Sunday, July 25, 2010

Showtime vs. Sugar Magnolia



South Sound Sailing Society - First Wednesday Series Race 3 on June 16, 2010. Leeward mark at the end of the second lap.

Facts Found:
1. Wind was from Southwest at 5-8 knots.
2. The leeward mark was the RC boat to be left to port.
3. Showtime is an Olsen 25, 25 feet long and Sugar Magnolia is an S2 7.9, 26 feet long.
4. Sugar Magnolia reached the zone first, inside Showtime and on starboard tack; Showtime was on port tack (position 1).
5. Sugar Magnolia gybed to port tack and was sailing lower and slower than Showtime. Sugar Magnolia was sailing at approximately 3 knots and Showtime was sailing at approximately 4 knots approaching the leeward mark (position 3).
6. Sugar Magnolia was approximately 5 feet from the RC as she passed the stern of the RC boat and Showtime was approximately 10 feet to leeward of Sugar Magnolia (position 4).
7. After Sugar Magnolia passed the stern of the committee she rounded up to just below close hauled and her sails were not completely set for a close hauled course (position 5).
8. Showtime rounded up to close hauled and was on a converging course with Sugar Magnolia and she hailed Sugar Magnolia to come up (position 5 to 6).
9. Approximately 15-20 seconds after Sugar Magnolia passed the stern of the RC boat and at approximately 2 boat lengths from the mark, Sugar Magnolia headed up to close hauled and her stern struck the side of Showtime (position 6).
10. There was damage to Showtime at the point of contact.

Rules that apply:
Rule 11, On the Same Tack, Overlapped; Rule 14, Avoiding Contact; Rule 16, Changing Course; and Rule 18.2, Giving Mark Room; Applicable case, ISAF Case 25.

Conclusions:
1. By rule 18.2 Sugar Magnolia was entitled to mark-room. Based on the distance between Sugar Magnolia and the stern of the RC and between Showtime and Sugar Magnolia, adequate space was provided for a seaman like rounding in the prevailing conditions. Therefore, Showtime fulfilled her obligation to provide mark-room.
2. After passing the mark and Showtime changed course to close hauled the boats traveled approximately 2 boat lengths in 15-20 seconds as the gap between the boats was reduced from approximately 10 feet to 1 foot. Therefore, Showtime provided adequate room for Sugar Magnolia to keep clear in accordance with rule 16.
3. Sugar Magnolia as the windward boat did not keep clear as required by rule 11.
4. It was reasonably possible for Sugar Magnolia to have avoided contact if she would have responded sooner to Showtime’s change in course to close hauled.
5. It was reasonably possible for Showtime to have avoided contact if she would have born away when it was clear that Sugar Magnolia was not keeping clear.

Decision:
Sugar Magnolia broke rules 11 and 14 and is disqualified from Race 3 in the First Wednesday Series in accordance with rule 64.1(a).

Showtime broke rule 14, and because there was damage, is disqualified from Race 3 in the First Wednesday Series in accordance with rule 64.1(a).

Protest committee – Norman Smit, Don Waterhouse and Bill Sheldon

The Protest was appealed and it is pending a decision. The following is the appeal submitted to US Sailing by Sugar Magnolia.

I wish to appeal the decision in the Protest Sugar Magnolia vs. Showtime South Sound Sailing Society ­First Wednesday Series Race 3 on June 16, 2010. Leeward mark at the end of the second lap.
I am appealing because the protest committee did not apply rule 18 correctly.

You can see from their findings that the protest committee seems to mistakenly believe the outside boat’s obligation to allow inside mark room ends at the stern of the mark boat. The committee found (italics added): “1. By rule 18.2 Sugar Magnolia was entitled to mark­room. Based on the distance between Sugar Magnolia and the stern of the RC and between Showtime and Sugar Magnolia, adequate space was provided for a seaman like rounding in the prevailing conditions. Therefore, Showtime fulfilled her obligation to provide mark­room. ”

That satisfies only half of Showtime’s obligation, giving room to sail to the mark. The committee seems unaware that mark room is not only room to sail to the mark, but also room to sail one’s proper course at the mark (the definition of mark room). To determine if rule 18 was violated we also need to know, Was Sugar Magnolia given room to sail her proper course at the mark?

However the committee does not address this question. This is clearly a mistake. No one can know that rule 18 was satisfied if they do not know if the inside boat was allowed to sail her proper course at the mark. The committee’s failure to address this pivotal question led them to misapply rule 18 and judge the protest on rules that did not govern.

While the committee made no formal pronouncement as to whether the boats were at the mark or whether Sugar Magnolia was or was not sailing her proper course, their findings of fact do give us answers. Their findings show that Sugar Magnolia was sailing her proper course at the mark
.
The diagram clearly shows that both boats were in the zone at the time of contact. The finding of facts tells us they were two lengths from the mark. ISAF Case 2 tells us “Rule 18.2(a) applies … while boats are overlapped and at least one of them is in the zone.”. So rule 18 applied as they were “at the mark”.

That leaves the question, was Sugar Magnolia sailing her proper course? ISAF Case 25 tells us what the proper course for a boat at a leeward mark is, in italics which I added (as well as outside’s obligations for the rounding). “Rule 18.2(b) required OL to give IW room to sail to the mark and then room to sail her proper course while at the mark. Clearly, between positions 1 and 2 OL gave IW room to sail to the mark. At position 2, IW was ‘at the mark’ and between positions 2 and 3 she was entitled to room to sail her proper course. Her proper course during that time was to luff onto a close­hauled course, ...”

