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THIRD PARTY PROTEST -- “TACK OR CROSS”
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The Publisher
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Feb 7, 2011, 11:26 AM

Post #1 of 5 (15244 views)
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THIRD PARTY PROTEST -- “TACK OR CROSS” Log-In to Post/Reply

From Matthew Knowles, Unruly blog

Here is one that I've been asked about by two people separately in the last few months:

Three small keelboats, S, P, and X, are going upwind in light air. S(tarboard) and P(ort) are on a collision course. X is a few boatlengths away. P hails to S "Tack or Cross?".

S decides that she wants to continue towards the left side of the course, and realizes that if P leebows her she will have to tack away onto port, so she responds "Cross!", and bears down and ducks P, allowing P to cross. Had S not altered course, she would have hit P.

X then yells "Protest P and S!" and files a protest against both. You are on the jury. What is your decision?

ANSWER BELOW.


















JURY DECISION
The situation in question - a starboard tack boat agreeing to duck a port tack boat on an upwind leg - happens all the time on the race course. But the rules are not as understanding. Here are two opinions:

* From Jos M Spijkerman, International Umpire/Judge:
Rule 60.1 states that a boat may protest another for an alleged breach of a rule in part 2 if she sees the incident (or was involved). So X has the right to protest. She protests both boats, because she wants to have both stories, and - more importantly - both to become "party" in a protest.

The PC cannot do anything else then conclude that P did not keep clear. The fact that she had to ask for the crossing alone would already mean that S might need to take avoiding action. And that is already not keeping clear.

The fact found that S also ducked and otherwise would have hit P only reinforces that. But even if S did not have to duck, P did not keep clear according the definition. Rule 64.1 dictates that any boat that was a party to a protest is found to have broken a rule SHALL be disqualified!

I understand this might be perceived as "Why the F is X interfering" and "Leave well enough alone", but the basic principle is not only to follow the rules, but also to ENFORCE!

* From Matt Knowles, US SAILING Racing Rules Committee:
Jos makes a very articulate argument and I agree with him. I think in this case the rules force an unfortunate outcome. One boat "keeps clear" of another when "the other can sail her course with no need to take avoiding action." Without doubt S had to take avoiding action. Therefore P broke rule 10, and must be disqualified per rule 64.1

Now, you can hedge and say "her course" was to duck, but you would have to face the reality that it is only because of P's presence that she is required to duck. S's desired "course" is to keep sailing upwind!

I don't think this scenario is unrealistic either. In my mind the way this is most likely to come up is if, late in a series, P were fighting for a top spot with X, and X saw the incident and decided to press an aggressive 3rd party protest. In fact, I'd be quite surprised if this has never come up before.

More comments here: http://www.unrulyracing.com/2011/02/third-party-protest-tack-or-duck.html







The Publisher
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Feb 7, 2011, 11:28 AM

Post #2 of 5 (15240 views)
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Re: [The Publisher] THIRD PARTY PROTEST -- “TACK OR CROSS” [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

* From Zvi Ziblat IJ/IU-ISR:
Regarding the report --- ‘THIRD PARTY PROTEST - TACK OR CROSS’ by Matthew Knowles, Unruly blog --- the scenario is quite common and in my opinion the two opinions expressed that P should be disqualified are wrong. First there is no demand on S to sail any specific course in the described scenario. Secondly, once S changed its course there is no more "collision course" and no need for P to "keep clear".


* From John Doerr:
I have just read the opinions of Jos and Matt and I think they have missed a very important few words in the definition of keeping clear. The definition reads: 'One boat keeps clear of another if the other can sail her course with no need to take avoiding action....'. In the case described, S did not NEED to take action as P was prepared to tack, S ELECTED to take action. I would conclude that P did keep clear and there was no rule broken. This, not surprisingly, is not a new issue, and the rule book is smart enough to let S have the choice to duck P without risk of penalty to either.

=> Curmudgeon’s Comment: THIS is why you read Scuttlebutt! In addition to Zvi’s reply, John has been an International Judge since 1987 and an International Umpire since 1980, and is a past Chairman of the ISAF Race Officials Committee. John has been a jury member in the 29th and 33rd America's Cup, will be a jury member for the 34th America’s Cup, and has been the Chief Umpire at the last four Olympic Games.


The Publisher
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Feb 7, 2011, 11:37 AM

Post #3 of 5 (15239 views)
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Re: [The Publisher] THIRD PARTY PROTEST -- “TACK OR CROSS” [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply


In Reply To
* From John Doerr:
I have just read the opinions of Jos and Matt and I think they have missed a very important few words in the definition of keeping clear. The definition reads: 'One boat keeps clear of another if the other can sail her course with no need to take avoiding action....'. In the case described, S did not NEED to take action as P was prepared to tack, S ELECTED to take action. I would conclude that P did keep clear and there was no rule broken. This, not surprisingly, is not a new issue, and the rule book is smart enough to let S have the choice to duck P without risk of penalty to either.


* From Matt Knowles:
With all due respect I'm afraid John's comment looks past a subtlety of the situation. Certainly he is correct that, before she replies to P, S does not need to take action to avoid P. But once S has responded to P by telling her to cross, it is now necessary for S to alter course and duck P. Thus, there is a point in time when the condition specified by the rule is triggered.

Should S be allowed to choose to duck P? Of course. But as the rules are written, there is a problem here.


The Publisher
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Feb 7, 2011, 11:41 AM

Post #4 of 5 (15238 views)
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Re: [The Publisher] THIRD PARTY PROTEST -- “TACK OR CROSS” [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

Lots (and lots) of additional comments here: http://www.unrulyracing.com/...st-tack-or-duck.html

- Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt


Glenn McCarthy
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Feb 8, 2011, 12:24 PM

Post #5 of 5 (15205 views)
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Re: [The Publisher] THIRD PARTY PROTEST -- “TACK OR CROSS” [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

Starting with the fundamentals of why we have rules at all, it is to promote safety. 90-degree collisions can be harmful to boats and crews. The simple to understand port/starboard rule makes it abundantly clear how to maintain a safe passage.

When sailors started this "tack or cross" movement, clearly it was something designed outside of the rules, and with wind and waves is sometimes not heard, or unintelligible, making intent unclear as boats are quickly closing in on one another. What happens when the communication is misunderstood? Either port keeps going, or starboard starts ducking when port is either ducking or taking - impending collisions.

Take a look at the two places where verbal communications are required under the rules:
1. "Protest."
2. In shallows, hail "Room to Tack" and the corresponding boat either tacks or hails back "You Tack."

"Protest" is something after the fact, and if mis-communicated does not cause damage or injury. "Room to Tack" and "You Tack" are potential tight maneuvers, and the closer to shore boat always can let sheets go, slow down and avoid collision and use the "Protest" hail.

Look at it this way, go back to old school before "Cross or Tack" came along. The intentions of both boats were abundantly clear, with no questions. I don't know if the rule makers are considering modifying the rules to adopt "Cross or Tack" but my preference would be to maintain safety for all and abolish this "friendly" development in the name of safety.


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