Blithfield and the rules

17/09/2012 22:43:44
Many thanks to Blithfield, my new favourite sailing club, for hosting an excellent event at the weekend. My weekend was however wrecked by the crass disregard of the ISAF rules by such a seemingly large number competitors, causing us to haemorrhage places at every turn. My crew, very experienced but new to the class was left perplexed that a class such as the Merlin should accept such behaviour that runs rough shod over the basic principles of sportsmanship (a fundamental of the sport) in either deliberate cheating or pure ignorance. 

For everyones benefit here is a link to the current rules we sail under.[8222].pdf
The really keen can also look at next years rules, available on the ISAF site.

From my own observation round the course, a little read of rule 18 and rule 10 taking note of rule 13, would clear a lot of "misunderstandings" round the course. Take in rule 14 on the way, this saves some damage, but costs you places if sportsmanship is not applied.

Most importantly, the definition of the "zone" and when you enter it, is a must for all. To paraphrase this for the Merlin, the zone is 3 hull lenghs, or 42feet - however you cannot gain an overlap when any part of the boat in front enters the zone - so this can be as much as 56ft, a long way, the lengh of my living room, through the kitchen, over the garage and the car port, across a pond, over the hedge and into nextdoors potting shed, a long way. As most of you do not know my house, but are prepared to sign an entry form to say you will sail by the rules, your own rule of thumb may help. Perhaps a test next time before we go on the water?[8222].pdf
18/09/2012 09:39:31
Andrew M
There was a similar issue on the last day of the champs at a leeward mark.  When a lot of the fleet sail boats with armour plated gunwhales those of us with more delicate and aesthetically pleasing boats get a rough deal.  I had carefully booked the inside berth at the mark and a raft of boats came cannoning in from outside shouting at one another but not as far as I could tell uttering the word protest, which in retrospect I should have done myself instead of wasting time trying to unlock my gunwhales from the boat that had been pushed into me.

18/09/2012 10:15:07
Barry Dunning
How many more times do I have to say it. We are in a self policing sport. Protest if you feel that someone has broken the rules. I am afraid that the Merlin Rocket fleet deserve the criticism they are getting on the rule observance subject if they do not protest, accept a penalty or retire when an incident occurs. Maybe a spell of sailing in a class where rules are observed would benefit many. It is a shame as races sailed with rule observance being upheld is far more fun and does not lead to acrimony and sailors leaving the class. To avoid the posts above, get out the rule book,study, observe the rules and make sure that other sailors do too..

18/09/2012 11:35:13
The dark side
Well said Mr Dunning. Ex Merlin sailor, partially due to dislike of endemic and deliberate flouting of basic rules in the class. No fun to sail with at all on the water.

18/09/2012 12:08:04
Chris 2
People moaning about others not respecting the rules, yet being in incidents/collisions and not protesting are part of the problem.
We have the same issue at club level, but the moaners are usually loathe to have their understanding of the rules tested by a protest committee.

18/09/2012 12:22:28
Piers 3671
I had 2 differing experiences - one boat barged in realised he had made an error - profusely apologised, did his turns and found me after racing, apologised and checked there was no damage - thank you! Another at a later mark did the same when we complained we got abuse! I did not see him do turns as he then got swallowed up by the pack, so did not know whether to protest or not, however in very sort legs with lots of boats these pile ups at marks are inevitable, and it is how sensible people are that makes a difference!

18/09/2012 14:10:25
Similarly annoyed fellow competitor.
You must always protest or retire you can always withdraw the protest if he does his turns or retires. I am pretty certain the rules require that.

18/09/2012 16:38:06
ben hollis
the problem we have is that the protest forms are not been put in. if you have a problem slap the protest form in. 
for some reason us merlin sailors just dont want to protest each other.

happy sailing

18/09/2012 17:17:31
I'm so glad someone has brought this up.  I was told, at one Merlin event, when I complained to another competitor who saw fit to blatantly flout the rules at a mark and as a result damaged my"get used to're in the Merlin fleet now!". This is an appalling attitude to take and I was furious, and yes.....I SHOULD have protested them......hindsight and all that.  
One of my dislikes of competing in Merlin events is the gung-ho attitude that is prevalent amongst many competitors and my helm is constantly complaining at me for trying to persuade him to keep out of the argy-Barry. I'm NOT a wimp and I DO want to do well along with the next man (or woman) but I can't help thinking this rule flouting is bringing the class into dis-repute.

