Thursday, August 03, 2006

I Doth Protest

Heavy winds last night, gusts to 21 knots, swells 6 feet. Had a great start and first mark rounding on the second mark rounding, however, had a bit of a mishap. Us and them...Were on both on starboard broad reach layline to the mark. We were the leeward boat in the lead and the other boat had overlap at the zone. We gave the other boat buoy room as prescribed by the code. They Gybed ahead of us on the outside, I took the opportunity to Gybe on the inside to perhaps get a better position. During the gybe our jib sheet got knotted (we did complete the gybe), the other boat took what I consider to be a tactical rounding and headed up fast and hard. My two options were to head up to the wind (close to the mark) and risk getting pushed through the wind, backwinding the jib with a tangled sheet or bear off hard and go down below. I chose to bear off and head down as I felt it was the safest option to do so.

I attempted to duck his stern and scratched his port stern gelcoat, as the bow was completing the turn I managed to grab his motor and took it clean off. His bracket was damaged and motor gone but we continued to race. I felt horrible after this. It was a mere inch and I would have cleared his stern.

A protest ensued, I reviewed the rules. By the strict rules I did not keep clear astern and had no rights, I did however give him buoy room which I believe he took to far. He argued proper course (I think can be a bit of a gray area, and at one point during the informal talk he admitted to not leaving me enough room to head up) but in the end in the interest of making friends not enemies I withdrew my protest. After all it was not the race that mattered to me, it was the welfare of the crew and others aboard. There will be other races.

Will see what the end result is in time I guess.


Anonymous AdriftAtSea said...

Well, since it was partially his fault... he really should have admitted fault. So who pays for the various damage or do you just chalk it up to the rigors of racing?

5:41 PM  
Blogger the skip said...

yes, I beleive it was partially his fault, and during the informal proceedings it was evident from his diagram that we had a very different view of the events. It was going to be a lengthy appeal process if I went through with it.

Even though I beleive he was above his proper course (which is pretty much impossible to prove...who is to say the course he was sailing was not his intended course), and I beleive he made a tactical rounding and pushed the definition of buoy room to the max, I was obligated by the letter of the rules to give him room. So in the spirit of good sportsmanship I decided to settle the dispute on the water instead of in a room.

Next time will be a better race. Not sure of the legalities of damages yet. He had to file a claim. I would have done the same. Gray Jay suffered absolutely no damage except for a 2 scuff marks that came off quite easily. my main reason for caving was that in the end it is like a car...if you smack into someone from behind it is your fault. Also felt bad that he lost his motor and all!

Winning a race at all cost is not my style.

Will let you know how the damage thing works once I do. Any other advice or comments onn pre and post event are welcomed!

6:18 PM  
Blogger Tillerman said...

Can you draw one of your excellent diagrams? It's hard to understand from the text. At first you say you were "leeward boat in the lead" but that he had an overlap - an inside overlap you imply by saying you had to give him room.

So you were ahead and he was inside you. So how did he gybe "ahead of us and on the outside"? I'm finding it hard to picture this.

Also was the next leg a beat or a reach? Not sure it affect how the rules apply but it might explain why he rounded up so far.

8:33 PM  
Blogger the skip said...

Hi Tillerman

I will do my best to draw a diagram. He did have an overlap and was on the inside. It was a Starboard broad reach layline to the mark.

At the mark I cracked off and allowed him to get while we went wider out. He gybed in front of us and below at which point we gybed as well and found ourselves on the inside. looking at the next beat it was a beam reach to close reach.

Will try and diagram my verison out and post it.

7:04 AM  
Blogger bearaway said...

From reading your description of the incident, it seems to me that you broke rule 18.2(a), not rule 12 as you seem to say in your post. Rule 12 did not apply in the situation as you have described it.

You seem to be alleging that the other boat broke rule 18.4 by sailing farther from the mark than needed to execute his manuever. However, the onus is you you to provide proof, a difficult proposition if you disagree with your competitor on the facts and you don't have an unbiased witness to back you up.

If the other boat was a J/24 and you were sailing under the class rules, then you may have a point of protest there. Rule 3.8.8 of the class rules states: "One outboard engine with a minimum weight of 14kg, which when not in use shall be securely stowed under one of the main berths or aft of the sill of the companionway." The latter part of that rule clearly indicates that the outboards are to be stowed, not hanging off the transom, when racing. You still would have been in the wrong because of the contact with his transom, but you would not have ripped his outboard off the mount.

12:51 PM  
Blogger the skip said...

Bearaway, thanks for the comment. I agree that I the onus was on me to keep clear and ultimately I am at fault for not keeping clear. I do record the race on GPS for review later and upon review noted incorrectly to tillerman that the next mark was back to 1. It was actually to 3 which does not make too much of a difference in the end as you say it is a hard to prove that the other boat sailed past the mark. Thanks for the rule clarification. I will be posting the full course and notes from the race shortly.

When we race in class we stow the motor below deck. Perhaps he would not have lost a motor but I still would have made contact and been penalized for it.

Appreciate the input. Thanks.

7:52 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

Having given the other boat room and (mostly) rounded the mark, how far were you from the point at which rule 18 would have been turned off?

12:14 AM  
Blogger the skip said...

I am not sure Pat. I don't think it is a judgement call at that point based on witnesses. It is one of those gray areas that would be left to the mercy of the protest committee to decide whether they felt he overstayed the mark or not. I did not have enough witnesses to back up my assessment which is why i let the protest go. At least I have experience in the "room" now and am better prepared for any other protests that may arise in the future.!

8:04 AM  
Blogger Pat said...

When our club hosted a regional championship, we considered equipping the mark boats with videocameras to record the roundings. That might have changed the protest room dynamics a wee bit, and perhaps could have been used as an educational tool for folks to analyze to everyone's benefit.

I wonder how many regattas (other than something huge and obvious like the America's Cup or Olympics) do record what happens at the starts and marks.

3:57 PM  
Blogger the skip said...

Not sure but I love the idea. As a skipper it would be nice to have an objective outside view of the boat and processes that happen on the boat at mark roundings and starts. I have thought about asking a friend to come out and video tape us so we coould analyse the footage after. Think it is an very valuable objective tool! Hope more clubs to try that!

You are right it would most likely bring a different air into the protest room! Wonder how many protest would actually be validated if after the replays?

Did your club ever end up using video on mark boats? If not what were some of the reasons for not using them? Curious as to the argument against.

4:31 PM  

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