Saturday, May 27, 2006


Something that I have never seen before in sailboat racing...
and another question for you racing rules experts.

Last Saturday I posed a racing rules question about a situation that came up while I was doing race committee for our Wednesday night Sunfish fleet. The winner of the race cleared the finish line but, in heading downwind for the next start, inadvertently interfered with the wind of two other boats still racing.

Agraham correctly pointed out that under Rule 22.1 a boat that is not racing shall not interfere with a boat that is racing. And Eliboat recounted a situation where Optimist sailors were DSQ'd for sailing back through the racing fleet after finishing. I also remember a situation where a world champion Sunfish sailor was protested for similar actions at a major Sunfish championship.

So it certainly is against the rules to interfere with boats still racing after you have finished the race. And most racers, if only out of simple respect for their fellow sailors, do their best to sail clear of the race course after they have finished. It's only fair. If occasionally we forget to do this then perhaps most of us would follow OG's advice to buy the other guys a beer after we get back to shore.

However, none of the commenters said they would do what the sailor in my real life situation actually did. Let me first explain that this guy is one of the most respected sailors in our area. He has a strong knowledge of the racing rules -- he's usually the guy that others go to if they have a rules question. More than that he has immense integrity and a strong sense of sportsmanship. I have known him contact regatta organizers after a regatta is over and the scores are published and the trophies awarded, to tell them that on second thoughts he thought he had infringed a rule and that he ought to be rescored as DSQ in a certain race.

On Wednesday night this sailor, as soon as he realized that he had interfered with the wind of two other racers, immediately did penalty turns and re-crossed the finish line -- now in sixth place. And he made sure that I recorded that lower finishing place for him.

What a guy! What an example to us all!

Or is it? Can any of you rules mavens and sea lawyers see anything strange about this situation?


Stephen Macklin said...

I wouldn't call myself a rules maven and I haven't raced in 4 years but it seems to me that once you have finished you have finished.

I would think the only official remedy would be for the
offending boat to withdraw or be dsq'd.

However, if there was no impact on the finishing position of anyone still racing, a round of beers on the dock is probably enough.

Pat said...

Well it was very sweet of the guy to do the race committee & protest committee's work for them, but really it wasn't up to him to decide how to penalize himself after he had already finished. Once you're finished, I'd think it'd be too late to be messing with penalty turns. I suppose he could have protested himself and asked the committee to give redress to the other boats if anyone thought he'd had a significant impact on them. Does this fleet use scoring penalties?

Fred said...

As he had clearly finished the race course, a "360°", without infringing anyone, is only a good move to rescue your cap...

the skip said...

Once you have crossed the line you are no longer considered racing and the boats on the course would have to regard and treat the boat as an on-course obstacle.

Round of beers seems good to me!

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