Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

Capsized Boats and the RRS

Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
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I'm starting a new thread here as I didn't want to divert the discussion and its resolution there in Stavros' thread. Capsize in the zone and some questions....

Twice now, we've had posts which try to deal with capsized boats and RRS 18 and issues of overlap, passing through the wind, etc.

I would like to offer 2 points from my personal opinion ..
  1. that it is not 100% reasonable for the RRS to expect other competitors to assess W/L sides of a capsized boat, whether or not their bow passed through the wind while capsized, etc, .. with what will be a low and unfamiliar profile of overturned hull and without the visual clues of a mast, a main and a boom in the air or a hull in its upright orientation, and
  2. that assessing these rights and conditions takes focus away from what I see is the primary SAFETY-ISSUE as we likely have sailors in the water with boats whizzing by and around them.
For instance, imagine 2 boats capsized adjacent to each other and end up in the water pointed in the same direction. The windward boat gets blown into the leeward boat and makes contact. Can the leeward boat protest the windward boat for RRS11 violation? Seems to me a capsized boat, though still "racing" is in a special state-of-being and should be treated as such .. for both clarity of boats around them as well as the safety of all concerned.

What would it break (i.e. ... How would it make things more complicated or worse?) if the RRS specifically deemed capsized boats Obstructions and that Part 2 A,B & C as well as "Overlap" didn't apply to them until they are no longer "capsized" (as defined in RRS 23 "A boat is capsized when her masthead is in the water.")?

At first blush, this is how I think this could look ...

23 CAPSIZED, ANCHORED OR AGROUND; RESCUING
If possible, a boat shall avoid and Keep Clear of a boat that is capsized or has not regained control after capsizing, is anchored or aground, or is trying to help a person or vessel in danger. A boat is capsized when her masthead is in the water.

Part 2 WHEN BOATS MEET (preamble)
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. Sections A, B and C do not apply between boats while at least one of them is capsized.

Clear Astern and Clear Ahead; Overlap
One boat is clear astern of another when her hull and equipment in normal position are behind a line abeam from the aftermost point of the other boat's hull and equipment in normal position. The other boat is clear ahead. They overlap when neither is clear astern. However, they also overlap when a boat between them overlaps both. These terms always apply to boats on the same tack and never apply between boats while at least one of them is capsized. They apply to boats on opposite tacks only when rule 18 applies between them or when both boats are sailing more than ninety degrees from the true wind.

Obstruction
No need to make a change to Obstruction's def if "keep clear" is added to RRS 23 .. and I could argue that's not necessary either as a capsized boat can meet the definition already

As always, I'm interested in everyone's thoughts and perspectives.
  • Does the above break something?
  • Does it clarify or muddy?
  • Does it improve or degrade the safety issue?
- Ang

PS .. Curious that the term "Capsized" is defined inside RRS 23 and not simply a defined term in Definitions. Seems to me to be unique in this regard?
Created: 18-Aug-08 13:41

Comments

Thomas Armstrong
Nationality: Chile
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I really like your post as it will open up a whole lot of opinions and lines of though!

et me just help (or hinder?) the discussion by adding more complications to your proposal:
  • I race radio controlled boats, and capsizing is virtually impossible - what happens to these little vessels is that they become disabled in different ways: tangled between each other, broken sails, broken servos, battery issues (=no control), etc. To cover these cases I would not only talk about "capsized" boats but also about "disabled" ones as part of this discussion.
  • I have seen some kitesurf races, and witnessed some weird situations - kites tangled, boards pointing the wrong way (no "bow passed against wind" concept), vessels flying/jumping above another, etc. - also, there are no masts! so no "capsized" boats. Not sure how to define an "obstruction" here.
What I'm trying to imply here is that if you want to propose that the RSS treat a capsized/disabled vessel as obstructions, you'll need to think much bigger/smaller also to make sure the changes make sense for everyone...

Regards,
Thomas Armstrong
Created: 18-Aug-08 16:13
Philip Hubbell
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Angelo, the glaring difficulty is that there remains a tangle of deciding when a boat has recovered.
All the wording changes you suggest seem a complicated approach to what a seamanlike sailor would take for granted - as many of these posts of various topics do.
I would like to see a simpler solution.
Perhaps in the definition of Tack; Port or Starboard, such as adding:
"A capsized boat remains on the tack... (etc.)"
or try this radical one on:
"A capsized boat is on starboard tack."
Created: 18-Aug-08 16:35
Philip Hubbell
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Changing 23 from "shall avoid" to "shall keep clear" weakens the protection of the capsized boat.
"Keep clear" has limitations on the capsized boat.
"Shall avoid" means stay the heck away.
Created: 18-Aug-08 16:46
Angelo Guarino
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Changing 23 from "shall avoid" to "shall keep clear" weakens the protection of the capsized boat.