18/09/2012 17:41:18
Barry Dunning
The X boat fleet at Lymington had exatly the same 'culture' in their fleet. It ended in a serious collision involving seven boats and £23,000 of damage. All because it was seen to be 'unsporting' to protest. I SAY IT IS UNSPORTING TO NOT TO PROTEST,TAKE A PENALTY OR RETIRE IF YOU ARE INVOLVED OR SEE AN INCIDENT. It is unfair on your fellow competitors who are sailing to the rules to let other boats CHEAT because that is what they are doing if they do not obey the rules.
You reap what you sow. Protests are long winded so arbitration should be offered if possible to sort out disputes easily. The other path is to have 'on the water judging' which, having sailed in regattas with it in place, is a pain in the proverbial.
Get those rule books out and get on with cleaning up the fleets act. You will eventually enjoy the sailing much more. The sooner the better and it starts at club level. Rules evenings are not only fun but educational and can be great socially.

18/09/2012 17:41:40
Chris I
I'm with Ben Hollis. If you have a problem, protest. Accusing people or moaning on a forum does not help. We should have more protests, then we would all understand the rules better and respect them. In a big fleet on a small course there are bound to be errors of judgement, better to do some turns and know you have earned whatever place you get.
We should be able to have protests without falling out with each other. Sometimes there are genuine differences of opinion as to what the situation is when there are a dozen boats approaching a mark.
But I'm not sure the Merlins are any worse than most other fleets.
Personally I agree with Janey, I try to avoid the argy bargy, it is the most effective way of going even slower.

18/09/2012 17:42:30
Guy 3619
Can`t comment about Inlands but certainly at the champs, there was clear disregard of the rounding bouy`s and touching boats, i was surprised there wasn`t more protesting

When are class committee meeting again? maybe this should be raised.

18/09/2012 17:54:59
Andrew M
Barry, thank you very much for the advice.  Don't know if Janey feels the same, but when you are a perennial back 1/3 of fleet sailor it feels somewhat against what you have come for (having fun) making a protest and potentially ending up in front of a protest committee rather than sailing or doing the apres-sail, but I can see the wisdom of it all and you are very right about sorting our own act out rather than asking the class committee or the race committee to do it for us.
Just as a couple of BFD's may help start line discipline, DSQ's may be the answer for mark rounding.

18/09/2012 17:57:38
What it needs is for somebody at the front of the fleet to protest another front-runner...and carry it through to the Protest Room. A back or middle-of-the fleet sailor may well be/get intimidated (not that I've heard of it happening in the Merlins but 'conversations' have been had in the corners of dinghy parks before now!)and put it down to 'one of those things'. If the 'good guys' play by the rules, so will the rest.

18/09/2012 18:14:16
It also needs protesting to be made easier at events which is something the committee could organise. 
Protest forms have to be sought out at clubs as they are usually well hidden away and haven't been used for years and you have to find the person who knows where to find what then turns out to be an old version of the form.
Then there's completing it and finding a copy of the rules when you're still in sailing kit and then finding the right person to hand it to. It's all enough to put anyone off.
Ideally a supply of forms should be on the official noticeboard with a hand-in box in the race office. Once the protest is in, then arbitration can be tried.

18/09/2012 19:45:07
Chris M
While i agree with the origional sentiments (especially just how far three lengths is), if you want to see real rule abuse at marks try a mixed handicap race with a big fleet - the Bloody Mary this year springs to mind.

A lot of problems that I've seen fall down to poor planning and poor communication between boats on the water, usually this applies to both parties. It happens at marks frequently in gusty conditions, the wind fills in from behind and the boats onthe outside of the raft end up giving more room than they feel they ought. However those in that position need to remember that the zone is a circle not a line, and if there are three boats nose to tail infront of you, the boats coming in are entitled to room.

