Rule 42?

05/06/2012 18:30:45
Alex 3556
Just got back from another fun Bourne End Week however I have also come back slightly dissillusioned at the class I'm sailing in.  I was sailing in the last race just earlier today and I got a pretty good start and managed to slot into second by careful sail trimming and keeping the boat dead flat.  The wind direction meant it was pretty much a reach all the way round the course.  This was fine and by continued hard work with the sail trimming, I managed to pull away from the boats behind me nicely until the next lap where the wind dropped off.  I was then caught up and couldn't work out why.  It was only when the first boat overtook me that I actually realised that the reason he had caught me up and subsequently got past me was becuase after the wind had dropped, he had been repeatidly sitting in the boat, easing the sails and then plonking himself back on the deck and pulling the sails in, i.e. rocking.  As soon as I noticed I mentioned that I would protest him if it continued and to my surprise and dissapointment, he quietly ignored me and carried on rocking all the way into the distance as I sat there smoothly playing my sails to get the best out of the wind without rocking which was distinctly slower particularly against the powerful stream but still moving me in the right direction.  I was angry by this point and as i looked around for another Merlin that would witness this blatent cheating in a protest meeting, I was overtaken by another Merlin doing exactly the same thing.  I then looked around at other Merlins including the leader and noticed that a huge percentage of the fleet were all doing it and a protest would be a waste of time if noone will back me up!

This rant is by no means aimed at everyone that was out enjoying themselves this bank holiday weekend at upper thames but there were certainly a reasonable number of sailers (many of whom were near the top) that seemed to find themselves unable to sail without propelling themselves by rocking or persistent roll tacking/gybing. The guilty sailers should know who they are though from the way they were doing it intictively and completely ignoring my protest threats, i do wonder if they even understand the rules or whether they just have no regard for them or more worryingly, whether there is a systemic issue within the class with regard to rule 42 where it is just excepted that everyone does it and noone is willing or interested in challenging the problem.

This was the second race of the weekend where i had started at the front and been overtaken by many boats simply becuase I refuse to cheat which I found a bit demoralising.

I hope other people in the class feel the same way as me with regard to following all the sailing rules and if so please feel free to comment on this thread and start helping to enforce a no tolerence policy by protesting. Equally, if you were one of the culprits or someone who disagrees with my comments, then I would also like to hear your views. I am very tempted to raise this issue officially with the committee and I am certainly considering purchasing a GoPro headcam for future events so I can catch any incidents of people breaking this rule to use at protest meetings.

I hope that many people who do rock would be willing to stop if they knew noone was doing it and they were on a level playing field without rocking as at the moment, I think people would agree that the reason they do it is because everyone else is which shows a general issue in the class with respect to this rule.

I apologise for the length of this rant and I hope all the honest, law abiding sailors out there had a very nice back holiday weekend whether they were sailing or not.

05/06/2012 23:19:35
Richard (3233)
Alex,if you saw other boats breaking rule 42 and felt disadvantaged by this, then you should at least have entered a formal protest against them regardless of whether you feel you could have won the protest or not. Even if you had lost your protest, at least you would have helped raise awareness of the problem.

Another point about policing this behaviour, is the use of on-the-water umpires. I know that these have been used at Merlin opens at Tamesis and Hampton, with the threat of penalties to anyone caught infringing the rule. Were there any umpires at Bourne End Week?

A final point to make is that you were not the only one to notice this behaviour. It was witnessed by other helms/crews, to the point on Monday that I heard a fellow competitor warning against a guilty helm as they rocked and rolled their way upriver after the start.

06/06/2012 07:12:42
Alex 3556
In hindsight, you are correct and I should have protested anyway, I will certainly not make that mistake in future though.  There were umpires out on the water but they seemed to only be there for the A Raters...

I do however realise that Tosh has been singled out before and I didn't want to single people out, it is hard to concentrate on the race and try and spot exactly who is rocking and then get close enough to them to let them know that you are protesting them. It is quite difficult to protest someone for it unless they are right next to you when doing it i feel....

