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Forum Index: DISCUSSION: Dock Talk:
Starting System and Penalties
Team McLube

 



The Publisher
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Feb 10, 2011, 5:16 PM

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Starting System and Penalties
February 9-10, 2011

Have you ever thought about the how and why the sport of sailing has several starting system options? Recent commentary in Scuttlebutt has been poking around this issue of starting fairly, but perhaps the underlying problem is in how the start is organized.

While the Racing Rules of Sailing describe one system for starting a race, there are multiple Starting Penalty options for the Principle Race Officer (PRO) to utilize, and as a result, little consistency for the competitors.

For premature starters, a PRO can:
  • Call each boat individually to restart
  • Call each boat individually, have them round a start pin to restart
  • Call each boat individually to restart, but also give them a 20% penalty
  • Call each boat individually for disqualification
  • Call the entire fleet to restart

    Actually, the rules for Recalls (RRS 29) and Starting Penalties (RRS 30) are more complicated, but you get the point.

    Here are the only starting rules for two other Olympic sports:
  • A swimmer is disqualified after their first false start.
  • A runner is permitted one false start but is disqualified after second.

    While starting a sailing race for a competitor is more complex than for track or swimming sports, do the rules need to be more complex too?

    The current Racing Rules of Sailing provide each PRO with many options to determine what Starting Penalties they feel are needed. But is this how a start should be managed, or is it better for there to be a single system of starting and penalties that are known in advance by the competitors and PRO?

    Here are the poll results:
  • 64.00% - Current system is best
  • 36.00% - Consider single system

    Click here for comments.


  • The Publisher
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    Feb 10, 2011, 5:17 PM

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    The Scuttlebutt poll this week about the Starting System and Penalties may have caught readers off guard. Actually, I am not sure if I have ever seen it suggested that the current system is inadequate.

    While the Racing Rules of Sails describes only one system for starting a race, it does offer a menu of options on how to assess penalties for aggressive starters that are typically found in larger, competitive events. Why so many options? I wonder if this has more to do with personal belief, thus remaining flexible toward the various preferences of the Principle Race Officer (PRO).

    Here are the rule options that exist in Rule 30 - Starting Penalties, that when used, affect boats that are over the line in the final minute before the starting signal:

    I Flag - If over line or extensions, round end to restart
    Z Flag - 20% penalty if within triangle (start marks and first mark)
    Black Flag - Disqualified if within triangle (start marks and first mark)

    The use of these penalties varies, as some PROs go to them quickly while other PROs look for other options (eg, starting line management). But when the Z or Black Flag fly, the message to the sailors is always clear: “The PRO has lost their patience.”

    Reviewing the poll comments, many contend the current starting system provides necessary options so as to manage the wide variety of boat types and races that occur in the sport. Maybe, but the reality is that most of our races never see Rule 30. So I’m not fully convinced that the sport cannot have one system that everyone knows about, and would cover the full spectrum. In the interest of simplifying the rules of sailing, I remain curious if the three pages in the rule book that describe how to start a race can be reduced.

    The poll results found that just over a third of the participants would consider a single system of starting. Certainly not a mandate, but enough to open the door.

    I will reveal my single starting system next week. Anybody else want to submit their idea too?

    Post your idea in this Forum thread.


    - Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt




    David-S
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    Feb 11, 2011, 6:39 AM

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    Here's another wrinkle: flag systems are difficult to read from downwind of the signal/committee boat. That draws competitors to a position abeam, from which barging or other on the line behaviors result. Especially difficult in multiple fleet starts. My suggestion to improve starts-bring back the cylinders that allow a 360 view, and penalize first OCS with either time or position penalties. The suggestions for tech are expensive and unworkable and when the Committee view is obstructed an unfair start results. David-S
    David-S


    Bruce Thompson
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    Feb 11, 2011, 6:42 AM

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    This discussion started with a comment by Morgan Reeser regarding boats within 6 inches of the starting line when the starting signal sounded. What you have here is a practical demonstration of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. Mr Reeser wants race committees to be more accurate. I ask, can he show me racers who can match that desired level of accuracy? At 7 knots a boat travels one inch in .007 seconds. It travels 6 inches in .042 seconds. I say, let's have him prove he can hit the starting line that accurately. Swimmers touch out on pads that time to the millisecond. So let's put one on an inflatable mark and let Mr Reeser touch out within +/- .042 seconds of the GPS start time at 7 knots to earn his redress or eat a DND if he fails! The test will certainly provide lots of entertainment for the competition as well as the jury!