The other one that is a bug bear of mine is the silent starboard tacker on a marginal crossing. Make your intentions clear! If you hail "Starboard" or "Carry on" early it'll go down much better than a demand for turns after you've altered course for the fourth time on what looked like a crossing that was fair game. It's also a breach of rule 6 to alter course if it means that a port tacker cannot keep clear.

18/09/2012 20:51:39
occasional Merlin sailor
|Speaking as someone who occasionally sails Merlins and follows this forum but rarely posts, you guys are not doing yourselves any favours. Over the summer you have had complaints about pumping on the Thames, over the line at the nationals and now lack of rule observance at marks at the inlands.
Outsiders could well get the impression from these discussions that you are a bunch of cheats who fall back on self policing/you should protest calls.
There was a post a year or so ago that told one member who complained about excessive pumping/roll tacking that if they didnt like it dont turn up.
Honestly guys and girls you need to clean up your act It gives a great boat a seriously bad reputation.
Get some umpires on the water (it has been offered) and get it sorted.

18/09/2012 21:00:40
Tom J
2 ideas that i've found to work in other classes; pay for an on the water judge at major events (as already mentioned) and introduce arbitration.

The judge isn't too pricy, the presence alone deters people from pumping too much and if asked to sit at busy mark roundings they make an excellent independent witness - you can even ask them to provide an on the water judgement to incidents they see if that is a route you want to go down.

Arbitration for those that don't know involves any interested parties having an informal chat with a judge (or someone who would probably sit on the protest committee), both give a quick 2 minute account of the incident and then the judge offers an opinion on the incident. At this point one boat may be able to take a lesser penalty or it can go to full protest hearing. The main bonus is that it removes a lot of the intimidation factor of going into a protest room.

Not saying either will be right for the merlin fleet but could be worth considering.

18/09/2012 21:04:09
Chris M
I don't want to delete this topic.

If you want to throw your oar in please be constructive and post as yourself. If you don't want what you post to be associated with you don't post it!

18/09/2012 21:04:10
Tom J
Just noticed arbitration already mentioned as well - sentiment stays the same though - both have worked in other classes to various extents so could be worth thinking about if this is a consistent problem

18/09/2012 21:21:10
Thanks for all the input on this thread, from all sides it is clear to me that "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark". Yes indeed we are a self policing sport, reading the Basic Principle in the ISAF Rules "Competitors.....are governed by a body of rules that they are expected to follow and enforce." This is supported by the RYAs Racing Charter which states as the 1st of it's Principle and Practices "The sport welcomes all participants; it relies largely on self-compliance and self Policing. Those that deliberately take unfair advantage of this..........".

So ISAF firstly expect you to follow rules, the RYA firstly expect self-compliance. It is the breakdown at this primary level, which I for one, and I am sure there are others, find out of kilter with the ethos of sportsmanship and the point of my original thread, if badly worded.

Yes I am guilty of non-enforcement, why? In the case of last weekend, I have undertaken to drive half the lengh of the Country, winning a protest will at best gain me one place, against the 5 or 6 lost in each incident this is a poor return, I want to drink some warm beer and sleep in a field now, I have lost count of the protests I should lodge and I no longer care about the results as they are meaningless given the "sportsmanship" displayed round the race track.

Do I mind having my interpretation of the rules being tested by a jury - no, for years I have sat on as many protest committees as I can, including National, European and World Championships. I do this so that I spend time reading and understanding the rules in an environment where I have to make a call that may be questioned, I have no fear or doubt in my mind.

As an aside, these days I compete more with a sword in my hand than in a boat. At fencing events, another self policed sport, as competitors are normally expected to umpire fights they are not in, you regularly see competitors asking the umpire to reverse a point they have been awarded against them, that they know or believe is incorrect. When you are the opponent, that puts one hell of a burden on you as a sportsman for the rest of the fight.

So to move this forward, how should the class encourage self compliance and following of the rules, thus removing the need for mass protesting at source. Here are some suggestions, some not practicle, others useless, but rather than dismiss, let us develop, because clearly there is a problem, and I for one will be thinking of voting with my feet.

