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Scuttlebutt Poll:
Starting System and Penalties
February 9-10, 2011

Have you ever thought about the how and why the sport of sailing has several starting system options? Recent commentary in Scuttlebutt has been poking around this issue of starting fairly, but perhaps the underlying problem is in how the start is organized.

While the Racing Rules of Sailing describe one system for starting a race, there are multiple Starting Penalty options for the Principle Race Officer (PRO) to utilize, and as a result, little consistency for the competitors.

For premature starters, a PRO can:
  • Call each boat individually to restart

  • Call each boat individually, have them round a start pin to restart

  • Call each boat individually to restart, but also give them a 20% penalty

  • Call each boat individually for disqualification

  • Call the entire fleet to restart

  • Actually, the rules for Recalls (RRS 29) and Starting Penalties (RRS 30) are more complicated, but you get the point.

    Here are the only starting rules for two other Olympic sports:
  • A swimmer is disqualified after their first false start.

  • A runner is permitted one false start but is disqualified after second.

  • While starting a sailing race for a competitor is more complex than for track or swimming sports, do the rules need to be more complex too?

    The current Racing Rules of Sailing provide each PRO with many options to determine what Starting Penalties they feel are needed. But is this how a start should be managed, or is it better for there to be a single system of starting and penalties that are known in advance by the competitors and PRO?

    Here are the poll results:
  • 64.00% - Current system is best

  • 36.00% - Consider single system

  • Click here for comments.

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