Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

Taking a penalty, then gaining an advantage.

Geoff Webber
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
I race model yachts, but we use the same rules as the bigger versions. Due to the distances involved and the fact that model yachts change course much more quickly there are many infringements of the rules of racing.
During 'off the water' discussions someone mentioned that when someone breaks a rule they should do their penalty turn but ALSO end up behind the wronged boat.
Like this... Boat A on STBD is fouled by Boat B on PORT, as is the nature of model yacht racing BOAT A is forced about by the collision with B. 
BOAT A is slow to resume his course.
BOAT B does a quick 360 and carries on leaving A in his wake.

The inference of our discussions was that B should wait until such time as A had 'in effect' overtaken B.

Is this right?

I have to say I have not heard of this in over 40 years of racing big boats, but rules do change, I accept that.
Created: 19-Sep-23 18:58

Comments

Juan Ruggero
Nationality: Argentina
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • National Judge
  • Umpire In Training
0
I've neither heard of this before. Take a look at RRS F4.3 (b). "If the boat gained a significant advantage in the heat or race by her breach despite taking a penalty, her penalty shall be and aditional One-turn penalty, " (and so on...)
Created: 19-Sep-23 19:22
Philip Hubbell
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • Judge In Training
0
IRSA (radiosailing.org) is the governing body of radio sailing.
They have rules interpretations and rulings.
When a boat gains an advantage despite her penalty turn, she must keep making turns until she has no longer an advantage resulting from her violation.

IRSA Case Book:
https://www.radiosailing.org/about/rc-committee/rc-news/67-radio-sailing-call-book-now-available-for-download

Case P4 
 
Rule 44,  Penalties at the Time of an Incident Rule E4.3,  Taking a Penalty 
 
A boat that gains a significant advantage in the heat or race by breaking a rule of Part 2, or rule 31, despite taking a penalty shall take an additional One-Turn Penalty. If she still maintains a significant advantage she shall continue to take additional penalties until she is exonerated. 
 
 
Assumed Facts 
 
Following a breach of a rule of Part 2, A has taken a One-Turn penalty. Despite taking this penalty, A still has a significant advantage over the boat she infringed. A takes an additional One-Turn Penalty but, even then, is still ahead of the infringed boat. 
 
 
Question 1 
 
When a boat has gained a significant advantage in a race or heat after taking a One-Turn Penalty in accordance with rule 44.2, will a single additional One-Turn Penalty under rule E4.3(b) exonerate the boat irrespective of the advantage gained? 
 
Answer 1 
 
No. The first part of rule E4.3(b) states ’if the boat gained a significant advantage .…. by her breach despite taking a penalty’. 
 
This condition must be applied after each One-Turn Penalty taken. If, after taking a One-Turn Penalty, the boat has still gained a significant advantage as a result of her breach, another One-Turn Penalty is required before she is exonerated. 
 
Therefore, it is possible that a boat will need to complete multiple turns in order to exonerate herself from a breach of a rule of Part 2 or rule 31 if she had gained a significant advantage by that breach. 
 
When a boat causes serious damage or, by breaking a rule of Part 2, causes another boat to become disabled (as defined in rule E1.1), rule E4.3(c) applies and she must retire

...
In addition, Case B2 makes clear that the penalty applies regarding ALL boats the violating boat gained an advantage over, not just the immediate victim.
Created: 19-Sep-23 19:30
P
John Porter
Nationality: United States of America
1
RRS 44.1 (b) states that if you gain a significant advantage by your breach, your penalty shall be to retire. If a sailor fouled me in a regular sailboat and ended up ahead of me after the penalty, it would be reasonable for me to lodge a protest based on this rule. A Jury would have to determine significance (there are cases and appeals to help with this). With that said, if the boat that fouled me made sure they were behind, I'd be less likely to lodge that protest. 

