Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

Recalls and Penalaties

Jerry Thompson
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Regional Race Officer
RRS 29.1 states in part "When at a boat's starting signal any part of her hull, crew or equipment is on the course side of the starting line or she must comply with rule 30.1, the race committee shall promptly display flag X with one sound." The definition of shall according to Merriam-Webster is "used in laws, regulations, or directives to express what is mandatory". Being a retired Army Master Sergeant it is ingrained in me to follow rules and regulations to the letter. However, I have experienced a couple of scenarios where I believe following this rule to the letter may confuse competitors specifically when Rule 30.1 is in play. Please consider the following:


Keel boats on the final approach to the start with the I flag rule, 30.1, on. Green wants to squeeze in, but at position 2 it is clear that she does not have enough room so she peels off and tacks to starboard of the signal boat. The starting signal is given at position 4. Green is on the course side of the starboard extension of the starting line. Should the PRO display Flag X with one sound signal?

Dingys on the final approach to start, race 3. I flag rule, 30.1, is on. White, starboard of the signal boat, is returning from the boat landing were she went for an equipment repair after finishing race 2. Magenta, port of the pin, is dealing with equipment or other issues. The start signal is given at position 4. Should the PRO display Flag X with one sound signal?

As PRO I have experienced both scenarios and I did not signal individual recall. The reason being I feared it may have confused competitors who were very close to the starting line when the start signal was given. Rather, we kept an eye on the boats who broke Rule 30.1 and made sure they complied with 30.1 and started properly. I believe most if not all the time boats will comply with 30.1 and start properly. Otherwise, if they tried a dip start for example not complying with 30.1, they simply would not start and be scored DNS.

I was taught not to do anything to confuse the competitors. But in the above scenarios, I clearly did not take a mandatory RRS action.
Created: 18-Nov-24 17:45

Comments

Peter van Muyden
Nationality: Canada
Certifications:
  • International Race Officer
1

I don’t signal an individual recall when it’s clear that boats are fully aware that that they are OCS. Had you signalled an individual recall in your two examples, as you say, it would have been a disservice to those boats that started correctly. One or more would have thought that the signal was for them.

It’s interesting to note that there was a discussion during the most recent World Sailing conference race management sub committee meeting to remove the I/Z flag from the rule book. There was support for this, but no submission.

Created: 18-Nov-24 22:27
Clark Chapin
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Club Race Officer
0
I follow the same practice: When flying X with a sound signal will only confuse competitors, it is better to remain silent, particularly in the two diagrams shown in the question.
When I took my course in Legal Drafting Techniques 40+ years ago, we were taught two things about the word "shall":
- When trying to understand the meaning, always try replacing it with "has a duty to"; and
- You cannot place an obligation upon an inanimate object. In other words, you can say, "A boat shall..." if you mean the crew or helmsman of the boat, but you can't say, "The spinnaker shall be hoisted after the offset mark.." or "the starting mark shall be and orange buoy...".
The RRS don't seem to adhere to those requirements, but in the two examples given above the requirement could be re-written as, "A boat may only hoist the spinnaker after the offset mark" or "the starting mark is an orange buoy".
OTOH, maybe this is only my OCD kicking in.
Created: 18-Nov-24 23:40
Matt Bounds
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • National Race Officer
1
The technically correct answer (and the one taught in the US Sailing Race Management seminars) is, yes - you should fly X-Ray and make a sound signal. But as both Peter and Clark point out, sometimes the "technically correct" answer is not always the "right" answer when it may confuse the competitors who may not be as technically rules savvy as the RC.

In the case of keel boats - or any fleet that has radios - I'd fly the flag and make the noise - and promptly follow it with a radio call to the boats that were OCS of the line extensions (assuming the SIs provided for OCS radios calls).

For fleets without radios, it's a judgement call. If it's obvious that they're headed below an extension to start, then I probably wouldn't signal the OCS in the interest of not confusing the other competitors. But what happens when a boat that's OCS of an extension at the start dip starts? Do you protest them? Do you just close your eyes and pretend you didn't see it? What happens if another competitor protests them? They could request redress for an RC error (and will probably get it). How much time do you want to spend in protest and / or redress hearings? Nobody will fault you for following the rules to the letter.

