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Starting system should have video backup
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Feb 8, 2011, 6:39 AM

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TIME TO TAKE A STEP OUT OF THE DARK AGES
By Morgan Reeser, Olympian/Professional sailor

The current starting system is still essentially the same as it was a hundred years ago, relying on human judgment often in a very challenging environment. If the system is not going to embrace starting technologies that other sports utilize, then sailing should at least aspire to show fairness and equity towards the competitors with its OCS and redress procedures.

I am the first to admit that sighting the line accurately in a competitive fleet is the hardest thing to do in sailing. Try to stop action at exactly zero, when 30 boats are approaching the line at 7 kts (or about 12 feet per second). Human judgment is required when you would have to ask yourself if those four boats at the pin were just exactly on the line or six inches over at the gun. Add in boats that are early OCS and obstruct one or both of the ends and it is impossible for a RC to accurately sight the line. Once one end of the start line is obstructed, then the RC is just guessing who is over after that. The RC is human and humans can make errors in such compromising conditions.

Unfortunately, the ISAF Redress system is very heavily weighted against the sailors. The sailors are required to provide proof that they were not over, when the RC has all the proof. All the RC has to provide is a recording (if they even have one) with the sailor’s number written on a piece of paper. The sailor's best (and only?) proof is video which is usually summarily dismissed by the Jury because the video is not taken exactly on the line, or there is no proof exactly when the start time occurred. To further stack the deck against the sailors, Organizers often will not allow coaches or support boat to be near the extensions of the line to video, and many classes will not allow video taken from a support boat to be used as evidence.

So how is the Sailor supposed to provide any proof that they started behind the start line, when they are prevented from accessing video evidence, and when the RC has all the proof, but only needs to validate their decision with a recording and a piece of paper? If memory serves me correctly don't other sports rely on Video Replay/Review to conform that the correct decisions have been made on the field of play? In our technologically advanced age, why is the RC not required to provide video of the start, so that they can confirm sailors that actually OCS?

The Race Organizers, Jury, Race Committee and Coaches are all obviously there to support sailing and do their best for the sailors. So while we wait for some highly advanced technology to appear and solve our OCS challenges, why don't we take a step out of the dark ages and at the least require the RC to video the starts. The RC can then remove some human error from the system and allow themselves to review and confirm the sailors that were definitely OCS. This is something that definitely cannot be done with a tape recorder.

Anybody else want to comment?

Source: http://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/news/11/0205/


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Feb 8, 2011, 6:40 AM

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* From Andy Kostanecki:
Well, regarding Morgan Reeser's perfectly reasonable plea (in Scuttlebutt 3273) about the inability of RCs to sight the line perfectly, of course there is an answer! It's not a new idea and it's not even out of the reach of the sailing industry. Anybody want to start a new business? At least fifteen years ago we were speculating on individual GPS transmitters located on every boat in a race, located at the bow, waterproof and transmitting discrete signals. Tricky? Yes. Beyond the ability to do so? No.


* From Ted Ritter, Fort Lauderdale, FL:
A long time ago I helped run major Laser regattas as North American Secretary of the class. In today's modern age of electronic lap timing (NASCAR, sports car racing & marathons) there could be transponder technology to ID OCS boat over early....transponders attached to the stem of each boat. Problem: a bit expensive and on the water. Videotaping has many flaws such as an early starter's sail near the committee boat blocking the camera, not to mention boats further down the line. Voice recording is even more dicey.

In my long gone days we had a simple solution after two General Recalls ....revert to the Rabbit or Gate start. The rabbit starts sailing on port tack at about 30 sec till start. Not a competitor, but a talented local. All racers are required to duck the rabbit's stern within a time limit. The result a beautifully line up fleet with zero OCS problems. Low tech maybe, but it worked. At the Laser World's at Cabo Frio, Brazil we had 103 boats in a perfect picket line and nobody was over early.

