SL-VT Final Moments

The SL-Vuitton Regatta came to a close this past Saturday, with a five-hour string of fun, final matches unmarred by controversy or excess grid turbulence.

The excitement and fun of the competition was (rather brilliantly) captured by Surfwidow Beaumont’s camera!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Although Surf said it all above much better than I ever could, that’s never stopped me from writing before, so let me tell you about a couple racing highlights!

Armano vs Hawk

Match racing is all about tactics.
There are only two boats involved, and the course is nearly always a simple Windward/Leeward affair that offers few strategic options.

LDeWell Hawker is a maestro at this; Hawk holds regular teaching sessions at Fruit Islands’ Strawberry Sailing Center to discuss and practice Match Racing skills. Stop by and go over his slideshow there, and try the race course!

Hawk’s own technical finesse was well-demonstrated in Tradewind Yacht Club’s first SLVT Qualifying Round, where he picked up First Place and earned a slot in the Finals line-up. It seemed pretty obvious that any sailor who wanted to win the SL- Vuitton Trophy would need to ‘get past Hawk‘ first.

Armano knows this too; when he and Hawk went head-to-head in their first matchup Saturday, the gloves came off and the fur went flying (Sorry for mixing metaphors 🙂 ). During the three minute prestart, the Terrific Twosome made a series of hair-raising close passes as they jockeyed for position and tried to force each other into a fault.

Click to enlarge.

With forty-five seconds to go, Armano decided he had enough. He turned and broke for the line. From a greater distance, Hawk set a course to intersect Armano at the Start.

The second frame above shows this approach setup with a half-minute still on the clock.  One might argue that in this raceat this point – Armano looked like he had outfoxed Hawk, the Prestart Professor. Armano held Leeward Right-of-Way, and had set course to slice the far starboard side of the line next to the buoy and committee boat. PERFECT.

Hawk had a vested interest in crossing that startline too, of course 🙂 … but Armano held the cards and could stave Hawk off… perhaps even forcing Hawk to miss the line entirely.

If you look at the sequence above however, it’s pretty clear that Armano broke for the line too early; that’s how he caught Hawk with his pants down (Hawk’s pants… not Armano’s 🙂 ). Actually that’s not an Armano error; in fact it’s a pretty interesting tactical nuance, but it meant Armano needed to adjust his plans to avoid crossing over early.

Armano elected to keep on his winning ROW course, but slowed his approach by luffing sails (third frame above). It was a conservative, prudent tactic, but it didn’t take into consideration Hawk’s skill and determination.

When Armano let loose his sheets and slowed his boat, he opened a narrow door  between his bow and the line; Hawk immediately saw it and locked on. Instead of following Armano’s lead and slowing down…  Hawk lit afterburners and strained canvas to speed up, playing a hugely risky juggernaut to clear Armano’s bow before the ‘door’ closed.

Click to enlarge.

Hawk successfully pulled off this gutsy maneuver, cleanly passing Armano with leass than one or two seconds to spare.

With the wisdom of Monday-morning quarterbacking, let me suggest that Armano may have had a second tactical choice here… Instead of luffing, losing momentum, and opening a door… Armano could have gone full steam up to the line, then made a hockey-stop turn to Port to avoid going ‘over early.’ That would have ‘closed the door‘ to Hawk, flashed Armano’s butt in Hawk’s face, and allowed Armano to run the length of the line full speed, waiting for the START signal to cross.

I’ve had 24hrs to look at the pictures though; Armano had under ten seconds 🙂 . Armano won this whole darn regatta, so I’m not criticizing; I’m mentioning alternatives here to help sailors figure out Armano’s weaknesses!

Based on his prestart tactics above, I’m thinking Armano may have a serious character flaw… one sometimes found in otherwise excellent Dutch Sail Racers…
Armano is very Polite and Careful.
🙂

Anywayz, after Hawk’s rather brilliant move, the two boats crossed the line in near-tandem, as shown in A above.

These are two outstanding sailors, and its certainly no surprise that they stayed fairly closely glued to each other on the multi-sim downwind beat. For most of that way, Armano held a breathtakingly slim lead.

As the boats came around Ahab’s Haunt and set sail for the downwind ride to Rachel and then Home, here’s the conversation from the Judge’s chat:

[10:18:11]  Silber Sands: Jane You see them?
[10:18:16]  Jane Fossett: yes
[10:18:22]  Silber Sands: ok:)
[10:18:23]  Jane Fossett: any protest
[10:18:30]  Silber Sands: no
[10:18:37]  Jane Fossett: they are very close;  Armano by one boatlength.
[10:20:17]  Jane Fossett: Here is where Hawk will make the move.
[10:20:33]  Elizabet Foxtrot: nods; There he goes!

