There was a protest on Wednesday evening, and as
has been my custom, I want to share the situation and the decision for the
benefit of everyone. I am citing rules from the U.S. Sailing rules in brief
from their Website.
http://www.ussailing.org/rules/RulesInBrief.htm, which you should store in
your favorites file.
concerned Teams D and F during the run of race 3.
Team D rounded the
mark behind Team F and both boats set spinnakers. Somewhere in this time after
the rounding, about a quarter of the way down the leg, Team D established an
overlap to leeward of Team F.
As the leg
continued, Team D hailed Team F that they (Team D) were leeward boat and Team
F should keep clear. Team F made no alteration of course and eventually her
boom made contact with the spinnaker of Team D.
Team D protested
under rule 11.
When boats are overlapped on the same tack, the windward boat must keep
clear. (Rule 11)
Team F defending itself with the assertion that
Team D had overtaken from astern within two boat lengths and by holding to a
rhumb line course to the mark, she (Team F) was within her rights under Rule
17. Team F contended that Team D had sailed above her proper course, thereby
causing the foul. [But Team F did not protest Team D.]
are two points to be made here. One regarding the form of the protest and one
regarding the rules. To do that it is useful to consider the following summary
from the rules.
ON RIGHT OF WAY
If the other
boat must keep clear, you have "right of way". Even if you have right of way,
there are limitations on what you can do:
AVOID CONTACT. You
must avoid contact with other boats, but a right-of-way boat will not be
penalized under this rule unless the contact causes damage. (Rule 14)
ACQUIRING RIGHT OF
WAY. When you do something to become the right-of-way boat, you must give the
other boat a chance to get away from you. (Rule 15)
When you change course, you must give the other boat a chance to keep clear.
ON THE SAME TACK;
PROPER COURSE. If you are overlapped to leeward of a boat on the same tack,
and if just before the overlap began you were clear astern of her, you cannot
sail above your proper course (i.e., the course that will take you to the next
mark the fastest) while you remain overlapped. (Rule 17.1)
Let’s look at how last night’s situation
developed in light of the Limitations section of the rules quoted above.
First, Team D did not present a fact of how the overlap was established. But
she repeatedly hailed Team F, which Team F did not deny. Team D also, in the
protest hearing, said she had taken a course directly down the rhumb line to
the mark. (Team F also said she was directly on her rhumb line to the pin.) In
her protest, Team D said that Team F “was crowding her 2 minutes before the
seems clear that Team D followed the prescriptions for establishing her “right
of way” position and for giving Team F the chance to keep clear. Nor,
apparently, did Team D alter her course without allowing Team F opportunity to
let’s look at Rule 17.1. Team D did not cite this rule in her protest, and
from the beginning of the discussion did not clearly present a factual
description of how the overlap was established or just when. (It’s important
in our short races, when boats are racing close together, to be certain where
you are in relation to other boats, and if an incident occurs, to poll the
crew to reconstruct these important details immediately while they are fresh
in your mind, so you can present a factual case to the protest committee. In
fact, during the hearing Team D couldn’t recall in what order the two boats
had rounded the windward mark.)
Team D had separated from Team F by more than two boat lengths after the
rounding and caught up enough distance so that she then established the
overlap from the side, this is called “converging” overlap. If Team D were
converging on Team F in this situation, she had the rights to luff Team F up
to head to wind. But this does not seem to have been the case.
Rule 17.1, Team D has rights to sail her proper course and Team F is obliged
to keep clear. Team F has the obligation, in a hearing, to prove that Team D
sailed above her proper course to exonerate herself from the protest.
easily can Team F prove this? The answer is “not very easily.” Let’s look at
what a “proper course” means. The rule above says
(i.e., the course that will take you to the next mark the fastest).
this can vary depending on the conditions. But it definitely does not limit
the leeward boat to sailing a rhumb line course.
light air, as we had last night, the proper downwind course could be 40
degrees above the rhumb line to sail faster even though over a longer
distance. It’s also called “tacking downwind.” And we saw a lot of that last
night with boats gibing back and forth for the best angle on the runs. So Team
F needed to be prepared to avoid Team D and not hold directly on the rhumb
governing rule here is that the “proper course” which the skipper thinks is
the fastest way to the mark is set by the leeward boat, even if she has
overtaken from astern to gain her overlap.
decision: The protest was disallowed on a technicality. (Doesn’t that sound
like a cop out?) The finishing order of the race stands. (Team F nosed out
Team D at the end.)
Here’s why we made that decision. Team D protested under the wrong rule, Rule
11 instead of Rule 17.1. She didn’t establish enough important factual
information to make her case, reflecting a less than perfect understanding of
all the rules, which applied to the situation, particularly Rule 17.1.
said, it seems clear that Team F was in the wrong through her claim that she
had the right to a “proper course,” and she would have been disqualified if
the case had been presented properly.
Neither Team avoided contact as called for in Rule 14 above. So a hard-nosed
Race Committee had the grounds to disqualify BOTH boats for failure under this
rule. Remember, Avoiding Contact is the first rule to follow in racing.
separate decision, Team W was awarded scores equal to the average of her
previous finishes in the series. The turnbuckles in her shrouds had been left
unpinned and the rig kept de-tuning itself through out the evening. (Scorer
See you next week!
Captain Herb Motley, BHSC