=> Curmudgeon’s Comment: When the 2009 SAP 505 World Championship was in San Francisco, an article titled ‘505 Class and the Gate Start’ in Scuttlebutt 2912 detailed the system used to flawlessly start the 97-boat fleet. Here is the link: http://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/archived_Detail.asp?key=4249





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Feb 8, 2011, 6:43 AM

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* From Stephen A Van Dyck:
I am always interested in constructive criticisms about how those of us who devote our time and cash to being US Sailing Race Officials can do a better job. But for those who are anxious to see the quality of Race Officiating and officiating techniques improve, how about publicly supporting an effort to require all racing participants be members of US Sailing? With another 20,000 members US Sailing would have roughly $1 million to add to our current talented but horribly overworked one man Race Administration activity at US Sailing.

And if people are unsatisfied with the techniques at the highest level regattas, what about the level of proficiency at lesser regattas? Maybe some leadership from our leading sailors to help improve things would help improve things. Why are we not spending as much at US Sailing to coach and train our race officials as we are to coach and train our Olympic Sailors? Why are our top sailors, many of whom make a living to some degree in our sport, not doing more to help us fund the effort that creates the race course, rules and officials? Indeed...why?


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Feb 8, 2011, 4:46 PM

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In Reply To
* From Andy Kostanecki:
Well, regarding Morgan Reeser's perfectly reasonable plea (in Scuttlebutt 3273) about the inability of RCs to sight the line perfectly, of course there is an answer! It's not a new idea and it's not even out of the reach of the sailing industry. Anybody want to start a new business? At least fifteen years ago we were speculating on individual GPS transmitters located on every boat in a race, located at the bow, waterproof and transmitting discrete signals. Tricky? Yes. Beyond the ability to do so? No.




* From Paul Henderson:
Good to hear from Andy. RC identifying premature starters has been the #1 issue in sailing for decades. 15 years ago, led by Bernie Stegmeier (Suisse), ISAF tried to get the Race Officials to accept onboard GPS to automatically, electronically to call it. Especially the English threw up all sorts of reason why it would not work. At that time the margin of error was +- 3 ft ( 1 metre). The human eye and reflexes are less accurate but tradition carried the day and it was discarded. The other negative was it would add cost to sailing. The rebutal to this was that it was less than 1/3rd the cost of an Opti sail. With the new technology it must be explored.


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Feb 8, 2011, 4:47 PM

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* From Alan Field:
Couldn't agree more. Shame on committees for not using video. I think they are even cheaper than tape recorders these day.




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Feb 8, 2011, 4:48 PM

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* From Paul Kelly, Costa Mesa, CA:
I have a comment regards Morgan Reeser's discussion about fairly judging over early starts. It seems to me that a video taken from the RC boat or the pin end of the line won't help as a boat over early near the camera blocks the view of any other boats which are also over early but positioned farther away from the camera. This would only work if the camera was position high above the line and it could be somehow positioned vertically above the line.

I don't see any foolproof method of judging who is over except maybe having the RC committee fire a bullet down the line at the starting signal. A little severe I admit, but it would clearly identify which boats were over early. I am sure that in the near future we will be able to place accurate GPS units on each boat and the line ends and be able to calculate accurate positions of each boat at the instant that the gun sounds.


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Feb 8, 2011, 4:48 PM

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* From Bill Canfield, St. Thomas Yacht Club:
I agree with Morgan Reeser our starting procedures are somewhat archaic but there are things that can be done that make them workable that I do not see used very often. I'm not certified to run races by any organization but I have been doing it for 30 years in St. Thomas. When I do travel I'm always volunteering so I have worked with a number of highly regarded people who perform in an even more archaic way then the system allows.

My first complaint is the use orange flags that are on short poles that are obscured by even Opti sails. The actually line is lost when the first boat is over. My first piece of advice is to get the starting line ends visible from both ends over the sails if possible with long PVC poles. Forget using a starting buoy at the port end - you really need a stationary platform with a high flag to mark the line.

