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Heavy Weather Racing
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rt_/)
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Sep 11, 2006, 2:22 PM

Post #1 of 11 (14046 views)
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Following up on the Scuttlebutt letters about Stamford YC's Vineyard Race, I believe the critics raise questions which we need to think about:

1. If races are run only in light to moderate conditions, does this produce boats and crews that can handle only those conditions?
2. What responsibilities does the RC have beyond rule 4 which puts it on the individual skippers?

I've just come back from three days of the Star District 21 Championships on Lake Dillon, notorious for its fickle winds. (I was PRO.) We saw everything from 0 to 40 knots from the east, south, west, and north. No wind lasted for more than two hours -- fairly typical for this lake. The rule of thumb here is: Look for major changes in speed and/or direction about every 20 minutes or sooner. Most of the races were in light to moderate wind conditions, but one was in 20 to 40 knots; 20 at the start, building to 35 with 40-knot gusts.

Here's the "casualty count": One boat had an accidental jibe, launching the skipper overboard and giving the crew a nasty-looking head cut. (The skipper was recovered & they subsequently retired, but were back the next day.) One boat lost a boom vang when a pin worked loose from a shackle; they reached back & forth until eventually retiring. No boats had serious gear failures. Several skippers and crews may need the grins surgically removed.

8 of the 11 loved planing downwind, but a couple of the (less skilled?) racers asked why the RC didn't "do something". Our "something" would have been to abandon the only race that allowed the boats to stretch their legs; we weren't allowed to shorten course. There was, in our opinion, no real safety issue, though we did have our chase boat & Sheriff's rescue boat standing by.


The Publisher
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Sep 11, 2006, 4:44 PM

Post #2 of 11 (14036 views)
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This thread was originally started in the Scuttlebutt newsletter Issue 2174, with the following letter:

* From Ed Cesare: Huzza for the Stamford Yacht Club for starting this year’s
Vinyard Race in the face of weather forecasts predicting 50 kts. Rule 4
stands intact. And, three cheers for the crews of Blue Yankee, Snow Lion and
particularly Lora Ann for carrying on in the face of every bit of 50 kts and
completing what was a 234-mile W/L in just terrible conditions. These three
were the only boats of some 54 odd entries that completed the course!


The following letters were submitted for publication in the newsletter, but due to space constraints, have been moved to this thread instead:


* From Scott Truesdell: I've started a race or two in what could most discretely be described as "questionable" conditions. On one such race in my small yacht I had two experienced crew, but one was inadequately attired and a third crew who was neither experienced nor adequately attired. I really wanted to race but with two shivering crew and a reefed main I decided against it. Sort of. We went through the starting sequence, crossed the line right at the gun, tacked immediately and bore off around the committee boat informing them, "We retire." Thus we started the summer-long series one point ahead of everyone in our class who did not start. Which was everyone else. Then we surfed under reefed main and no headsail the entire 3 miles back to the harbor. And that inexperienced shivering guy sitting on the rail? He ended up being my most dependable crew the rest of the season.


* From David Doody: I don't know if I could agree more with Ed Cesare's "Huzza for the SYC" comments (in Issue 2174) and disagree more with Kurt Lowman's contrasting comments (in Issue 2175) that it was irresponsible for the club to start the race in view of the forecast. It was absolutely the right thing to do to start the race and it was a helluva race - many boats declined to start (their responsibility to race or not) and many boats retired (as above). It is the sailor’s responsibility to decide if the boat and crew can handle the conditions-Not the RC or Yacht Club. Three boats had a great and rugged race that they will be able to talk about for years - too bad more boats could not hack it, but guess what -"no one got hurt" and I don't imagine any ridiculous lawsuits are forthcoming either. Good on the SYV for starting a distance race in rough conditions and letting the sailors decide and congratulations to the three finishers!


* From Ben Jarashow: In response to Kurt Lowman (letter in Issue 2175), I am surprised at the paradoxical statements you gave in SB 2175. RRS Rule 4: “DECISION TO RACE. The responsibility for a boat’s decision to participate in a race or to continue racing is hers alone.” Your boat decided to not race, and I have absolute faith that for your boat that decision was correct, but to publicly say that the RC was in error is to speak in bad faith of the racing rules and the way the sport is intended to work, since under Rule 4 it is solely up to each boat individually to make such decision.

