racing situation that happened to me yesterday - SailNet Community

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Old 07-23-2011
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racing situation that happened to me yesterday

I'd like a judgement from the forum regarding a situation in a race on a lake yesterday evening.


2 boats (6.5m open dinghies called valk) sailing to the leeward mark were involved. The mark had to be rounded starboard (starboard tack) and both boats were sailing over starboard tack, and wing on wing (no spinnakers). The story that led to me doing a penalty turn begins about 10 minutes before the mark . The wind was bf 3/4. I was steering the leading boat. My competitor was attempting to pass me to windward. He was blanketting my wind. I decided in this situation to sail closer to the wind in a last attempt to prevent him getting the inside track (and me having to give him room at the leeward mark as he could claim overlap). I began to sail higher and he sailed higher with me. However, I didn't think he was keeping clear of my boat as despite giving him plenty of time to keep clear, his boom was above our boat and my head. He began shouting to stop with the luffing game and head to the mark. His boom was continuely over my boat and he was having to keep the boom from hitting my stay by grabbing it and bringing it in directy (pulling in the mainsheet would've been too slow to prevent his boom touching my stay). So the situation is that both boats were sailing very very close together heading toward the zone around the leeward mark. Before entering the 3 boat lengths zone I began falling off to give competitor room to round the mark. In the zone, an unexpected gust hit my mainsail and it began to swing to port tack in an uncontrolled jibe. My teammate and I tried to prevent the boom from completing the uncontrolled jib. We were partially successful and our boom remained approximately midships yet it touched the sail of my competitors boat (his boom was still over our boat). I protested that my competitor was sailing dangerously, hadn't kept clear and didn't attempt to avoid contact between boats. My competitor protested because my boom had touch his sail. I know contact between boats means someone has to make the penalty turn(s) or risk dsq. I made a penalty turn (albeit after rounding the mark). My competitor did not make a penalty turn. We were not dsq-ed and went on to win the race. My protest against my competitor was not upheld by the competiton judge.

I'd like to know whether my competitor should've made a penalty turn for not keeping clear, not making efforts to avoid a collision and sailing dangerously.

I know the rules reasonably well but I'll be very suprised if the racing rules allow such a dangerous situation to develop.


thanks for any input.

Last edited by bobbylockes; 07-23-2011 at 06:47 PM.
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Old 07-23-2011
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thanks!
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Old 07-23-2011
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Good thing you made a penalty turn and were not 'dsq'd.
The rules of sailboat racing do allow for dangerous situations to develop at the starting line and when rounding marks. You are still required to be in control of your boat no matter where the wind was coming from. That includes the accidental jibe you had that touched the other boat.
In my opinion the 'rules' should be more simple and state that no collision between boats is allowed, but this is kind of the core of all the rules.
Glad to hear you won. Sounds a bit exciting!
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Old 07-23-2011
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thank for the quick reply! I'm not convinced that my competitor was in the right.

keeping clear surely means exactly that "keep clear" not 1 or 2 cm apart but "KEEP CLEAR". I can't imagine the people who created the rules considered that having the other boats boom above someones head and giving me no room to manoevre should a gust hit as "keeping clear". The fact he didn't keep clear of my boat sufficiently enough when I sailed closer to the wind meant there was an incident or accident waiting to happen. If anything I think I should have protested at that point as he sailed so close to our boat that no-one could've avoided a collision had a wave from a speedboat or a gust hit either boat.

you don't have to touch another guys boat to make a protest - in the latest rules both boats get dsq-ed if they can't show they tried to avoid contact.

Are the racing rules so wreckless that my competitor didn't do anything wrong?
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Old 07-23-2011
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it was very exciting. yes. there were 1.5 seconds between the first 3 boats crossing the leeward finishing line. It was a great start to the weekend.
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Old 07-24-2011
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Bob, you should've called out for him to come up and keep clear, and luff HARD! Make sure he knows you're not screwing around. If he comes down on you again with his boom over your head, reach up and touch his boom with your hand. Then

THROW THE FLAG!

He did not keep clear after you called him up. And his boom should not be above your head. Do this well before you get to the 'zone'. Then there's no "inside boat" and no room owed. Sounds like you gave into the bully. Good onya for winning anyway, but I don't think you were in the wrong. Only thing wrong that you did, was not getting rid of him early and sailing your course.
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Old 07-24-2011
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interesting.. the fact that if I can touch his boom with my hand it is enough for a protest to be justified and upheld?

my faith is returning to the racing rules...
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Old 07-24-2011
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In my opinion, yes. The key here is to give him notice you're luffing up, say it loud enough to make sure the entire fleet can hear you. And get a 3rd party witness who is not on your boat. Make sure they'll be in the room with you.

Now, if you have to trapeze out to touch his boom, then it was never over your boat, but that doesn't sound like it was the case. No part of his boat should be over yours. That's not keeping clear and limiting your movement. Even if you lose the protest, it'll keep him from doing it again.

As long as you keep your boat in 'regular' sailing trim. You can't reach out and touch his boat, just like squaring back a spin pole to hit his chute, etc.
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Old 07-24-2011
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PS - if you know the guy, maybe a beer at the club after the race to tell him he was in the wrong would be a less abrasive way of doing it. Then if it happens again, throw the flag.
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Old 07-24-2011
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I know the guy very well. He's a very good sailor. the beer in the bar afterwards did happen but I was forced to concide I was wrong. However now I know why.. its because I didn't yell protest 10 minutes before reaching the zone around the leeward mark!

He sits on the jury of very competitive weekly races. He has an incredible amount of experience when it comes to protest rooms and commitees etc etc... I've learned alot from him. the firiday evening competition sail is a more social competition. He enjoys testing the competitors (to put it politely). Last friday I was the one being tested and unfortunately I failed but have now learned why I failed!!

I think the conclusion that can be drawn from this is that I was at fault in the zone and therefore had to make a penalty turn. Yet the biggest fault was before the zone when I didn't yell protest and innocently stretch my arm skywards and hit the competitors boom. Had this been done the competitor would've either taken a penalty turn ( in which case the situation in the zone would never have happened as he would've been left behind ) or he would've carried on sailing, got disqualified and I would've been exempt from making a penalty turn after the incident in the zone because he was already in the wrong and forced me to make an error.

I think the racing rules should make things clearer regarding dangerous sailing, there should be no room for interpretation when it comes to the risk of injury to people. It doesn't get much more dangerous in dinghy sailing than having a boom moving about just above your head.
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