Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

Calling a Port boat through.

Paddy Fitzpatrick
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
Hypothetical situation
 
On  beat to windward a boat on port (P) and a boat on starboard(S) are approaching each other on a collision course. S did not want P to tack close and lee bow her so S  calls P through. P continues on her course. S changes her course to avoid a collision and pass astern of P. Neither boat took an on water penalty.
 
A third boat observes (O) the interaction between boats P and S accusing both of breaking the basic principal of SPORTSMANSHIP AND THE RULES and  RRS 10 and 2
 
SPORTSMANSHIP AND THE RULES
 
Competitors in the sport of sailing are governed by a body of rules that they are expected to follow and enforce. A fundamental principle of sportsmanship is that when competitors break a rule they will promptly take a penalty, which may be to retire.”
 
 
O states in his protest that
1.     S had to change course to avoid contact so P does not Keep Clear and breaks RRS 10 
2.     P  knowing she broke a rule did not take a penalty thereby breaking RRS 2. 
3.     S neglected to enforce a rule when P broke RRS 10 and 2. And in fact encouraged P to   break those rules. Breaking also the basic principal of SPORTSMANSHIP AND THE RULES
4.     By these actions P avoided loosing at least a boat length by not having to tack. This was manifestly unfair to other boats.
5.     P won the summer point score by ½ a boat length against O who finished in 2nd place.
6.     S finished mid fleet as expected.
 
How will the protest committee deal with the above?
Created: 21-Sep-14 02:57

Comments

P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Created: 21-Sep-14 02:58
Murray Cummings
Nationality: New Zealand
3
At the moment S chooses to wave P through, S's course is to pass astern of P.  P does not prevent S from sailing her course, even when S may have to alter her heading to sail her course.
.  

Created: 21-Sep-14 04:56
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
1
I agree with Murray.  P keeps clear.  On the face of it neither boat breaks a rule.

Some comments on O's assertions in his protest 
1.     S had to change course to avoid contact so P does not Keep Clear and breaks RRS 10 
This is a conclusion or an opinion.  O would need to bring some factual evidence to prove the point.

2.     P  knowing she broke a rule did not take a penalty thereby breaking RRS 2.
This is an inference about P's state of mind.  Again, O would need to bring factual evidence to prove it, which would be very difficult.
 
3.     S neglected to enforce a rule when P broke RRS 10 and 2.
The expectation that boats will enforce the rules is just that:  an expectation.  It is not an oblligation or a duty.  If there is no duty there can be no neglect.

 And in fact encouraged P to   break those rules. Breaking also the basic principal of SPORTSMANSHIP AND THE RULES
P broke no rule.

4.     By these actions P avoided loosing at least a boat length by not having to tack. This was manifestly unfair to other boats.
Case 78 demonstrates the principle that a boat may employ 'tactics' that have a  reasonable chance of benefiting her in the race or series, without breaking rule 2, as long as she does not break any other rule.

Just throwing around high sounding phrases like 'manifestly unfair' doesn't help a protest for rule 2.  The protester needs to clearly establish that a recognised principle of sportsmanship has been violated.

5.     P won the summer point score by ½ a boat length against O who finished in 2nd place.
6.     S finished mid fleet as expected.
OK, here we are opening up the possibility that the condition in Case 78 Question 1(e) that S was attempting to worsen O's race or series score for reasons unconnected with sport (namely spite or a grudge against O) might apply.

To get to this, it would be necessary to prove that the condition from Question 1(a) that there was a reasonable chance that S's tactics would benefit her place in the race or series did not apply.

This would be quite hard to do.  Starboard tack boats wave Port tackers through often, usually for their own benefit.  It cannot be inferred from S finishing mid-fleet that there was no chance that waving P through would have benefited her.

 It is not unknown, and, in my opinion quite sportsmanlike for middle of the fleet boats to try to avoid interfering with known well-performing boats.

So, O will have her work cut out for her.

