Finishing Etiquette

May 17, 2004
3,471
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
After this week's Thursday Night race I got some, let's say, constructive criticism, and it got me thinking about if there's anything I should've done differently.

Here's the situation - Upwind finish with very light (~4 kt) north wind, and current of about 3/4 kt also from the north. I was approaching the starboard end of the line on starboard tack. As soon as I was at the mark I went head to wind to nose across. I slowly fell back to starboard to get some breathing room from the mark, then slowly tacked onto port to get up-river and clear the finish line. Once I had the whole boat across the line and I was confident I had cleared the mark and wouldn't drift back down onto it I saw two other racers approaching the line, one on a similar angle to where I had been, and one coming from down-river on port. It looked like the two of them would converge just downwind of me, and I was making less progress in the dying wind. So I started my engine and went into forward at about half throttle while we began furling our jib and in-mast furling main, still on close hauled port tack upwind of the line. After we finished furling I turned back to see that the port boat (in my fleet and owed time by me) had fallen below the mark. It looked like he had ducked the starboard boat, or maybe he was just battling the current and dying wind. It took him several more minutes to tack twice more and cross the line.

Here's a depiction - me in the black boat, the other starboard tacker (from another fleet) in green, and port tack in red. I started my engine and began furling when my stern was somewhere around the E.

1631415750580.png


After the race Port said to me that by motoring and furling my sails while in the finish area I chewed up all the air, and that's what stopped him before the line. My initial impression was it was sour grapes that he had fallen back far enough to not correct ahead of me, after he was ahead of me earlier that leg. I didn't think that it would have been good of me to just sit above the finish line with my sails up, making a big wind shadow over the mark, and being burdened if he got to leeward of me. But I'm willing to learn, so if anyone thinks I should've done something else what ideas are there?
 
Feb 26, 2004
21,954
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
The idea is to get away, quickly. Reasons could be confused by some as excuses. Light wind, you turned your motor on anyway, why faff around with furling the sails? Just get away from the line, asap.

After my very first race, some bozo playing around after he finished T-boned me!!! Only good thing was that the ONLY thing he said was, "I'll pay, I'll pay, I'll pay to fix it!"

Get away. With your drawing and the light winds, and the engine on, turn right (to starboard) and away from the line. Once you've finished, there's no reason to be anywhere near the line. Why "half throttle?"
 
Oct 22, 2014
16,103
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
David. Sounds like you acted in a proper manner. There are many options that lead folk to review their race performance. To focus on the last 10 minutes as the thing that caused the Port’ boat‘s outcome feels like “if I blame David then it was not me that lost’.

Chalk it up to another experience from a Thursday night and move forward. There is another Thursday night coming next week. Maybe the skipper will worry about last week and use different tactics. And you when you finish can clear the line expeditiously considerate of the racers still on the course.
 
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Jan 1, 2006
6,084
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
You are not required to provide clean air to those finishing behind you. It is up to them to avoid your bad air. You could have turned downwind and with the current to exit the area as long as you didn't break any part 2 rules. Would that have made the other skipper any happier?
 
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Oct 19, 2017
6,939
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
Port said to me that by motoring and furling my sails while in the finish area I chewed up all the air, and that's what stopped him before the line.
No!
That's how it works. Port was suggesting that your removing a sail who's wind shadow he wasn't even in, was adversity affecting his wind? I call shenanigans on that $#!+.

He miscalculated and missed the line. It's as simple as that. However, I'm sure you have broad shoulders, David. You can shoulder his blame if he can't.

