Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

Rule 32.2 (Shortening Course) and Flag S

Clark Chapin
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Club Race Officer
I have problems with the current rule 32.2 and sound signal for Flag S:
 “32.2 If the race committee signals a shortened course (displays flag S with two sounds), the finishing line shall be…”

 With the preponderance of W-L courses these days and the predominant use of flags rather than shapes, two problems arise:
1. Competitors often cannot see the flag as they approach the new finishing line for two reasons: Either the flag is streaming directly toward or away from them and they cannot determine which flag is being displayed; or in very light winds the flag hangs limply and cannot be discerned. There is no requirement for the flag to be displayed with the staff horizontal in such conditions and in any case the flags are often hoisted with halyards on a fixed yardarm or mast and cannot be rotated.
2. Competitors approaching a new downwind finish cannot hear the two sound signals from very far upwind of the new finishing line. If only two sound signals are used, most (and in some cases all) of the competitors will not have their attention drawn to the displayed flag S.

As an improvement, I suggest that the rule for flag S be changed to something like “two sound signals, repeated until at least the first boat finishes.” This is somewhat analogous to the sound requirement for flag C.
Comments?

Created: 19-Aug-09 16:01

Comments

P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Clark, I had a similar discussion recently but we were talking about moving the finish line using a spare mark boat. 

In that instance, the Flag was transferred to the new finish boat (to square the DW leg after a windward change-mark), but from the windward mark, boats can’t see which boat has the flag and point to boat whose outline they remember. 
Created: 19-Aug-09 16:07
Clark Chapin
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Club Race Officer
0
My current practice is to use a repeated sound signal under the hypothesis that although the rule requires a two sounds one time, it does not expressly prohibit repeating the sound signals and it is difficult to envision a situation where repeated sound signals would be a redressable error.
I'm prepared for the eventuality that this practice would be frowned upon during my IRO exam, but I'm OK with that.
Created: 19-Aug-09 16:22
P
John Porter
Nationality: United States of America
2
The beauty of this rule is that even if they don't see the flag, they finish. Of course, it would be better to know that it is happening. In light air, I usually have an assistant hold the flag out. Generally, I sound the horns when the first boat is clearly within earshot. The fact that they finish and sail away is a good clue to the rest of the fleet about what's going on. I like the idea of repeating the sound signals. How do you all feel about a VHF announcement after the sound signals in fleets that have VHF communication? 
Created: 19-Aug-09 16:48
Matt Bounds
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • National Race Officer
0
You could always use a placard with the Sierra flag on it.  Or hold it out as John Porter recommends.

But I'm against using the Sierra flag if at all possible.  The only two races I've ever had to abandon after the fact were two races where I tried "to do the right thing" and shorten the course.  Once burned, twice shy.  A lot of one-design classes (and World Sailing at WS Cup regattas) forbid its use in major championships.
Created: 19-Aug-09 17:03
John Culter
Nationality: Canada
Certifications:
  • National Race Officer
1
Clark,
Your premise is that competitors will somehow sail differently if they are about to round a mark as opposed to finishing.  But if the location of the mark boat is correct (at an angle to the last leg and on the outside of the course) there will not be any difference in tactics or direction.  I'm not saying it doesn't matter, but it doesn't matter very much.  That's why the rule is written as it is: there's no notice requirement.  Just get the flag up and start finishing boats.

I do agree that the sound signal and flag should be displayed when the first boat is quite close to the mark.
Created: 19-Aug-09 17:33
Clark Chapin
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Club Race Officer
0
At our club, our typical 50 min (target time) race is eight or nine W-L legs. With a dying evening breeze, Sierra is very commonly used.
I can see why World Sailing would forbid it at WS Cup regattas, especially with trapezoid courses, but that's a very different kettle of fish.
Making the sound signal "when the first boat is clearly within earshot" doesn't address the problem when there is a significant gap between the first boat and the balance of the fleet.