It will be even more difficult to prove any collusion or conspiracy between P and S to do O down.  That certainly be inferred from any evidence presently in the scenario.
Created: 21-Sep-14 05:21
Ewan McEwan
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • Regional Race Officer
  • International Judge
  • International Umpire
0
As Bryan Willis would say: neither boat, involved in the incident, was aggrieved! 
Created: 21-Sep-14 05:43
RYAN HAMM
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Race Officer
1
I think this is pretty bad sportsmanship by the protesting party.  It is often a competitive advantage to allow a port boat to cross.  And that would be decided by the Starboard boat, not some onlooker that has nothing to do with it other than it affects the overall score.  Come on.  Unless it was obvious collusion this is a non-story and the so called "victim" is just being a bad sport here.  It is up to the Starboard boat to decide if anyone did anything wrong here.  No contact, no harm, no foul.  Giving these kind of folks a platform does not help the sport.  
Created: 21-Sep-14 13:09
Chris Watts
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • National Race Officer
1
An unfortunate consequence of good will.

A right of way boat changes course to avoid making contact with a keep clear boat. A rule has been broken, in this case by the port tack boat whether you like it or not. The choice to protest is there one. Another boat protesting might cause a disqualification in a hearing.

However, the question of whether rule 2 was also broken needs an element of knowingly breaking a rule. In this case and most others it is very likely that neither boat even considered they were breaking a rule and so further action on the sportsmanship aspect.

During the last couple of years there have been at least two cases where exactly this situation of waving through caused problems, each time in umpired fleet racing
where the classes gave umpires the right to deal immediately with what they observed rather than waiting for one of the boats to protest. Following the out cry the class
have now changed their SIs.

Created: 21-Sep-14 13:10
Murray Cummings
Nationality: New Zealand
0
Hi Chris,
A right of way boat changes course to avoid making contact with a keep clear boat. A rule has been broken, 
What if S decides that her best course is to sail astern of P (avoiding the possibility of a lee-bow tack from P forcing S to tack to clear her bad air)?
Then, surely it is S's course to bear away and pass astern of P.  P does not prevent S from bearing away to sail her course.  No rule is broken.

The definition of keep clear makes no mention of a boat changing course to avoid contact.  A boat's course can change at any time during a race for any number of reasons.  When a ROW boat chooses to sail a particular course, and is thereafter able to sail that chosen course without needing to take avoiding action, the keep clear boat has fulfilled her obligations.

Keep Clear A boat keeps clear of a right-of-way boat
(a) if the right-of-way boat can sail her course with no need to take avoiding action...

Murray
Created: 21-Sep-14 14:39
Richard Jones
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
1
In this incident, S did not want P to tack close and lee bow her so S  calls P through. This is clearly S deciding her course.

Would this still be the case if P hailed 'Tack or Cross' thereby putting some pressure on S (a mid fleet finisher) to let her through. S still decides but may feel her sportsmanship would be questioned if she says Tack. Even mid fleet sailors still want to finish ahead of other mid fleeters.


Created: 21-Sep-14 17:01
Chris Watts
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • National Race Officer
0
The issue is, did the port tack boat fulfill its duty to keep clear? Clearly not as the ROW boat changed course to avoid contact. There is nothing in the rules to allow for waving a boat through and rule 10 cannot be turned off in this case.
Created: 21-Sep-14 17:54
Sue Reilly
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Umpire
  • Regional Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
2
Did the ROW boat alter course to avoid a collision or to avoid a lee bow.  The ROW boat got to sail the course she wanted. 
Created: 21-Sep-14 18:43
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Chris Watts
said Created: Today 17:54
The issue is, did the port tack boat fulfill its duty to keep clear?

And this depends absolutely on the definition of keep clear. which is, relevantly

A boat keeps clear of a right-of-way boat ... if the right-of-way boat can sail her course with no need to take avoiding action 

This definition, in turn depends on the meanings of 'course' and 'needs'.

In the context of the right of way rules (as distinct from rule 16) a boat's course need not necessarily be a constant heading.  A boat's course may be a curve.

'Needs' is not the same as 'wants'.

In the port/starboard crossing situation, if S wants to steer a curving course astern of P, then she has no need to change that course or take any other action to avoid P.   P therefore keeps clear.
Created: 21-Sep-14 23:00
John Ball
Nationality: Canada
1
Port was in a position to alter course to stay clear. Starboard asked her to sail on, so she could duck and sail in clear air - so no rule is broken. This is quite within the spirit of a self-policing sport.