I remember distinctly that a competitor of mine put their spinnaker in the water when outside in the zone. Their bow spun up when they stoppage of movement caused loss of flow on their rudder. They hit us hard and pushed us into a position where we couldn't round the mark and they could. They did their two-turn penalty faster than we got back around the mark with the other traffic in the race causing us to need to wait quite some time. After their turns, they saw this happening and simply let their sails luff. They waited until we were at least 5 boat lengths past before they trimmed to go again. This left no doubt that they hadn't gained advantage. We viewed it as very sportsmanlike given the clear crew error that caused the collision and us missing the mark. They met us at the dock, apologized, and let us know that the minor damage would be fixed by morning (the guy who hit us was the boat builder). 
Created: 19-Sep-23 19:35
Paul Baehr
Nationality: Canada
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
  • Club Race Officer
0
See RRS 44.1 and Case 108 (which deals with an advantage gained by touching a mark. I do not know of other situations (other than serious damage) where the appropriate penalty turns would be insufficient and a retirement would be necessary.
Created: 19-Sep-23 19:50
Murray Jones
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • National Umpire
  • Club Race Officer
1
I was asked this same question about 12 months ago and the following is my detailed reply (not sure if anything has changed since):
RRS E4.3 

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comment on the current discussion over the interpretation of this rule.  I apologise in advance for being rather long-winded in my response, but as I delved into the issue, it became apparent that the matter is a little more complex than I first thought. 

When I first was asked to comment, I thought the answer was straight-forward in that  there was no ambiguity in the wording of the Rule and that it was clear (to me) that a boat which gained a significant advantage, despite taking a penalty, was required to take an additional one-turn penalty.   In the context the words are used, ‘a penalty’ clearly indicates a singular penalty and the phrase ‘additional one-turn penalty’ is again clearly singular.

I commented to the original enquirer that this could lead, in some circumstances, to a situation where an infringing boat may still have an advantage after taking a penalty, but those were the words in the Rule, and there is no current published authoritative case to support any other view.  On that basis my advice to the enquirer was that a single additional turn only was required of the offending boat regardless of the degree of advantage gained.

I was then interested to read Q&A 2013-22 which takes a different approach.  At this point I should point out the status of responses to questions made through World Sailing Q&A service.   The introduction to this service states:

Questions may be submitted to the Q&A Panel by any World Sailing Race Official or Member National Authority (preferably through a World Sailing Race Official) via the World Sailing Executive Office. The Panel may rephrase the question for clarity and may publish the answer online if the question is considered to be of general interest.

Each published Q&A will have an expiration date. Prior to expiration, each Q&A will be reviewed by the Q&A Panel and will be recommended to the RRC and ROC for submission as a Case, Call, or rule change; for inclusion in an applicable World Sailing manual or other publication; or for extension or removal from the website.

Unlike the World Sailing Cases, which are authoritative interpretations and explanations of the rules, these answers are solely to assist Race Officials in applying the rules consistently.

I have not received a response from World Sailing as to whether this Q&A has passed its expiration date, but, given that it is no longer being seen on the WS website, I think we can safely assume it has expired.  Significantly there has been no Case added to the World Sailing Case Book, or a Rule change.

Nevertheless, the response has given me some background as to how and why some competitors would have a different view to mine.

So I have examined the logic used in the old Q&A 2013-22 (NB I have not been able to find a published copy – I am relying on that embedded in the email from Andrew Wardrop).

While I have some sympathy with what this interpretation is trying to achieve, I do not accept the logic that has been used to arrive at that answer.   Why would we say ‘this condition must be applied after each one-turn penalty is taken’, when quite clearly the words of the Rule itself do not say that?  As mentioned before, the Rule talks about ‘a penalty’ and ‘an additional one-turn penalty’.  If the intention was for the option of multiple additional penalties being taken, the rule would have stated that.  This may have been an oversight by the original rule-makers in that they could not imagine a scenario when one additional penalty turn did not restore equilibrium.   Or perhaps they did contemplate it and decided that, if an infringed boat was unable to regain ascendancy after the infringer had taken two penalty turns, then it was more likely that was due to poor sailing on the part of the infringed boat rather than directly caused by the incident itself.  It does sometimes happen when a Rule is made that there are unintended consequences in particular circumstances which were not foreseen.   When that happens, it really should be fixed by amending the Rule, rather than creating an interpretation which, in my opinion, is contradictory to the words of the Rule itself.