    The Publisher
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    Feb 11, 2011, 9:11 AM

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    In Reply To
    This discussion started with a comment by Morgan Reeser regarding boats within 6 inches of the starting line when the starting signal sounded. What you have here is a practical demonstration of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. Mr Reeser wants race committees to be more accurate. I ask, can he show me racers who can match that desired level of accuracy? At 7 knots a boat travels one inch in .007 seconds. It travels 6 inches in .042 seconds. I say, let's have him prove he can hit the starting line that accurately. Swimmers touch out on pads that time to the millisecond. So let's put one on an inflatable mark and let Mr Reeser touch out within +/- .042 seconds of the GPS start time at 7 knots to earn his redress or eat a DND if he fails! The test will certainly provide lots of entertainment for the competition as well as the jury!



    I thought Morgan's commentary was stating how it would be helpful if RC's provided video back-up to help sort out OCS and redress procedures. Morgan typically sails at a very high level, so his suggestion was not for every club race to provide this. And I didn't think he inferred that video should replace the human eye. His point was that visual evidence from the RC could assist some of the redress hearings that are hard to sort out.

    Some of the other comments made in that thread provide reasons why this is not a complete solution. Realities such as the camera being blocked because of early starters nearby, or how distance from the camera reduces its effectiveness. But it would be pretty neat for elite events to provide this kind of info, even for pure entertainment and education.

    The more I think about starts in our sport, the more I realize how unique sailing is. With more events providing tracking to show the path of boats, it seems that the next step is for there to be onboard GPS equipment to assist the RC. But beyond the expense, it would also seem that there would be problems with ensuring the equipment is working perfectly for each start. Maybe we should be happy with our current set of problems.

    - Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt


    Bruce Thompson
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    Feb 12, 2011, 5:47 PM

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    Another point to consider is the new judging regime where U S Sailing will be required to conform to the Stevens Act and the Athlete's Bill of Rights, particularly with regard to the awarding of redress. We don't want another Farrah Hall debacle costing hundreds of dollars of members' dues to resolve!

    As unsatisfactory as it may be to those who dream of a perfect world, the key here is that the OCS call for this Olympian was made by a race official, on the field of play, in the heat of the monent, and is therefore not reviewable. Don't like that? Well talk to the French World Cup soccer team about your mutual problems. You can comiserate together.


    The Publisher
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    Feb 13, 2011, 8:49 AM

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    A black flag start is not as bad as it sounds. Boats know when they are close to the line and in a black flag start they can see the line in most cases because there are not a bunch of boats over the line blocking their view. I and many of my fellow sailors would be happy with a black flag start every time. Together with series with no discards this would clean up a lot of our racing. Boats can not afford to be over the line so they hold back. They cannot afford a protest either so behaviour on the course improves too. Try it and see the difference !! (I'm sure you already have)

    Best regards,

    Michael Clough




    The Publisher
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    Feb 13, 2011, 9:12 AM

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    As a competitor of many years with experience and occasional race committee duty, I know that the biggest problem in race management is the start. Having sugested electronic start control as is used in running speedskating and other sports without success I gave up.. Why can't we try electronic control?

    Regards, Garry Corwin




    The Publisher
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    Feb 13, 2011, 9:57 AM

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    I have followed the recent discussion regarding "starting system and penalties" with interest. I'd like to say it's a problem for me, but all too often I am just trying to make it cleanly to the front row, and can't remember when I have been able to push the envelope enough to be OCS.

    In Scuttlebutt 3276 you make reference to procedures and penalties in other Olympic sports. A slight correction regarding swimming, depending on the venue, a swimmer may receive a warning after the first false start and a DSQ on the second false start. In other venues a false start by a single swimmer may trigger a false start to the field after which any swimmer in the field who false starts may be DSQ'ed. Of course, neither swimming nor running is applicable to sailing, as those races are always started with the contestant in a static and ready position.

    As you no doubt know, auto racing such as Indy Car and NASCAR are much better examples. Unfortunately, not being a big Indy Car or NASCAR fan, I can't elaborate on how a false start is handled in those sports.

