pennant that can be flown under AP.

    I find the use of the L flag and posting a notice to competitors is an effective procedure.


  8. This is an interesting but actually stupid discussion because there is only one right answer and he pretty much answers it. it is from the scheduled start time in the SIs (or amendment), and the "couple of knowledgeable sailors" are actually just idiots and wrong.

  9. OK Jos - your MNA or mine? We made the revision of RRS 69 so ... (see you in Warnemünde, perhaps we can look at it there).
    Gordon I think you will find that only pennants 1-6 is defined in the rule book in connection with Race Signals - "AP".

    The problem with "L" is, that very often it will be flown from day one and throughout the whole event. That mean that when you go to sleep, wake up in the morning, come back from racing etc. "L" is up, but perhaps only old notices are on the board.
    If you put numeral pennants under "L" you can always see the status and know if there are notices you have not seen.

    Hans Vengberg
    IJ - DEN

  10. Rule 27.3 is not very descriptive. And it does not mention the case of two pennants. This is only done in page 2 (Race signals)

  11. Looks to me that all times could be set from one reference point at the beginning of the day (ex.: captain's briefing, first race of the day, first morning beer, etc...) and everyone could then just add the number of hours to the same reference time (as long as everyone had their breakfast beer at the same time.)

  12. In my copy of the rules I read 'AP over a numeral pennant. Hours postponement from the Scheduled starting time' However, this is the RYA rule book, and it has been like this for over 6 years. This sounds eminently sensible. French rule book and ISAF version use AP over 1-6. However the AP signal in ISAF version clearly states 'Postponement of 1-6 hours from the scheduled starting time'. Something may have got lost in translation§

    I will try and discover when the Brits changed Racing Signals.

    On the L flag - L over a numeral clearly indicates that the Notice to Competitors only concerns the class having that numeral flag as their class flag. The fundamental principle of flag signals is that they are hoisted to warn competitors and taken down when they become effective. An L flag should be taken down when the Notice to Competitors takes full effect. I now try to convince event organisers to write this into SIs

  13. I have made enquiries - and the RYA racing rules team have been as efficient as ever in replying. The RYA Race Signals page has been different from the ISAF version since 2001. That was when the RYA decided to put all the IC Flags on the back page of the rule book (thus loosing a substantial revenue generating opportunity). This feature is one of the many which makes the RYA book so useful. Having printed the numeral pennants from 0-9 on the back page it did not make sense to repeat them on the Race Signals page.

    RYA officials do not consider that a postponement is limited to 6 hours. AP over 9 for instance would be a valid (if unlikely) signal.

    There is no intention to make a submission to change the ISAF Race Signals. Am I alone in finding the RYA version more logical.

    Gordon (IRL not GBR!)

  14. I believe it is confusing to the competitor to use number pennants under the AP ashore. I prefer to use the AP by itself and to post a Notice about when the next decision time will be. This requires the hoisting of L as well. Then the argument starts about when L has to come down. Without debating that in this post I have found this method to be more user friendly.


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