Saturday, July 11, 2020

One Word Changes Everything - 16.2 in the New Racing Rules

The "Racing Rules of Sailing 2021-2024" are out and ready for Study! At first glance, there are not many major changes, and the definitions, wording and structure of the Rules remains close to the '16-'20 Rules. Im looking forward to wiser minds than mine (Dave Perry, Dick Rose, etc) going through what they see as the major changes for 2021!

One change that has significant ramifications for Team Racing is a change to Rule 16 "Changing Course."  We had been expecting some sort of change to 16.2 since having already been the Guinea pigs for the new rule: the Sailing Instructions at the 2019 Opti Team Cup Berlin and 2020 USODA Team Race Midwinters included different test versions of 16.2.

Here's the new rule as written:


16.1 When a right-of-way boat changes course, she shall give the other boat room to keep clear. 

16.2 In addition, on a beat to windward when a port-tack boat is keeping clear by sailing to pass to leeward of a starboard-tack boat, the starboard-tack boat shall not bear away if as a result the port-tack boat must change course immediately to continue keeping clear. 

When words are italicized in the Racing Rules, it means they have a specific definition in the "Definitions" Section at the front of your rule book. Here's the relevant definitions to Rule 16:

Room:  The space a boat needs in the existing conditions, including space to comply with her obligations under the rules of Part 2 and rule 31, while manoeuvring promptly in a seamanlike way.

Keep Clear: A boat keeps clear of a right-of-way boat (a) if the right-of-way boat can sail her course with no need to take avoiding action and, (b) when the boats are overlapped, if the right-of-way boat can also change course in both directions without immediately making contact.

Leeward and Windward: A boat’s leeward side is the side that is or, when she is head to wind, was away from the wind. However, when sailing by the lee or directly downwind, her leeward side is the side on which her mainsail lies. The other side is her windward side. When two boats on the same tack overlap, the one on the leeward side of the other is the leeward boat. The other is the windward boat

Tack, Starboard or Port:  A boat is on the tack, starboard or port, corresponding to her windward side

Ok, so what's new? The phrase "sailing to pass to leeward" in new 16.2  instead of "sailing to pass astern" in old 16.2.

Why does this matter? Lets look at the Call Book for Team Racing (which is currently based off the 2016-2020 Rules)  for an explanation. Here's the Call that explains 16.2 and likely won't change:

Ok, no problem. But its the 2nd question on this call that likely will change:

At Position 3 the Call notes that  Y is no longer sailing to pass astern of B - because B has headed down so much can we say that Y is sailing to pass "a-bow" of B?!

But Y at Position 3 is sailing to "pass to leeward" of B. So under the new Rule, Y3 will be  protected by 16.2, and B will be penalized for her "bear away [where] as a result the port-tack boat must change course immediately to continue keeping clear. "

Simply put, the new wording increases the protections for a port boat that is trying to duck a starboard boat. It limits the starboard boat's ability to 'hunt' down at the port boat.

When does this situation come up in Team Racing? There are situations in a team race where a member of one team wants to dramatically slow down a member of the opposition, and would like to use the starboard advantage to make her tack or jibe away from the windward mark or finish line! In the past, if the port boat started to duck the starboard boat too early, the starboard boat was allowed by D2 question 2 to bear off sharply and make her jibe. This aggressive maneuver resulted in a lot of collisions and animosity! It was also always a tricky call for the umpires to determine if (a)both 16.1 and 16.2 applied (based on both boats course) or if just 16.1 applied, and (b)then determine if the starboard boat had broken a rule. Now in any situation where the port boat is sailing to duck a starboard boat 16.2 applies!

For the sailors, the strategy will now change: now Starboard boats looking to slow a port tack opponent will have to either dial down early, then up to make the port boat tack, or they can just tack to port in a leebow position and use rule 11 (Windward - Leeward) to luff up the opponent.

Does this apply before the start? No, 16.2 only applies "on a beat to windward." 

Does this effect fleet racing? No, the maneuvers described by Call D2 and above are 'Team Race Tactics', which are prohibited in a fleet race! 16.2 can come into play in a fleet race, but usually it is when the starboard boat decides to tack at the last second and swings her stern into the ducking boat's path. Bearing off at someone in a fleet race that is trying to duck you is a &%#* move!

Final Thoughts: Sailors need to consider 16.1 at all times: "When a right-of-way boat changes course, she shall give the other boat room to keep clear. " Just because you are right of way does not mean you are right!  When you change course other boats must be given the opportunity and ability to keep clear. While 16.2 is very specific, 16.1 applies to any situation on any leg of the course and start. 

