Originally Posted by Sanduskysailor
"Now, using autohelm was technically against the race rules, except for double-handed boats. However, it was also clear from the race rules that uses of autohelm would be subject to a penalty, and would not lead to disqualification. This was laid out with great clarity in the race rules. And it was quite obvious that the Transpac would have no interest in disqualifying a boat that was already in last place."
Jake I am sorry to hear that you had to endure the race on the ship of fools but your statement quoted above is a bit bothersome. As soon as you turned on the autopilot you were in violation of rule 52 of the 2013-16 rules of racing. There is no penalty or exoneration for breaking that rule, only disqualification. What clarity was there in the Transpac NOR regarding this? Exception 1.6 pertains only to the double handed class regarding autopilots. It is no different than turning on your motor, putting it in gear and motoring. Not cool and definitely not kosher no matter how far behind you were. It is not the responsibility of the Transpac Committee to enforce this. It is incumbent on yourself to call it on yourself. Hopefully you don't teach sailboat racing along with the sailing classes you give.
Perhaps to accommodate our class of "racer," the Transpac NOR defined penalties as below. (Only the bolded part is completely relevant here.) It is effectively saying that violation of most of the rules will likely involve either a penalty, or no penalty, but probably not disqualification—except in the specific examples cited.
Again, confirming that I read this correctly, when I asked the commodore on the phone whether using autohelm would lead to disqualification, he said that was very unlikely.
Surely if we had been in anything other than class 8—the Aloha class, basically boats not really meant for racing—the interpretation might be quite different. At least I imagine there would be little excuse for a well-crewed boat in serious contention for trophies to be using autohelm much if at all. But for ours....
I do, incidentally, know that it is generally a disqualification to use autohelm. In fact, some races enforce this by various means.
When the protest committee decides that a boat that is a party to a protest hearing has broken a rule and is not exonerated, it may impose an elapsed time penalty or impose no penalty at all
. If an elapsed time penalty is imposed, its magnitude will be at the protest committee’s discretion. This penalty also is applied to elapsed time, Class and Fleet standing trophies. However,
(a) if the boat caused injury or damage to another boat that affected the other’s racing
ability or gained a significant advantage in the race by her breach, she will be disqualified.
(b) if the boat is found to have broken rule 69.1(a), the protest committee shall follow
rule 69.2(c). Willfully reporting a false position or false weather will be considered
gross misconduct and dealt with under rule 69.2.
(c) if the protest committee decides that a breach of rule 41 was committed to insure
the safety of a boat or her crew, the protest committee will impose no penalty.
(d) a boat will receive an elapsed time penalty of two hours if the protest committee
determines that she
(1) is on the course side of the starting line at her starting signal and does not
return to the pre-start side of the line and start, or
(2) touches a starting or finishing line mark and does not take a One-Turn
Penalty as described in rule 44.2.