On the water judging (see comments above)
Arbitration hearings
Changing the redress rules to allow better compensation to infringed competitors
Changing the the discardable disqualification
Easier protest forms
Better commmunication of the rules within the class
A section in the class mag, outlining different incidents and rules involved

over to you


18/09/2012 21:58:09
Mark (3442)
Firstly, damn good wekend, loved every minute of it.

Some interesting points above notably:
"Merlin sailors just don't want to protest each other" I saw a few instances of this, given it only takes a small lapse in concentration to lose a lot of places it could be considered "better" to forget the incident and get on with it.
That people don't really want to go into a protest hearing - that's understandable, unfortunately.

For my two cents.

- With a large number of boats going high early & coming down, boats reaching into mark # 8 (I think it was) claiming no-one has room always makes things interesting. Thinking about the line running from your transom is a good one here.

- When a large number of boats approach a mark at once, there is also a lot going on. I would be surprised if all / any involved are aware of all of the overlap situations (admit it, it's pretty complicated to work out in the heat of the moment) Starting to think about these very early on and indicate who you will and will not give room to (plus who you do not have room on is a nice touch)

- Having a large number of boats around also gives a good indication of distances, especially having seen boats start rounding up 3 boat lengths out...

I only witnessed one or two clear cut instances of barging in so not sure it is as endemic as is being made out (apologies if I have missed many being discussed here, this was my observation) but communicating early, asking for witneses and being aware that you might be outside of 3 boatlengths when you start turning all help. So does knowing how to slow a boat down.

19/09/2012 09:07:16
I was not there this past weekend and so can't comment further than I had a similar incident at Blithfield (by coincidence not singling them out) last year which left a nasty wound on my foredeck. I did not protest for a number of reasons.
1. I already had a 2 hour drive home and did not want to hang around for any longer than I had to.
2. No witnesses want to either, particularly since it was 'none of their business'!
3. A DSQ for the offending party would have no bearing on my result further than loseing me 6 places on that mark by barging in and pushing me so wide another 5 boats went round inside us!

Personally speaking I would protest regularly if I thought it would be a speedy and fair process. Sadly without a good and willing witness it tends to be a waste of everybodies time.

19/09/2012 10:31:57
Mark Barnes
I was going to suggest on the water judging which has been also mentioned above. You will need 2 dedicated ribs and preferably 2 judges per rib. One, preferrably both equipped with video. There is a problem and there has been one since the plastic boats became the dominent boat. To get away from this culture, you will need to bring in outside policing at major events for a while as the problem is to deep rooted. Running video feedback and a second rib after the major mark rounding gives the judges the chance to counter any team that say they exonerated themselves or were not involved. The minor expense will be worth it as you'll get cleaner racing and less damage. Barry is right, it is not if, but when a mojor incident occurs and a big bill or injury is the result of the flagrant abuse of the rules. 

The Endeavour is the same and more like bumper cars than fare sailing if in the mix. Kim Allen and I had a chat about it over a period of time and hopefully time will tell whether it is cleared up.

The association could also help by introducing a flag system. This would be a case of where you have a prolific abuser, the committee have the opportunity to award the team a yellow, then amber flag of notification that their conduct is unacceptable with possibly a loading to their ST series results for the events they carry the flag. It works and the racing becomes fairer and more enjoyable.

On the back of it, it shows how close the racing is and what an effect the mark rounding has on the final result.

You may loose a couple of teams due to their being singled out etc, but that will be less than the number that will decide not to travel due to the bumper car problem. The sooner it is resolved the better for the class as a whole.

19/09/2012 10:36:17
Mark Barnes
I forgot to mention that this would remove the problem of protracted protests which none of us want as it is a lot of down time and, often as said above, does not get you back all the places youlost die to another's actions.

So where you'd need to start would be the Nats, Inlands and possibly Salcombe. Maybe a couple of the big inland events as well.

19/09/2012 12:13:28
Richard (3233/3606)
Two thoughts:

Protesting may not get you back all the places you lost by being infringed upon but it may well help deter the infringers from doing it again if they are disqualified

Perhaps this subject could be addressed for more novice/less confident crews (in terms of rules training and how to lodge protests and argue your case effectively) at the annual Rutland training event...

19/09/2012 12:36:45
Jon E
I remember being taught two important phrases at Rutland training.

