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John Ball

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Posts posted by John Ball

  1. I understand the OD as Officer of the Day. That term is not normally used in racing, so you may be referring to the Regatta Director RD, or Race Officer RO. We also use Observers.

    To learn about the duties of an RO, you may want to take Glen Dawson's excellent and free Race Officer online course.


    In brief, normally the RO leaves it to the fleet to call protests for contacts, but the RO may (but are not required to) protest if they witness the incident and no one takes any action.

    The duties of an observer are to call contacts between boat, or boats and marks, and to record the incident and whether or not penalty turns are taken, are marks rounded correctly, and report to the RO at the end of the heat. If there are called contacts and no penalty taken, then the RO may protest the boat(s) based on the observer report.

    If you think the RO acted improperly and it affected your position in a race, then you may file a request for redress.

    The Protest Committee is independent of the RO, and if they find improper conduct by the RO, may institute an R69 Hearing.


  2. My comments on the diagram that I posted above are supported by the RYA Case 1975/5 which says in part

    Before the starting signal, or if P and S are already on a

    collision course, or if P is sailing to keep clear by

    passing to windward of S, S may change course at any

    time in response to a wind shift, unless she is so close to

    P that S's change of course would not give P room to

    keep clear. Room is defined as the space P needs in the

    existing conditions while manoeuvring promptly in a

    seamanlike way


  3. Thanks Barry and Mike.

    From other questions that Erick has posted, I think he is struggling with the concept of keeping clear and room to keep clear, rather than the wording of the rules, and this may take more experience to develop.

    Here is a diagram, and at P1 and P2, it looks to Red, on port, that she may cross safely. When Green on stbd alters course between P2 and P3, there is no way that Red may now avoid Green. At P1 and P2, Red is not required to anticipate that Green may alter course. Red sees that she is crossing safely.



  4. Hi Erick,

    if you read the Terminology Topic in the Introduction to the RRS, pg 9, you will find the distinction between defined terms and general usage and below the grid, it says -

    Other words and terms are used in the sense ordinarily understood in nautical or general use.

    So the when R 16.1 says ' a ROW boat changes course' you may use a common nautical understanding of that expression - and that would be 'deviates from its current heading' or any other similar expression.


  5. The use of the term 'significant' in E4.3(b) has bothered me since that rule appeared, and I have written pages of notes debating what constitutes 'significant'. In common usage it would suggest a number bigger than one - else why is it there at all.

    I have had discussions with a number of National and International Judges and their opinion is consistent and matches the description in IRSA Case Book P4. Essentially if after doing the penalty, you are in front of the boat infringed, take another penalty and test again for advantage. They use this standard in Umpired races (see Addendum Q for RC), and in team racing.

    One Judge wrote ' After the foul, if you are in front, you have an advantage. If you are in front after taking the penalty, the advantage is significant'.

    I think it would help if the Appendix E review committee (which is now in session), considered removing the word 'significant; from E4.3(b). Or possibly do a complete rewording so say something in simple plain English like - If after the incident, you are in front of the boat(s) that were affected by your breach of a Rule of Part 2 or R 31, then take one or more penalties until you are behind the boat(s) so affected.


  6. IRSA Case B2 may apply to any incident as it is about when to stop taking penalty turns. The selected incident just provides an example where multiple boats are involved due to the infraction.

    My article on The Penalty Turn Chapter 9 and see page 2 may help.


    The key phrase in E34.3(b) is (b) if the boat gained a significant advantage in the heat or race by her breach despite

    taking a penalty,

    Note that it says 'despite taking A penalty' and NOT despite taking THE penalty. So you need to test for the advantage after taking A penalty, and if the advantage still exists, take another penalty and again test for the advantage. Repeat until the advantage no longer exists.

    It only needs the protest from the infringed boat to start the penalty cycle, and not a protest from each of the boats in the incident.


  7. Close to the mark is subjective. It is to allow for a variety of conditions - in full sized boats sailing around a big government navigation buoy is different from sailing around an inflated mark, and is different for strong winds and big waves, or flat water and light winds. So it may be taken to mean sufficient space to round safely without hitting the mark with any part of the hull, sails or rigging, including room for the boom to gybe if a gybe is required. In RC sailing, the mark may be some distance away and depth perception is involved. So a subjective term is better than a hard number.