    Regards, Keith Kenitzer


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    Feb 13, 2011, 9:59 AM

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    I like the current starting system. It has flexibility to accommodate the various classes and events. Starts for Lasers are very different than for big keelboats, and starts for club-level races need different methods than Olympic qualifiers.

    The preparatory flags often say a lot about the competence and attitude of the Principal Race Officer. Those who understand that they have volunteered to serve the competitors will be much more reluctant to use the Z and Black flags than those who think the sailors need to show them respect and subservience.

    Race officers, like Judges, should seek to minimize their role in the outcome of races. It is not about how many boats you can penalize, but how much you can contribute to fair races being decided on the water. All regattas should start with at least one P-flag each day. If the competitors demonstrate that their aggressiveness needs more control, then progress to the I and Z-flags. I-flags are effective, especially when accompanied by hails from the signal boat, and the Z-flag is very effective. Those who say the I-flag forces the boats to congregate at the ends have not been paying attention. In most cases, it is just not true.

    The Black flag is way too often a crutch for a lazy race committee, and it should be reserved for when it is critical to get a start off before the cutoff-time on the last day.

    Let's leave the rule 26 starting system alone for awhile. It works. I would like to see race committees make it more clear whether they will be doing rolling starts, or individual starts, and I would like to see that when the Z-flag is used, the I-flag is used with it, but we do not have a problem that needs to be solved by rules changes.

    Eric Robbins


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    Feb 13, 2011, 10:01 AM

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    I agree that the actual starting system could be simplified, but it is quite difficult to suggest how to do it. I think that the simplest simplification that coud be done for the moment could be the cancellation of the Z flag but leaving I flag and Black flag. This is because I noticed that it is the Black flag that really makes less aggressive the most relentless helmsmen.

    Giancarlo Basile


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    Feb 13, 2011, 10:08 AM

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    Belgian Bruno De Wannemaeker, an ISAF International Judge and member of the Race Management Team at the 2008 Olympics, finds his experience with board classes to be relevant to the sport:


    For some years Race directors on Windsurf (and now also Kitesurf) and planning-sailing and Optimists have not been using the P-flag (preparatory) anymore and substituted it for the I-flag on the first starting attempt.

    The ISAF still believes that the use of an I-flag is bad: “Some Race Officers regard this penalty as very unfair. It penalizes a boat that is on the course side in the middle of the start line more than a boat at the end. This can create extra difficulties for the Race Officer by making the fleet bunch at both ends while leaving quite a large space unused in the middle of the start line.”

    We feel strongly that the P flag has no place on a windsurf, kiteboard (and also on planning sailboats, Optimist... and why not on all) fleet race starts. Its use during Grade 1 windsurfing events during the previous years has caused untold disruption and inequitable racing. This is an example of a good (?) dinghy idea having adverse effects on windsurfing where boards have a reverse gear and don't need an invitation to sail down on an opponent.

    There are two main arguments in favor of the use of the I flag:

    - The practical argument is that boats having to go back, around-the-end, through the fleet and start, in a course with a 15-20 minute target time, have no chance in the race.
    - The philosophical argument is that we are anyway talking about boards that broke a rule (the definition of start). It is more important to provide a fair and safe start for all the boards than worry about giving an, anyway irrelevant, advantage to some of the rule breaking boards as opposed to some other rule breaking boards

    To take it a little further: I flag will lead to fewer boards over the line than P flag. This means that the start will be easier to be monitored and in turn will lead to less general recalls and more clear starts or individual boards recalled.

    This is better because:
    - Individual recalls are fair: the board breaking the rule (definition of start) is recalled. She may either start properly within the appropriate time limit, or she will be scored OCS. A “punishment” fitting the “crime”.
    - On the contrary, a general recall is unfair: when a general recall is used, the boards breaking the rule (definition of start) receive no punishment. Instead, they get a second chance to start, while the boards that started without breaking any rule are “punished” by having their start canceled.




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    Feb 13, 2011, 10:09 AM

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    Please allow us to add some spice to this discussion from one of the latest additions to the sailing world, the International Kiteboarding Class.

    Interestingly, in traditional sailing we usually see the P flag flying on the first start attempts, unless the race committee loses patience with all the skippers that are too aggressive on the line. Reading the comments about “being 6 inches over” and the corresponding calculation regarding which time before the GPS start time this would be, we clearly have to note that this starting system might be good for boats approaching the start line comparably slow.