John
Created: 21-Sep-17 18:02
Paddy Fitzpatrick
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
0
Angelo thanks for pointing me at the previous discussion it was very helpfull
And thanks to all who contributed. 
 I havea few observations.
IMHO I thing there is a big difference between the following scenarios
 
1.     S, without any communications with P, changes course to go behind P. 
2.     S hails or signals P to pass. P acknowledges continues on her course and S goes astern of P!
 
1 Appears to me to be ok and no rules broken
 
2 S and P enter into an agreement to ignore RRS 10. S is now obliged to keep clear of P turning RRS 10 on its head. This is not  OK on many levels and it sets a precedent to treat other RRS in the same manner.
 
I’ve heard large boats asking mid fleet boats to allow them to pass to windward because they’ll be pass them very quickly.
Barging boats asking for room to pass the committee vessel saying that’s one I’ll owe you
All of these scenarios are a disadvantage to boats who in the spirit of sportsmanship follow and enforce all rules.
 
John Allen
It’s very seldom that anyone brings proof into the room and people usually tell the truth. Most decisions are made by considering a balance of probabilities. 
Point 3 you would have to apply the same logic to “ body of rules that they are expected to follow” 
 
“It is not unknown, and, in my opinion quite sportsmanlike for middle of the fleet boats to try to avoid interfering with known well-performing boats”
 
The rules should not be different depending on a boats performance.
 
I agree that RRS 2 would be very hard to argue.
 
Ryan Hamm
“Giving these kind of folks a platform does not help the sport.”
If a competitor sees any rules broken she can protest. That is not unsportsmanlike.
 
“No contact, no harm, no foul”. Needs to be used  with caution.
 
Chris Watts
 
Strongly agree with your comments
And yes RRS 2 may be a bridge too far.
 
Murray Cummins
“The definition of keep clear makes no mention of a boat changing course to avoid contact”
 
Keep Clear A boat keeps clear of a right-of-way boat
(a) if the right-of-way boat can sail her course with no need to take avoiding action...
 
I thing that an avoiding action is usually achieved by changing course.
 
Richard Jones
Hailing “Tack or Cross” is not a hail supported in RRS so S has no obligation to reply.She can continue to sail her course and let P make her own decision.
 
Anyway thanks all and I still think that calling a P thru is somewhat problematic.
Created: 21-Sep-17 23:42
Murray Cummings
Nationality: New Zealand
0
Paddy,

When S decides that it is in her best interest tactically to change her course to pass behind P, then, when she changes course , she is sailing her course and P does not break rule 10.  There is nothing in that decision that breaks rule 10 and S certainly is not obliged to keep clear of P.  When S changes course, she still has right of way, but is required to give P room to keep clear.  P is still required to keep clear of S, which she does, as S is able to sail her course to pass behind P.   S may well have had to change course to avoid P, but, in doing so, she is sailing her course.
 
If S wishes to maintain her current course, without bearing away, but she has to change her course to avoid P, P breaks rule 10.

Murray




Created: 21-Sep-18 01:33
Paddy Fitzpatrick
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
0
Thanks Murray
The scenario you describe is one where S decides to bear away so that P can cross without tacking. I think that’s all ok. 
The problem IMHO is when S communicates to P that she can cross safely and S will then steer a course behind P in order to keep clear   
I think this constitutes an agreement between the boats to put RRS 10 aside for this crossing. Implicit in this agreement is that S will allow P to cross with no interference from S compelling S to keep clear of P. 
I think the practice is very common and widely accepted but is it fair on boats that always sail to the letter of the rules. 

Paddy


 

Created: 21-Sep-18 03:54
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Try looking at it this way.

Once it is understood that if S changes course to pass astern of P because she wants to do so for her own advantage, then that is the course she is sailing with no need to take action to avoid P, and thus P is keeping clear, any communication between the boats is irrelevant.

This is only problematic for people that are going out of their way to find problems with it.

If it was really problematic there would be protests about it followed by appeals and cases.  There are not.

We want boats to communicate and cooperate on the race course.  We shouldn't be trying to stifle this.