06/06/2012 07:56:42
the gurn
Chris Simon was asked to monitor the A Raters on Rule 42 - he could not watch the Merlins as well and was not asked to - The effect on the A Raters has been dramatic - very little pumping and rocking, and as far as I know having left on Monday no red flags had been waived and the racing is close and fair.
It is an ongoing problem but we need to get more protests going.

06/06/2012 08:04:27
Piers 3671
I Agree this is a problem and at Salcombe it was noted last year! There is always a flotilla of baots from the other flights - possibly  on the water judges could be found from these observers?

06/06/2012 09:26:55
It is a problem and having sailed in the OK and A Rater fleet this weekend I can assure you it is not restricted to the Merlin Fleet. In fact I would go so far as to say that it is not as rife (with a few exceptions) as in other classes. It was partially for this reason that I only sailed the OK in the morning!

I think Richard is right though Alex that had you raised a protest you may well have at least raised the issue and made the guilty parties aware that they may have been protested again if they continued. It is frustrating when it is so blatent and when you are trying to be fair only to loose that place.

If I were you Alex I would take satisfaction from the fact that you did so well without having to resort to rocking and protest them all next time.

06/06/2012 10:03:15
Robert Harris
To be frank this has been going on for decades. Last year the RYA judge Chris was at some ST meetings, during one race at Tamesis I ran the launch for him. The effect he had on a fleet that's been criticised in the past was astonishing and no-one was red flagged. At Cookham I think that happened once

06/06/2012 10:14:23
Barry Dunning
If a boat gains an advantage by breaking rule 42 they should retire. Simple as that.
How many have read the rule and have understood it? Not many. You can only use rocking to facilitate steering and not to increase speed. Basically, if you tack or gybe and your speed is greater after that movement than before, you have broken rule 42. It shouldn't need on or off the water judges to police this. We are a self policing sport, dont abuse that ethos.

06/06/2012 13:38:07
Andrew M
We've had discussions on this topic before without really reaching any consensus on what should be done.  I have attempted to police it when I have been OOD at Hampton and sending out a warning that disqualifications will follow if it continues is usually effective in club racing.

Like you, I do wonder whether it has become so much a habit with some sailors who are often sailing in round sectioned boats on rivers with wind shadows that they do not see it for the illegal propulsion it truly is. Though technically Barry is absolutely right about roll tacking and gybing it is rocking that is the major issue - just checking the burgee anyone?? There isn't any other way of stoppping it than protests and subsequent disqualifications. Unfortunately we tend also to be protest averse, and there is a good reason for this, in that it takes up quite a bit of time and is a quasi-legal process that feels bureaucratic and cumbersome in use. I can't remember a protest in any other situation than where serious damage has been incurred or a signficant result hinges on it. In the situation at Upper Thames, a large amount of the race course would have been in easy view for the race officers and there is a responsibility on them to avoid cheating.
Though in an event like the Nationals races would not be started in such light conditions that this is a major issue, it very much remains one inland, and in certain conditions of wind and stream I doubt you could complete a lap at some river clubs without doing something dubious to get out of holes in the wind. As well as rocking this includes tacking or gybing without any perceptible change in wind direction.

06/06/2012 14:23:52
Alex 3556
Well as i say, I will make sure to protest anyone I see doing it in future and i would urge others to do the same and then hopefully we can get this rule breaking culture issue resolved.  I have had a number of emails on this subject from people in other classes many of whom are ex merlin sailors agreeing with me and saying that they feel Merlins are the best two man hiking dingies around but have left the class becuase of the people in it and all the rule breaking.

I would not neccesarily agree with this becuase I love the people in the Merlin class and I think the fun, social nature of the class is one of it's biggest attractions, but I can see how the rule breaking culture would put people off sailing with us.

If we fight this culture we might even be able to attract more newcomers to the class association!

Anyway, I would suggest any rockers out there to be careful when sailing near me and my video camera this year at Salcombe!

