Wednesday, September 25, 2019

What is so hard?

Why is it so difficult to get the results of Sailing events?

I have just been trying to do a report on the BUSA Tour of the USA. It happens every two years The last event of this year was almost a week ago. I have managed it, by dredging the internet. Reports were out there, in the USA and on Facebook, but BUSA is still working ona report and might send me something "in a few days".

They are not alone in this, I have had problems with Match Racing where most of the event is on the web, except for the final result!! There might be a report about a week later but surely you owe it to the participants to let them know how it turned out when they get home, or at least when they get home from work on Monday.

Sailing needs publicity if it is to compete with all the other activities available in the modern world. I think we fail to use local papers enough. It shouldn't be this difficult.

Thursday, August 1, 2019


There are lots of boats at the Optimist Nationals, many collisions, and very few protests.

Those we have had seem to have been put in in the belief that it will enhance an insurance claim. I believe that this is somehow based on the idea of car insurance where you exchange details and the insurer might do a knock for knock arrangement with the other insurer.

Racing is different, it is why you need to have a policy with "racing risks".  Just because someone has broken a rule will not prove them liable. The risk of collision is inherent if you are racing and damage is to be expected. Even a right of way boat risks disqualification if they are found to have breeched Rule 14 Avoiding collisions, so protesting is a risky business. And besides the protest committee is specifically forbidden feom considring any issue of liability (at least in the UK)

That said, how do we encourage protests? It is all very well saying that sailors are expected to enforce the rules (see Basic Principles) but that doesn't get it done. There used to be a rule that said a sailor seeing two boats collide could protest them if neither protested, and the result of such a protest, if sucessful, would see both boats disqualified.. Perhaps it is time that this old rule was brought back.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

I am Inspired

I have just finished serving as one of three "old farts" on an International Jury.

One of the members was a (oops PC moment) a young person of the opposite gender. Girl if you want to be non PC - anyway considerably younger than this "old fart". That aside, she has my absolute admiration for even attempting to Chair a Jury - in a foreign language, anyone not brought up in an English speaking country will make errors. I don't even dare to attempt foreign languages, so can only stand back in admiration to those who try. It is inspirational.

However, the thought was that the advice of the "old farts" might be more generally useful- hence a blog.

The advice was - write only the facts needed to make a decision. Which is OK, as far as it goes, but has a more general application.

The key to our Jury room kept going missing - on coming ashore we were regularly locked out and I would find competitors asking me for a protest form. Sailors were really quite shocked when I gave them a piece of paper and said "There you go. Write it out". Always remember - "A protest has to be in writing and identify the incident" THAT'S IT! 61.2

The identity of the protestor and protestee can be met at any time before the hearing (but how you call a hearing without it seems a mystery to me, so it would be useful to put it in) Where and when can be stated at any time before or during the hearing.

So scribble it down and get it IN!! Because if it ain't lodged in time it is invalid (61.3 It's a different rule). Even if the SI's say it must be on the "Official Form" chances are they have failed to comply with 85.1 and specifically say that this is in addition to rule 61. (also useful if they want you to tell the finish boat and you forgot)

So we got distracted with writing.

When writing facts for a decision I will tend to write the indisputable facts first. Most protest decisions revolve around one critical fact. If you do all the facts around this, the ones that are not disputed, it can simplify discussion and concentrate minds, making the decision process easier. The trick is to identify the critical fact. (I guess that is where Umpiring helps, as when umpiring, your whole approach is to position your boat so that you can see the critical fact.)

That's it. Except to mention that commas are important. I put a number in while reviewing this post. So maybe I shouldn't be too reticent about suggesting them for SI's but again, when the SI's are written by someome who is using a second language, it seems very petty, as long as the sense is there.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Does it matter?

I have a problem with Lasers tacking.