As long as an RC is physically capable of starting and finishing boats, boats should be capable of racing in the conditions present. Even the newest, lightest built boats of the modern era (Blue Yankee, Snow Lion) are stronger and more capable of weathering such conditions as seen in that race than a Race Committee powerboat is truly designed for. If the RC can set a course, then a well-prepared sailboat ought to as well. The rest is, as you said, up to each boat under Rule 4.




rt_/)
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Sep 12, 2006, 10:32 AM

Post #3 of 11 (13996 views)
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An additional thought, based on cmments about the RC's ability to take it: If the RC decides it's too dangerous for them to stay on the water, they have the responsibility to abandon the race and properly notify the competitors. In heavy weather conditions, the N flag and three sounds may not be enough, a VHF call should be made.

Maybe, it shouldn't need saying. But, I've had that debate with some club officials, especially as concerns lightning.


sail.2007
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Oct 15, 2006, 10:39 PM

Post #4 of 11 (13768 views)
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was just browsing through the threads here found this one interesting and thought to give my 2 cents worth. Personally I Like heavy weather sailing, and in atlantic Canada we have our fair share, its truly a test ones skill and abilities. Likewise its every captains responsibility to make smart choices for the boat, crew and ones self, and know both thier boat limits and personal limits are, this is in part what the word captain means. This is also why a captain is last to leave his boat, or goes down with his boat when it sinks, as it were his choices that placed the boat in its sinking state, so if anyone should be left behind it rightfully should be him. Weathered parts break and a good captain attempts to plan for such events in preparation for it, and goes on. Or he forsees it prior to and fixes it accordingly. The Event holder is in no way legally nor otherwise responsible for choice made on each boat. The Event holder simply assumes each boat & Captain makes a well informed knowledgible Safe decision. After all They're only meeting thier committments to hosting an event, everything else is your choice or the choice of each boat. As for me bring on the hard weather, my boat, crew, and self are ready......or well retire when we its time too.





rt_/)
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Oct 16, 2006, 11:52 AM

Post #5 of 11 (13745 views)
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No intent to diminish rule 4, Decision to Race, nor to say heavy-weather racing is intrinsically unsafe. Part of sailing is meeting challenges.

But, what would you think of a RC that -- for its own safety -- left station without abandoning? Are they fulfilling their responsibilities? See 32.1 (b) and (e).


sail.2007
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Oct 17, 2006, 12:05 AM

Post #6 of 11 (13720 views)
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hey R/t will get back to this one, I'll read those articles tommorrow before I go to work, and give my thoughts on it all.


sail.2007
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Oct 17, 2006, 8:17 AM

Post #7 of 11 (13706 views)
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After reading Rules 4 then 32.1 (a) & (e) I would conclude that Rule 4 Bares down upon all, and that ultimatly, the decision to either race our drop out of a race in progress is solely the decision of each Captain and boat. I am assuming here that RC meaning race commity had left the dock (station), and did not abandon the race due to thier own safety. Rule 4 also extends to this RC or race comity, meaning those on the vessel Captain Crew etc. must have decided it was safe enough for them to leave the dock and thereafter did so, at the end of the day each individul makes ones own personal decision.

32.1(a) is because of an error in starting proceedure.
Unshure, on what the error in the starting proceedure was here, as at some point each boat including the RC would have made his or her own decision to continue or proceed, and thus they did so. this also extends to (b) where fowl weather comes into play each, again made a decision. Now one thing to point out here, is this that we can look at all the would've and could've senarios of it all. Such as the R/C prior the race could've at the skipper meeting held a vote on weather or not to race or, could've declared the race winds etc. unsafe to proceed or comence. Or why wouldn't they have? etc. The long and short is that, hind site is 20/20 and they did not. In stead they choose to proceed, and did so accordingly, under all the conditions of the day.
(C) has no bearing on this situation, as well (d)
(E) As for this one directly affecting the safety or fairness of the compitition: Discussions of this with those on the R/C boat, as well desisions of the same, would have taken place due to conditions and those dropping out of the race as the R/C boat would know this as well the officials making the decisions. At the end of the day the democratic process would have prevailed, and did, the choice to finish the race was made.

this continues through as well on the (or) part of the rules.

bottom line is if even one boat finished the race it all stands, as appling these rules, choices were all made both by the boats as well the committy.


rt_/)
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Oct 17, 2006, 12:35 PM

Post #8 of 11 (13689 views)
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Clearly, you're responding as a skipper who wants no interference with his "right to race". I ask you, on the chance you do race committee, to consider if the RC has moral responsibilities to the racers. Are these repsonsibilities totally spelled out in the rules?

"Station", as in "on station", is not "dock"; it means in place at the finish line. If the race committee (RC) boat doesn't leave its dock, there usually is no race because it won't get started.