"When in the shite, go right"


"Do your turns"

19/09/2012 13:07:05
Well overdue. I'm glad someone has had the courage to raise this subject on the forum. There is no doubt that this great class is getting a reputation for poor rule observance. I have sailing friends in other classes who have said that they like the look of the boat but wouldn't want to race one because of this. What a shame if we were to lose sailors because of this. I don't think its good enough to say "well protest then..", the culture has to change.

19/09/2012 16:50:48
Barry Dunning
The latest rules have been written so that collisions are avoided. If we obey the rules then no collisions occur except by accident or misjudgement. 
Always remember that if you are hailed to give room you must give it and then, if you feel the call was unjustified, protest. There is no such call in the rule book of 'No Room or no water. It is not the outside boat who makes the call it is the inside boat who claims the room. So to recap if you hear the call for room, give it, accept it or protest. That simple.

19/09/2012 17:02:42
Jon (3682)
Jez 3717 makes a point that I agree with.
At Fishers Green we spent the Wednesday Summer series evenings discussing rules after the racing was concluded. (It's a relaxed session with a beer)
We all learn't so much from this that I can only recommend that other clubs have a regular 'surgery' You do need Bill Brockbank though or someone suitable versed with the rules and willing to give time.
So one sollution is to tackle this at club level first not at events.

19/09/2012 17:10:39
I don't see anything in the rules (I may have missed it!) that states the outside boat is obliged to give room to another boat claiming room at a mark.  Obviously giving room and then protesting puts the outside boat in a no lose situation when it goes to protest.

This part of the rules might be aimed at rafting situations:

18.2 (e) If a boat obtained an inside overlap from clear astern and, from the time the overlap began, the outside boat has been unable to give mark-room, she is not required to give it.

19/09/2012 17:33:47
Barry Dunning
Precisly! Thats where the protest comes in. ff a boat calls for room and you cant give it then they can not claim it. That would be sorted out by the protest committee based on the facts found.

20/09/2012 18:42:48
Can someone clarify my understanding of the point Barry made about just accepting a call for room at a mark.

Rule 18.2d states 'If there is reasonable doubt that a boat obtained or broke an overlap in time, it shall be presumed that she did not.'

Given that 18.2c says a broken overlap means the outside boat still has to give room, does this not reverse the state i.e. mark room need only be permitted where an overlap is established without question?

On the point of calling 'no water', surely this clarifies whether the outside boat considers the inside boat has an overlap on them when they enter the zone - if there is doubt 18.2d say you can't barge in.

Personally I always call 'no water' if I'm outside and an inside boat has no overlap but then I am in the back half of the fleet normally.

20/09/2012 19:04:37
Chris M
If someone looks like thay may be making a move towards room thay don't have I call no water.

People need to know where they stand.

21/09/2012 08:48:44
Likewise. If there is someone on my inside without an overlap I always call no water as soon as I hit the 3 boat lengths. Most people respect this. If they continue I would warn them that I will close the gap on them as I round.

21/09/2012 08:59:34
I try do do the same (call no water) but at Blithfield it made no difference, several boats who for whatever reason found themselves much further down the fleet than normal just barged in. Closing the door as Jez suggests would have resulted in my gunwhales getting trashed.
And before they respond there was no where to go, there was plenty of time for them to bail out which would have resulted in them loosing even more places which I suspect is why they did what they did.
Yes I know I should have protested, tried that before this year and got told by the RO that it would make no difference to my position so why bother ? !!

21/09/2012 15:31:44
Stud Muffin
Bear in mind that a kite overlapped with a rudder is a valid overlap.

21/09/2012 16:38:55
Andrew M
Truth is there is usually somewhere to go but it is not where you want to be - either the wrong side of the mark or right on the outside of the pack of boats.  I am with the give room then protest camp and will try it out at some point.

