Feb 7, 2011, 11:26 AM
Post #1 of 5
From Matthew Knowles, Unruly blog
THIRD PARTY PROTEST -- “TACK OR CROSS”
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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?
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