RRS 2013-2016 App.E

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(Updated January 2013)

The RRS revised for 2013-2016 has a number of changes to wording and sections, but the game has largely not been changed for radio sailors in the main RRS.  Good news is that our particular problem with Rule 31 has been addressed, and a boat is now exonerated if she touched a mark while being denied mark room by an outside boat.  Appendix E has been completely overhauled, and in general the improvements to clarity, wording, and intention are very welcome.

However, there are some significant changes in Appendix E, and specifically there seems to be an extraordinary game change when you obtain a significant advantage, as per E4.3(b).  These are the differences I could see.

The sport is now called "radio sailing" (previously, "radio controlled boats").

E1.1: Introduces a new definition, "Disabled", which includes entanglement, grounding, or any other inability to continue sailing. The definition concerns the ability of the boat to sail, not what may or may not have happened to her. This is helpful and avoids any attempt to discuss what, exactly, might be meant by entanglement, for example.

E1.3(d): Changes to the SIs may be made by oral communication to all affected competitors, and need be in writing only if "appropriate".

E2.1(a): A hail shall be a hail that its intended hearer is likely to hear. So, no whispering.

E2.1(b): Hails such as "Fourty-four protests ninety-five" or “Recall ninety-five” are now invalid. The hail must use individual digits, such as, "Four four protests nine five" or “Recall nine five”. By itself, this new rule may be an improvement for those who would prefer to hail “one five” rather than “fifteen”, but it introduces some issues when combined with the new sail numbering rules in E8.

E2.4: The protection on a transmitter aerial is only needed if it is longer than 200 mm.

E3.1: Control and launching areas are, if not specified, unrestricted.

E3.3: The requirement for a course board is now a matter for the Sailing Instructions, and is no longer a rule. If there is a course board, then the rule now simply says it must be accessible to competitors.

E3.7: A BFD boat must leave the course area (previously, could continue sailing).

E3.8(a): The Z-flag rule, RRS 30.2 for a start is removed. This seems to be a pointless deletion since it has been successfully used in past national and regional events.

E3.8(b): Signals during the preparatory period (the minute before the start) may be either oral or sounds (previously, curiously, had to be oral).

E3.8(c): Courses can no longer be shortened. If the wind drops, the time out rules of HMS come into play, and if the pond becomes completely calm, the revised E3.8(d) rule allows abandonment.

E3.8(d): Heats can be abandoned because of foul weather (previously only thunderstorms), and now because of insufficient wind.

E4.2(b): Boats receiving help from the safety boat or safety crew must retire, having received outside help which is not permitted according to this rule. Submission 202-11 to the ISAF RRC reads in part, “If help from a safety boat is allowed this will often favour some boats and disadvantage others dependant solely on the proximity of the safety boat at the time. Radio controlled boats are relatively light and easily disturbed by the wash of a safety boat. Eliminating the urgency of re-establishing entangled boats back in a race would reduce the speed of safety boats and thus ensure less wash to impede boats still racing. It will be fairer to all competitors if help from a safety boat is not permitted.”

E4.3(b): Let's quote this new rule verbatim:

"if the boat gained a significant advantage in the heat or race by her breach despite taking a penalty, her penalty shall be an additional One-Turn Penalty"

According to E4.3(b), it seems that boats who have obtained a significant advantage when they breached a rule can exonerate themselves by taking an extra turn (they no longer need to retire). If true, this is a very serious change with likely profound negative consequences for sportsmanship in radio sailing. It seems that, for example, I can charge into the mark on port, take out all the boats on the starboard layline, and do an extra turn afterwards in complete exoneration.

In fact, the intention of the new rule is that extra turns are required until the advantage disappears. (Or, you can retire as before.)  Sadly, it is difficult to see this intention given the way the rule is currently worded, and a Sailing Instruction is needed to fix the rule and make this crystal clear for all events until 2017.

In the meantime, I understand that the Chair of the RYA Racing Rules Committee is arranging for an ISAF Q&A to be published to clarify the rule. Whilst these Q&As are not mandatory, they do provide very strong guidance on rule interpretations to competitors and officials.  I expect the Q&A to say something like, “if a boat gains a significant advantage by her breach despite taking a penalty, she shall take one or more additional One-Turn Penalties until the advantage is extinguished."

E4.3(c): Boats still need to retire if they caused serious damage. They also need to retire if they disabled another boat which then retired. Note that if the disabled boat did not retire, then the perpetrator is not obliged to retire.

E5.1(c): It is now made clear than an observer must also note, and then report, any boat which fails to sail the correct course.

E5.2: IRSA Addendum Q is now mandated for umpired racing.

E5.3: It is now a rule that observers or umpires shall not use any aid or device that gives them a visual advantage over competitors.

E6.1: Certain rules are now only for the use of the Race Committee or the Protest Committee. Competitors cannot protest a boat about E2 rules or E3.7.

E6.5: The new allowance is 10 minutes after the last boat finishes to protest or request redress (previously 15 minutes). Notice that there is now no specified time limit by which a boat shall inform the Race Officer of an intention to protest. Previously, this was 5 minutes; now it is simply as soon as reasonably possible. This is a subtle, and welcome, change. Under the old E5.3 of RRS 2009-2012, technically, no heat could be started until five minutes after the end of the previous heat. Now, the next heat can be started as soon as the Race Officer is satisfied that he will not receive any intention to protest from any boat in the previous heat.

E6.6(e): Redress on the basis of radio interference needs the Race Committee to officially acknowledge such interference.

E6.6(f): Redress is available for being disabled but only if you retired as a result of such disablement. If you carried on racing, well, no redress, sorry.

E6.9: Time to repair damage is only available to you if redress has been granted to you (remember that redress can only be granted as a result of a protest committee hearing, and not by the race committee or race officer), and not otherwise. Previously, time to repair could be requested without any hearing outcome.

E8: The rules for sail numbering are changed, and for new sails are likely to make it easier to number smaller sails and allow renumbering for clashes at an event. However, existing sails are not grandfathered, and this will have a serious and most unwelcome effect on boats which may need to change their numbers at an event to fall into line with the new rules. Changing a sail number on the lighter suits can destroy the sail, and this problem seems not to have been given any attention. A Sailing Instruction which grandfathers sails measured before 1 January 2013 seems needed.

E8(b)(2): Space must be left in front of a sail number for any numeric prefix, not just the digit "1". And, a sail number prefix must be numeric, previously it could be anything. Good for new sails, a real problem for already-measured sails.  It may be that smaller sail numbers will need to be used to comply with this rule on IOM No.3 rigs.

E8(b)(3): For sail numbers ‘00’ to ‘09’, the initial ‘0’ shall be omitted. This rule change has serious unintended consequences, especially in conjunction with the new rule E2.1(b). Consider the following hail: "Recall five, nine, seven." Which boats are being recalled? 59 and 7? 5 and 97? 5, 9, and 7? Or 597? Argh! Until a better solution to the problem is found, a Sailing Instruction will be needed to permit an initial ‘0’.

Old E4.5 has been deleted. This might be an oversight, since there seems no very good reason to delete it. Previously, old E4.5 said that a boat could not be launched after the preparatory signal and before the starting signal. Quite a few Race Committees will want this rule back, and will have to use a Sailing Instruction to do that.

Old E5.4 is deleted. It allowed a boat to retire and accept a RET or RAF score, rather than continue with a protest hearing and risk a DSQ score. Some Organising Authorities might like it back (it could reduce full protest hearings, and it could encourage acceptance of fault). It isn’t obvious why it was deleted.



©2022 Lester Gilbert