Tonight we had the protest hearing vs Battlewagon for the port-starboard crossing on August 16, when Battlewagon didn’t keep clear. Mark Easden from Sandpiper was a witness, Bob Duggan and Tom Nelson were judging. Here’s the incident on ‘film’:
The judges concluded that Battlewagon did not keep clear, did not exonerate, and therefore were disqualified from the race.
In the discussion afterwards, I learned a few valuable things, to bear in mind for the future:
- The decision to avoid collision should be made at about half a boat-length before impact (which is approximately when we did it).
- It’s a good idea to send someone to the bow as these situations develop to judge the distance more carefully, but it is not required.
- The definition of ‘close’ depends on wind speed. In this incident with light wind, 1-3 feet clearance (after turning down) was considered close: this was the distance that Chris and I agreed we missed by. In higher wind, close can be half a boat-length.
- Chris indicated he was confident that he would have been able to avoid collision by turning downwind at the last second, and swinging his stern out of the way. The judges understood his reasoning, but indicated that this maneuver is not supported as ‘keeping clear’ according to the rules.
- We also discussed the hail ‘hold your course’. It is not binding on the right-of-way boat.
In all, it was a relaxed, honest and thoughtful conversation. I even bought Chris a beer.