Optimist class to test new starting system

Published on March 27th, 2014

The International Optimist Dinghy Association (IODA) Regatta Committee, in their work to improve Optimist racing, will be testing the use of the flag U in 2014.

What is flag U?

This is very similar to other start penalties, with the exception that if the start becomes a general recall or the race is abandoned, then the penalty will be annulled. As for example, in normal circumstances if a Black Flag start is recalled with a general recall, the numbers of the boats BFD are posted and they cannot sail in the race when it is started again. Under flag U, if the start is recalled everyone is entitled to sail the race.

In RRS 2013-2016, flag U is a recommendation in Appendix L. As it is not a rule, if the Race Committee intends to use it at an event, it must be described in the Sailing Instructions with the wording from Appendix L, item 11.5:

If flag U has been displayed as the preparatory signal, no part of a boat’s hull, crew, or equipment shall be in the triangle formed by the ends of the starting line and the first mark during the last minute before her starting signal. If a boat breaks this rule and is identified, she shall be disqualified without a hearing but not if the race is restarted or resailed or postponed or abandoned before the starting signal. This changes rule 26.

Why have IODA decided to use it?

From technical meetings with coaches and country representatives at the last World Championship, the Regatta Committee received input to work on a fairer system to start races. The requests were to use a system that provided competitors a good start and would avoid general recalls, but did not take a long time to start and did not penalize competitors so strongly as a black flag. Since IODA believe that the first start sequence should not be a black flag due to its strong penalty, flag U will be used and evaluated during 2014.

Source: IODA

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