Friday, May 29, 2020

Summer Racing Clinics Posted!

Dates corrected! With the regatta schedule changing we will keep you updated! 

Thursday, May 21, 2020

The Endless Summer In Search of the Perfect Roll Tack

Roll Tacks are Magic. I remember seeing my first Opti Roll tack when I was 9 or 10 with an older sailor demonstrating off the Opti dock for the rest of the group. It didn't seem possible  -  how could the sail not luff as the boat cut through head to wind?

Roll tacking allows you to trick the wind and to play in the boundary layer between wind and water. By rolling the boat to windward you 'fan' the sail at the moment it would luff. Then, as you flatten on the new tack, you put an extra big gust into her and accelerate.

Roll tacking the Opti a super aerobatic maneuver! Imagine if a gymnast, wrestler or tennis player had to operate on a constantly moving platform?! The boats changes balance in response to how you move, so movements are precisely choreographed to have a desired effect.

The keys to a great roll tack are:
     1. Minimizing drag from the sail (no luffing!), hull and rudder.
     2. Rolling at the right time and the right amount or the conditions.
     3. Establishing flow over the sail and foils as you exit the tack.

These keys are true across all boats that roll tack. The styles and mechanics differ from sailor to sailor and of course according to different wind conditions. Here's 3 sailors I picked out from last weekends light air practice who have been honing their technique for years, and show unique styles that get it done.

Please note that it is blowing a maximum of 2kts and we wouldn't ordinarily start a race in these conditions!
KJ enters the tack with his eyes on the sail, holding the end of the tiller extension, and shoulders in.
He finds the right time to hop up to the rail, just before the sail luffs (note eyes still on the sail), and pushes the tiller a little more. Eyes, shoulders and knees are all facing forward!
A nice job ducking the boom! I also like that the hand holding the mainsheet is in at his chest - not clinging to the rail!  If you look closely at the masthead wind-indicator, you will see the trickery of the roll tack! The sail thinks it should still be full on port tack!
Now the athletic part - leaping across the boat, but landing smoothly. KJ's Tennis background at work! KJ  uses the tiller hand to stabilize on the rail for less than a second. The sail still thinks its on port.
Now as the sail flops and pops to starboard tack, and KJ is re-establishing flow. The rudder gets pushed behind the back to centerline, and the left knee goes to the bottom of the boat, to make the weight transfer smoother. The right knee being over the bulkhead keeps KJ's weight forward, and if you look at the waterline you can see the boat is well balanced - no stern drag!
Exiting the tack: Tiller 'knifed' away, eyes on the sail, mainsheet eased, to be trimmed in smoothly a second later. Slight splash from the overflatten, but come on it was less than 2kts of wind!
Cody sailing 'shoulders pressed' before the tack.
Cody puts his shoulders in to initiate the turn.
Cody Rolls the boat to windward, filling the sail through head to wind, eyes forward, holding the end of the extension up. Sail trimmed in to centerline.
...As he drops his shoulders to just barely duck the boom, the tiller extension gets pushed down to the floor as well. Note his head is even now still looking forward!
Beginning to cross the boat, he bumps the boom up to centerline a little bit. Is this fast?! The Etchells sailors who pull the main traveler all the way up to fill the sail before easing it off on the new tack say yes!
Bracing the tiller and leaving one leg to leeward for a smooth weight transfer. Great balance and concentration in this picture.
Building flow before the acceleration. See how nicely the sail fills, and the tiller hand ready to knife in the dagger!
Mainsheet eased aggressively (but correctly for the apparent wind - look at the wind indicator). Tiller knifed away so more of the rudder enters the water smoothly.
Full rudder away knifing action and Cody's weight is more centered in the boat than 2 frames ago. He's trying to minimize the splash you see to windward...but its blowing less than 2 kts!
Left hand still holding the mainsheet - Cody essentially does a smooth 'bicep curl" to trim in after the tack. Comfortable steering behind the back as well! Windward heel yes, but the top batten 'leech' telltale appears to be flowing, and it's flat water conditions. I call this "upwind kiting."
Gil's upwind position pre-tack. Unlike Cody who always steers with the extension, Gil prefers to hold the tiller almost directly when in the boat. Both styles work.
Shoulders in and transitioning the right hand from the tiller to the end of the extension. Body in and a little rudder initiate the turn.
Trimming the sail to centerline and rolling at the right time. Smaller sailors may have to roll a little later so they are not fighting soo much of the force of the sail.
Gil gets enough roll by putting his butt out (rail to the water)  Eye's still forward.
Barely ducking the boom with his Coast Guard Approved lifejacket! Feet are under Gil and knees together (the "crouching tiger" position!)
Springing accross the boat and keeping the mainsheet trimmed in.
Sailor and rudder both completely airborn! Mainsheet eased aggressively, rudder knifing away to prepare for re-entry to the ocean! Gil is forward to the bulkhead, but not trying to push in front of it - you can see the hull trim is perfect and if he tries to go too far forward (some coaches teach to 'kiss the airbag) the bow will bury.
Extreme rudder angle for extreme light air. Excellent example of howe to "counter" - Gil presses his weight back to leeward and onto his left leg to stop the boat from over-flattening.
Eyes on the sail as he trims in smoothly. Slight splash from the hull, but no splash from the rudder! Weight centered in the boat.
Full trim (same 'bicep curl' trimming technique as Cody, but obscured by the body), eyes on the sail, rudder straight and a super loose 2 finger grip on the tiller extensions as the sailor goes from the athleticism of the tack to the feel and balance of straight line speed.