Interesting perspective on that. "Keep Clear" is the phrase that forces the capsized boat to be viewed immediately as an obstruction. No reason both terms couldn't be in there for the sake of discussion ...

If possible, a boat shall avoid and Keep Clear of a boat that is capsized ...

Created: 18-Aug-08 17:22
John Sweeney
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a capsized boat really should not be considered to be on either tack, nor should it be deemed capable of tacking.

I've always understood the concept of 'shall avoid' to imply 'do what you can' without the mandatory penalty for inability to avoid contact.
One dinghy capsizing while rounding, in a big fleet, is likely to cause an unavoidable pile up.
A close trailing boat shouldn't be required to do circles any more than a weather boat who is struck by a leeward boat rounding up.
I've further understood the point of 'has not regained control' to mean that period between the masthead coming off of the water (the definition of capsized) and when the boat is once again making way.
I wouldn't consider the boat during this period to be disabled, rather, limited in ability to maneuver.

As for the scenario of two capsized boats, I see no value in rules of W/L, P/S applying and penalties being assessed.
The aim should be for fastest possible, safe recovery. Maybe a rule that prevents one skipper from hampering the other's ability to recover?

The thing about Rules, if you don't start with a clear purpose to guide competitors toward avoiding penalty, then the Rule is destined to be counter productive to the sport.
Also, Kites have their own set of rules for good reason.
Created: 18-Aug-08 17:27
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
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Angelo Guarino
said

I'm starting a new thread here as I didn't want to divert the discussion and its resolution there in Stavros' thread. Capsize in the zone and some questions....

...

As always, I'm interested in everyone's thoughts and perspectives.

  • Does the above break something?
  • Does it clarify or muddy?
  • Does it improve or degrade the safety issue?
I don't think you have broken anything, but I don't think your proposals will help anything.

I don't see any evidence of any significant 'safety issue' caused by the RRS.

PS .. Curious that the term "Capsized" is defined inside RRS 23 and not simply a defined term in Definitions. Seems to me to be unique in this regard?

Capsized’ is only used in rule 23 (of the RRS applicable to boats). It’s generally good drafting practice to leave definitions of words that are not repetitively used in the clauses using them, rather than put them in a Definitions Section. This prevents the Definitions Section from becoming too long and cluttered.
Created: 18-Aug-09 00:48
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
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Thomas Armstrong
said

I really like your post as it will open up a whole lot of opinions and lines of though!

[L]et me just help (or hinder?) the discussion by adding more complications to your proposal:
I race radio controlled boats, and capsizing is virtually impossible - what happens to these little vessels is that they become disabled in different ways: tangled between each other, broken sails, broken servos, battery issues (=no control), etc. To cover these cases I would not only talk about "capsized" boats but also about "disabled" ones as part of this discussion.


If this is a problem it should be addressed in Appendix E Radio Sailing Ruless, not by tinkering with the RRS for boats.

I have seen some kitesurf races, and witnessed some weird situations - kites tangled, boards pointing the wrong way (no "bow passed against wind" concept), vessels flying/jumping above another, etc. - also, there are no masts! so no "capsized" boats. Not sure how to define an "obstruction" here.


All sorts of complex issues in this area are dealt with in the Appendices B and F Windsurf and Kiteboard Racing Rules.

What I'm trying to imply here is that if you want to propose that the RSS treat a capsized/disabled vessel as obstructions,


Depending on size, a disabled/capsized vessel already is an obstruction.


Created: 18-Aug-09 00:50
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
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Philip Hubbell

said

Angelo, the glaring difficulty is that there remains a tangle of deciding when a boat has recovered.

What, specific difficulty are you referring to?


All the wording changes you suggest seem a complicated approach to what a seamanlike sailor would take for granted - as many of these posts of various topics do.
I would like to see a simpler solution.
Perhaps in the definition of Tack; Port or Starboard, such as adding:
"A capsized boat remains on the tack... (etc.)"
or try this radical one on:
"A capsized boat is on starboard tack."