As shown above, Hawk swung leeward of Armano and began to pass… Hawk then did another rather surprising move. The ACAv2.53 boats have fairly powerful downwind shadow, so a trailing boat has a fair chance to come even with a leading opponent. However, it’s much tougher to then pass and capture the lead, since the passing boat loses shadow advantage in doing so. There are many, many examples of ‘failed passing attempts’ in the SLVT races.
But look at what Hawk does.

As soon as he came up abeam and overlapped, Hawk fell away, increasing the distance between the two boats and securing ‘clean air’ outside the most intense shadow range. NICE MOVE.

Click to enlarge.

If you look at the sequence above, you can see how the boats next handled the final turn in Rachel sim before they set their eyes on the Finish line. Hawk played his cards adroitly, squeaking ahead of Armano as they approached the turn. Armano was further starboard, and he decided to swing wide of the submerged shipwreck obstruction there.

Room at Obstruction

This is probably a good place for me to bring up a somewhat separate issue, “Room at an Obstruction,” since it came up several times in SLVT, and both Lynn and Takabou commented on it in Rachel.

There is a submerged shipwreck in Rachel, rather inconveniently positioned near the race marker in that sim; the hazard is marked by an old, Linden ‘Nav Can’ buoy. Kaz Destiny hit the wreck in one of the semifinals races two weeks ago, and yesterday Takabou Destiny did the same thing.

Takabou went on to win that race series against Lynn, so the single event made no difference in the outcome. Nonetheless, it looked like the racing fleet was uncertain how to deal with such an obstruction. Here is the public transcript immediately following the race (with spelling corrected and extraneous comments redacted):

[9:25:08]  takabou Destiny: Excuse me. I didn’t call, but can I call ‘ROOM‘ at last mark?
[9:26:08]  Jane Fossett: YES; that is an OBSTRUCTION.
[9:26:21]  Lynn Parkin: Inside boat gets room when overlapped at mark, no?
[9:26:26]  takabou Destiny: Under water object
[9:26:37]  Jane Fossett: The Wreck is an OBSTRUCTION,
[9:26:43]  don Berithos: She really had no room to give.
[9:26:46]  Jane Fossett: but you need to call it.
[9:26:47]  Lynn Parkin: How can I give room…when there is room for only one boat?
[9:26:51]  takabou Destiny: ok
[9:27:10]  Jane Fossett: judges will decide if the call is correct.
[9:27:15]  takabou Destiny: you win Lynn : )
[9:27:22]  don Berithos: I saw it there was no room.

The race was Saturday, and Tak won the three-race series despite hitting the wreck. However, the issue he raised is important, and this is my understanding:

Rule 19 – Room to Pass an Obstruction

19.1. When Rule 19 Applies.
Rule 19 applies between boats at an obstruction except when it is also a mark the boats are required to leave on the same side. However, at a continuing obstruction, rule 19 always applies and rule 18 does not.

19.2. Giving Room at an Obstruction
(a) A right-of-way boat may choose to pass an obstruction on either side.

(b) When boats are overlapped, the outside boat shall give the inside boat room between her and the obstruction, unless she has been unable to do so from the time the overlap began.
(c) While boats are passing a continuing obstruction, if a boat that was clear astern and required to keep clear becomes overlapped between the other boat and the obstruction and, at the moment the overlap begins, there is not room for her to pass between them, she is not entitled to room under rule 19.2(b). While the boats remain overlapped, she shall keep clear and rules 10 and 11 do not apply.

The Rules of Racing are primarily about safety; the goal is to keep all the sailors alive to race another day. If you are traveling at breakneck speed and overlapped with another boat, when an opposing skipper calls ROOM! to avoid a collision with an obstruction, her need should supersede most other agendas on your dance card.

In this case Takabou did not protest; he decided to go around the obstruction, and Lynn had no fault. However, with the boats solidly overlapped, Tak was potentially in his rights to call ROOM! under Rule 19.2(b) to avoid hitting the wreck. In that case, Lynn had free water and could easily turn to port… even if that meant she missed the mark.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
Dave Perry – Rule 19 – RRS 2009-2012, posted with vodpod

Fracas Foments as Hawk and Armano Finish

The picture of Hawk and Armano passing the final mark in Rachel show that Hawk ended wide and leeward of Armano as they began the final sprint to the Finish line.