-Will
 
May 17, 2004
3,471
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
Thanks to all for the feedback. To @Stu Jackson ’s point about why half throttle - that was still enough to go about a knot faster than the boats behind me, so no risk of collision. My crew took care of the furling lines while I steered, so it didn’t really delay my progress. Good point that I could’ve turned further right and sped away from the line before letting my sails luff while furling. To @shemandr ’s point that I wasn’t required to provide clear air - I’m not so sure. It probably depends on interpretation of rule 23.1 - “If reasonably possible, a boat not racing shall not interfere with a boat that is racing.” I’d say deliberately blanketing a racing boat would be violating “interference”. I just didn’t think that furling while motoring away would be any more interference than was “reasonably possible” to avoid. If I had motored out to the right that would’ve blanketed everyone momentarily, but probably removed any opportunity to claim that furling was interference.
 
Feb 26, 2004
21,954
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
@Davidasailor26

Thx for the explanation. Always a good learning experience for us all. Enjoy your racing. When I first started racing in 1999, I wrote a Mainsheet article: "What it looks like from the Back of the Pack." It took me seven years to come out at the other end! :) But everything in between was pure fun, too.
 
Jan 1, 2006
6,084
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
Definitions: Racing
"A boat is racing from her preparatory signal until she finishes and clears the finishing line and marks ..."
Notice that a boat is still racing after it finishes until it clears the finishing line.
Rule 23.1:
"If reasonably possible, a boat not racing shall not interfere with a boat that is racing.."
Since the OP had finished but had not cleared the finish line, he was still racing and could only have been penalized if he violated a rule in Part 2, "When boats meet."
I couldn't find a definition of "Clearing the finish line" but imagine it includes moving away from the line to not interfere with boats finishing. Rule 23.1 uses the phrase "Reasonably possible", I think to include situations like this where the boats aren't going very fast. The rule cannot include starting the motor because the RRS are for racing of many boats - some without engines.
I don't think 23.1 is looking to the situation as described. I think it is for situations when finished boats mess with boats still sailing the course. A competitor may want to do this to increase the time Delta. Or to help a buddy or team mate.
That's my take. I'd like to hear what the appeals cases have on this.
 
Jan 1, 2006
6,084
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
This is a copy and paste from the appeals book 2017. Unfortunately the diagram didn't make it:

appeal 16—When no part of a boat’s hull, equipment or crew is still on the finishing line, she has cleared it. a boat that has finished and cleared the finishing line and its marks is no longer racing and is not subject to penalty, unless she breaks rule 14 and causes injury or serious damage, or interferes with a boat still racing. Rule 14 applies to a boat that is racing, even if the contact is with a boat no longer racing.
Here is the whole appeal:
APPEAL 16
Flying Dutchman USA 546 vs. Flying Dutchman USA 800
Definitions, Racing
Part 2 Preamble
Rule 14, Avoiding Contact
Rule 24.1, Interfering with Another Boat
When no part of a boat’s hull, equipment or crew is still on the finishing line, she has cleared it. A boat that has finished and cleared the finishing line and its marks is no longer racing and is not subject to penalty, unless she breaks rule 14 and causes injury or serious damage, or interferes with a boat still racing. Rule 14 applies to a boat that is racing, even if the contact is with a boat no longer racing.


USA 800
2
USA 546
January 2017
B–13
The Appeals Book for 2017–2020
Facts and Decision of the Protest Committee
In a race of a Flying Dutchman national championship in light wind, USA 800 was to leeward and approximately two hull lengths ahead of USA 546 as the boats approached the finishing line. Both boats were beating on starboard tack. At the finishing line, USA 800 luffed head to wind and finished first. As she cleared the finishing line her genoa backwinded, and she was forced onto port tack. USA 546 saw USA 800 tack and could have borne away to avoid the con- tact, but failed to do so. Contact occurred after USA 546 had finished but had not yet cleared the finishing line. Damage that was not serious resulted from the contact. USA 546 protested under rule 10 (On Opposite Tacks) and rule 24.1.
The protest committee dismissed the protest, stating that because USA 800 had finished and cleared the finishing line, she was no longer racing and therefore not subject to disqualifica- tion.
USA 546 appealed, on the grounds that “clears the finishing line” must be interpreted to mean that a boat continues racing until she is sufficiently far from the finishing line that her maneuvers will no longer affect other boats that are still racing.
Decision of the Appeals Committee
It is clear that USA 800 broke rule 10 and rule 14 (Avoiding Contact). The question is whether she was still subject to disqualification. The preamble to Part 2 states: “...a boat not racing shall not be penalized for breaking one of these rules, except rule 14 when the incident resulted in injury or serious damage, or rule 24.1.” The definition Racing states: “A boat is racing...until she finishes and clears the finishing line and marks...” Failure to clear the finishing marks is not at issue here; and when no part of a boat’s hull, equipment or crew is still on the finishing line, she has cleared it. Therefore USA 800 was no longer racing at the time of the incident and can- not be penalized for breaking a rule of Part 2 (When Boats Meet), except rules 14 and 24.1.
The damage was not serious, therefore USA 800 is not penalized for breaking rule 14.
Rule 24.1 states: “If reasonably possible, a boat not racing shall not interfere with a boat that is racing.” In this case, USA 800 was not racing, but interfered with USA 546 who was still racing. Furthermore, it was clearly possible for her to avoid the incident. Therefore, the decision of the protest committee is changed to disqualify USA 800 for breaking rule 24.1. To that extent, USA 546’s appeal is sustained.
However, USA 546, because she had not yet cleared the finishing line, was still racing at the time of the incident. Therefore she was obligated by rule 14, even though she was the right-of- way boat, to avoid contact if it was reasonably possible to do so. When USA 800 completed her tack, it was clear to USA 546 that USA 800 was not keeping clear. At that point it was rea- sonably possible for USA 546 to have avoided contact, but she failed to do so (see rule 14(a)). Therefore USA 546 broke rule 14, and is to be penalized because there was damage.
USA 546’s appeal is upheld. The decision of the protest committee is changed. Both USA 546 and USA 800 are disqualified.
January 1965 Revised January 2017
Here's the link for whoever isn't sleeping ...
https://www.ussailing.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Appeals-Book-for-2017-2020.pdf
It's page 81


Now that clears it up, doesn't it?
 
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May 17, 2004
3,471
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
Definitions: Racing
"A boat is racing from her preparatory signal until she finishes and clears the finishing line and marks ..."
Notice that a boat is still racing after it finishes until it clears the finishing line.
Rule 23.1:
"If reasonably possible, a boat not racing shall not interfere with a boat that is racing.."
Since the OP had finished but had not cleared the finish line, he was still racing and could only have been penalized if he violated a rule in Part 2, "When boats meet."
I couldn't find a definition of "Clearing the finish line" but imagine it includes moving away from the line to not interfere with boats finishing. Rule 23.1 uses the phrase "Reasonably possible", I think to include situations like this where the boats aren't going very fast. The rule cannot include starting the motor because the RRS are for racing of many boats - some without engines.
I don't think 23.1 is looking to the situation as described. I think it is for situations when finished boats mess with boats still sailing the course. A competitor may want to do this to increase the time Delta. Or to help a buddy or team mate.
That's my take. I'd like to hear what the appeals cases have on this.
There is another case about the definition of racing in the case book for the current version of the rules. It’s case 127 at https://www.sailing.org/tools/documents/CaseBookfor20212024withVersion2chgcorctns-[27418].pdf. The ruling is “A boat clears the finishing line and marks when the following two conditions are met: no part of her hull, crew or equipment is on the line, and no finishing mark is influencing her choice of course.
For example, a boat that clears the finishing line and then continues to sail toward a finishing mark, where current sets her into the mark, is still racing and has broken rule 31. However, a boat that crosses the finishing line, and sails to a position at which no finishing mark is influencing her choice of course, is no longer racing. If, later, she hits a finishing mark, she does not break rule 31”.

I was careful to not start my engine until I was comfortable that my stern was across the line and that I wasn’t at risk of drifting back to the mark. Certainly I couldn’t be called “interfering” before then, as I was still racing and needed to do whatever I could to get clear without using the engine as propulsion. Once I did meet those conditions 23.1 comes into play. There are no cases in the book about that rule though to help with the definition of “interfere”.
 
Jan 1, 2006
6,084
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
I gotta start referencing the current RRS or appeals. I'll read Case 127. Not having read it I'm wondering what circumstance the 2nd condition would apply.
 
May 17, 2004
3,471
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
I gotta start referencing the current RRS or appeals. I'll read Case 127. Not having read it I'm wondering what circumstance the 2nd condition would apply.
It’s not much of a “case”, basically just a question and answer. I think the second condition would matter in cases like this with significant current, where a boat could cross the line but still be at risk of getting pushed down on a mark, so she must continue to sail in certain directions to avoid it.
 
Jan 1, 2006
6,084
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
OK, basically current. So if you have finished but are worried about the current dragging you back towards a mark, or worse committee boat including the rode(?), you are still racing. In which case I would immediately turn down current and pass the buoy on the down current side and be clear and therefore not racing. I would have to do that in accordance with Part 2 rules, because I would still be racing. Once clear, I would have to avoid "Interfering" with boats that are still racing.
Applied to your situation, you posted that you were careful to make sure your stern had crossed the finish line, and I see in reading the OP that the mark was influencing your course. So you weren't clear until it wasn't a concern - I guess. If you started the engine earlier then when you were clear, while you were racing, you would be subject to DSQ penalty. Once clear you still have the obligation to avoid interfering with boats racing. I'm just not certain that starting your engine, and furling the jib meets the non-existent definition of interference. I think those actions would constitute the test of "Reasonable possible." I'd find for you in the room.
As for etiquette, I don't know. Racing, even casual racing, is not a Cotillion.
 

PaulK

.
Dec 1, 2009
793
Sabre 402 Southport, CT
Of course the other Starboard tack boat had nothing to do with Port's getting stuck in any wind shadow or bad air. (Did Port have to duck him, btw?) And Port's tacking twice in the space of what looks like three boatlengths and (as you say) ~4kts of wind had nothing to do with stopping his forward motion. Would he have preferred for you to have left your sails up and stayed directly to windward of him, not starting your engine, not furling your sails, and not moving away? Methinks he protest too much.
 
Oct 26, 2008
5,012
Catalina 320 Barnegat, NJ
I tend to think that there is far more tension during light wind races than otherwise. It's frustrating that the boat doesn't move and it seems like options are very limited. I'd bet that he needed to duck the other boat, which fouled his finish and left him with nothing but sour grapes expressed at you. Knowing that you wouldn't intentionally pull a cheap trick on a fellow racer, I'm sure he'll get over it.

That said, I'd agree with Stu that your better option, once you cranked your engine, was to turn left (or right) and get out of there (unless there were other reasons not stated).
 
Jun 8, 2020
71
Hunter 34 White Portland, OR
why not fall off and sail away from the line with the wind and current in your favor getting well clear of the line? Assuming no competing boats are sailing into the area you would sail into to clear the line.
Or
why not continue on starboard sailing past the pin one the other side then lower your sails and start engine once you are out of the"box,"
My interpretation is that you are still teaching even though you have finished since you have not cleared the line and are an obstruction until you are clear.
And Port definitely had sour grapes.
Good luck in your next race, may the wind be more favorable.
Sam
 
May 17, 2004
3,471
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
Good points Scott and Sam. Light air maneuvering definitely is more tense than in a good breeze. Sitting trying to find a puff of air while another boat approaches is pretty high stress.

To add a couple more considerations for future thread readers - the port end of the line is a flagpole on land, so bailing out to that side isn’t an option. Our slip is on a fairway on that side, which is why my default escape is straight north rather than out to the right. It saves me a (very) little time and keeps me from needing to cross back over boats that have finished and are going home further north. But still to avoid any controversy in the future I could just motor out to the right.