The committee found that Sugar Magnolia did luff up to closehauled. They tell us she went from beam reaching at the stern of the mark boat to close hauled in 15­20 seconds and two lengths. That is her proper course as defined in Case 25.

The committee found:
“7. After Sugar Magnolia passed the stern of the committee she rounded up to just below  close hauled …” [Bow down when slow. It is her proper course that governs.]

“9. Approximately 15­ 20 seconds after Sugar Magnolia passed the stern of the RC boat and at approximately 2 boat lengths from the mark, Sugar Magnolia headed up to close hauled …”

Look at the diagram provided by this protest committee. You see the classic “U” turn around the mark: a course to round as fast as possible (only the mark is too close to the bottom of the turn). That is her proper course.

Clearly Sugar Magnolia was sailing her proper course at the mark, as was her right under rule 18. The collision demonstrates that Showtime did not give her room at the mark, in violation of rule 18.

Sugar Magnolia was exercising her rights under rule 18, and so did not violate rule 11.

As Sugar Magnolia was fouled, her obligation under rule 14 was different than the committee thought. As a boat required to keep clear under rule 11, she would have been required to take action well before the collision was immanent. As a boat with a right to sail her proper course under rule 18 and doing so, she is not required to take action to avoid a collision until it is apparent that the fouling boat was not going to. This means she had considerably less time to take avoiding action than the committee credited her with.

The committee found:

“2. After passing the mark and Showtime changed course to close hauled the boats traveled approximately 2 boat lengths in 15­ 20 seconds as the gap between the boats was reduced from approximately 10 feet to 1 foot. Therefore, Showtime provided adequate room for Sugar Magnolia to keep clear in accordance with rule 16. …

4. It was reasonably possible for Sugar Magnolia to have avoided contact if she would have responded sooner to Showtime’s change in course to close hauled.”

This clearly assumes that Sugar Magnolia was obligated to take action when Showtime first changed course, which we now know was not the case. They say her mistake was in not taking action earlier than, we now know, she was required to. The implication of point 4 is that once it became apparent that a collision was immanent, at the point she was required to act, it was too late for Sugar Magnolia to have avoided it.
The committee’s findings of fact show that Sugar Magnolia was trying to avoid the collision, by turning to weather, away from Showtime. One is only required to make a reasonable attempt to avoid the collision; turning away from a boat charging at one is a reasonable attempt.

Showtime should be found in violation of rule 18 Sugar Magnolia should be exonerated and reinstated.
Case 25 is an example of a boat sailing below her proper course.

Note:
1.the importance of the fact that she was sailing below her proper course. That was the first issue addressed, as the out come would have been different had she been on her proper course.

2. Sugar Magnolia sailed a very different course than the boat in Case 25. This is obvious by comparing the diagrams. Two lengths from the mark the boat in Case 25 had not come up even 30 degrees; at two lengths Sugar Magnolia was closehauled and on her proper course.

How do you think this will be decided by the appeals committee?  Did the PC not properly interpret rule 18? I've attached Case 25 which was referenced in both the decision and the appeal.



4 comments:

  1. Karl SchulmeistersJuly 26, 2010 at 2:44 PM

    It is interesting that Showtime is citing Case 25 which very clearly indicates that boats in position 2 (in the Case ) are "at the mark and in position 3 (in the Case) are no longer "at the mark"

    Using this example, from the 'facts found' diagram' the boats were "at the mark" at 4, and in transition at 5. but by position 6, the boats are at the same place as the Casebook's Position 3. and in this circumstance IW is disqualified in Case 25.

    the reason is that once the mark has been left astern (ie position 5) IW is required to come to Proper Course (close hauled) as quickly as is seamanlike. Showtime demonstrated the time period in which coming to closehauled was "seamanlike". SM clearly took longer than was 'seamanlike".

    Even if SMs sails were not set for close hauled, it was her obligation to come to a Close Hauled COURSE As soon as seamanlike. that's about 3 seconds in 5-8 knots of wind.

    My prediction here is that the original ruling will be upheld on appeal.

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  2. I agree with Karl that @5+delta Sugar Magnolia is no longer _at_ the mark: she is past the mark.

    From @5+delta onwards, Sugar Magnolia is no longer taking mark-room to which she is entitled (because she is no longer _at_ the mark), thus she is no longer entitled to exoneration under rule 18.5.

    Rule 17 is not ON. Sugar Magnolia is not _at_ the mark. Proper course is not relevant.

    Sugar Magnolia broke rule 11.

    There was nothing to prevent Sugar Magnolia sailing above the course she was sailing: it was possible for Sugar Magnolia to avoid contact. Sugar Magnolia broke rule 14.

    I have difficulty in finding the protest committee's evidential support for concluding that Showtime broke rule 14. I wonder at what instant the protest committee found it was clear to Showtime that Sugar Magnolia was not keeping clear? I would have thought that that was about @6-delta, by which time it was not reasonably possible for Showtime to avoid contact. That, however is for the protest committee to decide.

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  3. Is there any update about the decision of the committee? Still interessted.

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