Jul 31, 2008, 4:59 PM
Post #1 of 2
From Iain Woolward:
Alternative penalties eroding rule adherence
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I believe that the 720 Alternative Penalty is eroding standards of rule adherence to the detriment of the sport. Here’s why:
1. The relatively minor nature of the penalty seems to infer that the associated infraction is also minor. But it is NOT “minor” to, for example, ruin fellow competitors’ leeward mark roundings by disregarding the relevant rules. It’s very, very annoying.
2. Because the 720 penalty is often no worse than the consequence of doing the right thing, it acts as an INCENTIVE to break rules. For example: barging in on port tack into a stream of starboard tack boats at windward roundings. Often the port-tack boat can either chance its luck with a last second tack or duck as many starboard boats as he/she would lose by doing a 360 ‘penalty’. Also, the 360 turn is what many port tack boats end up doing anyway, should they think better at the last second tack and have left it too late to bear off. Since the ‘penalty’ isn’t any more penal than doing the right thing, why not chance one’s arm by barging in?
3. The protest system appears to be atrophying as a consequence of on-water penalties. Increasingly at the club and regional level, the expectation that there will be no bothersome protests – and therefore no need to plan for hearing them - has replaced the expectation to the contrary. Infringers can increasingly rely on this scenario when assuming they can slide out of even taking a 360 ‘penalty’.
4. Often the consequence of an infraction on the fouled party is significantly worse than the 360 penalty obligation on the rule breaker. Example: recovery from an emergency ‘crash’ tack imposed on a starboard tack boat by a port tack boat takes much longer than a well-prepared 360 turn in open water. The ‘penalty’ in such circumstances needs to be more commensurate with the offence.
5. Ignorance of the rules is probably as significant a cause of infractions at club and regional levels as deliberate rule breaking. Ergo, protest rooms are as often much needed class rooms as they are court rooms.
Investing human resources in rule enforcement at a meaningful level is an unfortunate but equally essential addition to all the other efforts made to see that racing is as fair as possible (square start lines; true beats; correct score-keeping) and is a relatively small percentage of the total effort required to run a good event. Given human nature, it needs to be a matter of course.