by LDewell Hawker and Jane Fossett
On March 5, the ONE WORLD Finals Races at Sailors Cove went pretty smoothly! The grid conditions were good, the sailing was great, and there were few protests. (The four race teams were all ‘pros,’ and knew their stuff!)
We thought it might be interesting to write about the single, significant protest in the series, even though the outcome was not controversial and a change in the Judges’ ruling would not have affected the final Regatta outcome.
At the beginning of Race Two as the fleet crossed the Startline, FIYC collided with KENOBI! FIYC then protested, claiming they had Right Of Way.
If you haven’t seen it already, please go check out MarkTwain White’s video recap of the ONE WORLD Finals races on youtube, and be sure to leave him a thank-you note too. 🙂 We took a snippet of Race Two from MTW’s video and mixed it with Hawk’s judging vid, which shows the Race #2 start from a different angle ((Hawk’s video starts at 01:20 below). Watch what happens between FIYC and Kenobi in both views as the clock ticks down to zero and the line opens!
Here’s a sequence of outtakes from Hawk’s judging video, annotated to show the countdown time and boat IDs:
The video and stills nicely document the sequence of events. FIYC was sitting southeast of the line with sails luffed, waiting for just the right moment to go into action, and sprint for the Start.
It turns out Kenobi had a different, more risky strategy. The views above show that Kenobi spent much of the last countdown minute steaming Eastward, traveling parallel to the race line to build momentum as she approached FIYC’s spot.
Beginning at -00:26 sec, Kenobi made an abrupt gybe right in front of FIYC! That gave Kenobi the lead, and blocked FIYC. Woots! What a gutsy maneuver! That’s not just our opinion; when Bunnie was asked about it later, her assessment was:
“I thought it was a gutsy maneuver!” 🙂
No surprise, FIYC immediately went into action, and cut to KENOBI’s lee side. With 16 seconds before the start, FIYC’s nose was overlapped with the lead boat’s stern. However, they were a few seconds early, so both boats fell off the wind and ran the line in parallel, waiting for the clock.
As the race started, FIYC turned back to close haul, while KENOBI was slower to react. Suddenly, BANG! FIYC slammed into KENOBI, deeply embedding her bow in KENOBI’s transom!
The crowd looked away in horror, trying to avoid a TOS violation for inappropriate nautical metaphor. Nonetheless, Armano and Bunnie sustained several seconds of stuck-sailing until +16 sec. 🙂
Soon after the two boats went head-to-rump, FIYC protested under Rule 11. Here’s the initial group chat transcript:
[08:28:00] Naeve Rossini: Just 10 s to go.
[08:28:27] Naeve Rossini: Kenobi across the line with FIYC behind her.
[08:28:32] Naeve Rossini: Looks like a collision there.
[08:28:52] Naeve Rossini: Eureka and SVC crossing 3rd and 4th, all on starboard tack.
[08:29:14] Naeve Rossini: There’s the protest from FIYC.
[08:29:24] Viciously Llewellyn: We have a protest against Kenobi.
KENOBI never replied to the protest, but when they were clear of other boats, KENOBI did a penalty turn.
The judges felt the penalty turn resolved any pending FIYC protest, but at the conclusion of the race, Lead Judge Silber Sands held a mini-hearing to be certain of the facts. It was a model of brevity and efficiency:
[08:50] Silber Sands: Armano.. what was Your protest though?
[08:50] Armano Xaris: bunnie did not keep clear from leeward boat (me) pre start
[08:51] Silber Sands: well.. it was rule 17 though.. so Bunnie did not have to do the penalty
[08:51:40] Silber Sands: next race
In the above collision, FIYC protested she had Right of Way under Rule 11 and that KENOBI failed to keep clear.
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.
KENOBI did not lodge any counter-protest and chose when clear to do a PENALTY.
However, questions were raised by the judges and spectators watching the race, and more comments came up in response to the posted videos. Jane asked me to provide an analysis as I saw it develop, and in particular how I would have decided. There are some important situations in this set of circumstances that are worthy of presentation.
I do offer this limitation: I was outside the sim to cam inward to video, I do prefer to be directly overhead to cam down, but with the intention of reducing the lag on the racers I was outside the sim. The video is at an angle. If a counter protest had been lodged, we would have had to rely on all judges and their perspective. Also, in mouse look and out of the sim, I cannot see chat or shouts. The other judges were aware of this. So I cannot pull a log and see the chat to determine any hails or necessarily see the instant of the protest being lodged.
However, given all the evidence, I think in this particular situation a protest against KENOBI could be appropriate at one point, but NOT in the final situation as it played out. That’s not unusual; judges need to be keenly aware of how a situation develops, as well as the timing and specific point of the protest.
When a skipper comes in the ‘back door’ so to speak (establishes leeward overlap from clear astern), they need to be very patient before they try to luff or force a boat over the line. It’s important to avoid getting yourself in a position that makes it impossible for the windward boat to keep clear and ALSO comply with rule 17 when the line opens. Rule 17 states:
17 ON THE SAME TACK; PROPER COURSE
If a boat clear astern becomes overlapped within two of her hull
lengths to leeward of a boat on the same tack, she shall not sail above
her proper course while they remain on the same tack and overlapped
within that distance, unless in doing so she promptly sails
astern of the other boat. This rule does not apply if the overlap
begins while the windward boat is required by rule 13 to keep clear.
At -00:10 sec the boats were close to mast abeam (side by side), and KENOBI was clear to windward. At -00:05 sec, FIYC then aggressively turned toward KENOBI, who maintained course. At -00:02 sec the boats were positioned so KENOBI could only keep clear by maintaining course (can’t bear off or turn up without causing a collision). FIYC no longer had the ability to prevail at this point for a rule 11 PROTEST.
Once the line opened, Rule 17 turned on, and FIYC had no ability to luff KENOBI and was required to bear off to keep clear. At that point their proper course would have been to continue ahead and start. FIYC did not bear off however, and at +00:04 sec she struck KENOBI’s stern and continued to force KENOBI windward for another 10 seconds. That was a clear violation of rule 17. However, KENOBI did not lodge a counter-protest, so no decision regarding such was made by the judges.
IF FIYC had immediately acted when KENOBI was tacking and gained overlap lee at that time, FIYC would have full lee rights pre-start and when the line opened an not subject to rule 17.
If FIYC had aggressively trimmed sails, turned windward and hailed (hail is optional – but nice for the judges) at -00:10 sec when the boats were abeam, FIYC could have turned KENOBI over the line, or made her draw a foul by bearing off just before the collision. Waiting put FIYC in a position where they might not prevail under Rule 11 as the contact was after the line opened, and they could have been DSQ under Rule 17.
KENOBI had several options to counter-protest FIYC, but chose not to do so.
A counter-protest NEVER hurts. If you had any question as to your rights find out. And if you did a penalty, and were wrong you won’t be disqualified. You have paid your price and found out why. BUT, if you were within your rights AND fouled then your fellow competitor will be disqualified. You do have to be aware of the basic rules, and the rules are very much interrelated and there are exceptions with each of the basic rules. They are not hard to learn, but discussion is the only way you can really absorb them and understand the exceptions. Spend some time in the SLSA Sailing Academy and the rules exhibits; it won’t hurt. 🙂