Rules question

I'm PRO for a regatta this weekend.  Not certified, had some experience. I'm running a 17 mile distance course with two marks that are probably 7  miles away from each other.  If I have to shorten the course, do I have to do do it at one of those marks or do I have other options?

 

Steam Flyer

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I'm PRO for a regatta this weekend.  Not certified, had some experience. I'm running a 17 mile distance course with two marks that are probably 7  miles away from each other.  If I have to shorten the course, do I have to do do it at one of those marks or do I have other options?
Basically, yes. You can add provisions for shortening course in the Sailing Instructions, but it has to comply with the rules on finishing and on shortening course.

Rule 32 is mentioned above, that is the "Shorten Course" rule and it's worth a look: SHORTENING OR ABANDONING AFTER THE START

32.1 After the starting signal, the race committee may shorten the course so that other scheduled races can be sailed, or abandon (see definitions, remember that special terms in the rules are given definitions, those definitions are rules) the race (display flag N, N over A, or N over H, with three sounds)

a. because of foul weather

b. because of insufficient wind making it unlikely that any boat will finish within the time limit

c. because a mark (defined term) is missing or out of position, or

d. for any other reason directly affecting the safety or fairness of the competition.

In addition, the race committee may shorten the course so that other scheduled races can be sailed, or abandon the race because of an error in the starting procedure. 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.

32.2 If the race committee signals a shortened course (display the flag S with two sounds), the finishing line shall be

a. at a rounding mark, between the mark and a staff displaying flag S;

b. a line the course requires boats to cross, or

c. at a gate, between the gate marks.

The shortened course shall be signalled before the first boat crosses the finishing line

That's a lot of long gobbledygook for a relatively simple process, but it's easy to go astray with shortening course. You cannot just pick a spot and hoist S and call yourself the new finish line, which I've occasionally seen done; or have a "buttonhook finish" at the start line (used to be fairly common ins some clubs).

To get the full sense, take a look at Rule 28 SAILING THE COURSE and the definition of  finish and you're all set.

Here's a cartoon I added to an RC guide I drew up last year, because we often use a chase boat to shorten course

image.png

Because the definition of "finish" references the direction from the last mark, the orientation of the line makes a big difference. The boats should approach as if they are going to round the mark as they would under any other circumstances, so that they would cross the line properly even if they did not know it was being shortened (because not all racers are perfect).

- DSK

 

SailRacer

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I understand you can set the Committee boat on either side of the mark to be passed (originally).

Get that S flag up and two toots of the horn to warn competitors.

Keep in mind the string rule.

Sail safe!

 

Steam Flyer

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I understand you can set the Committee boat on either side of the mark to be passed (originally).

Get that S flag up and two toots of the horn to warn competitors.

Keep in mind the string rule.

Sail safe!
Sure, you can do anything you want. The question is, is it within the rule and will it result in a fair race?

The point of my little cartoon diagram above- putting the Committee boat in one area results in no confusion, is completely within the rules, and any racer who approaches and rounds the mark as they would have done, will finish correctly.

If you put the Committee boat in line to the previous mark, or on the other side, some racers may round that mark as they would have before, which 1- will cost them time and 2- will result in an incorrect finish and may get them tossed. Racers who cross the new finish line from the direction of the last mark, as it says in the definition of "finish" will not have rounded the mark and may get tossed. It's confusing and will not result in a fair race.

When shortening course to a mark, the Committee boat should set itself up in the area from 2 oclock to 4 oclock relative to the direction from the last mark.

I apologize for writing out such a long rant on the topic, just trying to be clear

- DSK

 

committeeboat

New member
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Minnesota
When winds are questionable, I try to set the leg lengths as short as possible.  It makes it easier to shorten the course.  (I don't know if you have that ability, but I thought I'd mention this technique anyway.)

That being said, I have been known to do the following:  IF a boat is on the current leg, and IF you feel most boats won't be able to complete another leg, then do a combination Change and Shorten course.  Drop another mark directly downwind/upwind from the current mark (creating a new, short leg, if you will) and anchor your R/C boat next to it for the finish line.  Sailors have to round (rather, pass by) the same mark they're already sailing to, then between you and the new mark to finish.
I believe it is legal, but not strictly in keeping with the nature of the rules.  If it gets the race finished before the winds completely drop, the sailors tend to be accepting of it.  Just make sure to tell everyone what you're doing (VHF) or set your finish line close enough to the previous mark to make it blatantly obvious.

 

TJSoCal

Super Anarchist
I agree with SF that although rule 32 doesn't specify where you must put the "S" boat in relation to the shortened finishing mark it's least confusing if it's positioned such that boats still pass the mark on the original side and if the new finish line is roughly oriented perpendicular to the direction from the previous mark. This is also recommended in the US Sailing Race Management Handbook.

