Racing Rules in Pics
last updated: 21 November 2020
Uncle Al's own preamble:
(2020.11.21) In 60+ years of racing, perhaps the most useful thing I have learned is that coming to a protest hearing with a version of the facts of an incident different from mine does not necessarily make the other fellow a liar. Over the years, I have come to understand that people honestly believe they are telling what really happened, most of the time. And I am equally sure that I at times have been mistaken, especially about the peripheral facts of a case (like whether - a while back at Clark Lake - our boom hit the forestay or the shroud of a boat I felt was not giving me room to keep clear), because I didn't think as much about those facts as I did about the core issues.
The point being that I feel better about my fellow sailors and about myself when I give people the benefit of the doubt, i.e when I remind myself that they are not necessarily lying if their perception differs from mine. With that kind of a forgiving attitude, I feel better, the competition remains friendly and we all have more fun.
To illustrate the tricks one's mind can play, I provide the following - fortunately rare, and by now amusing - occurrence: I know that I once called a vicious "Starboard!!" on a rookie racer when we were coming in along the port tack layline. It had been a frustrating first leg with a pre-mature start followed by a 720, but now we were catching up nicely, aided by the shifts and other oddities of Fanshawe Lake. Two starboard boats, about two lengths apart came along. I had to bear away for the first but would clear the second. Or so I thought. As I was bearing away, the first starboard boat luffed up. "You can't tack there," I announced, perhaps raising my voice a touch more than a true pro would have. He blithely continued his tack while I - severely under-amused - peeled at full speed around his transom and luffed up rapidly. Determined as I was to at least put a lee bow on the offending tacker, I gave barely a thought to boat #2. I called "Starboard!" on him and he bore away. As I sailed on, a meek voice that befitted a newcomer just learning the ropes, muttered: "I thought I was on starboard..." Oops! After my 720, I had time to ponder my faux pas and concluded: On auto-pilot, my brain had presumably figured if boat 1 had fouled me, I must have rights over boat 2, also. Of course, my instinctive reaction - often very useful - had failed in this instance to distinguish the fact that our right-of-way came from the fact that boat 1 had tacked in our water.
Best wishes for much happy and successful sailing,
Uncle Al (Wayfarer 3854)
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