These for sure weren't the  only sailors laying down saucy tacks in our last practice and we watched the videos of everyone with the sailors last Sunday evening.  Im alway willing to text sailors that asked their own tacking vides!  Video is so so helpful for sailors visualization of their body movements, as well as seeing the telltales and wind indicator in slow motion. And we all find things to copy from our friends!   One thing you may notice is that all 3 tacks above were port-to-starboard. It just so happens that all 3 sailors are right handed and in fact, their tacks from starboard-to-port were not as good!! This is yet another way video helps us notice the non obvious, and gives us techniques to focus on for the next practice!

Monday, April 20, 2020

Mark Room Video on SnipeToday!

LYC Coach Arthur Blodgett talks through Rule 18.3 at the Windward mark, as well as the concepts of "burden of proof" and 'converging angles' at Leeward marks with SnipeToday editor Past Commodore Pietro Fantoni. Enjoy!

Monday, April 6, 2020

Who's Foul vol 4 - Alinghi Keeps the '07 Cup

This situation comes from the deciding race of the 2007 America's Cup final between Alinghi and Team New Zealand. When both boats are on starboard and over the port-tack layline to the windward mark, NZL tacks to port and attemps to duck Alinghi. Alinghi bears off, holds her course at NZL, then takes avoiding action and protests. Here's the incident (starting at about 18:38): external link to incident.

Question 1: Who's Foul. Keep in mind that Rule 16.2 is deleted by the Appendix C Match Racing 

Question 2: If we turn on 16.2 is the call the same? As always, please give your interpretations in the comments section!

Here's a link to the entire race highlights.

And here's the poorly executed penalty turn by Dean Barker and Team New Zealand (after a 110 degree windshift on the last leg) just before the finish, that ended the '07 Cup.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Who's Foul vol. 3 - Optical Illusions and Old Arguments revisited!

Another near - simultaneous Tacking situation! This one's from the 2010 Hinman US Team Race Champs gold round race between Team Silver Panda and Team Tall Boyz. This foul situation pits 2 former Harvard University Sailing All-Americans against each other:

* Clay Johnson rounding Mark 4 in first in the Grey Sailed Vanguard 15
* Clay Bischoff rounding Mark 4  3rd in the Yellow Sailed Vanguard 15.

There is rig contact between the 2 boats, but according to Johnson, no hull contact.

Who's Foul (Bischoff or Johnson)? 
As we do each week, your answers in the comments section, and my own thoughts coming Friday!

My Answer: 
With a moderate degree of certainty I would say: penalize Bischoff (yellow) for breaking rule 13. I will first explain how I arrived at this conclusion, then why I still have reservations, and invite any actual umpires to continue commenting! 

Let us start by establishing who is the keep clear boat. Rule 13 Defines a tack:

Rule 13 WHILE TACKING After a boat passes head to wind, she shall keep clear of other boats until she is on a close-hauled course. During that time rules 10, 11, 15 and 12 do not apply. If two boats are subject to this rule at the same time, the one on the other’s port side or the one astern shall keep clear.

So a boat has completed a tack when she reaches a close hauled course. "Close hauled" is not defined in the rule book, and is different for each type of sailboat. However, its clear from numerous cases and calls that the rule is referring to the direction in which the hull is pointing - is the bow pointed on a normal close hauled course for that class of boat. A sail luffing because it is eased (say on the starting line) does not mean that a boat is above close hauled, just as a sail temporarily or artificially  filled by flattening/rocking and thus moving the apparent wind angle aft does not mean a boat is close hauled. 