I also find the use of a "Q" flag is helpful if mentioned in the SI's. The flag is on a small boat in the front of the line and in the last minute before the start it goes up when there are boats OCS and down when the line is clear. This works well for one design fleets

Many race officers use a line whose thickness is too thin - almost thread like. My line is about a yard wide and gets a bit wider as conditions worsen. Our job is to run good races and not be a big bad policeman.

In starts where a majority of boats are OCS early it is sometimes easier to mark down the boats not OCS and then get the boats that come back across the line as they clear. Many times sailors are lolled into the belief that by creating a situation that many boats are OCS at the gun will automatically give them a General Recall; this should not be the case. I know that a lot of Opti coaches are telling their kids to sail into the bubble 2/3 of the way down the line and you will not be called OCS. Nothing better than to beat this bubble strategy.

I believe when running a series of races that you have to get control of the fleet early (first race) or they will think they own you for the event. Often if they win the battle and you give them a General Recall in that first race they will push you unmercifully for the rest of the event. Do what it takes to get control early (even if you miss a boat) as you can't let them win the initial skirmish.

General recall and Black Flags are bad and should be used sparingly. The "I" flag works but it works even better if the numbers are called out as soon as a boat crosses the line in the last minute. This sends a great signal to the rest of the fleet even if the call is not heard the length of the line that this committee is pro active and means business.

I'm sure there are some purists who will disagree with some of these methods but having been to a number of Laser races where General Recalls dominate I think the competitors will applaud them and will help getting off fair races.




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Feb 8, 2011, 4:49 PM

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* From Ray Redniss:
While I agree with Morgan that it is very difficult for a competitor to refute the RC's OCS call, I disagree with his assumption that there is no one at the pin end of the line. The right way is to have a boat with a flag as the pin end, and have a skilled "linesperson" sighting and call OCS. In well run situations, the pin will call sail or bow numbers first, followed by the signal boat... and then repeat them in turn. Obviously, tape recorders run from both ends. Is it perfect? No. Would a video from each end possibly help the competitors? Maybe. Is there a high-tech way of handling this? Not yet. When it comes, and is affordable, it will be a tremendous help to all.


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Feb 8, 2011, 4:50 PM

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* From Jim Titgemeyer, Regional Race Officer:
Morgan is unquestionably a great sailor and has represented the USA with much honor, but he has missed several points in his wish to modernize the starting line. It would appear as if he would like to return to the days when the race committee would not communicate OSC to the competitors. If we were admitting video evidence for OCR hearings, the race committee would review the tape as soon as the determination that one or more boats were OCS. As the race officer I would want to MAKE SURE that someone had not been hiding and slipped thru the cracks. This would take several minutes before the numbers call or probably "NO Call." We have all sailed and finished a race only to find that we were OCS and not informed. That is not the way to have a good day.

Morgan refers to other sports that use video review. How would he implement stopping a sailboat race while the officials review the start?

He has also made the suggestion that we not use the "I" Flag but use the "Z" flag instead. The problem with this is it would be used in large aggressive fleets. After the start there are so many sails blocking the view of the line that the R/C cannot make a complete determination of all boats who have returned and started properly and only deserve the Z penalty. I will guarantee that redress will be given to anyone who said that he returned at the middle of the line. No R/C could say for certain that he didn't.

I have been involved in sailboat racing as both a competitor and as PRO. Whenever I am permitted by a class I always call each OSC either by hail and/or by VHF. I have made mistakes; I have even gone to the room and requested redress for a competitor who I had mistakenly called over. There is a reason that redress is weighted with tapes and lists as evidence. We are usually volunteers who are trying to help sailors have a good race. I have had boats that are a full boat length OCS who claim in a hearing to be "in the third row." Why is it that almost every time a professional is called OCS we have a redress hearing? Give me a break. I am trying to help you.