At this point in my research, I came across a publication entitled ‘A Case Book for Radio Sailing’, updated as recently as last year.  This publication has been prepared by two experienced and well-respected International Judges, one of whom is known personally to me and who I hold in high esteem, having worked with him on several occasions.

The preface of this ‘Case Book’ is interesting.  While it is clear that it has been prepared by eminently qualified people, in consultation with many within the radio sailing community, it has NOT been endorsed by World Sailing as being authoritative.   I note that the document itself asserts that it has the ‘approval’ of the International Radio Sailing Association (IRSA) which in turn is affiliated with World Sailing.  I could not find confirmation of that endorsement on the IRSA website. Such ‘approval’, to my mind, does not make the publication authoritative, regardless of its well-credentialled origins.

Case B2 is a lot more detailed than the original Q&A mentioned, but the final interpretation of our discussion point is essentially the same  -  that an infringing boat should do more additional turns if they have still gained an advantage after taking the mandatory one additional turn.

So I remain unmoved from my initial verbal response, ie the words of the Rule as it stands require that a single additional turn is all that is required of the infringer regardless of the quantum of the advantage gained, however unfair that might seem in some situations, a view which opposes the B2 interpretation.

This is of course just my personal view and has no authority within the Rules.  If you require a further binding interpretation, you could go through the Q&A process again.  If the answer agrees with mine, then the next step would be to propose a rule change.   If the answer is similar to the 2013 response, then you should be canvassing IRSA to formally request that the ‘CaseBook for Radio Sailing’ be properly adopted by World Sailing thus make all the calls contained in it authoritative advice for the future.

I am happy to assist with the process of workshopping the question with Australian Sailing’s Rules Specialist Group as a first step towards using the Q&A service.

In the meantime, you no doubt want to reduce arguments between your competitors over how this Rule is used in practice, and I have the feeling from comments seen that many are in favour of an outcome which aligns with the B2 interpretation.  

If that is the case, may I suggest that you change the Rule in the NOR and Sailing Instructions, as allowed by RRS 86.1 (b).  Suggested words are:

Replace E4.3 (b) with:

(b)  if the boat gained an advantage in the heat or race by her breach despite taking a penalty, her penalty shall be one or more additional one-turn penalties  until such time as her position in relation to all other boats prior to the infringement occurring, is restored.

You will note that I have deliberately omitted the word ‘significant’ as it is my belief that its inclusion provides just another point to unnecessarily argue.  My philosophical view is that no breach of the Rules, regardless of its ‘significance’, should be rewarded.

Created: 19-Sep-23 22:28
Philip Hubbell
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • Judge In Training
0
I would not presume to question the Case Book for Radio Sailing interpretations, but because I used to interpret it as just one additional turn, I do now include a note in NOR and SI
"The Additional Penalty of RRS E4.3(b) requires additional turns while significant advantage remains. "
Created: 19-Sep-23 22:42
Murray Cummings
Nationality: New Zealand
0
Murray Jones noted:
 The preface of this ‘Case Book’ is interesting.  While it is clear that it has been prepared by eminently qualified people, in consultation with many within the radio sailing community, it has NOT been endorsed by World Sailing as being authoritative. 
Indeed, the preface does itself state that the interpretations are not authoritative...
In time, it is proposed that these interpretations be submitted to WS, so that they become authoritative.