    My opinion is that if the inside keep clear boat with mark room is taking more than one boat length, then they are being greedy.

    If the outside ROW boat thinks the inside keep-clear boat with mark room is taking too much room, she can protest. That is much safer than causing a contact. If there is a protest with no contact, then the protesting boat may win the protest, or it may be dismissed. But if there is contact, one boat will be disqualified, and it might be the outside ROW boat.


  8. Great questions. What you are asking about is the difference between Proper Course, Mark Room and Right of Way.

    I suggest that you go to my web site


    and read Chapter 8 which covers these topics in detail.

    Here is an extract

    Right of Way vs. Mark Room vs. Proper Course

    Before discussing Proper Course, the first thing to get our heads around is the difference between having Right of Way (ROW), having Mark Room, and sailing your Proper Course.

    If you have ROW, the other boat must Keep Clear. However, if you are entitled to Mark Room, then even a ROW boat must allow you enough room to round the mark AND with Mark Room, if your Proper Course from your current position would be to sail close to the mark, that room includes room for you to sail close to the mark.


  9. My feeling is that any 2.4gig digital radio with mode 2 will work fine for RC sailing, and especially for IOM where only two functions are permitted.

    I prefer a radio with a ratchet on Ch3 - Throttle (sail control) as it allows repeat ability from close hauled to just eased by a couple of clicks.

    As we sail for many more hours per day than you would expect to fly, you may want to put a larger capacity battery in the Tx. I use a 2400ma and it lasts for a couple of days racing. Carry a spare battery and you can go a whole three day event without needing to recharge.


  10. We have some marks for use in varying depth and deeper water. The mark has a hollow tube through the center (a cut off golf club works). Then we have an anchor line that passes up through the tube to a spool of line on a wooden shaft that plugs into the top of the tube. Drop the anchor line to the bottom, then plug the shaft into the tube - locking the line at the correct depth. To retrieve the mark, pull the spool and wind up the line and plug back into the mark for storage. And you hands don't get wet.


  11. We are considering a dual registration process in Canada and wonder how it works in the UK.

    I have questions about how you handle dual rated M. When an M is also registered as a 10R does it get a different hull registration number from the 10R sequence? Is that 10R number displayed on the hull per 10R Class rules? If you do not have a PSN, which sail number do you show at a 10R event- the M or the 10R number?

    Thanks for any insights


  12. Would RC sailing be better served by moving to a Three length zone? The RRS defines the zone as three boat lengths, and Appendix E modifies that to four lengths. I wrote to the IRSA Rules Committee several years ago, suggesting this change. The answer was that there is no discussion nor support for such a change. So my intent here is to generate some discussion and gauge support for such a change.

    History. The RRS used to specify a two length zone, and RC sailing adopted a four length zone to allow for more reaction time. Subsequently the RRS changed the zone to three lengths, but Appendix E did not change.

    Why would we want consider changing Appendix E to use the three length zone? I suggest several reasons.

    1. Mark Room rights conferred by R 18 are based on accurately placing the boats positions when the first boat touches the zone. Many skippers have difficulty visualizing the four length zone. It is easy to visualize one length, a little harder to visualize two, harder again to visualize three and so on. The larger the zone, the harder it is to visualize its location. So a smaller zone would assist a more accurate visualization. The counter argument is that a four length zone provides more reaction time that a three length zone.

    2. The World Sailing Case Book examples all relate to a three length zone. It is possible with the larger four length zone for issues to develop which may not happen in the smaller zone. If we drop the Appendix E change, and use the three length zone, then all relevant cases would apply.

    3. The RRS 2017- 2020 version introduced a change to RRS 18.3 Tacking in the zone. Under the new version, a stbd tack boat has to be fetching the mark from outside the zone for R 18.3 to apply. If R 18.3 applies then the port tack boat that tacks inside the stbd tack boat does not receive Mark Room and may not force the stbd tack boat above close hauled.

