There’s now a bet­ter al­ter­na­tive to the dreaded Black Flag and greater le­niency when it comes to protest form ac­cu­racy.

Sailing World - - Contents - E-mail for Dick Rose may be sent to rules@sail­ing­

With the in­tro­duc­tion of the U Flag, it’s time to ban, burn and ban­ish the black flag — for­ever.

This is the sixth and fi­nal in­stall­ment in a series of ar­ti­cles out­lin­ing im­por­tant changes in the new rules. We’ll cover three changes that make the rules gov­ern­ing the race and protest com­mit­tee more com­peti­tor friendly. We’ll also dis­cuss in­con­sis­ten­cies that have been iden­ti­fied in one of the new rules and the un­usual ad­vi­sory state­ment is­sued that US Sail­ing has is­sued as a re­sult.

RULE 30.3 As many of you who have read this col­umn over the years know, I am firmly op­posed to use of the Black Flag Rule to keep an overea­ger fleet be­hind the line in the fi­nal count­down to a start. My pref­er­ence is to see the Black Flag Rule re­moved from the rule­book. How­ever, this year a new rule has been added that, while sim­i­lar to the Black Flag Rule, is much fairer to com­peti­tors and far sim­pler for race com­mit­tees. What’s more, many tests in­di­cate that it will usu­ally con­trol a fleet just as ef­fec­tively as the Black Flag Rule. The new rule is Rule 30.3, the U Flag Rule.

RULE 30.3, U Flag Rule reads as fol­lows: If flag U has been dis­played, no part of a boat’s hull, crew or equip­ment shall be in the tri­an­gle formed by the ends of the starting line and the first mark dur­ing the last minute be­fore her starting sig­nal. If a boat breaks this rule and is iden­ti­fied, she shall be dis­qual­i­fied with­out a hear­ing, but not if the race is restarted or re­sailed.

The U Flag Rule dif­fers from the Black Flag Rule in two im­por­tant re­spects. Un­like the Black Flag Rule, a boat that breaks the U Flag Rule is not dis­qual­i­fied if there is a gen­eral re­call or if the race is post­poned or aban­doned ei­ther be­fore or at any time after the starting sig­nal. This will mean that far fewer DSQS will be handed out un­der the U Flag Rule than would be the case un­der the Black Flag Rule. Also, the U Flag Rule sim­pli­fies life for the race com­mit­tee be­cause when flag U is used there is no need to post num­bers on the race com­mit­tee starting line ves­sel and never a need to score boats DNE.

From 2013- 2016, the U Flag Rule was in­cluded in Ap­pendix L, the Sail­ing In­struc­tions Guide, as an op­tional sail­ing in­struc­tion. This led to its be­ing ex­ten­sively tested over the past four years, The U Flag Rule was al­most al­ways as ef­fec­tive in con­trol­ling the fleet as the Black Flag Rule, and it gained ac­cep­tance among com­peti­tors and race of­fi­cials.

I hope to see the Black Flag Rule re­moved from the rule­book when the rules are next re­vised in 2021. How­ever, in the mean­time, you can help to make sure that it is not used by en­cour­ag­ing your club to sched­ule a party dur­ing which the fea­tured event will be a cer­e­mo­nial burn­ing of the black flag. If you suc­ceed, send me a photo of the cer­e­mony and I will en­cour­age Sail­ing World to pub­lish it.

RULE 33(a) Clear race com­mit­tee sig­nals are al­ways help­ful. To sig­nal a change in the next leg of the course, the race com­mit­tee must al­ways dis­play flag C with re­peated short sound sig­nals. Last year, when the com­mit­tee sig­naled a change in the di­rec­tion of the next leg of the course, Rule 33(a) per­mit­ted the dis­play, along with flag C, of ei­ther the new com­pass bear­ing of the next leg or a green tri­an­gle for a change to star­board or a red rec­tan­gle for a change to port. Now, a change in Rule 33(a) gives the com­mit­tee the op­tion to dis­play both of these sig­nals.

The sig­nals for a change in the length of the next leg have not been changed. They are still flag C with repet­i­tive sounds and a plac­ard with a “+” if the length is in­creased or a “-” if the length is de­creased.

RULE 61.2 A com­peti­tor-friendly change in Rule 61.2 is in­tended to re­duce the chances that a protest will be de­clared in­valid be­cause the in­for­ma­tion on the protest form is in­ac­cu­rate. Last year, the pro­tes­tor was re­quired to iden­tify in the writ­ten protest “the in­ci­dent in­clud­ing where and when it oc­curred,” and, if there was an er­ror in what the pro­tes­tor wrote on the protest form about where and when the in­ci­dent oc­curred, that er­ror could not be cor­rected. It’s al­ways easy to re­mem­ber the in­ci­dent, but pro­tes­tors of­ten make an er­ror about where and when the in­ci­dent oc­curred. When the course is twice around, they may state that the in­ci­dent oc­curred dur­ing the

first lap, when it ac­tu­ally oc­curred dur­ing the se­cond; or, when there are sev­eral races in a day, they may state that it oc­curred in the se­cond race when it ac­tu­ally hap­pened in the third. Rule 61.2 still re­quires the pro­tes­tor to “iden­tify the in­ci­dent” on the writ­ten form, but she can sup­ply or cor­rect the in­for­ma­tion about “when and where” the in­ci­dent oc­curred ei­ther be­fore or dur­ing the hear­ing.

