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Forum Index: DISCUSSION: Dock Talk:
EACH TIME WE PLAY, IT IS A DIFFERENT GAME. WHY?
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Sep 12, 2012, 4:13 PM

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EACH TIME WE PLAY, IT IS A DIFFERENT GAME. WHY?
By Glenn McCarthy

Can you imagine the rules of Football, Baseball, Basketball, Soccer, etc.,
or even Corn Hole (Bags) changing every time they're played? Apparently
there are some changes in professional baseball; the home run length is
different in different ballparks across the country. But that is about it.
In sailing we have those nasty Notice of Race (NOR) and Sailing
Instructions (SIs) that every individual who writes them wants to leave
their fingerprint on. They change the game for each and every event we sail
in. Do we ever stop and realize how utterly ridiculous this is?

Most buoy courses are comparable. All we need on the water is which course
shape, what leg length, what direction the first mark is and how many times
around we're to go. The course can be standardized in the rule book and the
signals on boats can be standardized and we don't need that put in NORs and
SIs. It's not any different for port-to-port races, either. There are many
other changes organizers always mess with, and at each event we have to
adjust our thoughts and adjust our game. Really, are those changes cause
for more people to sail, or for more people to get tired of having to
figure out this weekend's new game?

Too often sailors get caught not having read the NOR or SIs and get
protested for some local rule. Is this inviting? Is this pleasureable? Do
these sailors clamor to come back next year after getting a penalty? While
maybe not the best example, a boat in this year's Pacific Cup (San
Francisco to Hawaii) obviously didn't bother reading the NOR or SI's.
Competing boats were not to look at the club's race tracking website during
the race. Not only did they look at it during the race, they posted on
their blog during the race how they were doing against their competitors,
citing the race tracking website. Of course they were protested, and they
received a 24 hour penalty. Rule after rule after rule. Does this make the
sport more enticing?

Kudos to Chicago Yacht Club for their NORs and SIs in 2012. They worked
really hard at removing superfluous information from their NORs and SIs
(did you notice that you didn't have to print very many pages and there was
little to remember)? It is a step in the right direction, with the final
stop being all we need is a rule book and signals and radio calls from Race
Committee Boats.

We really need to stop changing the game each weekend. At the end of the
day, we should be able to go around the buoys in the right order and should
get a score. Let's stop changing the game every time we race. K.I.S.S.! --
Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation, http://tinyurl.com/LMSRF-090912


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Sep 12, 2012, 4:14 PM

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From Scott Lawson:
It was interesting to ponder Glenn McCarthy's commentary in about how regatta rules vary from event to event. It would seem his comparison of sailing to other sports is missing a vital point. Other sports have strong leadership while sailing has a few employees that follow the whim of special interest groups that have no big picture grasp. Of course, the playing field for sailing varies from event to event, but there are certain standards that could be consistent if needed.




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Sep 12, 2012, 4:15 PM

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From Derek Bouwer:
Concerning the commentary, 'Each Time We Play, It Is A Different Game. Why?',
NOR's & Sailing instructions are there for a reason. Not all sailing waters are
the same; some have very definite peculiarities, which need to be addressed s
pecifically within the sailing instruction, to advise competitors.

While agree that both NOR's and Sailing instructions should be as simple,
clear and as unambiguous as possible, we also need to remember the cardinal
rule in sailing and yacht racing in particular: "YOU SNOOZE! YOU LOSE"

Not reading both the NOR and the Sailing instructions carefully, for each
event is definitely snoozing in my book. I have my whole crew read both
before competing... six heads being better than one, in the heat of battle!

I know of a local golf course that has a specific club rule concerning
nesting birds (which happen to be the clubs crest) where their nest and
demarcated areas around their nest sites are out of bounds no matter where
they are located! In competitions, non-local player are made aware of this
rule and play accordingly and are penalized if they infringe this local and
specific rule. I do not hear them complaining. ps I do not play this
strange game!

If the crew of the boat penalised had have read the Sailing instruction
carefully, committed them to memory they would not have infringed and
therefore not have been penalize.



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Sep 12, 2012, 4:16 PM

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Just thinking out loud, but would it be possible for there to be a standard
NOR and SI template that includes a section for venue and event specific
information? Rather than looking through the entire document
at each regatta for information that is specific to the event/venue, the
reader could go straight to this section. Appendix J in the RRS already
states what the NOR and SI shall include, but rather than this information
being in different places for each event, why don't the RRS require a
standard template? Note the difference in the NOR and SI from two recent
championships:

Etchells North Americans:
NOR: http://tinyurl.com/E-NA-NOR
SI: http://tinyurl.com/E-NA-SIs

Melges 24 North Americans:
NOR: http://tinyurl.com/M24-NA-NOR
SI: http://tinyurl.com/M24-NA-SIs

- Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt




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Sep 12, 2012, 4:17 PM

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From Mike Fahle, Toledo, OH:
The complaint about SIs being too much bother to read or too complex, and therefore a drag on participation, would be at least be a little bit persuasive if accompanied by any supporting evidence. I think that reading the two sets of SIs only supports the need for them as conditions varied between the types of boat, the sailing venues, the equipment, and the goals or desires and issues of the sailors and classes involved.