Once you are actually in the middle of a bunch of boats converging on a mark particularly if the inside boats have slowed considerably then there isn't any way out once your bow is beyond the transom of the outside boat, you just shouldn't have gone in there, and should have not gone in there from 5 lengths back. Some instructive stuff in the classic Eric Twiname book "Start to Win" - describes exactly this situation. Slowing early if anticipating a raft up means you get in the 2nd rank close to the mark rather than 1st rank on the outside of the bunch, he has a photo sequence showing a mark rounding with the boat in this position starting 5th and ending 2nd. (not that I've pulled off this trick, but it's surprising how much you can gain from anticipating a raft-up, slowing early and nipping through the gap while everyone else is involved in the shouting match off to leeward of the mark)

21/09/2012 17:05:51
Julian Parry
Try this link ---  learn rules the German way
21/09/2012 17:52:39
David Henshall
Just as with another recent thread (see: start line discipline at the champs) this is not a problem that is unique to the Class as the same behaviour is sadly becoming all too prevalent across the sport. It is not helped by some of the more modern and supposedly popular clsses changing the SIs to allow boats to hit the mark without penalty. This then becomes something of a 'bargers charter' which when added to an underlying ignorance of the rules and a lack of 'desire' (or knowledge) about both the rules and protests means that a 'free for all' can be on the cards.

We hear so much about racing under sail (I'll make no distinction between dinghy racing or other versions, be it on a board or a big boat) being a self policing sport but what's to be done when this situation starts to break down.

There is a fear that it is too late already - that too much of the 'honourable' side of competition has been lost. To restore order would take a major mindshift by the administrators of the sport, who from the safety of their inflated bureaucracies will hold up their hands and say that this is an 'internbal class issue' rather than grasp the importance of the issue from a central point (so that any clamp down is across the sport rather than in just a few better minded classes).

Earlier this year, whilst working as PRO at the XXXXX event, I had the situation where with 40 seconds to go to the start, one competitor rammed the committee boat full on. We manhandled him away, only to watch him sail off in pursuit of the fleet, no turns nor apology. Not only had damage been done, this is a flagrant breach of the rules and as such resulted in the Race Committee instigating a protest, although the offending boat was given the opportunity to retire after finishing rather than go through a very one sided protest. The defense from the offending boat was that there were boat on boat instances happening all weekend, so why were we making an example out of him???? 9big surprise, he ended the day with a DSQ score)

I rest my case: Rule observance through self policing is failing; it is failing those who do still try to sail to the rules, it is failing those who would want to sail to the rules but need to be taught them first and it is failing our Youth sailors who now see cheating as the way to the. Personally, I'd like to see the RYA use some of the funding it was given for supporting 'adult participation' and instead do something positive about a restoration of order.

The Merlin Class has long been at the forefront of development...maybe we should not wait for teh RYA but instead 'show them the way'!


21/09/2012 20:02:08
Alex 3556
That German Link is a brilliant little tool actually.  From what i thought though and according to that training material, Stud Muffin is wrong when he says, that the front of the spinnaker is the front of the boat for overlaps...  It is actually only the hull itself plus the rudder that counts?  I don't have a rule book handy to check for sure?

21/09/2012 20:54:20
Dave Charlton
It's all about "Clear Astern" i.e. neither bout is CA then they are overlapped.  Definition of Clear Astern is based on the boat with its gear in normal sailing position e.g. spinnaker if up is included if "normal".  So I think Stud Muffin is right!

21/09/2012 21:25:25
John Cooper
It seems Stud Muffin IS right.  Bryan Willis says on page 15 of "The Rules in Practice":  "The bits of the boat that count for overlaps are hull and equipment in normal position...."

22/09/2012 10:34:04
Alex 3556
Is it considered 'normal position' to have the spinnaker up bearing in mind that at least 50% of the time in the race it is not flying?

22/09/2012 10:48:17
RYA Umpire
This is a welcome discussion.

Firstly, Bill Brockbank, first class team racer, re-introduced the Merlins to team racing some years ago at Wembley. The evening events to discuss rules seem to be welcome at most clubs (over the beer)and there would be many umpires and judges prepared to oblige.

Rules can be 'bent' by a competitor but they should not get caught. They take the risk. Similar to tax, Rule avoidance is legal, sometimes immoral,but rule evasion is illegal.

Boats, Race Committee and Protest committee have recourse to Rule 2, "Fair Sailing" which is described in some detail in RYA documents. Deliberate breaking of rules will come under this as well as the more personal Rule 69. Verbal abuse will be a Rule 69 incident which has restrictions about protesting and extends beyond the race itself.