32.1 (a) was not being referenced -- only (b) & (e). If the RC made an error in the starting procedure & recognized the error after the starting signal, it should have immediately abandoned (flag N) and either re-started the race or abandoned with N over A (no more racing today) or with N over H (further signals ashore).

To return to 32.1 (b) & 32.1 (e). The rules give the RC the power to abandon (or shorten) for foul weather and for any reason affecting the safety or fairness of the competition. With power comes duty.

I sail and PRO in an area where violent weather -- lightning, microbursts -- often appears suddenly and with little warning; I have sailed through the eye of a tornado. (Foredeck gybing chute to helm: "Why can't you keep this boat downwind?") Our weather can kill and we, perhaps, take it more seriously than other places.

As PRO, I have taken straw polls (Not "votes", it's not a democracy.) at competitors' meetings. When the question comes up, there are always some who want to race and some who don't. Sometimes we go out; sometimes we don't.

In short, each boat's decision to race is its own, but the RC has a separate duty to conduct races that are fair, fun, and safe. Few would interpret rule 4 as absolving the RC of its responsibility.


sail.2007
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Oct 17, 2006, 10:44 PM

Post #9 of 11 (13671 views)
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Ok R/T after reading your post back to me just allow me to State, that it was not my intention to upset you in anyway. I was just giving my opinion based on my interpretation at hand, in your type. I didn't understand your term "on station". where I probably should have. I completly understand that if the committy boat does not leave the dock there is no race, or shouldn't be anyways. I am now from your last message understanding that the commity boat, abandoned thier post, that forms a part of the finish line prior the end of the race-for the saftey of those on that commity boat. If I now have this right, the following is my answer to it. I don't see how a winner can be declared if the commity is not present to call or declare a winner at the finish line, or be present to enter a correct time for that matter. If the commity boat, being that of apart of the finish line abandons the race, than yes they have a moral responsibility to all other boats, to notify, as now the finish line has changed from the marker back to the marina, so was this anouncement of course change made to all remaining boats racing? No I would say. This if I have it correctly above, does sound like a mess. And furthur more unprofessional at least. To me the race was ended the second the commity boat pulled anchor, and thus, should have again notified all racers. If no officials are present and theres no line to cross, in my book there was no race.

Now In atlantic canada we take our weather most series, as without proper respect mother nature is a killer, as for lightning in the immediate vacinity, this is serious as with those crosswinds, Its impossible to hold a boat downwind in them, especially with a chute up! who would event try, replacing a mast is expensive, cross winds can go from the stern to port to starboard, just plain all around a mast in seconds, so esentially there is no downwind (if the storm was in the immediate vacinity), as well the center or the outter lying areas away from the thunder storm have no wind, due to the vaccums. (the calm before the storm). My call in this simply would be scramble get those sails down now, and rigg for heavy weather, or even all sails down ride it out, or motor back.

Personally I don't due straws, its all democracy or it doesn't happen in the first place.


rt_/)
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Oct 18, 2006, 12:29 PM

Post #10 of 11 (13660 views)
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Re: "I don't see how a winner can be declared if the commity is not present to call or declare a winner at the finish line .."

Actually, the RRS give a way in Rule 34. US SAILING has adopted a prescription that allows a boat to take its own time if one of the two marks (say, the RC boat) denoting the finish line is missing. Perhaps, Canada has a similar prescription?

This prescription would be most useful when the one mark was a permanent fixture, such as a government mark. It wouldn't work if both marks were missing. It's most often used in long-distance races, when the finish boat has to leave station occasionally to pick up fresh committee.

The US prescription says that the boat takes its finish time as close to the mark as practicable on a line bearing 90 degrees to the course from the previous mark. The boat notes its time and position relative to nearby boats and reports them to the RC as soon as reasonably possible.


sail.2007
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Oct 18, 2006, 10:06 PM

Post #11 of 11 (13641 views)
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This is Interesting R/T, not shure I like the provision of rule 34 though, I can see the need to leave station occasionally to pick up fresh committee. But what happens when 2 boats in a close race (same rateings) think they both crossed the line in first. They then go to the recored times of each boat to declare a winner, and the best reported time wins, I am assuming. But lets assume one skipper knowing rule 34 is not as honerible as the next and gives a false report?

Also I've had many unofficial (or no race commity presence) summer races where I sail, where we use 2 markers and a third fixed object on shore as our finish line. It serves purpose if a clear win, but on a number of finishes the race was so close both boats declared themselves a winner, and from each boats perspective on the water it looks that way, even with the third fixed object in line. So thinking that the only way to actually know the real result would be from a third impartial person on the line or commity presence @ station ;) . This is why I am not shure on the rule 34.


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