Given that rule 23, applicable to all capsized boats, specifically disapplies the Section A rules that required determination of which tack a boat is on, why is the tack that a capsized boat on relevant to any application of the rules?

OK, mark-room under rules 18.2a and 18.3, depending on ‘overlapped inside’ might, but in the example previously discussed,’overlapped’ can be determined by only CASTN, which, again, does not depend on any meaning of ‘side’ and is unambiguous.

Created: 18-Aug-09 00:52
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
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John Sweeney

said

a capsized boat really should not be considered to be on either tack, nor should it be deemed capable of tacking.

The tack, starboard or port of a capsized boat is not a condition upon which any rule depends.

‘pass head to wind’ is a term used in the RRS specifically to avoid talking about ‘tacking’



I've always understood the concept of 'shall avoid' to imply 'do what you can' without the mandatory penalty for inability to avoid contact.

Well that’s nonsensical. If there is ‘inability to avoid contact’ then rule 14 is not broken and no penalty arises.

One dinghy capsizing while rounding, in a big fleet, is likely to cause an unavoidable pile up.

so?

A close trailing boat shouldn't be required to do circles

And she isn’t. If it is not possible to avoid a capsized boat, then rule 23 is not broken.

any more than a weather boat who is struck by a leeward boat rounding up.

I've further understood the point of 'has not regained control' to mean that period between the masthead coming off of the water (the definition of capsized) and when the boat is once again making way


Not attracted by that. A formerly capsized boat, will be making way through the water almost immediately her mast comes out of the water.

Arguably, she has not regained control until at least the helm has effective control of the rudder (normally, but not necessarily back on board the boat).
.
I wouldn't consider the boat during this period to be disabled, rather, limited in ability to maneuver.


How are these terms relevant to dinghies under the RRS?

As for the scenario of two capsized boats, I see no value in rules of W/L, P/S applying

They don’t.

Rule 23 applies.

If a capsized boat does not avoid another capsized boat, rule 23 may apply, but it is very likely that it was not possible for her to avoid, and rule 23 will not be broken.


and penalties being assessed.

The aim should be for fastest possible, safe recovery.

Maybe for the boats concerned. Not an issue for the RRS.

Maybe a rule that prevents one skipper from hampering the other's ability to recover?

Why? When or where have you ever seen a problem with this? How would rule 2 not cover it?

The thing about Rules, if you don't start with a clear purpose to guide competitors toward avoiding penalty, then the Rule is destined to be counter productive to the sport.
Also, Kites have their own set of rules for good reason

Created: 18-Aug-09 00:53
Stavros Kouris
Nationality: Greece
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23 CAPSIZED, ANCHORED OR AGROUND; RESCUING
If possible, a boat shall avoid and Keep Clear of a boat that is capsized or has not regained control after capsizing, is anchored or aground, or is trying to help a person or vessel in danger. A boat is capsized when her masthead is in the water.

In my opinion the wording keep clear is defined in the RRS and the definition starts by saying "A boat keeps clear of a right of way boat"
But when a boat is capsized she has no right of way (I think if the intention of the rules writer was to give me right of way they would have put RRS 23 in Section A of Part 2)
That is way the rule writer is using a different word.
Additionally, the choice of word avoid gives the concept of safety in the rules.

Interesting perspective on that. "Keep Clear" is the phrase that forces the capsized boat to be viewed immediately as an obstruction. No reason both terms couldn't be in there for the sake of discussion ...

I think that a capsized boat is viewed as an obstruction (under certain circumstances) because of the definition ".... However, a boat racing is not an obstruction to other boats unless they are required to keep clear of her, or, if rule 23 applies, avoid her. ...."

a capsized boat really should not be considered to be on either tack, nor should it be deemed capable of tacking.

I really don't see any connection between a capsize and being on a tack.... A boat is on a tack (port or starboard) corresponding to her windward side....and her windward side is the other than the leeward side, which is the side that is away from the wind.
The only situation that you need the mainsail to define the leeward side is when she is sailing by the lee or direct downwind. These conditions cannot be met when a boat is capsized.
And yes probably a capsized boat is not capable of tacking....even though is very debatable as tacking is after a boat passes head to wind until she is on a close hauled course, which is irrelevant with the sails or the boom....but nevertheless a capsized boat can pass head to wind.

But above all when RRS 23 applies then the rules of section A do not so there is no obvious reason to define the tack or the tacking (different than pass head to wind). That is also why the word avoid is been used instead of keep clear.

