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

Sep 15, 2016
Catalina 22 Minnesota
@BarryL that does seem to be the consensus. Although I also agree with @PaulK in that the contact occurred at the 5 min prep signal so "officially" we may not have been racing yet. Either way lessons learned in that if / when a situation like this occurs in the future I will certainly be more vocal in my position and fly my protest flag. Its seems like its easier to just sort it all out with the RC after the race than to second guess it down the road. Thanks everyone for their responses and help. I'm always learning!


Dec 1, 2009
Sabre 402 Southport, CT
It is definitely not easier to sort it all out with the RC after the race. Protests involve the protestor, the protestee, the Protest Committee and possible witnesses. A protest requires notifying the boat you are protesting, flying the protest flag, informing the RC of the protest, filing the protest (there's a form) and holding a Protest Meeting, which can drag on for hours, depending upon the situation. Details get forgotten, or omitted, and often the boat with "right of way" doesn't realize that they also have obligations to carry out in an encounter, and they end up getting penalized as well as the one which must keep clear. For example, in your situation, the Protest Committee might ask - "What did you do to avoid the collision?" "Nothing - I had right of way." is the wrong answer. Because of all this, it is much easier for a boat that may have broken a rule to accept the penalty of doing a compensatory turn or turns, when they can, and keep racing. In your situation, the RC and Protest Committee would have thrown out the protest, even if you had followed all the steps above, because the incident occurred before the two of you were racing and there is no penalty for breaking rule 14 if there are no damages or injuries until boats are racing -- which is after the Prepatory Signal.
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Likes: Sandy Stone
Jan 1, 2006
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
If you're confused about the rules, read the appeals. They won't clear anything up for you but you'll realize that certain decisions on appeal determine the outcome of current protests. For instance, we know that we have to fly a protest flag as soon as possible after an infraction. But how soon? Turns out it's pretty damn soon.
It's an interesting document to read since a lot of the appeal decision seem to be arbitrary or politically motivated -particularly in the club classes. The arguments supporting some of the decisions are in some cases torturous.


May 21, 2004
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 409 Mt. Sinai, NY
Hi Guys,

I am just back from two days of racing in the Off Soundings Spring series. Great weather, great boat, great bunch of guys and I had a great time.

On Saturday we protested another boat. We rounded a mark (along with many many other boats) and started heading to the next mark. We were on starboard tack and another boat was heading towards us, on port tack, approaching the mark. It was going to be close and we didn't think the boat would make it. The captain yelled 'starboard' the other boat ignored us. At the last second we turned down to avoid them. They were NOT in our class. We did have to avoid them, but it didn't really affect our racing and we did not protest. About 20 seconds later we had a similar situation with another boat. This boat was in our class, and had finished ahead of us the day before. Again the captain yelled starboard. They didn't move and did foul us, and then fouled another boat. We had to make a sharp turn down to avoid them. We yelled 'protest' and flew the red flag.

Once we crossed the finish line we called the race committee on VHF and notified them of our protest and the name and sail number of the boat we were protesting. The Race committee acknowledged our protest. We needed to complete the protest paperwork and submit it that day. Then, the boat we were protesting hailed us on VHF. We responded and moved to another channel. That boat said they heard our protest while racing,, acknowledged that they were wrong, and had done their penalty turns. So, we called the race committee and withdrew our protest.

IMHO that's the way it should work. No one likes to protest but sometimes you need to do it. The other boat broke the rules. We called them out on it, they did the right thing (penalty turns), and it worked out.

On to Block Island Race week next Monday!

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Likes: Sandy Stone
Jan 1, 2006
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
I loved sailing in the Off Soundings Series.
you could make an interesting rules problem by looking the second day Race Around BI. One mark is 1”BI”. There is always current. When sailing Clockwise around the island there is a point where boats who have rounded are sailing in the same space with boats who have not rounded. Boats that have rounded may be sailing on the wrong side of sand bar because you can cross it relatively close to the shore. It’s crazy. You sometimes have boats that have rounded tacking upwind on the wrong side of the bar while boats sailing downwind are sailing on the same side of the. All boats are using the bar for shelter from the worst of the current. You have to be sharp on your P/S awareness and at the same time your W/L awareness - and combine them in real time.
I hope I made that clear.