The problem stems from the fact that I do too much Umpiring. When umpiring, particularly team racing, you have to call when a tack is complete. That is the point at which you judge the speed of the boat. Is it travelling faster than when it entered the track. (Which was when it passed head to wind). Leave the boat heeled after this and you risk getting a penalty for propelling the boat. The act of bringing the boat upright has the effect of the stroke of a paddle and there is no change of direction. This happen quite often in Match Racing where the crew take their time before bringing the boat upright.

At the last two events I have had to watch Lasers complete their tack and then do a massive rock. The turn is so sharp that the boat is practically stationary on completion of the tack, all the rock does is accelerate the boat back to normal speed. Everyone does it, and no one cares.

What they should be doing are vmg tacks. The initial roll is to steer the boat into the tack. As the course is changing you cannot penalise that. The second roll to bring the boat upright should be done before the boat comes down to the new close hauled course. This can propel the boat to windward, hence calling it vmg (velocity made good) The trick is to come down to the new closehauled course once the speed has dropped to what it was on entering the tack.

Done well and smoothly you gain at least a boatlength directly to windward on each tack and shouldn't be yellow flagged. Much better than the ugly ninety degree turn and massive rock I have been watching recently.

But what cares about such technicalities?

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Institutional Memory

It has been interesting to observe the way that University Sailing Clubs organise their events. Some you know will be good, others you wonder what is going to happen. Much depends on the "Institutional Memory".

Traditionally, Oxford and Cambridge had this sorted many years ago. Details of previous events were passed on to the next years event, lessons were learnt, and innovations introduced gradually. The result was smooth running well organised events.

Recently, we are noticing a some other University Clubs getting it together, Nottingham was a good example. However, I think that it takes at least five or more years to get the traditions established and everyone familiar with the programme. It also takes a powerful personality to establish it in the first place. (Evidenced in a recent facebook post)

It is also amazing how quickly the memory can be lost. It took a single year at one of the well organised university for things to go wrong. Luckily, not everything was lost but it has taken about three years to get back near to the well oiled machine that existed before.

No doubt there is paperwork behind the sucessful events but at the end of the day it comes down to people, and culture, as evidenced by the examples above.

Friday, February 15, 2019

A lifetime's Experience

I really find it hard to understand how someone could think that taking a jib halyard out of a mast is not going to cause inconvenience to the next user. Putting it neatly under the foredeck and forgetting about it just does not cut it - in my opinion. Not to mention the fact that with a modern mast you have to mouse the thing to get it back in. Does no one care anymore?

Similarly, your crew are sitting out using the toestraps and you tell them it's not something I would do in an institutional boat, I use something solid like the thwart or centreboard capping  - And, lo and behold, as you tell them "often the toe straps knots are undone" - you notice that the toestrap knots are undone.

Increasingly I find shroud pins not taped - no one seems to care. What matter that you could lose a mast.

Noticing and understanding such thing si the result of a lifetime of experience. I uess one shouldn't expect young sailors to realise such things or the possible consequences.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Its Complicated, or is it?

I rarely post to discussions on Racing Rules of Sailing but was tempted by a discussion on  racing or finished racing? Put my piece up and was amazed at the way the discussion continued in a vigorous manner.

The problem arises because a boat finishes "when any part ... crosses the finishing line", but is still racing (and therefore subject to the racing rules) until she "clears the finishing line and marks". She can, therefore, be penalised if she hits the finish mark (or for other infringements) after finishing but before clearing the line and marks.

A most interesting aspect of the discussion was probably the question of whether having finished and cleared the line, subsequent actions could bring her close to a mark and put her back into a racing state. Rules can switch on and off like that.

At least one correspondent mentioned "Overtaking Boat" and didn't seem to consider RRS24, another did.

It was an interesting discussion - I said I liked the argument put forward - but was surprised by the amount of correspondence it generated.

Anyone can register on  Racing Rules of Sailing it is not an official World Sailing site but an interesting forum which, I think, gives an insight ito how the average sailor might think about the rules.