    Bruno de Wannemaeker, PRO for the windsurfing courses at the 2008 Olympics, made a very true comment on this procedure and the fact, that in windsurfing races almost all the times the race committee goes with the I-flag from the very first start (forget about the Z-flag I would say, hardly ever saw someone using it). The main reason is – why let some aggressive skippers mess up the start for the remaining 99% of the fleet with a good chance of not getting caught in the upcoming general recall. Why create all that trouble for the ones that behaved, plus the race committee and jury without penalizing the ones that didnt ?

    As the only pure planning class that kiteboarding surely is, we tend to go even further. Our “rules of the game” generally see black flag starts from the very first moment – something that is appreciated by the skippers as well as by the race committee.

    As kiteboards approach the start line at a minimum speed of 10 knots even in marginal conditions (5 knots windspeed), and in proper conditions the boards are flying along the line with 20-30 knots of boardspeed, it doesnt really matter if you are 10 inches below or over the line, but the black flag keeps everybody far enough away from the line to give all racers a good and fair start. It shifts the question about who is winning the race to the actual racing – after the start – and not to the minutes before to fight for the best position on the line, barge in between committee boat and other racers in the last second etc.

    We hardly have any recalls in kiteboarding races – no individual ones by default, and hardly any general recalls. And if so, the penalty for those trying is so high, that they surely not try again next time. For our class – and we believe for several of the other “high performance boat classes” as well – this is what we consider to be fair to the vast majority of the racers. We are not punishing the majority of the fleet for the sake of giving a few the chance “to try to fool the race committee”.

    To summarize things – we believe that the current bandwidth of starting systems perfectly suits the different boat classes we have, and each class should encourage the race committee to use their preferred starting system for their particular class. Every class has its specifics, and every class has its own philosophy and attitude, and the members of the class have agreed on their way of “how to play the game”.

    Lets keep the variety that we have, and which makes our sport interesting for those who are doing it. But put your preferred starting system into your championship rules to help your sailors and your race committee.

    So did we.

    Kind regards,
    Markus Schwendtner
    IKA Executive Secretary




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    Feb 15, 2011, 5:16 PM

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    THREE STRIKES AND YOU’RE OUT

    I do wonder if the system for starting a sailboat race can be simplified. I am not convinced it can be, but at the same time I can’t think of another sport that is as complicated. While there are lots of types of boats, and lots of types of races, they all start the same way - through a start line.

    I also suspect there is significant segment of the sport that feels the current system is fine. We do have one system: 5 - 4 - 1 - GO. For lots of races and racers, this works fine. It’s just when it doesn’t work, there are lots of options within the rules with no guidelines on how they are to be applied.

    I hear all the time that General Recalls are not fair. They are a time waster, and they penalize people who started fairly. But they are also a reality. Without an electronic system on each boat to register their place on the start line, all boats cannot be visually accounted for.

    So how do we limit General Recalls and simplify the entire process? Can we eliminate all the various staring penalty flags and rules, and the inconsistency in their use? Can we get rid of the ‘racer versus race committee’ atmosphere, and follow a starting protocol that is known in advance?

    What if a competitor were to gain increasingly harsher penalties for starting infractions during an event? This is currently an option for Rule 42 (Propulsion) when on-the-water umpires are used. For each time a competitor is observed by a race official breaking Rule 42, the value of their penalty increases. Could this be done for starting?

    What if we had a system that had no more than one General Recall for each race if there are too many early starters to account for? But for those early starters that were accounted for, they would gain a STRIKE (more on what that means below). Unfair to those that got caught? Maybe, but also unfair to those that got legal starts too. More motivation to stay below the line, right?

    Additionally, any boat identified as an early starter in a fair start would also accumulate a STRIKE. In short, any time the starting gun goes off, and a boat is over the line, they get a STRIKE.

    So what happens on starts that are considered fair? Any boat identified as an early starter that restarts would be penalized based on the number of STRIKES they have gained during the regatta:

    STRIKE 1: No penalty if the boat restarts
    STRIKE 2: 20% penalty if the boat restarts
    STRIKE 3: Disqualification from that race

    Of course, any boat that is identified as an early starter that does not restart would continue to be scored OCS.

    Would the fear of gaining STRIKES manage the aggressiveness on the start line?

    - Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt


    dlonghorn
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    Feb 15, 2011, 9:43 PM

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    Do y'all realize that the computerized system is already in place to put a computer chip on each boat in the same place and that it can be synchronized to do the OCS? The same Dutch man that puts the IODA Opti Regattas on the computers with a chip on each boat, told me a couple of years ago that he has this capability. Right now those chips are placed on each mast, and just used for parents at the venue and people back home to follow the races live. As a side note, he also could add a chip to each sailor's life jacket and make a warning signal sound if the sailor separates from his boat by a designated number of meters. The computer age has the answer, the question is when will it be affordable enough for everyone to use it.


    sails4fun
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    Feb 16, 2011, 8:01 AM

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    I guess I am missing something here. It is the responsibility of the skipper to insure he/she is on the correct side of the starting line prior to the start - period.
    There is no element of question about that statement.
    Why are the racers so willing to be on the line rather than behind the line?
    The risk/benefit is worth taking or else it would not be such a big deal.
    I remember the Star Worlds in San Francisco years ago when the PRO called all but a few over in the practice race? That seemed to get the starting line very controlled for the rest of the series!
    While not popular - it was fair!
    And that is the attempt - fair sailing. It is the fundamental rule.


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    Feb 16, 2011, 10:28 AM

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    The effectiveness of the current system lies largely in the hands of the PRO. Therein is the problem, if there is one.

    Unlike many other race type sports, the penalty of a slow start in sailing is compounded by the effects of the surrounding competitors. So the motivation of each racer is not for a fair start, it is for them to get an advantaged start.

    So people push, and they are not just pushing their competitors, they are pushing the race committee. And we have come to accept that General Recalls are okay. And they are not really that okay. Besides wasting time, they initiate a tug of war with the PRO. And the next move by the PRO is very telling.

    Guessing what will happen next seems to be an odd system for racers to live under. But it is the current system we have.

    - Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt


    MEsposito
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    Feb 16, 2011, 10:40 AM

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    Earlier you referenced track. I believe the rule there is that they allow one false start, but after that ANYONE who makes a false start (even if they were not party to the first one) is DSQed. I've always thought that was exceedingly harsh.

    I don't like the strike system because it suffers the same flaw as the system it seeks to fix. If we cannot fairly ID all the false starters to do individual recalls, and are forced to a general recall, we couldn't identify all the false starters to pass out strikes. Plus it may cause more "pushing the line" late in a regatta (strikes to burn!).

    I like the idea of video recording the starts from a point far forward on the committee boat with the flag set far astern. Those few degrees of angle can immensely improve the view of the order of boats as they approach the line (especially when the PRO or line-caller can only see "a white boat with a sail number ending in 0"). Check the video and, voila, "recall 3210" or whatever.

    I once thought the "individual recall ... everyone ... sail number 7 clear, sail number 13 clear" would be good: that is, call "everyone" but immediately clear the two boats (or whatever) that weren't over. Then I realized that rewards the sailors who were terrible starters. That's not fair either.

    At one time, I really liked the use of courtesy broadcasts to keep people aware of what's happening. Alas, I think that has created even more sailors who don't know the rules and haven't got a clue.

    That's really the biggest problem, too many people don't read or understand the rules and procedures. One friend complained to me (as APRO for the regatta) about us setting too long of a starting line. We had set it at one boat length per boat in our largest fleet (in which she sailed), which is actually a little short. Even though she had never taken a race committee class or served on the race committee (other than providing her boat for obligatory RC duty when her turn came up), she got abusive and insisted that it should be -- think about this -- one boat WIDTH per boat (i.e. a line exactly as long as the fleet arranged side-by-side). Sadly, that's not the worst thing I've been told by a sailor (and no, my friend was not in the boat-painting business).

    As a racer, skippers often ask me what's going on in the start, especially if we're in a later section and something has put the RC off the starting schedule. It usually takes a glance at the committee boat to figure it out (hmmm ... Section 3 and India ... looks like someone has been misbehaving and they pulled out a penalty flag ... they're a couple sections behind schedule).

    Most of the starting "problems," beyond penalizing the right boats, are solved by skippers, or someone from the crew, reading the SIs (which often spell out how over-early and general recalls will be handled, e.g. after one general, they'll try one more time, after a second it's go to the back of the starting order), attending the skippers meetings (PROs usually explain plans for over-early and general recalls) and knowing the rules.