Both boats were on a near dead run, but Hawk realized Armano was better positioned to win that final short sprint to the line. Hawk’s only chance was to use his leeward ROW in a blocking maneuver to trip-up Armano. You can see a wonderful replay of what happened in Surfwidow’s video above, beginning around 06:30.

As shown in the still images below, Hawk turned to windward and shouted “UP!!” to get Armano to change course. Armano begins the turn, but Hawk needs to push him wide of the course. He aggressively turns into Armano… and hits him! Surf’s video shows what happened next; it confirms the umpire’s report and what the sailors themselves reported. After the boats recovered from the hit, Armano tried to turn back towards the line, but Hawk called “UP!” again… and hit him again! 🙂 How’s that for Relentlessness!

Click to enlarge.

As shown in the sequence below, Armano made it to the far end of the raceline with the help of Hawk’s push 🙂 ; he then broke clear, gybed to Starboard, and limped toward the Finish. Hawk was still on the hunt however, and tried to shove Armano out-of-bounds. Armano at that point was on Starboard tack, however; it was his turn to shout “room” and protest.

Click to enlarge.

The judges considered the statements of the sailors, as well as their own observations; they key points were nicely illustrated and confirmed by Surf’s video. The judges agreed Hawk had ROW and could call “UP” to turn Armano off course. However, the judges all agreed that Armano’s counter-protest was correct; Armano required time to turn, and was in process of turning when Hawk hit him.

Rules calls are often pretty subjective, and facts can get blurred in the heat of the moment; luckily, in this case Hawk came back and did an instant replay, calling UP! and slamming into Armano a second time 🙂

The judges’ decision was unanimous. The sailing was so great, so exciting and audacious, it seemed very wrong to call either sailor DSQ for their efforts. No one wanted to squelch the obvious skill, intelligence, and guts shown by such incredible skippers.  Instead, without specifically ruling on each of the six potential protests, the Judges ruled the Race Results were valid as they stood.

Armano beat Hawk…
BY ONE SECOND!!!!

Race Results:
1: Armano Xaris   IDax56 — 00:11:10
2: LDeWell Hawker   ID12 — 00:11:11
Lap Times:
Armano Xaris   IDax56 — Start: 00:00:03  —  Last lap: 00:11:07
LDeWell Hawker   ID12 — Start: 00:00:02  —  Last lap: 00:11:09

Click to enlarge.

Rule 19 – Room to Pass an Obstruction

19.1. When Rule 19 Applies

Rule 19 applies between boats at an obstruction except when it is also a mark the boats are required to leave on the same side. However, at a continuing obstruction, rule 19 always applies and rule 18 does not.

19.2. Giving Room at an Obstruction

(a) A right-of-way boat may choose to pass an obstruction on either side.

(b) When boats are overlapped, the outside boat shall give the inside boat room between her and the obstruction, unless she has been unable to do so from the time the overlap began.

(c) While boats are passing a continuing obstruction, if a boat that was clear astern and required to keep clear becomes overlapped between the other boat and the obstruction and, at the moment the overlap begins, there is not room for her to pass between them, she is not entitled to room under rule 19.2(b). While the boats remain overlapped, she shall keep clear and rules 10 and 11 do not apply.

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13 responses to “SL-VT Final Moments

  1. I love your commentaries Jane, and you knowledge of the rules and how you make them easier to understand. But let me ask you further, out of curiosity, why in the rules it is more appropriate for Taka to ask for ROOM at the wreck and cause me as a ROW boat to be inconvenience, rather than for him to take the easily executed inconvenience of steering starboard and avoiding the well marked obstruction. It was not something that he could not have avoided by prudent skippering, and to put himself in an obvious pinch between the mark and a hazard buoy was only a tactical decision to put the competition ahead of safety.

  2. And, (to bring the rule into the discussion), the wreck was not a continuing obstruction, such as a terrain feature, but was a point obstruction that could be sailed around and behind, and to do so would allow the boat even to remain on course, since that takes you around the mark as well. I knew the obstruction was there, and that it was important to get to the mark first, because the second boat, if overlapped would have to take that course.

  3. Good points Lynn! Let’s see what others suggest.
    I brought the issue up so people could think and have that discussion. My view is only one interpretation. Let’s get a consensus understanding on this point so all sailors know how to handle it in SL.
    It’s a bad outcome if you lose a race because the SL Sailing rules were unclear. It didn’t happen in this regatta, but it’s pretty clear it will in the future.

