LET'S MAKE PROTESTING EASIER
Posted on 13-04-2012 by Rob Overton
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Last month, Scuttlebutt published an article by Peter Wilson, complaining that we, as competitors and judges alike, are neither obeying nor enforcing the Fundamental Principle of our sport, as stated in Sportsmanship and the Rules at the beginning of our rulebook. In particular, he notes that sailors are not doing their turns when they know they've broken a rule, and they're not protesting when they know they've been fouled. I've been thinking about that, and there's one thing we rules writers and regatta organizers might do to address this problem: Relax the time and notification requirements for protesting and for taking penalties.

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Rule 32.1 allows a race committee to abandon a race for several specific reasons: (a) errors in the starting sequence; (b) foul weather; (c) insufficient wind making it unlikely that any boats will finish within the time limit; or (d) a mark missing or out of position. Then rule 32.1(e) plays a trump card, allowing the RC to abandon a race ”for any other reason directly affecting the safety or fairness of the competition.” The rule then goes on to add one caveat: ”However, after one boat has sailed the course and finished within the time limit, if any, the race committee shall not abandon the race without considering the consequences for all boats in the race or series.”

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RETRACTION
Posted on 14-04-2011 by Rob Overton
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There is an error in my blog of 14 April about notification requirements for protests and times for voluntary penalties. Protest flags are not required for boats under 6 meters in length (about 20 feet). My blog erroneously gave 8 meters (about 25 feet) as the minimum length for the flag requirement.

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AN UNRULY MARK ROUNDING
Posted on 14-11-2010 by Rob Overton
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In his excellent rules blog “Unruly” (http://rulestalk.blogspot.com/), Matt Knowles poses the following question: “Fleet racing downwind in Lasers, light air, approaching the pin end of a downwind finish. The boats enter the zone [as shown in the diagram below]. At position 3, Blue bears off to avoid Yellow and protests. What should the decision be?”

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RULE 20, BLOG 3
Posted on 16-10-2010 by Rob Overton
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In my most recent two blogs on this site, I’ve pointed out a couple of problems with the current rule 20: A boat hailed for room to tack can’t legally pass the hail on to a boat that’s to windward of her; and a leeward port-tack boat approaching a starboard-tack boat can legally use rule 20 to “scrape off” the boat to windward of her, then duck the starboard-tacker. Both of those are unintended consequences of the way rule 20 is written, and the US Racing Rules Committee has proposed to change the rule in 2013, to fix those problems.

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