Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

Definition of "display" and light air

Al Sargent
Nationality: United States of America
This past weekend we had an interesting situation:

The sailing instructions called for two starts for ILCA 6 (Laser Radial) and ILCA & (Laser Standard) fleets. The ILCA 6s were to start first. Their sequence was to be indicated by a red flag with a white "Laser" logo. The ILCA 7s were to start second, their start indicated by a white flag with a red Laser logo.

As luck would have it, for the first start, the race committee displayed white flag with a red Laser logo -- indicating ILCA 7s -- even though the first slot was supposed to be for the 6s.

As a result, all Lasers -- 6s and 7s -- started in that first race, including myself in an ILCA 7.

After about 60 seconds into the race, once I had established my lane, I started looked back frequently at the committee, to see if there was anything that the race committee indicated around a restart. I couldn't see anything. Given the light air, there was one flag at the top of the small mast on top of the committee boat, but it was hanging limp, so no one could read it.

It wasn't until the race committee started pulling the flag down that we saw it -- blue and yellow -- the general recall signal. I'm glad I happened to be looking back at just that moment, otherwise I wouldn't have seen the signal.

My questions for this group:

What counts as a "display" of a flag? Is a flag displayed if it can't be read because it isn't flying? If so, how is this different from an unhoisted flag, which we also can't read? 

And, is a flag actually displayed if it's fully flying for literally two seconds? 

Yes, I understand that rule 29.2 lets a race committee execute a general recall if there's been an errror in the starting procedure, as we had here. And yes, I understand that the race committee *may* (not shall) display First Substitute. My question isn't about 29.2, but rather what counts as actually displaying a signal flag more broadly?

Bigger point, for anyone that might be on the rules committees:

"Display" comes up over 80 times in the RRS, and "signal" over 200 times, but neither term is defined. Seems like such a commonly used term should be defined. After all, "mark", which is a pretty obvious term, comes up less than "signal" (186 times).
Created: 21-Sep-14 16:51

Comments

Paul Kimmens
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • National Race Officer
  • National Judge
2
World Sailing Q&A 2010 G10 has an answer:-

 A visual signal is made when the flag is displayed. The flag is displayed when it is conspicuously visible. This can be before the flag reaches the top of the hoist. To avoid confusion as short time as possible should be spent hoisting the flag. A visual signal is removed when the flag is no longer at the top of the hoist.

I suppose the next question is what does 'conspicuously visible' mean in terms of a flag

Full Q&A can  be found here:https://www.sailing.org/tools/documents/QABookletDecember2620101-[9773].pdf

There should have been 2 sound signals with the flag hoist as well.  It is also fairly common in dinghy racing for one of the mark boats or safety boats to sail across the  fleet displaying the same flag to bring it to competitors attention.

However,  in this instance I think that the preferred action would be to abandon the start for the following reason as detailed in the RYA race management guide:-

In case of a Race Committee error discovered after the starting signal (e.g. timing), the race should be abandoned rather than signalling a general recall. The rules do allow a 1st Substitute to be used in these circumstances, but it is considered better to abandon. This is on the basis that best practice tells the sailors that a General Recall is used when the problem was caused by them whereas when the problem is ours and is recognised before the start, we AP. When realised afterwards, then the only answer is to abandon. 


Created: 21-Sep-14 17:33
Matt Bounds
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • National Race Officer
1
On the IRO test, there's a video question that shows an X-ray flag being hoisted - and it's snarled around the pole. It eventually blows free after some intervention from the flag person. The question is, "How long after the start was X-ray displayed?" (There's a timer on the screen to help - and you get to see the video twice.)

The correct answer is the number of seconds from the starting signal until it is "conspicuously displayed" (not when it reaches the top of the hoist).

The dictionary definition of "conspicuous" is, "standing out so as to be clearly visible," or "attracting notice or attention."
Likewise, the definition of "display" is, "make a prominent exhibition of (something) in a place where it can be easily seen."

So if you can tell what flag it is, then it is "conspicuously displayed."  Sounds like the RC did not immediately "display" the flag because you couldn't tell what it was.  A better course of action would have been to send a mark boat around the front of the fleet with the 1st sub flying (or November, to abandon the race - effect is the same).
Created: 21-Sep-14 17:38
Jim Archer
Nationality: United States of America
1
Seems like it's pretty hard to sail a race if there is so little wind that the flags don't blow even enough to see what they are. Not that this answers your question, but it seems like an off circumstance.
Created: 21-Sep-14 17:42
Tim Hohmann
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
1
If it's so light that the flags aren't flying at least a little bit, seems like it might be prudent to consider a postponement. If not, then maybe shake the flag halyard or wave the staff a bit to make the flag flap.

Same with hoisting the wrong class flag - as soon as the RC becomes aware of the error they should AP and start over with the correct class flag. When the unexpected class flag went up, did any competitors try to call it to the attention of the RC?

Matt, for a general recall you have to continue to start the recalled class (which in the OP seems to be ambiguous), don't you? Abandoning would allow you to correct the class flag error.
Created: 21-Sep-14 17:51
Matt Bounds
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • National Race Officer
0
Matt, for a general recall you have to continue to start the recalled class (which in the OP seems to be ambiguous), don't you? Abandoning would allow you to correct the class flag error.

True, but RRS 29.2 specifically allows for a general recall when there has been an error in the starting procedure - which I would call this.  The RC probably breached a sailing instruction (order of starts).  However, 60 seconds is a long time after the start to signal it.  If that was the only class racing, then I'd abandon.  Abandoning for a single class becomes problematic when there's more than one class racing.  Competitors will hear three sounds and assume that they're race has been abandoned - even if the November is displayed over a class flag.  Again, the best course of action is to chase down the fleet with a mark boat flying the appropriate flag(s).  If you're worried about timing on the removal of the mark boat's flags, just say in the SIs that "visual signals by an RC mark vessel at or immediately following the start are displayed as a courtesy to competitors and visual signals displayed from the RC signal vessel shall govern the conduct of racing. This changes RRS Race Signals."

Created: 21-Sep-14 18:49
Al Sargent
Nationality: United States of America
0
Jim, Tim: even though the flags weren't flying, there was plenty of wind to race Lasers, about 4-5 knots. The heavy flags used required several knots of wind to fly properly. 
Created: 21-Sep-15 01:48
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