To the original question, you'd need to include in the course description "a line the course requires boats to cross" if you want to be able to shorten anywhere other than a rounding mark or gate. Keep in mind that the boats must be required to cross this line whether the course is shortened or not. You could probably get away with using GPS coordinates, but better if at least one end of the line is a physical object I think. Are there any handy landmarks or navigational aids near the rhumb line that you might use?

You might be able to get away with using the SIs (changing rule 32.2) to define an alternate finish line and means of signaling when the alternate finish line replaces the original, but you'd need to think pretty hard about how to do that in a way that is fair for all boats.

 
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Steam Flyer

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When winds are questionable, I try to set the leg lengths as short as possible.  It makes it easier to shorten the course.  (I don't know if you have that ability, but I thought I'd mention this technique anyway.)

That being said, I have been known to do the following:  IF a boat is on the current leg, and IF you feel most boats won't be able to complete another leg, then do a combination Change and Shorten course.  Drop another mark directly downwind/upwind from the current mark (creating a new, short leg, if you will) and anchor your R/C boat next to it for the finish line.  Sailors have to round (rather, pass by) the same mark they're already sailing to, then between you and the new mark to finish.
I believe it is legal, but not strictly in keeping with the nature of the rules.  If it gets the race finished before the winds completely drop, the sailors tend to be accepting of it.  Just make sure to tell everyone what you're doing (VHF) or set your finish line close enough to the previous mark to make it blatantly obvious.
If you can signal the course change AT the last unchanged mark, and you mention this in the Sailing Instructions, then IMHO this would be perfectly kosher.

As a general principle, I don't like to signal for Shortened Course too far ahead of time (from the time the first boat will finish the shortened course). It reduces confusion and eliminates the chance that things will get WORSE because, well, y'know..... Murphy.

I hate to do all that work and then have to just discard a race

FB- Doug

 

coyotepup

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I think the short answer to the question is, no, you cannot shorten a course anywhere other than at a mark, unless you come up with a creative way to do it in the SIs, and it would be exceedingly difficult to do so fairly.  Say your first leg happens to be upwind, and boats are tacking their way to it, and you decide midleg that you want them to go to the second mark.... even if you found a way to tell everyone immediately, all the boats on one side of the course will get screwed.

There is something we do on Tuesday nights, because we start off a dock and don't have the ability to get a proper finish line committee onto the mark boat: instead of waving S at a mark to finish there, the mark boat will wave J (chosen because it's not otherwise used.)  J means: round this mark, sail back to the finish, and ignore all other marks.  So you're not limited exactly to the stipulations in rule 32.  But shortening the course anywhere but at a mark is ill-advised.

 
Basically, yes. You can add provisions for shortening course in the Sailing Instructions, but it has to comply with the rules on finishing and on shortening course.

Rule 32 is mentioned above, that is the "Shorten Course" rule and it's worth a look: SHORTENING OR ABANDONING AFTER THE START

32.1 After the starting signal, the race committee may shorten the course so that other scheduled races can be sailed, or abandon (see definitions, remember that special terms in the rules are given definitions, those definitions are rules) the race (display flag N, N over A, or N over H, with three sounds)

a. because of foul weather

b. because of insufficient wind making it unlikely that any boat will finish within the time limit

c. because a mark (defined term) is missing or out of position, or

d. for any other reason directly affecting the safety or fairness of the competition.

In addition, the race committee may shorten the course so that other scheduled races can be sailed, or abandon the race because of an error in the starting procedure. 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.

32.2 If the race committee signals a shortened course (display the flag S with two sounds), the finishing line shall be

a. at a rounding mark, between the mark and a staff displaying flag S;

b. a line the course requires boats to cross, or

c. at a gate, between the gate marks.

The shortened course shall be signalled before the first boat crosses the finishing line

That's a lot of long gobbledygook for a relatively simple process, but it's easy to go astray with shortening course. You cannot just pick a spot and hoist S and call yourself the new finish line, which I've occasionally seen done; or have a "buttonhook finish" at the start line (used to be fairly common ins some clubs).

To get the full sense, take a look at Rule 28 SAILING THE COURSE and the definition of  finish and you're all set.

Here's a cartoon I added to an RC guide I drew up last year, because we often use a chase boat to shorten course

View attachment 395645

Because the definition of "finish" references the direction from the last mark, the orientation of the line makes a big difference. The boats should approach as if they are going to round the mark as they would under any other circumstances, so that they would cross the line properly even if they did not know it was being shortened (because not all racers are perfect).

