Symbiotic Relationship between Coaches and the OA/PC/RC

Published on October 22nd, 2013

By Jeff Butzer
Last weekend I was called in last minute to PRO a 110 boat Optimist fleet at the Southwest Florida Junior Olympic Regatta. The first two starts were I-flag and there were no OCS. But then things changed. In the third race, boats were coached to remain above other boats until the last possible moment, and then dive just far enough below any available boat in order to avoid detection by race committee spotters.

The problem was that every boat wanted to be above every other boat until the last possible moment, which took the entire fleet 100 to 200 feet above the starting line. That unidentifiable two-thirds of the fleet could not get back to being behind the line in time for the third start. It was AP’d during the Preparatory Period.

The Black Flag was deployed for the third race, and the three subsequent races that day. The protocol became Black Flag sequence followed General Recall, until there were no OCS. During the General Recall period, BFD offenders were listed. Almost none of the offenders checked the list, which was made difficult by the size of the fleet. Coaches were directed to re-enter the Starting Area and cull it of all their boats that were BFD.

This course had a mid-course Start/Finish line, so the Starting Area was well inside the Racing Area. The protocol was extended to having Coaches move their offenders pretty far away, and then return for the next Black Flag sequence. Directing Coaches to take a substantial role in a solution to a problem that they had essentially created seemed to change things back.

By the final race of the day there were no OCS.

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