SAN DIEGO – There has been much interest, and online commentary, since our "You be the judge" post here on Sailing Illustrated of last evening. Even more since our follow-up article of this morning with the Rolex highlights video that showed the incident in dramatic if not decisive terms. And we have been asked by several of our Dear Readers for a more in-depth explanation of the applicable Racing Rules of Sailing for what is one of the most common, and contentious, rules "situations" in our sport.
First, and again, despite hailing protest and displaying their protest flag LVDC is under no obligation to file a protest in Hobart.
If, however, LDVC do file (and they have six hours after finishing to do so), the International Jury will call a hearing and take oral testimony from both parties, review other evidence that they submit, such as highly-precise real-time GPS tracks showing their speed and headings in, say, tenths of a second keyed to the time of day (same for both yachts), review available video in real time and slo-mo, and likely look at key video second-by-second if not frame by frame.
Indeed, if I were LDVC's rules advisor, I would produce second-to-second screengrabs as below, and print them on individual pages for submission to the jury (with a copy, of course, to the other party).
I would then politely but firmly point out (see time code in lower left corner of each slide):
Slide :51 – Starboard-tack LDVC is holding course as port-tack WOXI begins to luff to tack (note bow wave on the port bow of WOXI); WOXI is the "keep-clear" yacht under Rule 10, ("When boats are on opposite tacks, a port-tack boat shall keep clear of a starboard-tack boat");
Slide :52 – LDVC, with right-of-way, is now luffing to avoid contact with keep-clear yacht WOXI (note bow wave on the starboard side of LDVC) as WOXI continues luffing toward head to wind; thus, LDVC is properly complying with Rule 14 ("Avoiding Contact – A boat shall avoid contact with another boat if reasonably possible....") and clearly WOXI has broken Rule 10.
Slide :53 – more of the same;
Slide :54 – more of the same;
Slide :55 – WOXI is now approx head to wind; before and at head-to-wind they are the keep-clear yacht under Rule 10; beyond head-to-wind they are the keep-clear yacht under the Rule 13 ("After a boat passes head to wind, she shall keep clear of other boats until she is on a close-hauled course");
Slide :56 – LDVC has had to alter even more to avoid WOXI, which is now clearly beyond head to wind but has yet to complete her tack by coming to a close-hauled course, thereby clearly breaking Rule 13;
Slide :57 – more of the same;
Slide :58 – arguably WOXI has come down to a starboard-tack close-hauled course but it makes no difference as LDVC has long-since had to alter course to avoid WOXI, obligated to keep clear of LDVC first under Rule 10 then Rule 13;
Slide :59 – WOXI is now on a close-hauled course ("completed her tack" in old rules parlance); but, again, clearly LDVC has long since had to alter course to avoid what would have been a certain collision; a collision, even a near collision, is not required to prove that a "keep-clear yacht" did not keep clear – and this was for sure a near collision as the video clearly shows at Slides :58 and :59; moreover, as this slide clearly shows, ultimately LDVC luffed well above her close-hauled course to avoid colliding with WOXI, ending up overlapped. Not even a difficult call; protest upheld, WOXI penalized for breaking Rules 10 and 13.
As to penalties, and since WOXI did not take a voluntary 720 alternative penalty as provided under the Sailing Instructions, this clause in the SIs applies: "A boat which is found after a protest hearing to have infringed a [right-of-way rule while still inside Sydney Harbour] shall receive a time penalty of not less than 5 minutes added to the boat’s elapsed time."
If you were the jury, how much time would you add, and why?