Especially for championship regattas, the items covered by the SIs in each case were important and hardly taxing for involved racers. They were issues that would have made it more difficult for the organizers if they had to conform to arbitrary standards rather than determine FOR THAT PARTICULAR EVENT how to handle each situation. The suggestion that simpler or standardized SIs would have increased the attendance at either event seems unlikely at best and possibly making complications for event organizers and decreasing attendance (because important issues were not addressed) at worst.

The major complaint in the article seems to be summed up by the author's statement, "Too often sailors get caught not having read the NOR or SIs and get protested for some local rule." Well even if the SIs were standardized or simplified, the competitors would still have to read them to avoid that problem. Look at this complaint from the organizer's point of view. We have sailors who cannot be bothered to read the SIs, even when it is a very big event with big consequences for violating rules. He advocates, "with the final stop being all we need is a rule book and signals and radio calls from Race Committee Boats." I would like the author to address the SIs listed and explain how he would deal with the items covered in the SIs if HE was involved in organizing and managing those events.

Without specifics for his suggestions, this sounds like whining in support of lazy sailors being unhappy that they were held responsible for their own lack of effort and preparation. As a competitor, a PRO, and an event organizer, I do NOT want sailors participating in events I am involved in if they cannot be bothered to at least read the rules before they participate. As far as his comment, "Rule after rule after rule.", again, instead of complaining, tell the rule writers how to make them simpler - they are eager to hear from you!


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Sep 13, 2012, 8:36 AM

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From: Frederic Berg
Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2012 17:25:50 -1000
To: editor@sailingscuttlebutt.com

To further the discussion on NOR and SI here's something to consider, the Notice of Race should notify prospective competitors of an impending race or regatta with sufficient detail and early enough so that the prospective competitor can decide to race. The information contained in the notice is binding on the race authorities not on the competitor.

The Sailing Instructions should describe all specific details that are unique to the regatta and venue such as the course, the starting times and any rules that are in use or modified for the event. There should be no boiler plate wording in the SIs. Any commitments made in the NOR should be restated in the SI so that the SIs and listed documents (including the Racing Rules of Sailing) comprise the entirety of the governing documents. Let's keep things simple to keep people racing.




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Sep 13, 2012, 8:39 AM

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From: Zvi Ziblat
To: editor@sailingscuttlebutt.com
Subject: NOR+SI

Regardubg the standardized sailing instruction (SSI) issue, what is happening in Israel is that for the last 12 years the Israeli SSI are printed in the Hebrew racing rules of sailing and no one is allowed to ass, change or delete a word. There is one supplement which is the "course App." which states the dates, venue, marks colors and configuration. A competitor reads the SSI only once and knows it will be the same in any Israeli event he/she participate in as much as the rules are the same. And to those who will argue "there are special events", okay, for these write your own but aren't those negligible in number? - Zvi Ziblat, IJ/ISR




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Sep 13, 2012, 8:40 AM

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Of course there are already boilerplate NORs and SIs in the Racing Rules of Sailing for 2009 - 2012. The Notice of Race template is in (RRS) Appendix K and the Sailing Instructions guide is in Appendix L.

Then there is an even shorter template for the Sailing Instructions available on line at http://raceadmin.ussailing.org/...ing_Instructions.htm
The desire for short, uniform race notices and instructions has been around for a long time, maybe especially by race committees. The benefits have been well discussed in previous 'Butt postings. But the reasons for long and complicated SIs can be just that... long and complicated.

In my experience, many competing classes have developed their own SIs; carefully bandaging one problem they've encountered over the years, then another. Regatta organizers add their own needs, often based on the number of actual registrations.

But at the end of the day it's the race committee's responsibility to get the SIs correctly written and published (RRS 90.2). So they can get the brunt of the attention; sometimes in error.

Tim Rumptz
National Race Officer




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Sep 13, 2012, 9:26 AM

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From Peter Allen, Rochester, NY:
Regarding the discussion this week on NORs and SIs and Skippers Meetings,
Race organizers often complain that so few competitors register in advance
for regattas. I bet they would improve this by offering to send by return
email the NOR and SIs to those who register in advance.

However, this would also mean that the SIs would be written in advance,
instead at midnight on the eve of the event. I bet that sleep deprivation
and alcohol consumption often lead to the stupid provisions that creep into
the SIs.

