We had an interesting situation at the start of our club race yesterday. After a postponement, the race committee went through the correct sequence of flags and sound signals but got the timing wrong. The facts were:
1 The Sailing Instructions say that “All races will be started using RRS 26“, i.e. the standard 5-minute starting sequence.
2 With no wind at the nominated time for the Warning signal, the AP was displayed.
3 Around 25 minutes later, the OOD announced over the VHF that the new start time would be 13:35.
4 The AP was lowered at 13:29 with a sound signal.
5 The class flag was raised at 13:30 with a sound signal.
6 The P flag was raised at 13:31 with a sound signal.
So far, so good. But then:
7 There was another sound signal at 13:32. It is likely that the P flag was lowered at that time but I did not observe this.
8 There was another sound signal at 13:33. It is likely that the class flag was lowered at that time but I did not observe this. I saw as we approached the line at about 13:34 that there was no class flag flying.
9 Two boats crossed the start line at or soon after 13:33.
10 The rest of the fleet crossed the start line at or after 13:35.
11 I advised the OOD by phone that we would be protesting to seek redress for the incorrect start sequence and against the two boats which had started early. The OOD advised that he realised during the countdown that they had got it wrong but decided to let the race run since there had already been a postponement.
My questions are:
1 What was the correct course of action for the OOD if he realised there was an error in the start sequence (a) before the start signal, or (b) after the start signal?
2 Did the boats that crossed the start line at or soon after 13:33 “start” according to the Definitions?
3 What was the correct course of action for other competitors who were disadvantaged by two boats getting a 2-minute head start?
I think the answer to 1(a) is to postpone again. I think the answer to 1(b) is to abandon and restart; if so, how long could the delay be until the abandonment?
As it happens, this all became a non-issue because the two advantaged boats retired not long before the time limit expired and only one of the remaining boats finished in time. Hence no protest was submitted.
Any clarification would be appreciated.