After You Cross The Finishing Line I

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After You Cross The Finishing Line I

I previously wrote about how to finish when the marks aren’t quite where you expect them to be. Now, I want to discuss what happens after you cross the finishing line. Some of the situations in this article and the next occurred over the weekend.

In the first diagram, Red on the port tack tries to cross Green on the starboard tack. Green realizes that they will hit and tacks to avoid the collision while hailing “protest.” Red crosses the line from the course side at position 2. According to the first part of the definition of finish, she has finished. Red realizes that she has broken a rule, however, and takes a penalty. In this race, the penalty is one turn, so she has to do a tack followed by a gybe (or a gybe followed by a tack). She tacks between position 2 and position 4 and then gybes between position 5 and position 6. She then crosses the line again at position 8. The first exception (a) in the finish definition says that Red has not finished if she takes a penalty after crossing the finishing line, so Red did not finish at position 2 but rather just before position 8. She would be scored after Green, who crossed in position 3.

The same interpretation applies if the penalty was imposed by an umpire or judge just before or after a boat crosses the finishing line. It also applies if the penalty is two turns instead of one. I have yet to draw this since the diagram gets very crowded. The important part is that the boat can do the tacks and gybes anywhere relative to the finishing line, but it has to be completely on the course side of the line after the tacks and gybes are done before crossing the line again.

The second diagram illustrates the second exception. For reasons that are not clear, Yellow passes the finishing mark on the wrong side and then crosses the line towards the last mark at position 5. Since she has not crossed from the course side, she has yet to finish. She realizes her mistake and starts to unwind her course. When she crosses the line from the course side at position 8, she meets the first part of the definition of finish. She continues to sail around the mark and crosses the line from the course side at position 14. She has now corrected her error in sailing the course, so the second exception (b) in the definition applies, and she did not finish when she first crossed. She only finishes at position 14.

These situations could be clearer for the race committee, who will usually take note of every crossing but only score based on the last one. If you end up crossing again after your real finish, let the race committee know.
Part two of this article will cover some more similar situations.  It will be announced in the Hiawatha and appear on the Club website next to this article.

Finish A boat finishes when, after starting, any part of her hull crosses the finishing line from the course side. However, she has not finished if after crossing the finishing line she
       (a) takes a penalty under rule 44.2,
       (b) corrects an error in sailing the course made at the line, or
       (c) continues to sail the course

Sail the Course A boat sails the course provided that a string representing her track from the time she begins to approach the starting line from its prestart side to start until she finishes, when drawn taut,
       (a) passes each mark of the course for the race on the required side and in the correct order,
       (b) touches each mark designated in the sailing instructions to be a rounding mark, and
       (c) passes between the marks of a gate from the direction of the course from the previous mark

28.1 A boat shall start, sail the course and then finish. While doing so, she may leave on either side a mark that does not begin, bound or end the leg she is sailing. After finishing she need not cross the finishing line completely.
28.2 A boat may correct any errors in sailing the course, provided she has not crossed the finishing line to finish.
44.2 One-Turn and Two-Turns Penalties
After getting well clear of other boats as soon after the incident as possible, a boat takes a One-Turn or Two-Turns Penalty by promptly making the required number of turns in the same direction, each turn including one tack and one gybe. When a boat takes the penalty at or near the finishing line, her hull shall be completely on the course side of the line before she finishes.

Links to copies of this article and previous rules articles along with animated diagrams can be found at > Sailing > Programs > Know Your Rules.
Posted: 5/17/2024 12:10:02 PM by Andrew Alberti | with 0 comments

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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 2020 are based on the Racing Rules of Sailing 2009-12 or 2013-2016 or 2017-2020 and have not been updated to reflect the changes that apply as of January 2021 with the publication of the Racing Rules of Sailing 2021-24. A copy of the new rules can be found on
Andrew Alberti has been writing these monthly articles in the Kwasind since early 1997.  They explain the Racing Rules of Sailing. Andrew is an International 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 [email protected].


166 Years of Tradition | World-Class Sailing | Toronto Island & City Clubhouse
After You Cross The Finishing Line I
Tacking III
Tacking II
Publication Changes and Tacking
How to Finish
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