    However when both boats enter the zone on port and tack to stbd, then 18.3 does not apply and when they become overlapped, 18.2.a will apply. This gives Mark Room to the inside boat as soon as she passes head to wind (HTW) and the outside boat must give her that room. With Mark Room comes R21 Exoneration, so even if the inside boat tacks close to the outside boat, she is exonerated for breaking R 13 Tacking.

    There is a major shift in rights between these two scenarios, and it is all based on when the outside boat achieved stbd tack relative to the location of the zone. I wrote about this change on my Rules discussion web site.

    Here is an example. We have two boats sailing close hauled on port tack and approaching the stbd tack lay line for a mark to be rounded to port. Yellow is to windward and about two boat lengths below the port lay line. Green is about two boat lengths to leeward of Yellow and sufficiently clear ahead that she can tack to stbd and not break R 13 Tacking. Green tacks on the lay line. Yellow tacks inside Green. Green goes above HTW and there is contact. Yellow touches the mark, and there is contact between the boats.

    If there were a three length zone, it would be easy to infer that Green entered the zone on stbd and R 18.3 would apply and Yellow would be at fault. However with a four length zone, it is very close as to where Green passed HTW and gained stbd tack – inside or outside the zone. Yet the outcome for this incident and the applicable rule (R 18.3 or 18.2.a) is dependent upon this factor.

    Here are the two boats – the diagrams are identical, except that the zone is changed from three lengths to four. Remember that there are no circles on the water, and we have to estimate the location of the zone, possibly from a distance of 30 meters or more.


  13. Boat B need not give room to Boat A and can luff at any time

    Rule 15 – Not applicable to Boat B

    Rule 11– Applicable to Boat A

    Boat B could have tacked to starboard immediately Boat A looked like tacking?

    Do I have it correct?



    Hi Erick,

    Your first two summaries are fine, but these two need a bit of work. My comments are in bold

    Boat B need not give room to Boat A and can luff at any time but as she becomes ROW, she has to give room under R 16.1 if she alters course

    Rule 15 – Not applicable to Boat B

    Rule 11– Applicable to Boat A

    Rule 17 does not apply if they became overlapped before A completed her tack.

    Boat B could have tacked to starboard immediately Boat A looked like tacking?

    As A luffs up to head to wind, she is still on stbd, and not yet subject to R 13, so B must still stay clear under R 10.

    Hope this helps,


  14. Hi Barry,

    That’s a really good question. The quick answer is “no” – When the ROW changes but is caused by the boat that previously had ROW, the new ROW does not have the responsibility to give room - she may continue on her course. But it does not give her a hunting license, eg – she cannot luff sharply, as 16.1 would apply.

    R 15 is a ‘momentary’ rule that applies briefly when ROW changes. If you gain ROW by your action, then R 15 says you must do it in such a way that the other boat may keep clear – and they have an obligation to begin to keep clear. If they touch you as they try to keep clear, then you did not give enough room, and break R 15. If they delay and subsequently the boats drift together, then they break the applicable room, eg R 11 W/L. The R 15 protection has that word ‘initially’.

    The opposite situation is where the stbd ROW boat tacks to port and to weather of a Port tack, now an overlapped leeward boat. PL does not have to give room under R 15, and if they are so close that new W cannot stay clear, then the boat that tacked probably broke R 13 and also breaks R 11. But once the overlap exists, L may only alter course (eg luff) if she gives room to W to stay clear under R 16.1.

    There are no cases that cover this explicitly, but the preamble of several cases (below) provide some guidance.


    W.S. Case Book.

    CASE 27

    A boat is not required to anticipate that another boat will break a rule. When a boat acquires right of way as a result of her own actions, the other boat is entitled to room to keep clear.

    CASE 93

    If a boat luffs immediately after she becomes overlapped to leeward of another boat and there is no seamanlike action that would enable the other boat to keep clear, the boat that luffed breaks rules 15 and 16.1. The other boat breaks rule 11, but is exonerated.