I've further understood the point of 'has not regained control' to mean that period between the masthead coming off of the water (the definition of capsized) and when the boat is once again making way

Not attracted by that. A formerly capsized boat, will be making way through the water almost immediately her mast comes out of the water.

Arguably, she has not regained control until at least the helm has effective control of the rudder (normally, but not necessarily back on board the boat).

I partially agree with John Allan, that a boat has not regained control until at least the helm has effective control of rudder....but i cannot see how this can happen without the crew back on board....
Created: 18-Aug-09 06:24
John Allan
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Stavros Kouris
said

I partially agree with John Allan, that a boat has not regained control until at least the helm has effective control of rudder....but i cannot see how this can happen without the crew back on board.

Helm could be controlling the rudder by manipulating the rudder stock, tiller or a tiller extension while hanging onto the transom or a side or wing, but not yet back on board.
Created: 18-Aug-09 07:00
Stavros Kouris
Nationality: Greece
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Helm could be controlling the rudder by manipulating the rudder stock, tiller or a tiller extension while hanging onto the transom or a side or wing, but not yet back on board.

In my opinion the rule is talking about the boat who has to regain control and since the boat is the boat and the crew(according to the definition in the terminology), I find it difficult to say that the crew has regained control if not on the boat...
Created: 18-Aug-09 08:35
John Allan
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So, you think it's OK for a boat that was capsized to be steered into a position so that another boat is unable to avoid it, just because the helm is steering from a position in the water?

I can't see any necessary connection between being on board a boat and the boat being under control.

How many of the crew would need to be on board? all of them? 50%?

I think you have just got to look at the facts: was the boat, or was it not under control?
Created: 18-Aug-09 09:30
Stavros Kouris
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I think that is why there the "If possible" in Rule 23.....

Additionally, are you saying that a boat will be steered in that position deliberately?
Created: 18-Aug-09 10:30
John Allan
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I understand what you are saying about 'if possible'.

I think, if it was always taken to be that a boat had not regained control until some or all of the crew were on board, that it would be quite possible, in some conditions, for a boat to be deliberately ann effectively steered while the helm and/or another crew were still in the water.
Created: 18-Aug-09 10:36
Stavros Kouris
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Taking the discussion back to the motive this post was created I agree with John Allan that there is no obvious reason to rewrite the rules concerning the capsized boat... I think that they are pretty much clear .....
Probably the only thing I could go with Angelo is the thought about Rules of Section B and C also not applying when a boat is capsized.... I cannot think of something that they are really essential to determine the outcome of an incident.... What is the opinion of the others?

Created: 18-Aug-09 11:41
Angelo Guarino
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John A and Stravos .. thanks for the interesting dialog!

Probably the only thing I could go with Angelo is the thought about Rules of Section B and C also not applying when a boat is capsized.... I cannot think of something that they are really essential to determine the outcome of an incident....

I'll agree that my "first blush" approach touched too many parts of the RRS's (I didn't go through an extensive reduction-process). Given everyone's input, my result could be achieved by simply changing Section D's preamble ..

Section D OTHER RULES
When rule 22 or 23 applies between two boats, Section A rules do not. When rule 23 applies between two boats, Section A, B and C rules do not.

That's MUCH cleaner and direct than my "first blush". Thanks!

If you go back to the previous thread (the one you said you didn't read) you will see a lot of struggle discussing whether or not the capsized boat passed head-to-wind, ascertaining W/L sides, and whether or not a boat overlapped with another boat, can go between a capsized-boat and the mark if there is only room for one boat .. reading that RRS 18 applies between the capsized-boat and others (which as written I agree that it does).

If you get a moment maybe look at that other thread too as I think the discussion there has something to offer. - Ang

Created: 18-Aug-09 13:08
Stavros Kouris
Nationality: Greece
Certifications:
  • National Judge
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1

Section D OTHER RULES
When rule 22 or 23 applies between two boats, Section A rules do not. When rule 23 applies between two boats, Section A, B and C rules do not.

If Section C rules do not apply at all then we have a problem with the definition obstruction which says: " .... However, a boat racing is not an obstruction to other boats unless they are required to keep clear of her, or, if rule 23 applies, avoid her. ...."
At least one of the rules of section C shall apply...