30.1 is not going away anytime soon. Many fleets and classes are used to it and it works quite well for them. It's the default after a general recall in both High School and Collegiate sailing. Perhaps a way to may it not so "strange" is to bring the rule into alignment with the other penalty flags, where it applies to boats in the "triangle" as opposed to OCS of the line or its extensions.
Created: 18-Nov-25 04:04
Jeremey Atkinson
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • National Umpire
  • International Race Officer
1
In strict accordance with the rules and Race Management Manual also says the same, Yes in the above cases on a normal no penalty or a rrs30.1 start yes you should signal individual recall.

That said sometimes the fairest thing for all competitors is to have an error or omission of the race committee and not create confusion by making the signal. However you need to be very sure the said boat will continue to come back and start correctly. If you didn’t signal individual recall and the boat didn’t continue to come back and start correctly how would you then manage it having neglected to “promptly display flag X with one sound”?
Created: 18-Nov-25 04:41
Claudio Gianoli
Nationality: Italy
Certifications:
  • Regional Race Officer
0
I have another question. Same scenario of second diagram but P as preparatory signal. Both boats are following the 29.1 rule none are on the course side of the starting line when at a boat's starting signal, in other words also for preparatory signal P is needed to take in account the triangle formed by the ends of starting line and the first mark?
Claudio
Created: 18-Nov-25 09:10
Jeremey Atkinson
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • National Umpire
  • International Race Officer
0
The P flag utilises the start line and it’s extensions the same as rule 30.1 only rules 30.2-30.4 utilise the triangle.
In situation 2 both the white boat and the magenta boat are on the course side of the start line and it’s extensions which is why an Individual Recall should (in strict accordance with the rules) be signalled promptly after the start of the Preparatory signal was either P or I flag.
If both boats were below the line as you suggest then no recall signal would be applicable under a normal P flag or 30.1 start (as the rule 30.1 penalty would have been completed in by both boats).
Created: 18-Nov-25 10:08
Jerry Thompson
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Regional Race Officer
2
Thanks everyone for your insights.

If one of the competitors was over an extension tried a dip start with rule 30.1 on, she would not start according to the definition of start. Matt good point, somebody would need to file a protest for the dip starter to possibly be scored DNS. And I like your solution for fleets with radios, include OCS announcements in the SIs, signal X and immediately communicate who the signal is for.

Jeremey, I'm not convinced the P flag includes the extensions of the starting line. 29.1 "When at a boat's starting signal any part of her hull, crew or equipment is on the course side of the starting line". I believe the starting line is between the flag described in the SIs on the signal boat and the pin. 29.1 continues "or she must comply with 30.1", which invokes the extensions to the starting line.
Created: 18-Nov-25 11:58
Jeremey Atkinson
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • National Umpire
  • International Race Officer
0
You are correct in that the starting line is between the two marks so described in the sailing instructions however by definition a line continues indefinitely in both directions and only has two sides in this case the Course side and the non-Course side. It is irrelevant whether a boat sailed through the starting line to get to the course side only whether it was on the course side as the starting signal. If it is a P flag start the boat is able to return and restart by the fastest route it may choose, if burdened by 30.1 it must sail across an extension before restarting.

In a similar vein to scenario 2, on a r30.1 start a boat in the middle of the is sitting in the middle of the line 3/4 of a boat length over the line but coming back as the 1 min signal is made and the preparatory removed. The boat continues to come back behind the line and at 55sec to the start it is fully behind the line and racked up to start. It is a clear start and the boat gets away cleanly what signal do you make?
Created: 18-Nov-25 12:32
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
0
FWIW, I like 30.2-30.4 as they are written. In regards to 30.1, it would seem the reason "..course side of the starting line or one of its extensions during the last minute before her starting signal.." is in the OCS test is for the following cases:
  1. If you have only 1 RC at one end of the line (no mark boat outside the pin), then depending on how long the line is, it may be difficult to tell if a boat is outside or inside the line when sighting from the pin the signal boat.
  2. If you have 2 RC boats, one signal boat forming one end of the line and a mark-boat stationed outside the pin, the "extension" clause prevents a boat from getting between the pin and the mark-boat, thus obscuring their view of the line.
In neither case is the extension of the line behind the signal-boat important to consider or keep an eye on. As in both OP's drawings, green and white respectively need to cross the line 'around an end' to start. Following that logic, if the line is marked by 2 boats, i.e. the "pin-end" is a mark-boat, then the extension clause doesn't serve a purpose.