Competitors could then spend more time before the first race on the boats
and on the water, rather than standing around listening at the skippers
meeting. Only rarely are there reasons for last second changes in the SIs.
I do like the editor's suggestion that the RRS require "boiler plate" SIs,
leaving a place to insert local notes.


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Sep 13, 2012, 4:56 PM

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From: Eric Lind
To: <editor@sailingscuttlebutt.com>
Subject: J22 NAs - NORs - SIs
Date: Thu, 13 Sep 2012 18:41:39 -0400


Just returned home from serving as PRO for the J22 NAs hosted by Tawas Bay Yacht Club and am getting caught up before my next trip. First, what a great group to work with!!! The YC, the RC, and the J22 group were all excellent and it was fun. Even the local community showed huge support for this event. I am looking forward to being invited back in the future.

Saw a brief note about NORs and SIs and thought Id respond. The purpose of a well written NOR is to tell prospective entrants what they need to know to make the decision to enter or not and it should be posted six months to a year prior to the event. The SIs are more like the rules of engagement and have traditionally been given to sailors in their registration packet upon arrival at the venue. Both are part of the rules of the event and good competitors do study them and keep them at hand.

With the new online regatta management services available things are changing. Both Yacht Scoring and Regatta Networks will post the NOR and SIs on the event website along with automatic emails notifying registered competitors of the posting. The last 4 events Ive been involved in all had the SIs up at least 2 or 3 days prior to the event for the entrants convenience.

I could ramble on, but wont. Bottom line is that well thought out NORs and SIs make for smooth running events. Take the time to read them and familiarize yourself with them for each event. You will find it worthwhile and rewarding.

Eric Lind, Suttons Bay MI


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Sep 25, 2012, 2:22 PM

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I'M GUILTY - THE ADMISSIONS OF A SAILOR
By Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt

This thread has discussed how event rules can vary from event to event. These event rules, defined in the Notice of Race and the Sailing Instructions, are required reading, and understanding the event rules is paramount to being prepared.

So, at the risk of embarrassing myself, I will share a story from a national championship this past weekend.

I hadn't read the Notice of Race, but wasn't too concerned. I had read the Sailing Instructions several days before the regatta, which seemed to include all the details. It was a three day event, and it had gone well for us. I determined we finished second, but was puzzled when I learned we were third.

What happened? My mistake was I did not know there was a throw-out.

While this seems like an epic blunder to admit, it was a result of how the Sailing Instructions were written and my rusty rules knowledge. The Sailing Instructions said...

* The Race Committee shall attempt to complete 9 races.
* Low Point Scoring System per Appendix A will be used.

My hope right now is I'm not the only imbecile that doesn't know all the details of Appendix A in the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS). When I didn't see any mention in the Sailing Instructions of there being a throw-out, I assumed all races were included in the score. But Appendix A in the RRS states that "each boat's series score shall be the total of her race scores excluding her worse score."

In my feeble defense, I had been following the J/24 and Farr 40 World Championships last week, and their Sailing Instructions clearly detailed how their events would be scored. The J/24 Worlds stated there would be a throw-out after five races, and the Farr 40 Worlds stated there would be no discards.

So perhaps there are two lessons to share; 1) For race organizers, keep the Sailing Instructions clear and simple, and; 2) For competitors, assume nothing.




JFretwell
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Sep 26, 2012, 9:07 AM

Post #12 of 13 (4061 views)
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Sorry Craig, I think you were supposed to know that one, but I write a lot of SIs. It's an important one, because if you don't modify Appendix A and you end up with a very short series, you'll still have a throw out. We hit the kids w/ this one often in skipper's meetings. It's the second most asked question, right after "Is the line restricted?"

The bittersweet news is that, as I'm sure you know, you and Lisa won the regatta by 17 pts. without the throwout! Great sailing! Also cool for the Snipe and Fleet 495 that the top three teams were married couples!

Cheers,
JF


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Sep 26, 2012, 10:05 AM

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In Reply To
Sorry Craig, I think you were supposed to know that one, but I write a lot of SIs. It's an important one, because if you don't modify Appendix A and you end up with a very short series, you'll still have a throw out. We hit the kids w/ this one often in skipper's meetings. It's the second most asked question, right after "Is the line restricted?"

The bittersweet news is that, as I'm sure you know, you and Lisa won the regatta by 17 pts. without the throwout! Great sailing! Also cool for the Snipe and Fleet 495 that the top three teams were married couples!

Cheers,
JF



That's a huge point about modifying Appendix A in the SIs, which is likely why most events clearly state what the plan is.

In the event that wind conditions reduce a six race series down to, say, three races, Appendix A would require there still to be a throwout.

- Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt




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