06/06/2012 14:29:49
Can you prove it...
Protests for excessive tacks / gybes can be hard to win e.g. 

"I gybed to split gybes from boat A. Boat A gybed to cover so I gybed back, I then realised that gybe was not paying so I gybed again." So there we have an excuse for 3 potentially race winning swift gybes for tactical reasons to but not reliant on a wind shift. One could also potentially sail toward a hazard and then gybe away.

However, repeated pumps or rocks are pretty hard to see and anything other than cheating. Once and you could be steering, getting the boat upright or reacting to a gust. Twice you should be protested...Simples.

I am not saying the excessive gybes and tacks are not protestable but I personally think they are harder to win... Camera not a bad idea!

06/06/2012 15:03:52
Richard (3233)
Chris Simon came to Tamesis for our Merlin Silver Tiller open meeting in 2010 to police Rule 42 infringements.  Funnily enough, his mere presence ensured there weren't any despite not a great deal of wind that day.

06/06/2012 18:08:13
This is exactly the situation that put us off sailing on the Thames. It ends up with two races - the pumpers and the non-pumpers and a great gap between!
More on the water policing please.

06/06/2012 19:47:55
I wouldn't single anyone out eith
er but did you see tosh rock and roll his way into the back of a boat in front and then refuse to take the penalty?

06/06/2012 22:47:06
As I understand, on water rule 42 judges are looking for this
- if the body moves first then the mast that is naughty
- if the mast moves first then the body that is OK

I agree that trying to watch a competitor in the same class, whilst watching your own sails in tricky conditions is just impossible.

07/06/2012 05:56:27
For interest if the race committee have on water policing and they see rule 42 being broken   Do they have to lodge a protest. I guess they can't summarily disqualify a competitor

07/06/2012 06:52:37
Richard (3233)
This is from Tamesis Club's standard sailing instructions:

18.2 Alternative Penalties: RRS 44.3 (Scoring Penalty) will not apply.
Tamesis Club supports the enforcement of RRS 42. Their representative has the right, WITHOUT A HEARING, to penalise a boat which in their opinion has broken RRS 42. Such representatives will include the OOD and/or other impartial judges specifically appointed by the Sailing Committee or the OOD for that purpose. This measure does not prejudice a competitor’s own right to protest a fellow competitor for breaking RRS 42. Such protests must be lodged and will be heard as described in section 16 (Protests) of the Tamesis Club Standard Sailing Instructions.

07/06/2012 10:06:52
Barry Dunning
It has to be in the Notice of race and the sailing instructions for a judge to be able to penalise a boat without a hearing.The judges have to be appointed by the race committee and the OOD. Any competitor can protest of course and that will either go to arbitration, if that is an option or to protest. Get those red flags ready if you see a competitor transgressing.

07/06/2012 13:47:56
Mrs Tosh
'Sailor' I'm loving the "I wouldn't single anyone out either"...!

07/06/2012 13:50:47
Andrew M
Rule 67 explains that when stated in the sailing instructions a protest committee can disqualify a competitor for infringing rule 42 without a hearing, provided a member of the committee or a designated observer has seen the infringement and that the disqualification cannot be excluded from a series score.  This is not ambiguous and gives proper authority to race officers to police this.  As most of the problem is in river clubs and most river clubs have a race area clearly visible to the race officer why are we not doing this?  A warning at the briefing and some non-discardable DSQ's and I would very much expect that the level of observance will be transformed.

07/06/2012 15:10:17
Richard (3233)
As Robert Harris and I said earlier, Chris Simon's presence at Tamesis Club's silver tiller in 2010 had just such an effect.  An amendment was made to our SIs as noted in my comment above plus I think the Notice of Race.  We also gave a warning at the pre-race briefing.  This could be done by all clubs at open events where the threat of the rule's infringement is likely to be greatest.