The best way to modernize a starting line is to require each boat to have installed in the stem of the boat a transponder. At the warning signal the R/C will remotely turn all units on and inform the transponder of the location of both ends of the starting line, the direction to start and the starting time. At the start the remote will signal the skipper if he is clear or OCS and it will notify the R/C of any boats that are early. Each skipper will have the responsibility to have his unit in good working order and he will be given a % penalty if his unit does not work.


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Feb 8, 2011, 4:50 PM

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* From Hal Smith, National Race Officer:
Accepting Morgan Reeser’s invitation to respond regarding the RC’s challenge of calling OCS’s correctly, please consider two points:

1. There is a difference between professional sailors and amateur sailors, but there is little difference between the RC’s that serve each. Almost universally, we RC serve voluntarily and receive a sandwich with wilted lettuce for our services. We thank you.

2. The technology does exist to provide flawless and instantaneous OCS calls, but our sport cannot afford it. Transponders similar to those used by runners in marathons could be fixed to the bows of each boat, and a receiver on each boat would alarm instantly if it broke the laser plane prematurely. Video recordings are generally useless except for the jury room, because we are required to hail (or not) within seconds without time for video review. We don’t stop play so the referees can get it right.

We love our sport, and everyone I know does their very best to make every call correctly. There are times that it is difficult, but I am convinced we get it right far more than competitors sometimes think. Most of the time, OCS calls are quite easy. We have a much better view than the competitor himself.

I have listened to competitors vigorously plead their case when there was no doubt about them being half a boat length OCS. Every sailor has suffered from a bad call, but that mostly will only occur at a much lower level event when the volunteer RC has less experience. Sighting boat numbers, keeping them sorted, managing the count down, and accurately hailing is a practiced skill, plus it is made easier by setting good lines and having good timing communication with the fleet… all part of good race management. It is unfair and inaccurate for competitors to believe that OCS calls are as wrong as recently suggested.


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Feb 8, 2011, 4:51 PM

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* From Matt Bounds, HCANA Race Director / US SAILING Regional RO / US SAILING Judge:
Sighting the line is a key skill learned by race officers, and one of the most important services they provide to the racing sailor. The use of technology to supplement this skill must be balanced with its costs and limitations. Voice recorders are cheap; their limitation is the quality of the narrative. Experienced race officers will "paint a picture" of the start with narrative, and "talk the boats to the line" as if they were a radio announcer calling the race. This also allows the scribe to keep written track of boats pressing the line so that when the gun goes off, there's already a list of OCS boats, which can then be confirmed with the voice recorder if necessary. It's a system that works very well, especially when the pin end is a boat with another skilled set of eyes (and voice recorder) looking back to the signal boat.

A video camera is several times more expensive than a voice recorder and adds only the ability to rewind and replay images to system above. Its drawbacks are significant - limited depth of field is impractical for long starting lines and parallax errors are common and impossible to identify in the images. That's why "video testimony" is not generally accepted by juries. Video can be very misleading.

As a race officer, the last thing I want to do is call someone OCS when they weren't or if they ducked back unnoticed. If I've legitimately made a mistake (it happens), I want them to win the redress request. Morgan asks, "So how is the Sailor supposed to provide any proof that they started behind the start line, when they are prevented from accessing video evidence, and when the RC has all the proof, but only needs to validate their decision with a recording and a piece of paper?" The answer is simple - you know who you started with (or at least you should). Those witnesses are your best and perhaps only resources to overturn an OCS call. Otherwise, it's your word against the RC, and let's face it - they have the best view of the line at the start. Who do you think the jury is going to believe?


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Feb 8, 2011, 4:51 PM

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* From John MacRae:
Morgan Reeser is on to something in terms of how to attempt to take human error out of starting line management, specifically with regard to identifying early starters. However, video reply seems only to be part of an answer, and one that won't solve or prevent every missed or erroneous call.

Knowing next-to-nothing about the technology and costs involved, I would like to know if fleets have had any success using GPS or positioning "chips" that could be placed (reasonably-permanently) on the bows of racing boats. In theory, these "tags" would trigger some sort of ID alarm - based on sensors installed on one or both ends of the line - with the RC so the infringing yacht could be quickly and accurately (one would hope) identified. It strikes me that there must be something in the technology already used in big marathons and other sports that could be transferable for our purposes. Maybe this is already being done in our sport but I have not heard of it.