Would 30.1 still serve its purpose if worded to reflect that?

I Flag Rule (only pin-end extension mod)
"If flag I has been displayed, and any part of a boat's hull, crew or equipment is on the course side of the starting line or one of its extensions its extension beyond the pin during the last minute before her starting signal, she shall sail across an extension of the starting-line to the pre-start side before starting.
Created: 18-Nov-25 13:12
Jerry Thompson
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Thanks Jeremey, I'm convinced. The bit that was causing me not to be convinced is what Angelo referred to in 30.1 - "is on the course side of the starting line or one of its extensions". I think it would be clearer and cleaner if 30.1 simply stated "on the course side of the starting line during the last minute before her starting signal,".

Your twist on scenario 2 is tough. By the RRS the boat on the course side at 1 minute must sail across an extension to the pre-start side before starting. If she doesn't, she does not start by definition. What would I signal? By the RRS signal flag X with a sound and hopefully the boats have radios and the SIs allow hailing so the boat who was on the course side at 1 minute could be quickly identified to the fleet. I would want my digital recorder to have me or the line caller saying boat xxxx is on the course side when the prep down sound signal is given and recorded as well.
Created: 18-Nov-25 13:41
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
0
PS .. RRS 86.1(b) does not prevent RRS 30 from being changed in the SI's, so my 'pin extension mod' could be implemented at any time.

In the instance that the SI's define the pin-end of the line as a flag on a mark-boat (line bounded on both ends by manned boats) I think RRS 30.1 could be modified effectively to use the "triangle" language.

I Flag Rule ("triangle" mod for pin-boat)
If flag I has been displayed, and any part of a boat's hull, crew or equipment is on the course side of the starting line or one of its extensions in the triangle formed by the ends of the starting line and the first mark during the last minute before her starting signal, she shall sail across an extension of the starting-line to the pre-start side before starting.
Created: 18-Nov-25 14:16
John Thorne
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
I believe that a PRO should use common sense in the application of the rules, and agree with Jerry Thompson. In the two cases he cites, the boats that technically were on the course side of the line and extensions appear to be headed toward a correct rounding of the line boat. An Xray signal would be likely to confuse some of the boats that started correctly and isn't necessary to alert the course-side boats. Use Xray only in the unlikely event that they do not round the line boat before heading toward the first mark.
Created: 18-Nov-25 19:26
Stavros Kouris
Nationality: Greece
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • National Umpire
1
I think the rules is referring to boats on the course side also at the extension of the line....
About the risk of confusing the boats ..... what about the scenario that all boats are between the RC boat and the pin end.... one is over the line and about ten are at the limit....
Are you suggesting that in this situation the RC should use common sense and not display the X flag because there is the risk to confuse the ten boat that are at the limit???
If the answer is NO then it is the same situation as the examples shown in this post....or not?
Created: 18-Nov-28 07:26
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
0

If the answer is NO then it is the same situation as the examples shown in this post....or not?

To me the thrust of the arguments, observations and comments mainly regard boats beyond the extensions who might not be in the field-of-view of other competitors. Looking for and considering boats far beyond the pin or behind the RC is an idea not ingrained in our mind and thus in the heat of the moment would tend to confuse. Furthermore as has been pointed out in other's posts .. these boats will naturally have to comply with the requirements of 30.1 prior to starting (i.e. cross an extension) as they cross between the RC and the pin and satisfy the string-rule.

So, technically "yes" to your question .. but I think many are saying functionally .. "no".

Created: 18-Nov-28 20:53
Philip Hubbell
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • Judge In Training
0
Omitting "or one of its extensions" from 30.1 invites dip starting, which is a significant value of the present wording.
Go back to the intent of this discussion to improve 29, which governs flag action, not boat action.
Created: 18-Dec-04 03:01
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