Friday, May 28, 2010


                                                      In the March - April “Speed and Smarts” David Dellenbaugh tells us all about the protest stuff.

First the requirements:

1) Hail “Protest” loud and clear and promptly.

2) Big boats display a red protest flag. Not Lasers, they just yell.

3) Written protest delivered to the committee before the end of the time limit.

4) Show up at the hearing.

And then he has 16 pages of details.

I remember years ago, when if you fouled some one, you retired from the race and took a last place. After a while they figured out that that spoiled it for everyone with fewer people in the race, so they added the 720 turns and if you hit the mark, just go around it again. Then the mark thing got changed when they figured out that the early mark rounders were rerounding in everyone else way, so they changed that to “get out of the way and do a 360"

Then about 10 year ago a big revision to keep the boats from running into each other.

Before that, if you wanted to prove someone was not keeping clear, just hit them. If you didn’t think you were given enough “mark room”, try to hit both the mark and the offender.

Small boats usually bounce off each other, if they are going in the same direction. Big boats particularly with wave action, tend to have a lot of damage when they hit. So we had this change. We had a year of the “experimental rule” and then the big change. Since that rule change, the number of protest have gone way down. Maybe that is good, but maybe it is harder to learn the rules.

Now the new stuff:

Part 1 Fundamental Rule 2 Fair Sailing. “Recognized principals of sportsmanship and fair play” (Fill in the rest of that yourself.)

Part 2 Section B

14 Avoiding contact.- but not penalized unless the contact causes damage or injury.

15 Acquiring right of way.- initially give the other boat room to keep clear.

16 Changing course. ROW boat changes course , she shall give the other boat room to keep clear.

17 On the same tack, Proper course. Boat to leeward with in two boat lengths will not sail above her proper course.

So if you go into a protest meeting you always have that difficult job of deciding if the ROW boat gave enough room, sailing above the proper course, or sailing fairly.

Remember you are doing this thing for FUN. Try to win by sailing fast and smart and follow the rules the best you can. Things have been a lot worse.

If you think winning a big regatta will depend on you winning a protest, then get Dellenbaugh’s 16 pages. Then read the rule book a number of times. See if you can figure out what “Fair Sailing” is and what they mean by “clearly established”. When you read the rule book, it will help to read with a second rule book open, because in part 1 and Part 2 included in a rule is a reference to another rule by number 33 times (my count) and you will have to look up each one to understand the first one.

Now you will not really understand what they are talking about, until you get and read the latest appeals book.

For the ordinary sailor, I suggest Sam’s list of rules “howtossailthelaser” October 9, 2009 “Laser rules of the road”and with diagrams. Doesn’t cost as much as a rule book either.

Get out and sail the boat. Get your boat handling down, sail fast, play the shifts, and stay in the pressure. Don’t depend on the rules.

Talk about the rules with your friends when you need to. Occasionally you may have to yell “PROTEST” at some dummy. More likely that will distract you from sailing fast and smart, and if you get into the protest meeting you only have a 50-50 chance of being right.

Then remember coming up against those angry, obnoxious, dumb folks that fouled you is an opportunity to exercise you understanding and forgiveness. Make them your friends and keep on having fun.