Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Port Starboard At The Finish

Last night there was an incident at the finish that is worthy of discussion. The facts as described to me were:
1. The wind was approximately 8 knots
2. Yellow was on starboard and Blue was on port approaching the finish line near the middle of the line
3. Approximately 2 lengths from the finish Yellow hails starboard to Blue
4. After Blue finishes but before she completely clears the line Yellow bears away to avoid Blue

There was no protest filed but Yellow asked my opinion as to what rules apply.

Clearly the rule that applies is rule 10 that a boat on a port-tack must keep clear of a starboard-tack boat. The question is if Blue can be penalized for breaking the rule. To determine this lets look at the preamble to the rules of Part 2 which says.

"The rules of Part 2 apply between boats that are sailing in or near the racing area and intend to race, are racing, or have been racing. However, a boat not racing shall not be penalized for breaking one of these rules, except rule 23.1."

The rules apply if you are in the racing area and intend, are, or have been racing, but  you can only be penalized only if you are "racing".

We need to go to the definition of racing to determine if Blue can be penalized. The following is the definition of racing.

"A boat is racing from her preparatory signal until she finishes and clears the finishing line and marks...."

So, although Blue has finished at position 2 she is still racing because she hasn't cleared the finish line yet, and should be penalized.  However, if Yellow is forced to alter course after Blue has cleared the finish line, then although Blue breaks rule 10 she cannot be penalized because she is not racing.