There has been some discussion/debate with regards rule E4.3 and the interpretation of "significant advantage in the heat or race ", and whether or not the advantage is in relation to the boat infringed against or the position in the heat or race of the boat that infringed.  That is, if the infringing boat, after having taken a penalty, is ahead of the boat infringed, yet in the same or worse place in the race, has she gained a significant advantage?

One could argue that, certainly the infringer has gained a significant advantage over the infringed, and that advantage occurred in the heat or race, so she must take an additional penalty.   On the other hand, one could say the infringer did not gain any places in the heat or race, so has not gained a significant advantage in the heat or race.   Personally,  I would lean toward the former as a fairer outcome for the boat infringed.



Created: 19-Sep-24 00:31
Philip Hubbell
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • Judge In Training
0
The rule does not address fairness to an infringed boat.  And advantage need not be measured by places gained.
A breach could lead to avoidance of place loss or a distance or time gain without place gain.
Easy examples are forcing a mark rounding with mark contact in current and a forced port tack entry at a starboard layline parade.
A proper approach could take minutes longer than a two turn penalty.
The rule demands fairness to the fleet as well as to the infringed.
Created: 19-Sep-24 01:07
Murray Jones
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • National Umpire
  • Club Race Officer
0
And of course the easy solution would be to delete E4.3 in its entirety so that RRS 44.1 (b) prevails, where a boat which gains 'a significant advantage in the race or series by her breach her penalty shall be to retire'.  Maybe then the only discussion would be what constitutes 'significant'?
Created: 19-Sep-24 01:18
Murray Cummings
Nationality: New Zealand
0
Significant
1. sufficiently great or important to be worthy of attention;
2. important or noticeable.

These are just two of the common language meanings of the word "significant".   In the example described by  Geoff Webber, boat B did gain a noticeable advantage over boat A in the race by her breach.  With regards boat A, that advantage most certainly would be sufficiently important to be worthy of attention.  Whether or not boat B gained a significant advantage over any other boat in the fleet, or the rest of the fleet as a whole, should be irrelevant at that point.  A singular significant advantage is all that is needed to satisfy rule E4.3(b).

Murray Jones' view regarding the  additional penalty in rule E4.3(b) certainly has merit.  The penalty for a breach is a one-turn penalty, which, once taken, exonerates boat B for that breach.  If, at that point, B has gained a significant advantage over A by the breach, B satisfies E4.3(b) by taking another one-turn penalty and, as written, the rule requires no additional penalties to be taken  ( 'a' and 'an' are both singular determiners).

As pointed out by  Philip Hubbell, " advantage need not be measured by places gained."  Perhaps then,  the words for change that Murray Jones' suggested could be:

Replace E4.3 (b) with:

(b)  if the boat gained an advantage in the heat or race by her breach despite taking a penalty, her penalty shall be one or more additional one-turn penalties  until the advantage is eliminated.


Created: 19-Sep-25 15:43
Philip Hubbell
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • Judge In Training
0
If changing the rule, might as well put some teeth in it:
"...her penalty shall be to retire or one or more additional...until the advantage is eliminated."
Created: 19-Sep-26 00:34
Gordon Davies
Nationality: Ireland
Certifications:
  • International Judge
1
Rule 44 was changed because, in radio sailing, the great majority of sailors did not agree with the requirement to retire if a significant advantage remained after taking a penalty. 

The current rule is an attempt to provide a solution It is not perfect and IRSA is working on revising the rule. One difficulty is to identify if any advantage is due to the infringement or to later actions of an infringed boat. Another is that the current rule refers to the advantage gained by the infringer and does not take in to consideration any disadvantage suffered by the infringed boat.

For example a boat P on port is lying 6th in the heat. She does not keep clear of a boat S on starboard. As a result S gets stuck in irons, partly because she has a rig that is too big for the current conditions. After taking a penalty turn P is 9th n the race but S is behind P.

P has no advantage, because he has not gained a place but S is distinctly unhappy! Should P take a penalty because she is now ahead of S?

Gordon




Created: 19-Sep-29 10:14
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