Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Breaking the Rules

Which of the Racing Rules of Sailing are broken the most frequently?

It's a tough question on which to find hard data. It's not necessarily the same as the frequency at which protest committees find violations of the various Rules. Or the frequency in which competitors voluntarily take on-the-water penalties. Or even the rate at which protests are made. I'm asking about actual Rule violations, protested or not, accepted or not.

The clever folk who run the online racing simulator SailX have come up with an answer for their environment. They measured the total number of Rules breaches recognized by their Rules Engine in one year in just a couple of their sailing fields. The grand total was 661,023!

More interestingly the histogram above shows the breakdown by Rule of some of the most common breaches on SailX. For those of you who (like me) can't always remember their Rule 15 from their Rule 16, here is a cheat sheet.

Rule 10 - On Opposite Tacks
Rule 11 - On the Same Tack, Overlapped
Rule 12 - On the Same Tack, Not Overlapped
Rule 13 - While Tacking
Rule 15 - Acquiring Right of Way
Rule 16 - Changing Course
Rule 17 - On the Same Tack; Proper Course
Rule 18 - Mark Room
Rule 21 - Starting Errors; Taking Penalties; Moving Astern

And if you don't have all of the Rules remembered by heart here is a link to the full Racing Rules of Sailing.

It's no surprise to me that the most common breach is of Rule 18 - Mark Room. SailX mark roundings are almost as crowded, confused and chaotic as they are in our local Laser frostbite fleet.

The Rules Engine also has some pretty good logic for calling the next two most frequent breaches, Rule 15 - Acquiring Right of Way and Rule 16 - Changing Course, but I don't think there are that many protests under those Rules in real life. That's not to say that they aren't regularly broken though.

So what do you think? Is this similar to the breakdown you see in real racing? What do you think the three most frequently breached Rules are? If the SailX pattern is different from real life, why would that be?


Sam Chapin said...

We see most people doing 360 turn for hitting the marks.

Tillerman said...

I guess that would count as Rule 31, Sam. The histogram only shows about 90% of the Rules breaches picked up by the Rules Engine. I suspect Rule 31 breaches were a fair chunk of the rest.

aestela said...

If the SailX pattern is different from real life, why would that be?

SailX encourages sailors to take risks (boats not breaking and all that) and that's a reason for a bigger number of collisions (and rule breaches).

But that would not in itself explain a different pattern.
Probably the differences in the pattern are due to SailX small field/course and equal boat/handling: crowds are usual not only at the start but at buoys and finish.

aestela said...

On second thoughts I think R15 and R16 are the kind of rules that are broken when you take more risks.

SailX makes sailors to sail with more risks hence R15 and R16 are more frequent than in real life.

Pat said...

Interesting that 14, avoiding contact, doesn't show up in SailX - but then it tends to be a result of other breaches and only in some cases results in a penalty in its own right.

Tillerman said...

Well spotted Pat. The SailX SIs specifically say that you cannot be penalized under Rule 14. After all these are not real boats so they cannot really be damaged. And in real sailing you can only be penalized for a Rule 14 breach if there is contact that causes damage or injury.

SoxSail said...

From my experience racing and coaching, I've noticed that people have no idea how large the 3- (formerly 2-)boatlength zone is. While watching from a coach boat, I repeatedly see claims of the zone being less than a boatlength in radius. My conclusion? Rule 18 is virtually impossible for most people to follow, and also impossible to enforce.

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

SoxSail is right. When this rule is involved, I get the loudest I ever get insisting on all the water I'm entitled to.

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