The way forward may well be to encourage the RYA guidance on Hearings. There are three levels: Protest Hearing (the big one), Arbitration Hearing (judge sitting alone), Advisory Hearing (no paper work), and a fourth "Bit of a Chat" (the other side gone home, toys thrown etc so just educational.) Only the first three are proper RYA. The penalties are less draconian for Arbitration and Advisory.
Barry D has wise words on the rules subject, John has more knowledge than he lets on I suspect and Tom J probably has more insight than most.

Seems to me that the sailors need to plan ahead more to identify the impending rules situation likely to occur in the next moment or two. Talk to yourself. Words can be said to surrounding boats explaining your view of the status and this will help in a follow up protest etc. Generally they will back off and complain about 'dont quote rules at me!!!!' I then ask politely if the boat is infringing Rule 46? The word "Protest" must be said Rule 61 to make the follow up action stick. "Do your turns" is not that helpful.
Rule 18 is very complex and situations change rapidly as umpires know. However, in fleet racing, Rule 18.2(d) D for doubt is powerful weapon to use against the aggressive ill-informed attacker. Rule 18.2(e) E for Empossible is one to use too forewarning the potential interloper of the blockage that must be avoided.

I would advise competitors to understand the definitions in the RRS, especially "Room" and "Keep Clear". The brief discussion above of "overlap" is an example of the subtlety of definitions; "hull and equipment in normal position"

Mark Barnes, with an admirable reputation for clear comment on start lines, is perhaps suggesting a variation of Appendix P to manage and/or educate race participants. I am sure umpires can oblige should the class wish to experiment. Needs to be in the sailing instructions.

So if some old fart asks you about about Rule 46 during a race, you will know who I am. Lol.

22/09/2012 10:50:21
Back in the early 80,s, if you hit a mark on a rounding you had to re - round the mark.This rule was changed to doing turns.
We then had a problem, with boats coming from behind, sailing over the mark, hitting the inside boat, doing turns and gaining lots of places.
The result was the anti-barging rule.If you barge in and gain an advantage, it is an instant DSQ.

22/09/2012 11:35:56
David Child
This is clearly a subject that crosses class boundaries and really begining to worry a lot of people if the general discussion at Bob Hoares' funeral is anything to go by. 

It would be a really good idea to regress to the old days, hit a mark and retire; colide protest or at least one party to retire.

On the water umpiring to help with pumping abd other non kosher means of propulsion, their presence will concentrate minds and encourage people to think ahead too.

And borrow from The Stars and several other classes ALL races count No DISCARDS you should get generous redress though for gear failure or sickness. People then steer clear of trouble rather than "joining in". Others have mentioned going round problems and coming out ahead, as long as you have boat speed it really works. Maybe also a certificate of boat handling competance as The French have? This was first proposed by Larry Loughborough at the 1966 AGM at Weymouth!

"The Umpire" speaks with authority and his mention of the fair sailing rules and rule 69 are well put, they were used a few times in the UK in 1969 but bot since I think its mainly Australia and the USA that the ISAF honours list is people by.

Remember the greatest small boat sailor of all time (Poul Bert Elvestrom) words "If in winning you lose the respect of your fellow competitors there is no point in winning".

23/09/2012 19:03:59
Bill Brockbank
When I sailed Merlins the rules only used to kick in after the first mark. 30 years on and it seems the cancer has spread.
Restarting sailing has been more than a (rules) shock, 2 members firmly convinced they're allowed room to tack at the lay line, made up rules quoted with huge authority, and a class where 'sorry' has largely replaced turns. Hmmm.

Our thoughts were twofold.
That a rudimentary knowledge of the rules would increase 'fair fun' for everyone. And
Those with most to gain thought they needed it least. A rules seminar would largely attract experts.

The Fishers Green Rules Clinic goes where its members want it to, at the speed they can.
We didn't set out to create rules experts (incl judges and umpires) more to fix enough of the fundamentals that some of those will emerge naturally.
I've chaired the early sessions while looking forward to others doing so when they want to.
Which I think illustrates the wider point; the solution lies with us.
Quit moaning, and fix the bit you can fix. Encourage others to do the same. We won't get back to the wide and deep level of rules knowledge and observance required when infringing equalled retirement, and nor should we. For most sailors we should work towards a tolerable balance appropriate to the current age.

