In our last Grade 5 we had an interesting situation. Andrew BLUE and Jamie YELLOW were coming in towards the finish on starboard jibe. Andrew was carrying a penalty. The Race Committee was not aware of the penalty. Andrew attempted to luff Jamie and kill his penalty. He initiated this before entering the two boat length zone and then realizing he wasn’t going to clear the penalty he bore away into the zone.
Jamie crossed the finish line between Andrew and the finish pin and slightly ahead. The RC signaled his color, Yellow. As Jamie was almost clear of the line he snagged and dragged the finishing mark. Andrew seeing this did his penalty. The umpires did not see Andrew do this. Andrew then sailed clearly back to the course side of the line and did another penalty turn and crossed the finish line, which by now was dragged significantly out of place.
There were no flags flown by either competitor nor by the umpires. There were no official protests (red B) flags flown either. The umpires and RC conferred and the situation was discussed at length in the debrief. As promised here is the summary of the situation.
Yellow was entitled to room to finish. The definition of finishing doesn’t require a boat to sail all the way across, just to break the plane… but you are still not allowed to hit either end of the line. Touching a mark is only signaled by the umpires. A “Y-flag” does nothing in this case. When a boat touches a mark and the umpires see this they shall fly a blue or yellow flag.
Assuming they noticed the boat towing the mark, they should have indicated that they saw this by signaling a penalty for Yellow in which case it would have offset the Blue penalty and the boat that crossed the finish line first, still yellow, would have won.
If it was determined that Yellow hit the mark because Blue did not give her room to pass on the correct side AND either of the boats had flown a Y-flag, then the umpires should have indicated this by flying Blue. It is not required that they also fly a yellow flag for touching the mark as it is considered one incident and the umpires would determine that Yellow should be exonerated from touching the mark due to an infraction by Blue. This would have also had Yellow winning.
As it stood – there were no flags flown by the competitors nor were there any flags flown by the umpires. Yellow won. Three ways of getting to the same conclusion.
Tidbit: Did you know that you ARE allowed to hit the anchor line of a mark as long as in that case you do not make contact with the actual boat or the mark? Unfortunately for Match 40 sailors it is rare that you touch a mark or a committee boat’s ground tackle without towing said mark or boat. Oh Sugar! 🙂