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Feb 8, 2011, 4:51 PM

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* From Dick Neville:
I think Morgan is correct. I sat in “The Room” on Friday in Key West this year for an OCS redress and heard eye witness testimony between two line callers and two sailors involving three Melges 32s at the Pin end. All four had a different story. A video would have made the case very clear.

As a back-up line caller for the PRO on Division 2 at Key West Race Week in 2010 we had an extra line caller available, so I purchased an inexpensive video camera and tried to film the starts. It was less than adequate, I think, due to the equipment. This year, Ashley Love from T2Ptv was filming alongside me on Tuesday with a more sophisticated camera and the start was much clearer on the replay. I guess it is a depth of field issue.

If money were no object, I would recommend an anchored Pin Boat, have two experienced line callers be taught how to use an adequate (expensive?) video camera and film from both ends of the line. I think the results would be much more satisfactory for the sailors who question the OCS calls.


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Feb 8, 2011, 4:52 PM

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* From Bruce Thompson:
Adding to the comments by Morgan Reeser and Ted Beier (in Scuttlebutt 3272), I can offer a suggestion. Ted and I worked together on the 2009 Championship of Champions. I expect that while his success dealing with 70 boat fleets speaks for itself, he has in reserve the technique we used then. I call it the General Recall with YouTube technique.

Given the nature of the event, we stressed to the competitors the need to have clean starts and noted that we would videotape the starts and that offenders could be subject to posting on YouTube. We would simply signal a General Recall and post an eternal remembrance of their screw-up on the Internet until we got what we were demanding, clean starts! After a few jitters and a steep learning curve, the fleet proceeded to run off a long string of clean starts. It is simple for a race committee with trained observers at both ends (with video) to positively confirm that no boat is on or over the starting line at the signal and that the fleet is therefore "All Clear".

With accumulated experience the fleet became skilled enough to complete a full race cycle in 38 minutes, including a 20 boat rotation, spinnaker hoist and repack, check for breakdown issues, starting sequence and 1.8 NM race. The result was happy racers doing what they do best, racing. In the bonhomie of the moment, all the RC had to do was submit the video evidence of any transgressions for inclusion onto that competitor's permanent file in the Lightning Class archives, where it serves as the perfect deterrent, one that need never be used. The secrets of a few very famous sailors are safe, for now!




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Feb 8, 2011, 4:54 PM

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* From Jack King:
Morgan is right that calling the starting line can be tough, but going to video is not the right way to go. Bear in mind that you have a moving pin, a moving signal boat and a whole bunch of moving race boats. Video is two dimensional and real life is three dimensional. That's why the NFL has six cameras following the ball all the time. Generally there is a camera on one angle that shows exactly what happened, but that camera changes with every play. How many cameras would have to use on the starting line to get the same results as the NFL?

And no one has ever developed optics as good as the human eye. Combine that with the best computer ever developed--the human brain--and you have a pretty good technology to get the call right.

Good race officers used many "tricks" to get the call right and I think they do. Also remember that if a race officer is unsure of the call, there is no call.

Would I like to see the video technology that could be used in OCS calls? Yes, I would, but it does not exist today.




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Feb 8, 2011, 4:55 PM

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* From Mark Lammens:
At the Olympics in Savannah, where sailors are pushing the limits because medals and glory are on the line, the America Cube program provided video cameras in balloons, a view from above, including the start. During a hearing where nine boats were OCS, a large screen TV with the balloon video and the time in the start sequence was presented to the sailors. It was obvious boats were over.

Video technology plus GPS sensors in the bow, could make sure the call right, especially for the larger title events. Tennis and American Football use this technology, hockey has a video camera in the goal and above the goal line, track and field has sensors in the starting blocks. No video replay at the Soccer World Cup meant a missed goal, upset players and fans and hurts sport credibility and fairness.