23/09/2012 20:07:38
David Wilkins
From our relatively limited experience of big fleet sailing in Merlins it seems that shouting the word "protest" after an incident is usually all it takes to get the transgressor to consider and then do turns (albeit sometimes begrudgingly). There is often no need for the protest hearings which seem to be the main reason for the hesitance to stand up for one's rights. Perhaps the more frequent use of the P word alone would go a long way to improving rule observance.

24/09/2012 11:26:57
Andrew M
Agree with Bill.  The rules we are arguing about are not esoteric, Julian's excellent quiz is really helpful.  It's tacking onto the layline for a windward mark & a series of issues relating to room at a leeward one.  Sometimes (it happened to me at Salcombe) if boats are converging onto a leeward mark from 2 sides one boat will be entitled to mark room from a whole pile coming in on the opposite tack because their layline is below the line extending from the transom of the starboard tack boat.  Much shouting required as we converged.

25/09/2012 07:52:13
William Jeffcoate
While the class has obviously got its own rules experts, you might like to know that the RYA Judges and Umpires Committee is currently mounting an initiative to extend the class judge scheme to classes outside the youth/junior ladder. There are various options and the way in which a judge is involved is entirely up to the class, as is the selection and appointment of a particular person who may help. It's my job to coordinate this and so please let me know if the class is interested.

26/09/2012 17:59:47
Many thanks to all who have posted on this thread, especially to Barry for insite to the rules, Mark Barnes and Tom J for ideas and suggestions and support an offers from David Henshall and William Jeffcoate.

I have concluded that:- The vasts majority want racing to be fair, the protests route as it stands does not work, and at the leeward mark there is some confusion over how the rules should work (see Julian Parry's link)

Due to the guardianship of successive committees the Merlin Rocket is one of the great successes of the Dinghy World, as a measure, disguarding predominently youth classes and the GPs (who I think had a worlds this year) Salcome week is now the largest single class event in the Country and the Nationals inside the top 5 largest events, no mean achievement.

To take this forward, I would also like it become become the most sportsman like and fairest sailing class in the UK as well. I think the committee are already on to this and am happy to help, ideas and suggestions are already here, I have a few more.

Thanks again for the input, I guess new threads on how the rules work are always welcome and will receive the same informed guidance.


26/09/2012 18:42:04
Why not set up a rule seminar at one of the major events, with Q&As to give all of the sailors an understanding of the current rules.  some may have got complacent and still working under rules years old

02/10/2012 15:07:51
long suffering member
interesting forum Genltemen, spent years complaining about it, just became unpopular, kill joy. There are those that have no reguard for anyone else, testosterone for most kicks in, there are plenty of great sailors sailing who just decide to only sail to the rules when it suits them, and then there are great sailors who are great sailors.never confuse the two. I am sure i was no angel but i tryied to sail as fairly as possible, i stopped doing turns when it became obvious certain sailors were never ever likely to.Just became more unpopular.Still sail, another class now, they seem to sail to the rules ok,the best guys seem to win, cause there just great sailors.  One competitor even told me "well i'm a better sailor than you, so i should finish infront of you". Sailed a merlin recently at open meeting same problems as always. Glad to see i'm no longer in the minority.   For the record still pay mr subs. will follow this with interest.

09/10/2012 14:52:45
Rules ? Are there new rules post Olympics ? Do they come in in 10 weeks time ? Anyone seen any info on changes ?

09/10/2012 16:00:08
steve ward
new rules are available on isaf website and free of charge

09/10/2012 18:03:45
Keith Callaghan
Congratulations John, on having the b***s to start this thread. The sort of behaviour you observed at Blithfield extends beyond the Merlin Rocket fleet - I put it down to a lack of study of the rules, or even a desire to do so. Seems that the feeling is that most people get away with it most of the time, so why bother. This should not be the kind of attitude that prevails in the MR class. However, when I attempt to brush up on the rules, I do get the impression that they are now written by lawyers. Is there a plain English version out there?


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