Monday, February 28, 2022

The Gybe-back

 We had an interesting incident at a recent event which has me thinking about the way rule 18 switches on and off during a gybeback.  The gybe -back typically occurs at mark 4, on a standard team racing S course, just before the final beat to the finish, so ignore mark numbering in the diagrams, the wind comes from the top of the diagrams which is where the finish is. Remember that the normal rules apply inside the zone but . . .

The problem is that 43.1(b) says that "When a boat is sailing within .. mark room to which she is entitled and ... she breaks a rule of Section A of Part 2, rule 15, 16, or 31 she is exonerated for her breach"

This means that the Umpires need to note when the boat is in the corridor leading to the mark.

In this diagram at position 5 the yellow boat is still within the corridor, as her boom has to clear the mark (ignore the diagram) so blue gets the penalty. However, in the scenario below we have to penalise yellow, as at position 5 she is outside the corridor to the mark and her alteration of course did not give blue room to keep clear. (OK the diagrams are not that clear but hopefully you get the point.)

Interesting, is the idea that the provisions of 18 switch on when the boat begins to turn and use the corridor. Consider this:-

The blue boat is keeping clear and had yellow held her course between positions 7 &8 would have passed clear of yellow. Yellow clearly altered in a manner which gave blue no chance to keep clear. However, since she has not yet passed the mark and her alteration was towards the mark she was using the room to which she was entitled. There was no breach of 15 as she remained right of way, is she exonerated for the breach of 16, even if the turn towards the mark was not completed?
There is, however, a get out for the blue boat in 43.1(a) since her infringement was as a consequence of yellow breaking 16 she is entitled to exonerated for her breach of rule 10.   

These complications don't occur when the inexperienced try the gybe-back outside the zone. They fail to understand the full power of the gybe-back done inside the zone and the exonerations available when this happens. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Recovering Capsized boats

 Sailing dinghies capsize due to the wind, once capsized they are generally too involved in recovering the boat to worry about the wind but it can have a significant effect on how easy it is to recover the boat. One can excuse powerboat drivers for ignoring it , but again if they used it life could be so much easier, and the boat would be back in use much quicker.

The most obvious use of wind comes when a boat has inverted and the the centreboard has gone up into the case. The boat will generally lie across the wind. If you get the crew to stand on the leeward gunwale, the boat will begin to right. They can put their fingers into the slot to balance, but the object is to keep their weight on their feet, on the gunwale. The wind will assist this process and as the boat drifts downwind you will generally find that the end of the boom surfaces. THIS IS A GIANT LEVER!. If you, in the powerboat, can get hold of this you can lever the boat upright by working your way along the leach to the masthead. 

Once there it is essential that you control the righting, the boat will be downwind, so if you just throw it upright it is quite likely to just go straight over again. Either try and have the crew in a position to be scooped in as per an RYA Capsize recovery, OR walk it upright, keeping hold of the shroud as you work your way towards the boat.

The rig lying upwind is a problem even if the crew are recovering the boat. The most useful thing a powerboat can do in this situation is to get the boat head to wind. To do this put your bow into the bow of the capsized boat, have your crew grab the forestay and reverse upwind, so that the boat comes head to wind. The crew can right it and it might stay upright instead of flipping straight over as it would if you left it. Having your crew in the bow will assist in keeping your transom high and reduce the water taken on board your powerboat.

If the rig is stuck in the mud you have to get it out. Generally the wind will be pushing it deeper and deeper into the mud, otherwise the crew would have recovered it.  There are two approaches, you can try and rotate the boat so that the hull is no longer upwind, but you risk bending or breaking the mast. The other method is to pull the boat upwind and have the mast come out of the mud on the same trajectory as it went in. You might put your painter around the shroud and reverse upwind but often you don't get a result, due the inability to develop sufficient power in reverse. You can try getting the line astern, but then you have to be further away from the boat or your prop might be too close to the crew in the water and maintaining the correct angle becomes more difficult.  

Another method is to put your bow into the cockpit of the boat and push it out by going ahead. This gives you much more power but you need to be aware that your propeller is close to the mast and mainsail of the boat. The main is usually lying straight down due to the weight of he boom but you need to be careful. Once the mast is out of the mud it will begin to come up alongside your powerboat. Grab the mast, go into neutral, and lift it up, working your way to the masthead. Check the wind, before you start to right it by working back towards the boat lifting the mast over your head. You should have blown round but attempting to push a rig up against the wind is not good news, it's hard. Better to bring the rig round so that it is at least across the wind, being at the masthead should mean that your propeller is well away from the crew.

Finally don't forget that you do NOT want to chop up the sailors with your propeller. If they get close to the prop the quickest and safest way is to pull the kill cord. You will, of course, have checked that it works at the beginning of the day. Be aware that this applies if you are alongside a capsized boat, feet can easily trail under the boat towards your propeller, so know where the crew are!

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Umpiring Short Handed

 It is not unusual, at some events, to be on your own in the umpire boat and often the only Umpire on a three boat team race. While the Umpiring Manual has a section on this it is not very detailed.

These events are often quite "Grass Root" and as such the competitors often do things which are unexpected, also they cannot manoeuvre their boats as efficiently as the best teams, so as an umpire you need to allow more space and to be alert. 

The manual advises following the normal left hand route, it does say that this should be adjusted to give the best view of incidents. This means that as you go up the first beat you need to decide where the action is going to be. If at the front you will follow the normal route along the top of the reach. However, if it is at the back you might choose to follow the right hand track, following below the top reach. This has the advantage that you can cut across to mark 3 without having to make a lot of wake.