If the regatta will not let coaches film the start, then the regatta should film the start. We want to make the job easier for the Race Officer as well as ensure the racing is fair. Let’s make sure the call is right.


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Feb 8, 2011, 4:55 PM

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* From Bob Stevens:
The video will show what the PRO is seeing from the RC boat - same problems. We need sensors in the boats being raced, and a line to trip the sensors, to get it "right".


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Feb 8, 2011, 4:56 PM

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* From Patrick Blaney, Ireland:
I am amazed that anyone who has real experience in on the water race management is still suggesting that video recording the start will help either competitors or the Race Officer in getting the fleet away.

It is so difficult to get the video recording set up 100% along the line, and it still suffers all the same issues as a PRO in identifying boats over at the start. The fleet which gives the greatest difficulty are the lasers which have long numbers, identical hull/sail colours, and usually large fleet sizes. All the PRO can do is set himself up to catch the majority of those OCS, that way, over a series, everyone runs an equal risk of getting caught if they are OCS. All a video recording will do is further cloud the issue, and leave the judgment of the PRO up to question or second guessing by that most distinguished of bodies the “JURY”. In almost every sport the referee’s decision is final, and it is not perfect, the same goes for the PRO. The thing to do is to use technology to support the PRO’s judgment, make it better where possible, but not take precedence over it.

The better use of modern technology is probably the use of some tracker equipment where a beam along the line activates/pings a device on the boat (thereby recording the OCS boats and letting the offender know they have been recorded. I don’t know if such technology exists, but that is the only fool proof way, assuming it both works, especially in big fleets and with long lines and can’t be abused by the competitors (shielding it somehow).

In the absence of a simple, fool proof and tamper free technological answer, we need to have an independent referee/PRO determine, using his/her best judgment (supported by line spotters on the outer distance mark boat and perhaps even a RIB fixed in position along the line) who was over the line. There is still no technological method that is better than the judgment of a good experienced race officer. I would also point out that it takes time and experience for a Race Officer to become good, but I find that the top regattas get the top PRO’s, so horses for courses.

PS: Have you never seen a PRO have a short final 5 seconds just to get the fleet away?


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Feb 8, 2011, 4:57 PM

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* From Robin Wallace, Chairman US SAILING Race Management Committee and member ISAF Race Management sub committee:

May I suggest that Morgan Reeser participate in a US SAILING Race Management seminar or make some direct inquiries about how race committees try to solve the starting line problems they cited? Even better - get out on a race committee boat and see for yourself how a race committee tries to deal with identifying OCS boats.

For some years now, the ISAF has been investigating electronic methods for detecting OCS boats and one thing is sure - when it comes to fruition in a few years time, it will be very expensive to purchase and maintain.




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Feb 9, 2011, 9:30 AM

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* From Ken Legler:
Video can work for starting line evidence but must zoom in for the far end and wide angle for the near end. With separate video operators at both ends perhaps we could do this for the competitor’s sake.

Morgan Reeser feels a bit of "us vs. them" with the RC. That's how many young motorists feel about the police since RC's have the authority to pull, I mean call, you over. Like the police, the RC is there to serve but has a human ego.

Before seeking redress for OCS, engage the PRO if possible. If you were nowhere near the line perhaps you were identified by mistake. If so, some PRO's might even file redress on your behalf or just reinstate you without a hearing. However, if you were seen over early, your chances of winning redress is slim. Most RC's never OCS a boat unless they are certain that boat was over. As hard as it is to see the line perfectly, the RC has a far better view from the ends than the competitors in between.




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Feb 9, 2011, 4:19 PM

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The requirement to account for OCS boats with only paper pencil and tape recorders is a disservice to the average race committee member. Being line judge carries a heavy burden, let’s videotape all starts.

Case in point: Suppose you are at the pin end judging the last race of an Olympic regatta and call over a friend of yours. Imagine knowing the call was fair but never being able to prove it to your former friend.