- DSK


at one regatta,  had a certified official,  had a mark boat fly the charlie flag at the  windward mark,  had me toss the banded mark  1/2 way to the leward mark and then setup the mark boat with the S flag up ...      kosher?

 
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JohnMB

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at one regatta,  had a certified official,  had a mark boat fly the charlie flag at the  windward mark,  had me toss the banded mark  1/2 way to the leward mark and then setup the mark boat with the S flag up ...      kosher?


charlie sets a new leg shorter or new direction, (should be a - with it to show its a shortened leg.)

once the new mark is set you can finish at it.

 I would say this is kosher.

 

Steam Flyer

Super Anarchist
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Eastern NC
at one regatta,  had a certified official,  had a mark boat fly the charlie flag at the  windward mark,  had me toss the banded mark  1/2 way to the leward mark and then setup the mark boat with the S flag up ...      kosher?


charlie sets a new leg shorter or new direction, (should be a - with it to show its a shortened leg.)

once the new mark is set you can finish at it.

 I would say this is kosher.
Yep, entirely kosher

I don't think this has to be specified in the Sailing Instructions but it wouldn't hurt to mention it. It may be a little above what everyday club racers are expecting.

Kosher but a bit too salty??

FB- Doug

 

Brass

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New mark needs to be a rounding mark.

So if it's a W-L course, there'd better be a direction change as well as a length change.

 

ateam

Member
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One guy here says keep the string rule in mind...but this is wrong? Race commitee can put the line on any side of a mark....basically racers can finish from both sides then....because rule 32 is not clear...we had a regatta where this happened and  all the "WRONG" finishers were reinstated....as the last mark is not a race mark anymore....so if si say leave that mark to port...if it becomes a finish line this is nowhere definied anymore..so hence u can cross the finish line legally from both sides.?...

 

Brass

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When positioning a committee boat at a rounding mark to shorten course the race committee should  keep rule 28 in mind.

Case 129 tells us that "Rule 32.2(a) permits the race committee to position the vessel displaying flag S at either end of the finishing line" but that to position the race committee vessel on the side opposite the side on which boats would have been required to leave it if the course had not been shortened is poor race management.

Doug explained this with his little diagrams.  Rule 32 is supposed to be 'fool-proof' so that a boat sailing the [unshortened] course will properly finish at the shorten course finishing line even if she is not aware of the shorten course signal.

For completeness, Case 82 deals with the situation where you can't  tell which 'side' of the rounding mark the race committee vessel is on.

 
Thanks all.  I appreciate the feedback.  Sounds like the C flag along with the S would allow me to set a new mark and finish there.  It is not a W/L (although I'll be running a W/L with a OD class at the same time).  It's a distance race with only two marks...each a significant distance apart.  Last year it turned into a drifter, and I felt like the fleet would appreciate if I ended their suffering. The forecast is not encouraging for this year either. I read 32, just wanted to know what options exist.

 

Brass

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Sounds like a very complicated solution.

You have two rounding marks, about 1/3 and 2/3 way round the course.  Why not just shorten at one of the existing rounding marks?

 

Steam Flyer

Super Anarchist
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Eastern NC
Sounds like a very complicated solution.

You have two rounding marks, about 1/3 and 2/3 way round the course.  Why not just shorten at one of the existing rounding marks?
It sounds like the racers in this particular instance would have no reason to expect a mark to be changed, and would expect the compass course to each mark to be known. Not an ideal set-up for placing a new mark and shortening to it.

Doubly so if running a race for another class at the same time, if you have a chase boat avallable to go take finishes at a distant mark, fine. BUt you can't pull the RC boat away from one race to go finish another.

I would make sure to write some provisions for shortening the course into the SIs, for this! Just my 2c

One guy here says keep the string rule in mind...but this is wrong? Race commitee can put the line on any side of a mark....basically racers can finish from both sides then....because rule 32 is not clear...we had a regatta where this happened and  all the "WRONG" finishers were reinstated....as the last mark is not a race mark anymore....so if si say leave that mark to port...if it becomes a finish line this is nowhere definied anymore..so hence u can cross the finish line legally from both sides.?...
The only importance I can see for "the string rule" in this situation is that you want to keep the racers all going to the marks in the same way they would if sailing the course normally. IE put the 'shortened course' position of the RC in a place where they will cross the line if they sail the course as it was originally given.

Finish either way? That doesn't seem like good common sense to me.  Making a mark a finish line does not remove it's status as a mark of the course, and the way to cross the finish line is given in the definition of "finish." Remember to look out for words that are printed in italics in the rules! They are given specific definitions in the rule book, and those definitions have the force of rule. If you break a definition, you have broken a rule! The RC who said "Yeah cross the line either way, we're cool" was being nice but it was a fuck up setting the course that way.

FB- Doug

 
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