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    Feb 16, 2011, 10:49 AM

    Post #19 of 28 (20697 views)
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    In June 2008, Scuttlebutt posted a Starting System Flag Rule Quiz by Glenn McCarthy. It was a closed book rule quiz, with the questions pertaining to the use of the following starting flags: http://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/news/08/0605/

    - Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt


    The Publisher
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    Feb 17, 2011, 7:08 AM

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    * From Matt Bounds, US SAILING RRO and Judge:
    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. Good race officers know that observing the competitors’ positions during the start sequence will quickly identify problems with the starting line.

    A short postponement for a reset is preferential to a general recall and wastes far less time. If the fleet is evenly spread out along the line (which defines a “square line” no matter what the wind/current is doing) and they are still over in sufficient numbers to overwhelm the spotters, then it’s time to advance to RRS 30. I will always start with Papa as the prep signal, unless the class culture expects otherwise.


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    Feb 21, 2011, 7:16 AM

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    From John Lynch, Venice, FL:
    I wish that the rabbit (or gate) start was given more serious consideration as a regular procedure. It is rather similar to the way many car races are started with a pace car or the way some harness horse races are run. With the rabbit start every single boat can get a perfect start and there are rarely general recalls and never individual recalls. By all reports, they worked quite well for the 505 Worlds and they work well for countless small fleets, both of one design and handicap boats every week.

    Our club has used rabbit starts for almost every PHRF race for the past two seasons and everyone seems to like them. What's more, we can all race, with no need for a race committee, by just recording our own finish times. Most importantly, they take away any requirement on the race committee to make difficult (impossible?) judgment calls about who is OCS or if there are hidden OCS boats. You either sail between the mark and the rabbit or you don't, and in most cases everyone does.

    You can move from a situation in which there is a great likelihood of some boats being unfairly penalized and near certainty that some will get away with cheating to one in which cheating is impossible, there are very few penalties and at least the theoretical possibility of everyone getting an equal start. What's not to like? Give it a try and I think you will like it.


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    Feb 22, 2011, 7:55 AM

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    * From Matt Bounds, US SAILING RRO and Judge:
    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. Good race officers know that observing the competitors’ positions during the start sequence will quickly identify problems with the starting line.

    A short postponement for a reset is preferential to a general recall and wastes far less time. If the fleet is evenly spread out along the line (which defines a “square line” no matter what the wind/current is doing) and they are still over in sufficient numbers to overwhelm the spotters, then it’s time to advance to RRS 30. I will always start with Papa as the prep signal, unless the class culture expects otherwise.



    From John Folting:
    I absolutely could not agree more regarding Matt Bounds’ comments in Scuttlebutt 3281 about how the vast majority of general recalls are the PRO's fault and not the competitors'. I was fortunate to learn all of this in 1987 when I had a wonderful week of trying to keep the Star North Americans together.

    I tried and tried, but it always came up a General Recall. A judge, Cy Gillette, who had heard about my struggles met with me in Hawaii to prep for the Olympic Trials for Stars and Solings. He imparted a world of ideas, most of which I thought about a great deal, and at 3am it finally dawned on me that everything he said was exactly correct. I never have had a General Recall in 22 years after that, which included the Olympic Trials for 1987 and 1988 for which I was fortunate enough to win the St. Petersburg. Life on the water just became a lot easier and a lot more fun.

    The only thing that was left out was that at some time the fleet, all of them, is going to crowd the line no matter what you do. That is the time for a General Recall. Anything else and it is the PRO that has done something wrong as stated by Mr. Bounds. Try going through all of the scenarios like short line and what it does to you and you will come to the same conclusion.

    Curmudgeon’s Comment: I content the ‘us versus them’ atmosphere is generated due to poor start line management, which then leads to General Recalls, which then leads to Starting Penalties. Competitors know when the start line is flawed, and get frustrated when they’re the ones penalized for it.



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    Feb 24, 2011, 7:49 AM

    Post #23 of 28 (20299 views)
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    * From Ray Tostado, San Pedro, CA:
    It is good that the rules and race committee protocol are topical, and that the racers are interested in a fair playing field and parity with the rules. But let me take a moment and remind them of what they seem to be overlooking in their discourse; why we do it. Race sailboats.