In my opinion the most confusing is Section B rules
- RRS 17 cannot have application
- RRS 16 and 15 are talking about limitations on the right of way boat which have no application as Section A rules do not apply
- RRS 14 could have application but I think is covered in the wording of RRS 23 where it says "...shall avoid". Unless the rules writers want to address also to the capsized boat the obligation to avoid the other boat on their attempt to recover the boat, which seems logical.
So it would be make more sense to write something like
Section D OTHER RULES
When rule 22 or 23 applies between two boats, Section A and Section B rules do not, except rule 14.
Created: 18-Aug-09 15:16
Philip Hubbell
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I think the rules writers can relax. They have pretty well covered everything here.
Even that last horror of deliberately mis-steering from in the water is covered by 2.
Created: 18-Aug-09 15:22
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
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Stravos

If Section C rules do not apply at all then we have a problem with the definition obstruction which says: " .... However, a boat racing is not an obstruction to other boats unless they are required to keep clear of her, or, if rule 23 applies, avoid her. ...."
At least one of the rules of section C shall apply...

Hmmm .. I'm catching your drift .. you are seeing a bit of a Catch-22 in RRS19 .... got it. We at least need RRS 19 to be on due to the way I wrote the preamble because it's phased as "applies between 2 boats .." which includes the non-capsized boat .. so the way I wrote it, the non-capsized boat is being excluded as well .. which does not work at all.

Alternatively, I could get to where I intended by "When rule 23 applies between two boats, Section A, B and C rules do not apply to the capsized boat" (which better reflects my intention).

I was trying to turn the capsized boat into a large piece of driftwood until she is righted .. with as few obligations on her part as practicable except to right herself and no analysis on the part of other boats except to avoid her.

This exercise .. as usual .. got me digging into the RRS and thinking about them hard.

Created: 18-Aug-09 16:43
John Allan
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I think this thread got off to a bad start by proposing a 'solution' without defining the 'problem'.

Two previous threads, RRS 18 v RRS 19 w/Capsized Boat in the Zone and Capsize in the zone and some questions.... showed that some forum posters had difficulty with the application of Section C in situations with a capsized boat in the zone of a mark. Those threads certainly provided an opportunity for close study of the relevant rules.

I would suggest that those threads led to some clear conclusions about the proper construction of the rules. Key points were:
  • the meaning of 'passes head to wind' depends only on what is the 'head' of a boat, which is unambiguous; and
  • the meaning of 'overlapped' depends only on the defined concepts Clear Astern and Clear Ahead, which again are unambiguous.
Concerns about the meaning of 'side' of a boat, when the boat may be inverted, or with its mast horizontal, are irrelevant to the above. The only racing rules terms which depend on the concept of 'side of a boat' are Windward, Leeward, Port Tack, and Starboard Tack, none of which are mentioned in rule 18.2d, (or elsewhere in rule 18, except for rule 18.2f), and which are made irrelevant by the provision of rule 23 which disapplies the Section A Right of Way rules.

It seems to me that Angelo's well intentioned proposal has produced a cure worse than the disease.

I would suggest, to future posters, that where you think a rule might need changing, do NOT start a thread with a suggested amendment. I recommend the following step by step approach:
  1. Start with a post stating what you think the problem is, and provide a concrete example of the problem arising, and hopefully provide some discussion of the prevalence, seriousness, and consequences of the problem, and invite comments on the problem.
  2. Depending on how the discussion progresses, make a further post describing HOW, you think the problem might be overcome, WITHOUT, at this stage wordsmithing the rules, and again invite discussion of your general proposal;
  3. Only after discussion and consideration of the approach to fixing the problem, then propose specific rules amendments for discussion.
I've had a lot of experience with developing rules-like texts, and jumping in to wordsmithing existing text before clearly defining the problem and examining different approaches and methods of solving it, is a sure road to frustration and confusion.
Created: 18-Aug-10 02:07
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
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Sometimes to "think outside the box" .. you have to think, outside the box.

Angelo's well intentioned proposal has produced a cure worse than the disease

Failure is an acceptable outcome.

There are different ways to design things ..
Some approaches are incremental and slightly add and subtract from what already exists .. this approach leads to a certain solution set which is highly derivative.
Another approach is to dismantle what exists, dump the pieces on the floor along with the other unused pieces from the erector-set and see if this leads to different set of solutions.

In both approaches, one learns from the successes and failures.

I am not convinced that what I was attempting to do ... if accomplished ... wouldn't be beneficial for it's simplicity and clarity.

Created: 18-Aug-10 17:55
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