Thursday, December 4, 2014

ISAF World Cup Finals 1

I was lucky to be able to attend the ISAF Sailing World Cup Finals in Abu Dhabi which brought the top 20 sailors in each of the Olympic class boats for 3 days of competition. I was able to be the Jury secretary, which meant I got to hang out with the 15 International Judges/Umpires and go with them on the water several times.  Needless to say I learned a lot, in addition to having a great time.  The next few posts will be about my experience.

First, there was an interesting experimental starting sequence. Instead of the usual 5-4-1 sequence, it was a 5-3-1, with an unusual (at least for me) "soft black flag".  As the Sailing Instructions, explained it:

Minutes before Starting Signal
Visual Signal
Sound Signal
Class Flag
Warning Signal
P,I,U or black flag
Preparatory Signal
Preparatory flag removed
One long
One Minute
Class flag removed
Starting signal

In addition, during the last 3 minutes, a hand-held numbered flag with a 3, then 2 and then 1 was displayed to indicate the time to the starting signal. And finally, a black/white checkered flag was displayed with the start signal -  although this was a bit confusing since the finish line was between a black/white checkered flag on the committee boat and a similar flag on a pin buoy. 

In this video clip from a 49er start you can see the system (at least I hope you can see it - Blogger makes it pretty grainy).  There is the U flag (see below for what it means) as the Preparatory signal and the small hand-held flag at the back of the committee boat is changed as each of the last 3 minutes goes.

I asked a number of people what was behind this experiment. No one seemed to know, although some said it was to improve understanding by spectators. But the answer I liked best was that it made no difference since all the sailors used their countdown watches from 5 minutes and didn't really look at the flags.  But I wonder - I would think that seeing a flag or hearing a sound signal at 3 minutes instead of 4 could be confusing.

The U flag - the soft black flag - was usually displayed as the preparatory signal and this meant that if any part of a boat was over the line, she is disqualified without a hearing, just as in a black flag situation. However, what was a bit disconcerting was that the Sailing Instructions also provided that "When flag U is used as the preparatory signal rule 29.1 Individual recall does not apply."  This meant that if a boat was over with the U flag flying, she would sail the entire race before being aware she is disqualified. I saw this happen several times.  It would have been a lot more fair to have a notice board at the first mark listing the boats disqualified.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...