07/06/2012 15:10:30
Richard (3233)
As Robert Harris and I said earlier, Chris Simon's presence at Tamesis Club's silver tiller in 2010 had just such an effect.  An amendment was made to our SIs as noted in my comment above plus I think the Notice of Race.  We also gave a warning at the pre-race briefing.  This could be done by all clubs at open events where the threat of the rule's infringement is likely to be greatest.

07/06/2012 15:13:17
Could there be a further penalty under rule 69 for a serial offender?

07/06/2012 15:43:44
Chris B (3062)
Think that would only be likely if said offender was caught on Rule 2 (presumably for wilful and continued breaches of Rule 42) on a number of occasions or if they abused an official or fellow competitor. 

Rule 69 isn't exactly something that's used day-to-day...
07/06/2012 16:29:33
Steady mid-fleeter
It seems to me that both pumping and fair sailing are spread from the top to the bottom of the fleet. I don’t see why people shouldn’t be singled out though; if you don’t want to be named and shamed, then don’t build yourself a reputation for pumping. People who don’t pump don’t get a reputation for it. The consistently best pumper I’ve seen is Mike Stephens. Then again, he is also clearly a very good sailor – shame he feels the need to do it really.

07/06/2012 17:29:42
nosey ex merliner
I suspect naming and shaming would be far more acceptable after a protest has been lodged. If it didn't bother you enough to protest him don't name him on here.

07/06/2012 18:45:43
Don't complain about the rules if you are not prepared to follow them yourself.  A protest might seem contentious in the confines of a sailing club environment but this is a public debate on the world wide web!  If you see it then call it.  UTSC provided a protest committee and you chose not to use it.  They don't need to provide a judge until it is clear that a PC cannot cope with what you are throwing at it.

I was not there but you entered a competition and agreed to abide by the RRS. You chose not to protest ( the remedy provided under RRS). Your error. Full stop.

07/06/2012 19:23:49
Geoff Wright
Is it possible/legal to get some Merlin top battens to go over in very light airs without breaching R42?

07/06/2012 20:21:14
In my opinion....

Yes, based on the basic rule "Her crew may adjust
the trim of sails and hull, and perform other acts of seamanship, but shall not otherwise move their bodies to propel the boat. "

It is an act of seamanship to set the batten across

Yes ..., based on ISAF interpretation - PUMP 4 - (without a body pump). This would be covered under pumping.

PUMP 1 ..

PUMP 2 ...

PUMP 3 ...

PUMP 4 A flick of a sail resulting from the sudden stopping of an eased sheet is

PUMP 5 One flick of a sail due to body pumping, or a pump not permitted by rule
42.3(c), is in the yellow light area. Body movement that does not result in a
flick of a sail does not break rule 42.2(a), but may break other parts of rule 42.

PUMP 6 Repeated flicks of a sail due to body pumping are prohibited.

Some may say, 'you can't come out of a tack faster than you went in'

As far as I can see, that only applies IF you ROLL the boat.

42.3 Exceptions
(b) A boat's crew may move their bodies to exaggerate the rolling that facilitates
steering the boat through a tack or a gybe, provided that, just after the tack or 1
gybe is completed, the boat’s speed is not greater than it would have been in
the absence of the tack or gybe.


So you can flick the sail to tack the batten, as long as you don't 1. roll the boat 2. use a body pump to aid the flick.


OK, so close to impossible, but possible.

08/06/2012 17:36:24
chris martin
Guys, we are heading towards - in fact have already started - another trial by forum. I do not recall seeing this as an option in the rrs and think it should stop now.

It's happening increasingly often not so much here but on another website attached to the yachting press. I am certain that sooner or later one of these "debates" will land individuals, associations or companies in hot water at best under rule 69.1 at worst potentially libel.

Think about what you post please.

12/06/2012 22:55:29
Alan Feist
You could always film them and then protest!!  HD GoPro waterproof cameras are ace!


Your Name
YouTube Clip
Paste the link provided by youtube under the "Share" button, looks like this ""
Type a Number under 39: