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First Contact! (What are the rules after being hit by another boat?)

Sep 15, 2016
614
Catalina 22 Minnesota
So during the Catalina 22 Nationals regatta I had my first contact with another vessel. We were the starboard boat they were the port. We were struck mid cockpit as we were beam reaching just after the 5 min start sequence had begun. The other boat was close hauled and not paying attention. After some yelling and a quick turn of the tiller we received a glancing blow, damaging their bow and our port side rub rail. Praise the Lord no one was hurt and no broken fiberglass. The other boat apologized on the water, but I was in a bit of shock as it happened.

So now that’s it’s been a week or so I am replaying the event and have a few questions. Should I have protested the boat? What are the penalties for contacting another boat at the start of the race? Damage was light but could have been much worse had we not turned immediately down wind (at the speed they were going we would have certainly broken the hull and likely lost the outboard hanging off the back) how is one to handle such an accident? Fortunately like I said damage was minimal and I can fare out the aluminum rub rail to make it smooth with a grinder I believe but if I ever find myself in this position again what is the proper course?



For reference no I did not protest, the boat that hit me was in 1st overall and took the cup. We finished 6th overall out of 9 boats in our fleet and had a great time. After the contact we had a poor start but did manage a 7th place finish.
 
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Jun 29, 2010
1,246
Beneteau First 235 Lake Minnetonka, MN
Seeing as you did not protest there is nothing that can be done except you and the boat owner working out the insurance side of things. I haven't looked it up yet but, you may not have been "racing" yet either so a protest wouldn't do anything. I was fouled by a boat in another fleet that was done racing and we still were a few weeks ago, nothing to be done there.
 
Jul 7, 2004
7,914
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
I don't race, but I would think the other boat should have been reported. Not only did they get away with not following the rules, they won. Maybe had they lost a position they might think twice before they do it again
 
Feb 21, 2013
3,619
Hunter 46 Point Richmond, CA
Sorry to hear about the contact. Had a "near" collision one a race in the San Francisco Bay a few years back while we were on starboard tack and another boat on port tack caused us to give way at the first mark. I did not protest either. As I understand, a protest by a boat, or by the race committee, technical committee or protest committee about an incident observed in the racing area, shall be delivered to the race office within the time limit stated in the sailing instructions. If none is stated, the time limit is two hours after the last boat in the race finishes.
 
Sep 15, 2016
614
Catalina 22 Minnesota
Seeing as you did not protest there is nothing that can be done except you and the boat owner working out the insurance side of things. I haven't looked it up yet but, you may not have been "racing" yet either so a protest wouldn't do anything.
I did not intend for people to think I would protest now. Afterall the race is over and clearly it is after the time limit that the RSS define as @sail sfbay mentioned. My question is more in regards to your second comment. Are we considered racing at the start of the 5 min sequence? Would the penalty be simply as 720 or would it result in a DNS? At this point the questions are more academic to help me should there ever be another incident in the future (which I hope there never is).

As for insurance I am sure there is less than $500 damage (even if I replaced the entire rub rail) which would be the deductible anyway. Had I lost the motor or broken something major or there been injuries certainly there would have been insurance involved and our racing for that day would have ended. In the end everyone was ok, and boats can be fixed. I just more curious on the proper "rules".
 
Jan 1, 2006
5,989
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
Just because you can protest doesn't mean you have to. Every fleet has its tolerance level for minor collisions and infractions of the RRS.
Nevertheless, a harmless incident can change once the skippers digest the incident. They talk with other sailers or family and tempers can escalate. People can become defensive. So, as soon as possible you should write down all the details of the incident that you can remember and have your crew so the same - independently. You should carefully inspect your damage and that of the other boat if possible, take pictures and include that in the narrative. If you hailed the other boat and asked about injuries include that. Make sure you include any injuries your crew has or lack of. I think the onus is on the offending boat to contact you regarding damage to your boat and injuries. Your "Record" may settle disagreements about what happened. It isn't necessary for the two sides agree about fault. Just so the other skipper sees that you have documented the incident.
Lastly do not re-hash the incident at any social gatherings post race or elsewhere and ask your crew not to. If people ask about just say we hit, no one was hurt and the damage is ... And then switch the subject. Because of talk "At the bar" we had friendships destroyed and litigation begun.
You are racing at your Prep signal. You end racing when you Finish and Clear the finish line. You can foul a boat racing after you have finished by impeding their racing.
 
Jun 29, 2010
1,246
Beneteau First 235 Lake Minnetonka, MN
I did not intend for people to think I would protest now. Afterall the race is over and clearly it is after the time limit that the RSS define as @sail sfbay mentioned. My question is more in regards to your second comment. Are we considered racing at the start of the 5 min sequence? Would the penalty be simply as 720 or would it result in a DNS? At this point the questions are more academic to help me should there ever be another incident in the future (which I hope there never is).

As for insurance I am sure there is less than $500 damage (even if I replaced the entire rub rail) which would be the deductible anyway. Had I lost the motor or broken something major or there been injuries certainly there would have been insurance involved and our racing for that day would have ended. In the end everyone was ok, and boats can be fixed. I just more curious on the proper "rules".
This might help, from the "Definitions" section of the RRS; "Racing A boat is racing from her preparatory signal until she finishes and clears the finishing line and marks or retires, or until the race committee signals a general recall, postponement or abandonment "

That being said, I am not finding anything about being fouled at that point but, they probably should have done their 720 at least or even RAF after finishing. When in doubt pull the flag and sort it out with the protest committee. Hope its not a big deal to fix your boat(s).
 
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May 23, 2016
214
O'Day 1984 23 Island Park, NY
+1 on what shemandr said, with a couple clarifications...
Contrary to what many people think, the decision on whether to protest lies with you and you alone. Noone can tell you that you were fouled and that not protesting is automatically a violation of rule 2. That being said, when contact occurs, that is a clear indication that a foul occurred, one way or the other.
I race in a division where most don't take it seriously, And protests are vile hatred things, so I have never protested, and instead have quiet conversations with skippers over beers to explain And prevent recurrence. But there had never been contact and I would likely Protest if there ever was. Especially in a high class regatta. If you did, and this foul occurred while "racing" his penalty would have been a 720 on the water unless there was significant damage or injury, or gained a significant advantage with the foul, in which case he would have to retire from the race. If he did not take the penalty and your protest was upheld by a committee his penalty would be disqualification. These penalties from RRS could have been changed by NOR/SI for the regatta, such as a 20% penalty or other.
In my fleet I even encouraged a friend to protest after contact and significant damage one day and he wouldn't.
Andrew is right... you are racing from your prep (4 minute) signal... but... to clarify...
Rules of Party 2 are in effect from when you are near the racing area and intend to race (or have been racing) but no penalties are specified in RRS unless injury or serious damage occurs, until racing (prep signal)
Lastly, correct procedure to protest is to inform other boat of your intention at your earliest opportunity (usually you immediately hail "protest!" Immediately after the foul... if your boat is not less than 6m LOA fly a red flag and leave it flying. Then do everything shemandr said (ok maybe you ask about their injuries first).. then inform the race Committee etc...
All the while trying to regroup and sail the rest of your race
 
Oct 1, 2007
1,727
Boston Whaler Super Sport Pt. Judith
So during the Catalina 22 Nationals regatta I had my first contact with another vessel. We were the starboard boat they were the port. We were struck mid cockpit as we were beam reaching just after the 5 min start sequence had begun. The other boat was close hauled and not paying attention. After some yelling and a quick turn of the tiller we received a glancing blow, damaging their bow and our port side rub rail. Praise the Lord no one was hurt and no broken fiberglass. The other boat apologized on the water, but I was in a bit of shock as it happened.

So now that’s it’s been a week or so I am replaying the event and have a few questions. Should I have protested the boat? What are the penalties for contacting another boat at the start of the race? Damage was light but could have been much worse had we not turned immediately down wind (at the speed they were going we would have certainly broken the hull and likely lost the outboard hanging off the back) how is one to handle such an accident? Fortunately like I said damage was minimal and I can fare out the aluminum rub rail to make it smooth with a grinder I believe but if I ever find myself in this position again what is the proper course?



For reference no I did not protest, the boat that hit me was in 1st overall and took the cup. We finished 6th overall out of 9 boats in our fleet and had a great time. After the contact we had a poor start but did manage a 7th place finish.
You did not explain the event clearly. By "starboard boat", do you mean you were on starboard tack with your boom over the port rail? Was the other boat also on starboard tack? The way you describe the situation it sounds like you were both on starboard tack which would make your boat leeward and having ROW. You most certainly should have immediately shown a protest flag and the other boat could proceed under the rules of the regatta. Some regattas require the offending boat to do a 720, some require withdrawal if they are not disputing the foul.
 
Jan 1, 2006
5,989
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
...All the while trying to regroup and sail the rest of your race
Which is the first best reason to not push a position to create a protest much less a collision. Immediately attention is on the incident and not on sailing the best race you can. It's better to duck a transom than get protested if a S tack boat had to luff a little. And in reverse wave a P tack boat by and go on your merry way waiting for the next shift rather than discussing the protest.
 
Feb 21, 2013
3,619
Hunter 46 Point Richmond, CA
..........Are we considered racing at the start of the 5 min sequence? Would the penalty be simply as 720 or would it result in a DNS?..........
I could not find an answer to your question in the 2021-2024 World Sailing Rules attached...............maybe you will. I have had many near misses prior to and at the start line and as a result, I do not race my Hunter 46.
 

Attachments

Jan 1, 2006
5,989
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
I think you have to look in the definitions. "Racing." I just checked and it's there.
 
Sep 15, 2016
614
Catalina 22 Minnesota
You did not explain the event clearly. By "starboard boat", do you mean you were on starboard tack with your boom over the port rail? Was the other boat also on starboard tack? The way you describe the situation it sounds like you were both on starboard tack which would make your boat leeward and having ROW. You most certainly should have immediately shown a protest flag and the other boat could proceed under the rules of the regatta. Some regattas require the offending boat to do a 720, some require withdrawal if they are not disputing the foul.
Sorry for the confusion. Yes I was on starboard tack (ROW) he was on a Port Tack (give way) we both know he was in the wrong and the cause of the collision (he never took evasive action, I did). We were both preparing for the start and the large 150 genoas don't allow great visibility so we did not see one another until almost the point of impact.