    IRSA Case Book

    Case B8

    A boat that deliberately gives up right-of-way and immediately sails into a position in which she can only avoid contact with one boat by breaking a rule and making contact with another boat resulting in damage is sailing without concern for the consequences of her actions. She does not comply with the basic principle of sportsmanship and the rules.

  15. Hi Terry,

    I agree with your first comment. The stbd boat that tacks and causes P to make a further alteration of course breaks R 16.2 and maybe R 13 or R 11. Once S has tacked to port and becomes windward and ROW changes to the old P, R 15 does not apply as the change in ROW was caused by S when she tacked.

    In second question, R 16.1 would apply, and S has to give room to P to stay clear as S alters course to take the lift. So while S may always protest, in this case, I think the protest may be dismissed.


  16. Sorry Charles, I misspoke when I said there is no 'Shall'. There is a shall, but it is qualified by 'make as fair an arrangement as possible'.

    What is possible may be limited by property ownership, funding, and other resources.

    In the UK, you are blessed with several good purpose built yachting ponds, like Fleetwood. I know of only one in the USA, at San Diego, and non in Canada. There as several sites where we have a sidewalk, promenade or long dock, but that is rare. We use park ponds and lakes, frequently surrounded by grass, and bushes. Frequently we sail on sites requiring wet launch. We have to make the best arrangements we can, and that may be very limited. But better to sail with compromise than not sail at all. Our wheelchair sailor takes it all in good spirit and is quick to remind us if we walk in front of him. But we will quickly help if he needs his boat retrieved, or launched or adjusted, and there are lots of willing bodies to give a push up a ramp.


  17. Hi Charles,

    I cannot find any reference in the RRS that 'mandates' accomodation for disabled. E3.9 applies to the Race Committee and not to a host club.

    Can the Race committee provide a ramp to the pond to bypass steps? Can an RC lay a smooth path along the pond for wheelchairs?- probably not, as the RC does not own the property and does not have funds. A club may face similar limitations. So there may be real physical reasons for a club to be unable to make 'easy' access.

    The intent of E.9 is to encourage a level playing field - but it is not mandatory - ie there is no 'shall'.

    World Sailing provides for disabled sailing through the Special Olympics and similar events, but I cannot find a general policy statement that would relate to Radio Sailing.

    US Sailing has a prescription that places a statement into the Intro of the RRS

    Equal Opportunity

    As the national authority for the sport of sailing, US Sailing is committed to providing an equal opportunity to all sailors to participate in the sport of sailing.

    I cannot tell if the RYA has anything as the RYA prescriptions are not easily available online, they are combined with the RYA RRS publication and they want money for it.

    So to me accommodation includes things like restricting the control area to a wheelchair accessible section, asking skippers not to walk in from of wheelchair competitors, using tape to keep competitors behind any wheelchair sailors. We have a wheelchair competitor in our local racing and these steps have worked for us.


  18. I saw this incident in the IOM video from France - site of the upcoming IOM Worlds. Watch the left side of the screen for the Yellow boat, sail number 07. He is called over early, but does not handle the situation well - he fouls at least three boats when he bears away to return.

    What we don't see are any penalty turns - not only does he have to return to restart, he should do at least three penalty turns for three separate incidents of hitting leeward boats, breaking R 11 and R 22.

    I made up a couple of diagrams - not exactly like the incident but close - the point is that if you are called over early and need to return to restart, it is better to luff your sails to slow down, and then luff up slowly, and once clear tack to return. While you slow down and luff, you are still sailing the course with all the normal rights and other boats behind (R 12) and to weather (R 11) must stay clear of you. When you want to tack, you are subject to R 13, so wait until clear. Only after you have borne away are you clearly returning to restart and become subject to R 22.

    In the first diagram, Blue luffs sails to slow, then tacks behind Yellow before bearing away to restart. Luffing and tacking also puts you out clear so that you can go around the end of the pin if the I Flag R 30.1 is in effect.



    In the other diagram, Blue bears away and fouls Green and Red and needs to do two penalty turns as well as returning to restart.



    The messages here are first - DON'T PANIC. Second - it is better to luff your sails and slow down, Third - going back to restart is only to correct being over early, it does not absolve you for any penalties that you may cause while returning.


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