I really don't think anyone could read the sorts of conspiracy or collusion that Paddy is describing into the sorts of hails that are made on the water.
Created: 21-Sep-18 04:55
Paddy Fitzpatrick
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
0
John
I made this post following discussions with fellow sailors. I thought I would be good to stretch the envelope and gather some thoughts from more experienced officials like yourself. 
And yes boats should communicate on water.
I was only digging deep into the practice of calling thru Port trackers. I think collusion and conspiracy is overstating my intent.
Information I gathered at this website and from other sources has convinced me that practice of calling Port trackers thru is generally accepted as being trouble free.
Thanks for your thoughts
Paddy

Created: 21-Sep-18 23:39
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Paddy,
Thanks for explaining your point of view.
Created: Sun 01:34
Chris Watts
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • National Race Officer
0
I am worried by some of what I am reading, having continued to follow this discussion. It is all too easy to try to read into the rules things to justify what one might think is fair, but the rules can only be changed by a formal process through World Sailing. If you are unhappy with the consequences of a rule that is the only way to go. All IJs are certainly told in their seminars that they have to support this process and enforce the rules as they are written and supported by case law. Not all words in a Definition are defined, but one cannot read into these words over elaborate meanings. 

The words "no need to alter course" in the definition of Keeping Clear simply means just that. Sailing curves is changing your heading, i.e. altering your course. Bearing off to pass astern of a keep clear boat is altering your course. If that happens, even with the best of intent, it unfortunately breaks rule 10 in this case. "Sailing her course" in this case is sailing on a windward leg and not having the right to sail where ever the right of way boat wants to sail.

Is waving someone across risk free? It is certainly not and there are well known incidents to prove it. I have already mentioned the case of the Dragons racing at Cannes, but in addition to that:
Optimist World Championship
Port tacker- "Can I cross?"
Starboard tacker- "Go."
In the following protest the starboard optimist states " I did not say GO, I said NO."

An International Finn event
Port tacker, leading the Championship- "Can I cross?"
Starboard tacker- "Yes."
Starboard wins the following protest. Top Finn sailor is furious and suspects team racing tactics.

Calling a boat to cross will certainly happen and most of the time with no problem, but the risk needs to be understood. It certainly is NOT "risk free."

Created: Sun 21:51
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
1
Chris, re: “The words "no need to alter course" in the definition of Keeping Clear simply means just that.”

“Keep Clear” says something different than what you quoted above.

Keep Clear A boat keeps clear of a right-of-way boat .. (a) if the right-of-way boat can sail her course with no need to take avoiding action”

A ROW boat that decides it is better for her to continue on starboard and wants to encourage a port tacker to sail-on, isn’t taking an “avoiding action” if she bears-away to make that happen.  I would argue she is taking a “deliberate, purposeful and desirable action”.

“Course” is a funny word in the RRS.  I had a post a while back examining the different ways it is used. Here: https://www.racingrulesofsailing.org/posts/262-of-course-as-we-course-through-the-possibilities-we-understand-course-in-due-course

For instance, think about “proper course”.  We often think about a boat’s proper course possibly being a complex maneuver .. and WS uses it that was as well. (See Case 75).  
Created: Sun 22:35
Murray Cummings
Nationality: New Zealand
0
 "Sailing her course" in this case is sailing on a windward leg and not having the right to sail where ever the right of way boat wants to sail. 

Surely the ROW boat has the right to sail a high course or low course (foot) as she chooses.  In my opinion, she has every right to sail whichever course she chooses that she determines will be best suited for her to get to the next mark in the shortest time.   

Created: Mon 04:35
Paddy Fitzpatrick
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
0
Murray
In my opinion, she has every right to sail whichever course she chooses that she determines will be best suited for her to get to the next mark in the shortest time.   
 
She can sail any course she likes. It does not have to be a course that will get her to the next mark in the shortest time
Created: Mon 05:44
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Paddy, re: “She can sail any course she likes. It does not have to be a course that will get her to the next mark in the shortest time”

Yes, as long as a rule that uses ‘proper course’ to limit her does not simultaneously apply. 

Proper Course is used in Rules: Mark-Room, 17, 18.1(b), 18.2(c)2, 18.4, 24.2
Created: Mon 06:12
Paddy Fitzpatrick
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
0
Angelo
Yes of course I should have mentioned that. I assumed that would be understood. 
Then assume makes an ass of me. ….
Paddy
Created: Mon 07:30
Chris Watts
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • National Race Officer
0
Murray,
Yes a boat can head up or foot off, but in the proximity of a boat required to keep clear one has to ask the question as to why it changed course. There is a basic requirement to be truthful. :-)
Created: Mon 09:13
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
I don't understand why "one", presumably a member of a protest committee, "has to ask the question why a right of way boat changed course".