Break out the video cameras! let’s show sailors how good we can be judging start lines. At the very least competitors will have a more fair experience at the redress hearing.


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Feb 17, 2011, 6:48 AM

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On the Thursday 2/17 page you have conflated two different groups of people into one and thereby have failed to hold either responsible for their actions.

What you said was "The vast majority of general recalls are the PRO’s fault, not the competitors’. The line is too short, it’s improperly skewed (as Bill Gladstone pointed out in Scuttlebutt 3280) and/or spotting procedures aren’t matched to the fleet’s aggressiveness."

General recalls result when there are a lot of boats that are on the course side of the starting line. They were steered there by their respective helmsmen. The RC steers exactly ZERO boats. Boats are OCS through the fault of their skippers and the NAYRU rules used to explicitly say as much. Racers cause general recalls, not PROs.

Poorly set starting lines are the responsibility of the PRO. He answers to the organizing authority. So complaints about him need to go there. The competitors' best course of action would be to get a legal start and then file a request for redress asking the jury to abandon the race, as is their perogative. Racers complaining to the OA could simply be a case of sour grapes. The jury abandoning the race would carry great weight with the OA, since it appoints both the PRO & the jury as peers, and has the power to remove and replace the PRO. But who knows, if you act with enough courtesy and inform the PRO of your intention to file a Request For Redress, he might even abandon the race and reset the starting line to get everyone a good race in real time without going to "The Room". Maybe the skewed line was caused by a sudden wind shift and was due to an act of nature, not human error.

Nothing beats the old fashioned clean start. We had a Junior Fleet winter get-together Sunday. Every one of the kids understood that you cannot "jump the gun". Anyone who did would expect to be held responsible and punished accordingly. If a 6 year old kid can understand the concept, why do adults find it so hard to understand, a lack of self-discipline perhaps? By the way, the kids like our Junior Fleet so much we have seven new recruits among the drifted snowbanks. People like order and fairness, put them first and you'll have very few problems.


PaulK
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Feb 26, 2011, 6:58 AM

Post #23 of 24 (48186 views)
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Re: [The Publisher] Starting system should have video backup [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

             Racers obviously can't tell where they are at the starting line, at the three-boatlength circle, or anywhere else on on the racecourse. Making a video of the start would only be a partial solution: we need videos of every P/S encounter and mark rounding as well so an ever-vigilant Race Committee can identify every infraction and mete out punishments! Was there an overlap, really? Did S actually change course to avoid P? With a video, we'd know all this. We wouldn't have to depend on flukey, lying, ignorant racers or witnesses. At the start, the PRO could consult the video while the fleet hove to and watched a Budweiser commercial on their smartphones. Once the PRO has identified the OCS boat(s), should he or she text the information to the entire fleet - so everyone knows to deny the offending boats any rights as they return to restart - or just text the offending boats? The final, Official Results could wait for an Official Review Committee to watch the entire video in December.

Improving the setup so as to minimize boats being over early is a goal for every Race Committee, every race. In the meantime, a suggestion for "tagging" OCS boats brings another "solution" to mind. If a live round was placed in the starting cannon, the only problem for the PRO would be to hit the starting mark without sinking it.


The Publisher
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Feb 28, 2011, 4:50 PM

Post #24 of 24 (48162 views)
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Re: [The Publisher] Starting system should have video backup [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

* From Andrew Burton, Newport, RI:
I have the privilege of sailing with some really good sailors who also happen to be brilliant. The discussion about race committee work made me think of comments from two of them. The first from Roy Williams: "There are two sports being played on the racecourse; sailboat racing and the sport of race committee. The RC arrives first and spends a ton of time figuring out the breeze trends and setting a perfectly square line. The competitors arrive and the first thing they do is check to see which end of the line is favored." The second comment is from Will Harris. "It's not OK to bitch about the race committee unless you have personally put in time on the RC boat that year."


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