  4. Between Surf’s video and Jane’s SLVT Final Moments, I’m not getting anything in RL done today!

    As a sailing neophyte, was it Armo’s gybe right before the finish that was the final straw in him winning this race by one second?

    • Actually it was everything,
      and two fantastic skippers,
      separated by one simple clock tick
      after a few dozen-sim passage.
      WOW.
      Who could ever ask for more?

  5. Thanks for your response, Jane, and I’ll add one more post script….I’m certainly not bringing these things up to bicker about the comments concerning room…they are great comments and bring up important points as you indicated. And in fact–this one flight was my “glory point” in the race…when Taka’s slow start put me in the early lead, but where the expert Taka was out-skippering me and threatening to overtake at any moment. I was fully expecting (with trepidation) a dramatic shadowing race down the home stretch, and was shocked and disappointed to hear of the accident behind me and out of view. But mostly, it was an honor to have a place in that field of such great SL sailors and an unforgettable experience.

  6. Your “understanding” about 19 is correct as it is a “copy/paste” from ISAF RRS. What is less clear for me, in your article and live chat, is that your clearly state about the call for “ROOM”. My understanding is that “Hailing and Responding” are part of rule 20, not 19. Were rule 20 in use for SLVT?
    Do you thing RRSSL should consider use of Rule 20?
    The second case, clearly indicates how the judges rule, even if subjective decision. “The sailing was so great, so exciting and audacious, it seemed very wrong to call either sailor DSQ for their efforts” . Interesting. The judge dilemma, it happens 3 to 6 times a week I guess.

  7. Lynn Parkin said: “… this one flight was my “glory point” in the race…when Taka’s slow start put me in the early lead, but where the expert Taka was out-skippering me and threatening to overtake at any moment. I was fully expecting (with trepidation) a dramatic shadowing race down the home stretch…”

    Jane replies:Trepidation with Takabou? 🙂
    “Team Destiny” is pretty remarkable, and I think Tak and Kaz are both truly outstanding sailors.
    Despite the language barriers, last year they reached out and launched a team to race in the J-Classic Regatta. The “Far East” crew competed in eight qualifying events against 14 other vessels that totaled ten dozen sailors. The qualifying events alone covered roughly 700 sims.
    I have undying devotion to the effort, kindness, and determination ‘Team Far East’ showed.
    I am also extremely thankful to both Taku Raymaker and Massy Johin; they helped me communicate and negotiate with Team Far East over any rare problem that arose.

    So… ”trepidation with Tak?’ (grin).
    You sailed fantastically, Lynn, and believe me,
    Tak was having as much fun as you.
    Give Tak a big hug next race! (and Kaz too!)

  8. Pingback: On Metaverse Sailing: SL-VT Final Moments

  9. [10:18:11] Silber Sands: Jane You see them?
    just want to make sure.. I asked this cause I could not believe what was going on.. one of the most thrilling races in this whole event.. a “yay, that’s a battle” and “omg” at same moment 😉

  10. Jane,

    Great write up…and comments to follow-up.

    As for question can you wedge yourself between an obstruction and an opponent and then demand room? My understanding is yes. The Dave Perry video included with your post addresses this exact question . The trailing boat can wedge itself between the leading boat and an obstruction forcing the leading boat to change direction. There is no requirement that it be prudent or that they choose a safer alternative if available. In the example he shows a boat wedging itself behind another during the start sequence.

    I was not able to see the video (but would love to) or the race it self, but remain curious about the committees ruling in the dispute between Hawk and Armano and how they concluded that Hawk as the ROW boat was not entitled to have his protest upheld? In RL boats come up on each other virtually every race. The expectation is that the windward boat will respond instantaneously to the request from the lee boat, and go as high up wind was required to stay clear, to tim-buck-two if pushed there. Its pretty unusual for the ROW boat to be denied it’s protest.

    My understanding is that two criteria need to be met for this ruling to be correct, that I didn’t hear clearly articulated in the write-up.

    1) Hawk’s change of direction would have to have been so sudden that it was impossible for Armano to taken action to avoid the collision. In RL at least that the boats hit is generally seen as proof that the actions of the responding boat were not sufficient.
    2) The collision between the boats needs to have caused actual damage, see rule 14.

    Were both of these criteria really met? How can we determine in sl if one boat has damaged the other?

    Hope you don’t mind some varied perspectives on all this…and ideas for further discussion.

    Bruce

  11. Pingback: Risks, Rules, and Rachel | Metaverse Sailing

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