The reason that I suggested "repeated until at least the first boat finishes.” is that if there are big gaps in the fleet, the RC boat will usually have little to do during these gaps and can easily make more sound signals if warranted. OTOH, I didn't think that it was a good idea (or necessary) to mandate repeated, potentially confusing, sound signals throughout the finishing process.
Created: 19-Aug-09 17:35
Dan Bowman
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
0
Instruct the RC staff to use a compressed air can pointed slightly towards the water to improve sound reflectivity and make the two sounds followed by a 3 second break, then 2 sounds, keep repeat until all boats get the idea.  If you want to be green about it, purchase multiple re-fillable air horn's per RC boat so that your RC staff can bleat away.  For small boat races I tend to use a metal whistle as it's sound travels very well.
Created: 19-Aug-09 17:43
John Fothergill
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • National Race Officer
2
I usually end up putting something like this in the SIs:
" To shorten the course at the leeward mark, the race committee will display flag S with two sound signals and will also position a RIB near the leeward mark displaying flag S and making repeated sound signals.  Boats must then leave the leeward mark (i.e. mark 4p or mark 3 [depending on the course]) to port and sail across the finish line.  This changes rule 32.2."
Created: 19-Aug-09 17:49
Sam Wheeler
Nationality: United States of America
0
John Culter wrote:
 But if the location of the mark boat is correct (at an angle to the last leg and on the outside of the course) there will not be any difference in tactics or direction. 
I disagree.  On a mark rounding, there's often significant tactical value to sailing to the inside for overlap.  Gates mitigate that to some extent but not entirely.  As a result, boats sailing to cross a finish line as opposed to rounding might make different choices throughout the downwind leg.
Created: 19-Aug-09 17:56
Dan Bowman
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
0
I will be using John's SI concept for changing rule 32.2 for our standard SI's in 2020.  It prevents competitor mistakes.  Brilliant.
Created: 19-Aug-09 17:59
Greg Dargavel
Nationality: Canada
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • National Judge
0
Remember the best place to hide info from the competitors is in the SIs.
Created: 19-Aug-09 18:07
Robin Wallace
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Race Officer
0
The display of "S" should be made as soon as the decision is made with the accompanying sound signal using the largest "S" flag available since it may affect the tactics as competitors approach the new finish mark, especially if it is at a gate mark.. A back up announcement on VHF repeated at intervals also helps for the classes which allow radios to be used.  Most of the sound making devices used are easily heard especially if you are shortening a race due to lack of wind.
Created: 19-Aug-09 18:25
John Sweeney
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Race Officer
0
I find that most of the responses here do not give enough credit to the competitors. 
Most competitors can predict a competent RC will seek to shorten (or Change) a course when the conditions require.
A competitor who cannot anticipate likely action of the RC is unlikely to be leading a race, so generally not a concern. 
A good RC will announce its intention to, or action when posting a C or S. 
  
Created: 19-Aug-09 18:26
Charles Darley
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • Regional Umpire
0
Some courses have the pin at the end of the line left to port if there is another round and left to starboard if finishing.
Created: 19-Aug-09 20:55
Robin Wallace
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Race Officer
0
That has been tried and leads to confusion - much better to finish with he mark to be left as usual to port!
Created: 19-Aug-09 21:18
Suheim Sheikh
Nationality: Australia
0
Repeated signals and a placard are good suggestions and the decibel level of the signals too should be high enough The spirit of any signal is the communicate equally and fairly to all competitors under the given weather conditions 
Created: 19-Aug-10 01:38
Simon Winn
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
The shorten course signal, flag and sound, is 'proper' even though it is made when no boat can see or hear it.  Not very helpful though. 
My  area RYA Rules adviser (SE England) suggests there is nothing  in the rules to prevent race committees giving repetitive sound signals to a fleet which is so spread out that the original signal can not be seen/heard by most of the fleet.
This is very important to stop boats making a 'hook' finish when the course is shortened at a port rounding mark but for whatever reason the committee boat takes up a position to port so the mark becomes the finishing mark at the starboard end.
Using the S flag and sound signals at a leeward mark or gate when the race committee wants to shorten course so boats sail to finish at the finish line down wind is confusing.
It is better to signal 'C' over 'R' with repetitive sound signals, that is a change of course: 'round this mark and go to the finish line'.  yrs Simon
Created: 19-Aug-10 21:20
Simon Winn
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Should have said 'C over R' procedure saves having to positon race official recorders at the leeward mark instead of on the main committee boat.

Created: 19-Aug-11 14:04
Philip Hubbell
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • Judge In Training
0
32.2.b.2 says the finishing line shall be,
"a line the course requires boats to cross"
which may be the line defined by S and the rounding mark and stretching on to infinity.
It normally is, but does not have to be, the line segment defined between those two points.
A boat making the "hook" will have finished before hooking. 
A boat that interprets S normally and finishes "in the direction from the last mark" will also finish. 
Created: 19-Aug-12 15:04
Mays Dickey
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
0
As a slight aside, in this past year's J/24 North Americans, which was held on an inland lake in Valle de Bravo, Mexico, the Race Committee used an interesting technique which we found to be quite effective.  The target time for a race was around 50 minutes, but, as we know, with a large fleet on an inland lake with no current and a high level of parity in boatspeed, a normal 1.1 mile beat makes for highly crowded first weather mark rounding.  

So, to remedy this, the R/C did something very interesting.  They set a very long first beat, around 1.4 or 1.5 nm.  Then, they shortened course on the final beat each race, down to say 0.6 nm.  They let the competitors know their intentions at the competitor's meeting, and in the end it seemed to work quite well.  I would encourage PROs to think about using this technique in certain conditions.
Created: Thu 01:41
Simon Winn
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Hello Mays   What you report about shortening the final leg of a course is a change of course RRS33 which can be handled by race Signals 'C' plus '+' at the beginning of the leg, especially if the fleet has been warned in a briefing.  But the RC will still need to signal Shorten course if the fleet is to finish at the mark in its shortened position. 
Created: Thu 10:31
Philip Hubbell
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • Judge In Training
0
"C" plus "-" at the leeward mark start of the shortened windward leg.
"S" (plus Blue?) at the new line, opposite the new mark in the color described in SI for new marks - or a whaler or other object flying "M."
Created: Thu 22:57
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