RULE 64.4( b) There is one more, quite un­usual, fea­ture of the new rules that I want to bring to your at­ten­tion. An in­con­sis­tency be­tween Rules 63.1 and 64.4( b) ex­ists, and Rule 64.4( b) has un­de­sir­able con­se­quences. Let me ex­plain.

There are sev­eral new rules in­volv­ing sup­port per­sons. A hear­ing can be held un­der Rule 60.3(d) to con­sider whether a sup­port per­son has bro­ken a rule, and a hear­ing can be held un­der Rule 69 to con­sider whether a sup­port per­son has com­mit­ted an act of mis­con­duct. The only party to such a hear­ing is the sup­port per­son. If the protest com­mit­tee de­cides that the sup­port per­son has bro­ken a rule, then Rule 64.4 de­scribes the ac­tions that the com­mit­tee may take.

A sup­port per­son does not have a score, so the usual penalty of dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion would not make sense. In­stead, Rule 64.4(a) (1) al­lows the com­mit­tee to warn the sup­port per­son or to pe­nal­ize the sup­port per­son with one of the puni­tive ac­tions listed in Rules 64.4(a)(2) or (3). So far so good.

The trou­ble­some part of Rule 64.4 is 64.4(b), which per­mits the protest com­mit­tee to pe­nal­ize the boat as­so­ci­ated with the sup­port

per­son for the breach of a rule by the sup­port per­son by chang­ing the boat’s score in a sin­gle race, up to and in­clud­ing DSQ. But, if you read Rules 63.1 and the first sen­tence of Rule 64.1, you find that a boat can­not be pe­nal­ized un­less (1) she is a party to a protest hear­ing, or (2) the rule un­der which she is pe­nal­ized is in the list of rules in Rule 63.1. A hear­ing un­der ei­ther Rule 60.3(d) or Rule 69 is not a “protest hear­ing,” and Rule 64.4(b) is not in the list of rules in Rule 63.1. So, de­spite what Rule 64.4(b) states, the rules do not per­mit a boat or com­peti­tor to be pe­nal­ized un­der Rule 64.4(b).

RULE 63.1 is a rule that can be changed by the no­tice of race or the sail­ing in­struc­tions. So it would be easy to change Rule 63.1 by adding Rule 64.4( b) to the list of rules in Rule 63.1. How­ever, a fire storm of op­po­si­tion has arisen in the United States to Rule 64.4(b), and the US Sail­ing Race Ad­min­is­tra­tion Com­mit­tee has is­sued the fol­low­ing un­prece­dented state­ment:

Race of­fi­cials and or­ga­niz­ing au­thor­i­ties in the United States are strongly ad­vised: 1. Not to pe­nal­ize a com­peti­tor un­der rule 64.4(b) be­cause we be­lieve that it is not per­mit­ted by the rules; and 2. Not to use the no­tice of race or sail­ing in­struc­tions to change rule 63.1 to per­mit them to pe­nal­ize a com­peti­tor un­der 64.4( b), be­cause do­ing so re­moves due process safe­guards that pro­tect a boat or com­peti­tor.

The World Sail­ing Racing Rules Com­mit­tee meets in Novem­ber, and US Sail­ing will make a pro­posal to re­quire that no boat be pe­nal­ized for the ac­tions of one of her sup­port per­sons un­less she is protested for breaking a rule and found in a protest hear­ing to have done so. It is pos­si­ble that Rule 64.4(b) will be changed by World Sail­ing as soon as Jan­uary 1, 2018.

If, after read­ing this series of ar­ti­cles, you still have some ques­tions about the changes made in the 2017-2020 edi­tion of The

Racing Rules of Sail­ing, you may find the Study Ver­sion of the new rules help­ful. It is an Adobe Acro­bat “pdf” file that con­tains the rea­sons for each pro­posal that re­sulted in a change in one of the racing rules or the def­i­ni­tions. You can ac­cess this file by click­ing “Rules” on the ban­ner at the top of US Sail­ing’s home page (us­sail­ Then scroll a lit­tle more than halfway down the “Rules” page, click on “Read about changes in the rules,” and fi­nally click on “The Racing Rules of Sail­ing for 20172020 Study Ver­sion.” Q


With big fleets and ag­gres­sive starters, the black flag is of­ten used to cur­tail gen­eral re­calls, but DSQS can be ex­ces­sive. The U Flag is a bet­ter al­ter­na­tive.

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