    Of course I can only speak for myself, but underneath all the verbal input there is a longing for the view. The sense of being a part of a fleet of 64 spinnakers winding their way downwind, some desperately reaching for better speed while others patiently working their way DDW to the leeward mark.

    Reaching a weather mark and holding one’s breath as four boats vie for room and position at the break out. Or staring intently while on a port tack hoping for room to cross a starboard tack competitor.

    And the full exhaust of breath as one crosses the finish line, almost indifferent to what the finish position is. The having been there and competed with other silent staring crews is what we really seek. It is a deep and unspoken fellowship that brings fleets to the starting area.

    And once we realize this, the rules will just be rules, and not barriers to our enjoyment of the sport.


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    Feb 24, 2011, 7:50 AM

    Post #24 of 28 (20298 views)
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    * From Ken Legler:
    I have retyped the "race management guidelines" that was in the back of the 1993 rule book. It was subsequently removed to shorten the 1997 book, which was the complete overhaul. It’s removal back than was a shame as it was an excellent guide to start races without problems. Here it is for anybody interested: http://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/NEWS/11/0215/


    Mark Mayer
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    Feb 24, 2011, 10:44 PM

    Post #25 of 28 (20261 views)
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    The challenge today is a function of the length of the weather leg vs number of boats being started.
    If the start line is longer than your weather leg the fleet will need to be on your line at the start.

    When the first leg is long enough for the number of boats being started, boat speed mechanics relaxe at the line. The average BSM generally out sail boats that get a better start.

    Watching our great sailors come from behind makes a better show.

    Truth be told If you give a good fleet a great line they will start well every time.


    Mark Mayer
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    Feb 24, 2011, 10:59 PM

    Post #26 of 28 (20260 views)
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    TThe system of race management developed by the USYRU traveling race management team is the Rosetta stone.
    They were great. 1 boat 2 boat 3 boat systems.
    Wake up Race Committees these lesson have already been learned.
    Time to republish this knowledge.


    The Publisher
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    Feb 28, 2011, 4:49 PM

    Post #27 of 28 (20086 views)
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    * From Laurence Mead:
    We already have a system for "Strikes", it's called a Black Flag under which you can still have a General Recall but those seen are OUT - seems like a pretty big incentive not to push the start line to me. In the Etchells class I have seen it bought out after 3 or 4 General Recalls at the start of a week but then if the unruly behaviour doesn't moderate I have heard PRO's say they will fly the Black Flag after a single general recall. Even in a very competitive fleet like the Etchells this ALWAYS works.


    * From David Barrow:
    Some years ago, consistent General Recalls at a 470 Europeans, I think, were sorted by the race officer letting one race go when he could clearly define the seven boats that were still behind the line. He disqualified the rest. Yes, there was a huge uproar, but the consistent problem of General Recalls seemed to disappear for the rest of the week.


    * From Murray de Lues, Tauranga Yacht and Powerboat Club New Zealand:
    In National contests, the sailors are usually fairly hyped up for the first start. The PRO I work with will always put a pin bias and will normally attempt the first start under P. We had one youth contest where the kids bulged the line to cause a general recall. Bill restarted under P again and the same result. Did it a third time, same again. Parents started to get anxious and when a couple of the sailors came past the boat to make smart comments about the shocking set of the line, Bill just said, "I have all day, it's up to you if you want a contest." The word went round the fleet in a flash and the next start was perfect with most of the fleet hitting the line at speed.

    Some fleets like to push the RC around. In most cases an I flag is enough to get them to play the game. On very few occasions is the Z brought out. Usually a lot of money and time has been invested in getting to the contest and it is a shame to see it blown with the over use of starting penalties. However, sometimes the only way for the PRO to get control is Black Flags and General Recalls.

    One thing a lot of sailors forget about is, most race committees are volunteers who give freely a huge amount of time so the sailors can race. They bag the RC for General Recalls and penalties. Just remember that if you show them some respect for what they do and behave yourself on the line, then everyone will have a great time.


    Mark Mayer
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    Feb 28, 2011, 8:53 PM

    Post #28 of 28 (20078 views)
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    The black flag is more emotion than proper signal, every other flag in our quiver has an associative meaning.

    P = Preparatory
    M = Mark
    X means you crossed the line early and are subject to the discretion of the race committee.

    Truth be told… If you give a good fleet a great line they will start well every time.


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