Sunday, February 28, 2016

And then it happened!

Only last Wednesday I wrote about Room at a Mark while Team Racing. On Saturday it happened. Two incidents that illustrated the way that the culture operates and how it needs to change.

In one incident at mark 4 a boat with no right to room came inside another boat who protested. I penalised the inside boat and was told that it was a stupid decision, there was no contact and no way was he taking his turns. So he ended up black flagged, disqualified and docked an additional half a race win for dissent.

The problem was that he was correct, there had been no collision and the outside boat had not come up and hit him, and I will never know why the outside boat did not come up. However, there was no doubt in my mind that the outside boat could, and should,  have come up but there was not the space to do so because of the presence of the inside boat. Therefore, the inside boat had infringed 18.2(b) and that is the reason he was penalised. The outside boat acted quite properly in not coming up and forcing a collision but protesting.

In another incident at mark 3 a boat with no right to room tried gybing inside another boat. It wasn't a particularly good gybe but the outside boat came up anyway and the boats locked together with the inside boat practically capsized on the outside one which was pushed over over and filled with water. The inside boat received a penalty, but was able to complete that and then get ahead of the outside boat going up the final beat because the outside boat had filed with water during the incident and was still waterlogged on the last beat. The inside boat sought redress. Redress was refused because there was no physical damage.  It was also possible that had she avoided the contact she would not have filled with water, so there was little sympathy for her case - not that this has anything to do with the rules or the decision.

The problem is that boats will chance going inside, and they are entitled to do so "at their own risk" but just because there is no collision does not mean that they do not infringe by doing so. My interpretation is that if the other boat could have used the space they are occupying then they have infringed. It is only if the outside boat was unable to get to that space or use it, while sailing a proper course, that they are in the clear.

The outside boat has to be in a position to use the space that the inside boat is occupying, and there were incidents where protests were dismissed because the outside boat couldn't get anywhere near the boat risking the inside path but the idea that there has to be contact is what needs to change. Deprive the outside boat of Room and you should be penalised, if they were entitled to that Room.


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