I had a spotter on the bow who was warning me of their approach but I assumed they were going to tack to Leeward or duck as they were headed fir our stern. What I did not know is that they did not have a spotter and had not seen me at all. I also underestimated how much speed they had. We were on starboard at a beam reach timing the start line (slower speed). They were on Port close hauled (doing double our speed at least).

The questions posed are more in line with the protest rules. It sounds like I could have protested him even though the start had not occured. At this point its all academic and I am just hoping to learn the rules a bit better. We race in the silver fleet (less competitive) so most of the time we give each other a wide berth. I am always learning.
 
Oct 1, 2007
1,727
Boston Whaler Super Sport Pt. Judith
Sorry for the confusion. Yes I was on starboard tack (ROW) he was on a Port Tack (give way) we both know he was in the wrong and the cause of the collision (he never took evasive action, I did). We were both preparing for the start and the large 150 genoas don't allow great visibility so we did not see one another until almost the point of impact.

I had a spotter on the bow who was warning me of their approach but I assumed they were going to tack to Leeward or duck as they were headed fir our stern. What I did not know is that they did not have a spotter and had not seen me at all. I also underestimated how much speed they had. We were on starboard at a beam reach timing the start line (slower speed). They were on Port close hauled (doing double our speed at least).

The questions posed are more in line with the protest rules. It sounds like I could have protested him even though the start had not occured. At this point its all academic and I am just hoping to learn the rules a bit better. We race in the silver fleet (less competitive) so most of the time we give each other a wide berth. I am always learning.
Don't forget, skippers are responsible always to avoid collisions. That's where protests come in as where a ROW boat alters course to avoid a collision...
 
Jan 1, 2006
5,989
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
The penalty: This is where you get into the weeds. If a S/P situation it's fairly clear. If the Port boat didn't yield to the Starboard boat, and this is undisputed, than the Port boat is at fault and needs to take turns. However the Port boat has to do so without interfering with any other boat not burdened. The turns have to take place ASAP. So they would skulk off and do them out of the way. I don't know if you are close to the start, if the fouling boat can start and then do the turns. I think so. I don't think the fouling boat has to take a DNS, without a collision with damage. After all the incident needs the judgement of the PC before fault is established. Why should someone end their race on an accusation? Unless their bow is implanted in the side of the S tack boat! That's why we always took times for every boat that crossed the line, no matter what came over the radio. Let the RC sort out the details.
 
May 23, 2016
214
O'Day 1984 23 Island Park, NY
WRT not pushing a position, I agree.... sounded like S got surprised and tried to evade...
For the penalty, most skippers who know they are wrong will take the penalty turns rather than go to the PC where the only options are exonerated or disqualified... maybe even disqualified not discardable... much better to start a race behind than to get thrown out of it altogether... might save your trophy place that way...
Even if it was before the prep signal, with damage, do the turns and then do your best...
As starboard, shout protest, do your best, and be prepared to follow through on the protest of he doesn't do turns
 

PaulK

.
Dec 1, 2009
758
Sabre 402 Southport, CT
The Warning signal goes off at 5 minutes. The Prepatory signal goes off at 4 minutes. If you hit before the prep - you weren't racing yet, so how could there be a penalty? Call your insurance company, perhaps, and Colregs determines that his insurance pays any damage, but that would seem to be it.
 

BarryL

.
May 21, 2004
827
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 409 Mt. Sinai, NY
Hey,

All boats racing need to communicate. If YOUR spotter sees a boat and informs you, AND you don't know they see you, AND you get close enough where you start to worry, YOU should loudly and clearly yell STARBOARD at them. Hopefully they were aware of you the entire time and should respond HOLD YOUR COURSE as they tack or duck. If they didn't see you then there will be a lot of fluttering sails as they crash tack or dive down to avoid you.

As noted, you can, but don't have to protest. If you don't protest then the other boat continues on their merry way. If you want to protest you must inform the other boat and fly your protest flag. Then they must do their penalty turns as soon as possible. If you don't protest quickly, you lose the ability to protest.

Barry



Sorry for the confusion. Yes I was on starboard tack (ROW) he was on a Port Tack (give way) we both know he was in the wrong and the cause of the collision (he never took evasive action, I did). We were both preparing for the start and the large 150 genoas don't allow great visibility so we did not see one another until almost the point of impact.

I had a spotter on the bow who was warning me of their approach but I assumed they were going to tack to Leeward or duck as they were headed fir our stern. What I did not know is that they did not have a spotter and had not seen me at all. I also underestimated how much speed they had. We were on starboard at a beam reach timing the start line (slower speed). They were on Port close hauled (doing double our speed at least).

The questions posed are more in line with the protest rules. It sounds like I could have protested him even though the start had not occured. At this point its all academic and I am just hoping to learn the rules a bit better. We race in the silver fleet (less competitive) so most of the time we give each other a wide berth. I am always learning.
 
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