It is exactly this last scenario that Bischoff is using to make it appear he is close hauled on starboard, when in fact he is not. The aggressive flattening of the V15's rig fills the sails while the boat is still almost head to wind. 

Look at the hulls of the Vanguard 15's in this sequence of pictures to see what I mean:
 ^Bischoff (Yellow # 7) crossing head to wind from Port tack for the first time.

^Bischoff flattening at almost the exact same angle (again hull/bow of  # 7), making his sails fill and giving the illusion that he is on Starboard.

^Bischoff holds this angle (just past head to wind from Port tack) and eventually his jib makes clear that he is in-fact head to wind.

^In this last photo, Johnson (Grey #11 ) and Bischoff's teammate in Yellow #8 show from the same camera angle what a close hauled course in a V15 really is. - at least 15 degrees lower than Bischoff ever gets before the contact!

So its pretty clear to me that Bischoff is subject to rule 13 at the time of the contact and breaks either the first sentence of 13 if Johnson is on Starboard at the time of contact, or the last sentence if Johnson is also subject to rule 13. Here's a call that explains that last sentence of rule 13 and is very similar to this situation:

While I think Johnson is below close hauled on starboard when the Clay's rigs make contact, this call makes Rule 15 irrelevant to the situation. Johnson wasn't acquiring right of way, he had right of way from the moment both boats crossed head to wind!

My reservations about this decision come from this question: Did Johnson break rule 16.1? 

Rule 16 CHANGING COURSE 16.1 When a right-of-way boat changes course, she shall give the other boat room to keep clear. 

By coming out of his roll tack below close hauled with his rig significantly rolled towards Bischoff was Johnson giving Bischoff enough room to keep clear? Im leaning yes, because Bischoff is not trying to keep clear - he is going for contact! But its close - Bishoff is basically holding his course for a period before the contact. 

Bischoff isn't the only smart sailor to try to draw a foul with this same maneuver. Here's Cody Roe this past January in a team race Opti practice:

In fact, Cody in some ways does it better than Bischoff:
  1.  He is closer to actually being close hauled on starboard when his mast makes contact with Lulu's leach. 
  2. Situationally its smarter for Cody to put the call in the hands of the umpires: he is loosing the drill to the purple-pinnie-team whereas Bischoff's team is solidly winning when he "fishes for the foul." 

Both Bischoff and Roe knew what they were doing and had probably practiced this maneuver many times before. Its incumbent on Umpires to understand that the apparent wind in rocking rigs lies to us - we need to look at the heading of the hull to determine when a boat reaches close hauled. It is also my hope that when the Call Book for Team Racing updates in 2021 that it will give us more clarity on this situation, and define to what extent a boat tacking to starboard to cover must respect rule 16.1. 

Here's the race in its entirety - pretty impressive play 2 conversion by Silver Panda at the top of its game against a quality opponent:

Thursday, March 26, 2020

How to Tie a Bowline ("Bowl - lin")

The fast, efficient, high-percentage way to tie "the king of knots!" No narratives about rabbits...

We use the bowline (pronounced BOWL - LIN) on the Opti to:

1. Rig the mainsheet/ switch the mainsheet from 3:1 to 4:1.  Its important to tie a bowline rather than a stopper knot through the top mainsheet block so that it pulls evenly - reducing friction (and wear and tear) on you mainsheet. 

2. Rig the bowline (the "Bow - line") or painter as it is also called. Floating bowline rope comes untied really easily so I recommend a "safety" half-hitch of the bowline tail around 1 strand of the loop. 

3. Tiying bungies to anything. The bowline can't be untied under load which makes it ideal for the hiking strap bungies. Also good for tying the bailor bungies to the airbag straps or bulkhead (with a side safety hitch). 

4. Great for tying in your daggerboard.  

5. Tie your boat up to the rings on the dock quickly if you launched and forgot something! 

So Opti sailors that have mastered a quick bowline have a competitive advantage over those who don't. They can quickly switch the purchase on their mainsheet without the need for a heavy shackle. They have fewer breakdowns and can recover faster (before the Measurement boat!) and they can mark the Daggerboard tie in line to a precise "seaweed clearing length" and tie it to the trunk eye the same way every day! 

Be forewarned: If you cannot tie a bowline in a timely manner by the time you get to Lasers at LYC, the coach will leave you off the towline and head out to practice on the ocean without you 😭