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Milltown Racing Rules Study: Case 1 - Bob v. Espresso

posted Feb 20, 2017, 10:47 AM by Thomas Hunter   [ updated Feb 20, 2017, 10:51 AM ]
Hi Everyone,

Winter Race 4 was a wet, cold and light wind affair but it wasn't without some excitement (at 1 knot slow motion) that I thought would be good to summarize for the club.  Joe added his comment which I inserted in the appropriate spot.

From the G to B mark, Bob and Espresso were creeping along on current under spinnaker with the wind starting from the North, North East.  About 1/2 way down the run. we experienced a 90 degree wind shift back to the northwest.  While I was getting worried about getting to far on the shelf,  We, in Espresso decided to gybe as the wind started backing to the north.  We caught new wind before Bob did and we wound up getting along his western side.  Still predominantly floating, Joe and crew decided to have some fun and took down their spinnaker and came at us from leeward.  And here is where the first set of rules come into play.  Per rule 11 and 12:

Rule 11:  ON THE SAME TACK, OVERLAPPED When boats are on the same tack and overlapped, a windward boat shall keep clear of a leeward boat.
Rule 12: ON THE SAME TACK, NOT OVERLAPPED When boats are on the same tack and not overlapped, a boat clear astern shall keep clear of a boat clear ahead.

In our case we had not broken overlap.   Thus rule 11 applies.  I did as much as I could to make distance to windward from Bob, we ran out of air and got trapped. 

Joe: Once I was on you and right beside...I could not go higher as I gave you no room to swing without contact and I was not calling about taking up Espresso any higher than close hauled.   At that point BoB was constrained as well and you continued to sneak forward taking our air (Good job!)  You nearly escaped and it was at the last possible moment when your engine would have contacted that both boats pushed off.  It was only then that I could protest as the leeward boat being overtaken on windward side having to change course.

Thanks Joe.  Some definitions and rules that apply:
Keep Clear:  One boat keeps clear of another if the other boat can sail her course with no need to take avoiding action and, when the boats are overlapped on the same tack, if the leeward boat could change course without immediately making contact with the windward boat.

RoomThe 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. 

Rule 16.1:  When a right-of-way boat changes course, she shall give the other boat room to keep clear.

With no maneuverability, I could not keep clear of the leeward boat and recognized the foul.  Joe (after some commotion trying to find his protest flag) protested Espresso. 

61.1 Informing the Protestee (a) A boat intending to protest shall inform the other boat at the first reasonable opportunity. When her protest will concern an incident in the racing area that she was involved in or saw, she shall hail ‘Protest’ and conspicuously display a red flag at the first reasonable opportunity for each. She shall display the flag until she is no longer racing.  However,  (1) if the other boat is beyond hailing distance, the protesting boat need not hail but she shall inform the other boat at the first reasonable opportunity; (2) if the hull length of the protesting boat is less than 6 metres, she need not display a red flag; (3) if the incident was an error by the other boat in sailing the course, she need not hail or display a red flag but she shall inform the other boat either before or at the first reasonable opportunity after the other boat finishes; 
 (4) if as a result of the incident a member of either crew is in danger, or there is injury or serious damage that is obvious to the boat intending to protest, the requirements of this rule do not apply to her, but she shall attempt to inform the other boat within the time limit of rule 61.3. 

Joe had met the protest requirements.  This not always something we as racers are prepared for in Milltown.  But note, the flag and a hail of Protest are required by the rules.  Other hails (like you fouled me) or no flag, means a non-valid protest.  Corinthian sailing and sportsmanship should allow for a boat to still choose to take penalties but in a protest committee ruling an invalid protest is easy grounds to disqualify a protest. 

We nearly had our motor chew on Bob's minions and acknowledged the foul.  No raised voices and all in good sportsmanship.  We gybed and in slow motion looked to find a spot to do our 2 turn penalty.  Per the rules:  

Rule44.2:  One-Turn and Two-Turns Penalties After getting well clear of other boats as soon after the incident as possible, a boat takes a One-Turn or Two-Turns Penalty by promptly making the required number of turns in the same direction, each turn including one tack and one gybe. When a boat takes the penalty at or near the finishing line, she shall sail completely to the course side of the line before finishing.

Rule 22.2: A boat taking a penalty shall keep clear of one that is not.

After ~5 minutes (yes it was that slow!), we finally got separation enough from Bob to east of him to do our turns.

Rule 24.2: If reasonably possible, a boat shall not interfere with a boat that is taking a penalty, sailing on another leg or subject to rule 22.1. However, after the starting signal this rule does not apply when the boat is sailing her proper course.

We started (with spinnaker still up) with a tack and were to windward of Bob.  He was creeping closer and so I reminded him to allow us to do our turns.    We completed our turns and kept racing only to finish 10 minutes in front of the B mark before time ran out. Which brings the last reminder of rules:

Rule 2: FAIR SAILING A boat and her owner shall compete in compliance with recognized principles of sportsmanship and fair play. A boat may be penalized under this rule only if it is clearly established that these principles have been violated. The penalty shall be either disqualification or disqualification that is not excludable. 

No raised voices, no damages (except maybe my bruised ego!) and an opportunity to review some rules post race with a good case.