July 2014 - Unusual Finishing Lines

placeholder image

July 2014 - Unusual Finishing Lines

Last summer I wrote an article about a situation when one boat was rounding a mark and another is finishing at the same mark. This month I would like to discuss a different unusual finishing line situation that I observed on a recent Tuesday night. I am not sure that I agree with the way several boats “finished” that race, but I’m confident I’m not opening a hornets’ nest – by the time this is published, the time limit for a protest and request for redress will be long expired.

The wind was light so the race committee shortened the course at the gybe mark. Normally this should be simple, but complications arose because Tuesday night races have two gybe marks – a green one for some fleets and an orange one for others. 
28.2 A string representing a boat’s track from the time she begins to approach the starting line from its pre-start side to start until she finishes shall, when drawn taut,

(a) pass each mark on the required side and in the correct order,
(b) touch each rounding mark, and
(c) pass between the marks of a gate from the direction of the previous mark.

She may correct any errors to comply with this rule, provided she has not finished.


32.1 After the starting signal, the race committee may shorten the course (display flag S with two sounds) or abandon the race (display flag N, N over H, or N over A, with three sounds), as appropriate,
(a) because of an error in the starting procedure,
(b) because of foul weather,
(c) because of insufficient wind making it unlikely that any boat will finish within the time limit,
(d) because a mark is missing or out of position, or
(e) for any other reason directly affecting the safety or fairness of the competition, or may shorten the course so that other scheduled races can be sailed. 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 (displays 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) at a line boats are required to cross at the end of each lap, that line;
(c) at a gate, between the gate marks.
The shortened course shall be signalled before the first boat crosses the finishing line.

Excerpt from Midweek Sailing Instructions:
10.3 For J105’s, 8 meters, Div. 1A and PHRF I there may be a separate gybe mark and windward mark which will be green in color. If either green mark is not in place the fleet will use the appropriate orange mark. The orange gybe mark is still a mark of the course and must be left to port. If the green windward mark is in place, the orange windward mark is not a mark of the course for those fleets and they may pass it on either side.

For the fleet rounding the orange mark, the green mark is not a mark of the course, so the finishing line is pretty clear. According to rule 32.2(a), it is between the rounding mark (orange) and the S flag. The Blue boat finishes at position 4.

According to the Sailing Instructions, the fleet sailing around the green marks must also leave the orange marks to port. Without question, this makes the orange marks, marks of their course, but are they also rounding marks for this fleet? It depends. If the mark is in position A, as shown in the second diagram, and if a string representing the wake of the boats rounding the entire course were pulled taut (as described in rule 28.2), it would not touch the orange mark so it can’t be a rounding mark (as described in 28.2(b)). However, if the orange mark were more to the left in the diagram, as shown in position B, it might become a rounding mark for the leg from the gybe mark to the leeward mark.

Why is this important? Because one end of a finish line must end on a rounding mark, so the question of which marks are rounding marks also determines where the finish lies, and thus, who has finished and who has not.

The Yellow boat and the White boat differ on where the finish line lies. Yellow assumes that the committee boat is nearer the green mark and – correctly, I think – that the line is between the two. White, however, decides that the committee boat is nearer the orange mark, so the line lies between the boat and the orange mark. Implicitly acknowledging that the orange mark is not a rounding mark on the leg from the windward mark (and therefore cannot form part of a finish line as described in rule 32.2 (a)), White rounds the green mark and sails what he assumes is the shortened course leg toward a line between the orange mark and the boat. Which interpretation is correct depends on the position of the orange mark relative to the course.  As noted above, if the orange mark is not a rounding mark for this fleet on this leg, 32.2(a) doesn’t apply between the orange mark and the committee boat.

To sum up, a boat sailing Blue’s course who is in the fleet that is supposed to sail around the green mark has not finished (and this is what I think I saw most boats do that night). If Blue is in a fleet that only has to round the orange mark, she has without argument finished.  Yellow has also finished by passing between her fleet’s rounding mark and the boat. Whether White has finished depends on the layout of the course. 
© Copyright 2014 Andrew Alberti
Posted: 7/1/2014 10:54:44 AM by Andrew Alberti

Trackback URL: https://rcyc.ca/trackback/9f5ba406-cece-48a5-b5a8-a91aa87f8b04/July_2014_-_Unusual_Finishing_Lines.aspx?culture=en-US

This page provides links to a set of articles original published in Kwasind magazine. The versions here include animated diagrams. The original articles can be found within the original magazines which are available online back to January 2007. 

Articles before December 2016 are based on the Racing Rules of Sailing 2009-12 or 2013-2016 and have not been updated to reflect the changes that apply as of January 2017 with the publication of the Racing Rules of Sailing 2017-20. A copy of the new rules can be found on sailing.org.
Andrew Alberti has been writing these monthly articles in the Kwasind since early 1997.  They explain the Racing Rules of Sailing. Andrew is a National Judge and National Umpire. He is a member of the Sail Canada Rules and Appeals Committees. The interpretation of the rules contained in the articles is Andrew's and not that of the RCYC or any of the committees he sits on. 

Send your questions to Andrew at kyrules@alberti.ca.


166 Years of Tradition | World-Class Sailing | Toronto Island & City Clubhouse
May/June 2019 - An Overview Of The Right-Of-Way Rules I
March/April 2019 - Making It Fair? - Request For Redress II
January/February 2019 - Making It Fair? - Request For Redress I
November/December 2018 - When Are You Racing? What Rules Apply If You Aren’t?
September/October 2018 - What Tack Are You On?