Firstly, "one" presumes that S is in the room because P has called her as a witness.

Presumably, P will ask her that question, and I would expect S to answer

"I changed course because I thought it would be to my advantage to do so".

P might then ask:  "Did you change course because you needed to avoid me?", and I would expect S to answer:

"No". 

There are a number of perfectly proper answers the representative might give to some questions from the protest committee including .

"I do not wish to answer that question because you are attempting to badger and entrap me into changing the evidence I have already given"
Created: Mon 09:38
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
0
… also on the topic of “course” being a more inclusive concept than sailing a straight line, we can consider RRS 18.1(d) … where ‘proper course’ describes “a course” (“a course ..” taken from def: proper course) that includes a tacking maneuver. 

18.1(d) Rule 18 applies between boats when they are required to leave a mark on the same side and at least one of them is in the zone.  However, it does not apply (d) between boats on opposite tacks when the proper course at the mark for one but not both of them is to tack.
Created: Mon 13:20
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Angelo,

Yup.  Words take their meaning from their context, particularly words that aren't defined terms in the RRS.

Course sometimes means a boat's heading at a particular instant, as in RRS 16, sometimes it means the path it has taken or wishes to take.
Created: Tue 05:20
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
0
John, Thanks for adding 16 to the mix.  IMO, these multiple meanings of “course” can tend to confuse or at a minimum be unclear. 

I’ve spent a little time (honestly not a lot so far) trying to think of alternatives I could suggest in a submission. “Path” surrounded by a few extra words was one that I kept coming to when “course” may refer to something more than going in a straight line. 

“Heading” doesn’t really work if we try to single out when ‘course’ means going in a straight line through the water. 

“Keep Clear” uses the phrase ‘sail her course’ which could be contrasted to  ‘hold her course’ as used in Case 15, which as you say puts the word in a different context and thus clearer meaning. 

PS: In other words, Keep Clear could have used the phrase “hold her course” (as used in Case 15) if that was clearly the intent. 
Created: Tue 12:02
Murray Cummings
Nationality: New Zealand
0
Hi Angelo,
I find Case 15 has some relevance to the situation we are discussing here.  From Case 15, it is clear that for A, the course she wishes to sail (her course),  is to tack and round the mark  Because of B, A is not able to sail her course without infringing rule 13, and instead holds course on her current heading. 

In the situation we are discussing, the course S wishes to sail (her course) is to bear away and pass behind P.  If P and S were to hold course on their current headings, there would be a collision.  If P were to tack or bear away at the same time A bore away to her chosen course, there would likely be a collision.  Communicating to B to hold course, allows A to avoid contact ( complying with rule 14 ), allows A to sail her (chosen) course, and enables B to keep clear when A changes course, thereby complying with rule 16.1.

Murray
   


Created: Tue 16:47
Paddy Fitzpatrick
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
0
Murray
Communicating to B to hold course, allows A to avoid. 
B has no obligation by RRS to hold her course after A’s hail. RRS only requires and supports hails per rules 14 and 20. 
RRS never requires a boat to sail her Proper Course. 
Paddy

Created: Tue 23:14
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Angelo,

Don't quite know where you're going with this, but maybe this will help

USA Appeal US33
 
Rule 16.1, Changing Course
Rule 16.2, Changing Course

To change course means to change the direction in which the boat is heading or moving
Created: Wed 06:47
Paddy Fitzpatrick
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
0
Hi Angelo and John
I think that the word course covers all varieties of movement of a boat getting from one point to another. And it also describes one course made up of many points joined together. 
I think it covers all examples of movement of a boat. A course can be circular or parallel or just a straight line or extremely complex. 
Paddy
Created: Wed 08:51
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Thanks John for finding US33 for me (was looking for her yesterday morn). 

It’s emblematic of the challenge (i.e. multiple meanings of “course”) and illustrates why “heading” alone is insufficient when describing a straight-line course. 
Created: Wed 11:07
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