The last beat is often a problem as it is easy to get trapped, either out to one side or with the action catching up, behind you. It is often profitable to "hang back" as this makes it easier to observe all the boats and the crossing angles are more easily observed than when you are having to switch observations between pairs of boats.

With single boat umpiring the convention is that the umpire boat taking the race will take the pin or left front position and the umpire for the next race will assist from the committee boat or right rear position, assuming they get back from any previous races. With a 3 minute sequence the second boat will return to their start about 1minute after the start.

If there is a "Floater" it may be possible to identify critical matches and they can join that race for it's entirety or until it is clear that the action is over, or it may be possible for them to pick up the race at Mark 3 and follow to the finish. The way they join this race depends very much on the timing of their arrival, which is often dictated by the action in the previous race and the way the race has spread out. Ideally, there will be a pair at the rear that they can pick p as they go into mark 3. However, it is often the case that there are four boats fighting as they approach mark 3. In this case they might pick up the leading pair, probably as they approach mark 4. What is important is that they act clearly and decisively so that the race umpire knows that he can leave decisions in respect of those boats to the Floater. 

Unfortunately, radio is not a lot of use in these circumstances, as you are on your own, driving the boat and trying to signal, so don't have a spare hand for the radio.

Finally, it would be nice if the Umpire Manual 14.3, made some reference to ensuring the comfort of fellow Umpires. Having the opportunity for a comfort break, or ensuring that hot drinks are delivered can make a big difference if working in a cold climate.


Wednesday, September 8, 2021

It's so easy

 Recently competed in the British Keelboat League event in Cardiff Bay. We got in 18 short (12mins) races over the two days. 

We finished 10th out of 13, not as good as I would have liked but ahead of Cardiff Sailing Centre. We could say we would have been 9th, if we hadn't gone trawling with the kite, which probably cost us 3 points but that is the point. It is so easy to focus in on this one incident. The crew didn't intend to throw the kite out before we were ready to hoist, and I took my time before adding my strength to the hoist.

The crew were young and inexperienced and would not have noticed the mistakes the helm made. Had we fought for first place in the first race, instead of gybing away on the run, would things have been different?

In a couple of races we allowed ourselves to get held out past the lay line instead of ducking and getting back into the middle. If we hadn't tried to go dead downwind and fallen into a hole in the wind.

Still there were little victories, crossing on port 3ft ahead of the starboard tack boat, tacking off and ducking by 6 inches. You could feel the disbelief from the crew.  

Its an interesting format but does need a different approach - stay out of trouble and keep your options open.

Friday, August 6, 2021

The Nelson Touch

 or a dereliction of duty?

Well, at a recent regatta the Race Officer set a bearing to the first mark, the visibility was low and the marklayer misread his gps so that he was around 30 degrees off that bearing. Marks 1, 2 and 3 were practically in a straight line. 

One sailor comes seeking redress, and gets it in before the expiry of protest time. Problem is, he is saying that the course was not as described, since he was told to sail from Mark 3 direct to the finish, ignoring Mark 5. He did also mention mention that he had been looking for Mark 1 upwind and had lost places when he saw everyone else going to what he had assumed was Mark 2. Normally, he would finish in the top 4, this race he was around 12th - he says as a result of the mislaying of Mark 1. He admits to not having a compass - they seem to have gone out of fashion.

The Race Officer admits to the mistakes. I didn't want to get into considering redress for everyone, so suggested that the Race Officer see if he could come to an equitable arrangement with the unhappy sailor. Which he does, and no one complains!

Then there is the protest where the protestor fails to turn up. From the form it seems that there were a number of boats involved. The protestee says he couldn't give room because of a boat outside of him but is unable to identify him. I was hoping to arbitrate it but that is not an option when the other party isn't there. Should I have got a  couple of other people and formed a protest committee, or was it OK to go ahead with a one person committee?

Was it OK to exonerate the boat on the basis of an infringement by an unknown boat? I suppose I could research it - but the protestee was happy and we heard nothing more from the protestor.

We did have a couple of arbitrations - one involving a windward mark and a boat coming in on port having overstood. Another boat on starboard claimed to have tacked outside the zone, and that the other boat was clear astern when she entered the zone. The interesting thing about this was that the tacking boat MUST have been overlapped with the other boat when she passed head to wind. She might or might not have completed her tack and broken the overlap before she entered the zone, but the geometry of the situation meant that they must have been on the same tack and overlapped from the moment that boat passed head to wind until some other point. So the onus part of the rule came into play and there was no way without a witness that she could prove she had broken the overlap before entering the zone. The advice was that she should have given room. Interesting in that the overlap existed from the moment she passed head to wind even though she was subject to rule 13.


Thursday, June 3, 2021

What do you expect?

We have been thrown out of our storage unit, so junk collected over 15years all has to be out of there within the next week. We don't have anywhere for it to go and there are not a lot of people volunteering to assist.

I have just posted photos of me loading a motor boat onto its trailer on Facebook  I fully expect to be told that I shouldn't have been doing it that way. That is what I expect, but how else were we to comply with the other requirement of getting the place empty. Besides one of the nice things about working on your own is you can work at a considered pace and you don't have to worry about someone else doing something stupid. If it goes wrong you know who to blame.

Today I was carting old Topper hulls around on my own. I guess I shouldn't be doing that now I am a pensioner, but if I don't who will? It was interesting trying to get six toppers to stay on edge.

More boat moving tomorrow. It's amazing how the miles stack up as well.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Make them an Officer

My club is creating a Development Plan.

The comment is "We need a Publicity Officer" 

Who wants to be an Officer? Why would anyone want the responsibility? What would be expected of this person? It's not the way things work these days.

I feel strongly that the club needs better publicity and communication and already produce a regular newssheet for them, but they aAA