Facts and Decision of the Protest Committee
In a race of a Flying Dutchman national championship in light wind, USA 800 was to leeward and approximately two hull lengths ahead of USA 546 as the boats approached the finishing line. Both boats were beating on starboard tack. At the finishing line, USA 800 luffed head to wind and finished first. As she cleared the finishing line her genoa backwinded, and she was forced onto port tack. USA 546 saw USA 800 tack and could have borne away to avoid the contact, but failed to do so. Contact occurred after USA 546 had finished but had not yet cleared the finishing line. Damage that was not serious resulted from the contact. USA 546 protested under rule 10
(On Opposite Tacks) and rule 24.1.
The protest committee dismissed the protest, because USA 800 had finished and cleared the finishing line. No part of her hull or equipment was still on the line. Therefore, she was no longer racing or subject to disqualification.
USA 546 appealed, on the grounds that “clears the finishing line” must be interpreted to mean that a boat continues racing until she is sufficiently far from the finishing line that her maneuvers will no longer affect other boats that are still racing,
Decision of the Appeals Committee
It is clear that USA 800 broke rule 10
and rule 14
(Avoiding Contact). The question is whether she was still subject to disqualification. The preamble to Part 2 states: “…a boat not racing shall not be penalized for breaking one of these rules, except rule 14
when the incident resulted in injury or serious damage, or rule 24.1
." The definition Racing states: “A boat is racing…until she finishes and clears the finishing line and marks…” Failure to clear the finishing marks is not at issue here; and when no part of a boat’s hull, equipment or crew is still on the finishing line, she has cleared it. Therefore USA 800 was no longer racing at the time of the incident and cannot be penalized for breaking a rule of Part 2 (When Boats Meet), except rules 14
The damage was not serious, therefore USA 800 is not penalized for breaking rule 14
. Rule 24.1
states: “If reasonably possible, a boat not racing shall not interfere with a boat that is racing.” In this case, USA 800 was not racing, but interfered with USA 546 who was still racing. Furthermore, it was clearly possible for her to avoid the incident. Therefore, the decision of the protest committee is changed to disqualify USA 800 for breaking rule 24.1
. To that extent, USA 546’s appeal is sustained.
However, USA 546, because she had not yet cleared the finishing line, was still racing at the time of the incident. Therefore she was obligated by rule 14
, even though she was the right-of-way boat, to avoid contact if it was reasonably possible to do so. When USA 800 completed her tack, it was clear to USA 546 that USA 800 was not keeping clear. At that point it was reasonably possible for USA 546 to have avoided contact, but she failed to do so (see rule 14
(a)). Therefore USA 546 broke rule 14
, and is to be penalized because there was damage.
USA 546’s appeal is upheld. The decision of the protest committee is changed. Both USA 546 and USA 800 are disqualified.
Revised January 2017