Gray area that’s so black and white

Published on March 15th, 2023

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
It is an old problem, yet continues today. I blame ignorant sailmakers, as they continue to put their logo on illegal sails. Maybe the Racing Rules of Sailing is too thick for them, as it is back in the Appendices where it details how identifying sail numbers must be legible, clearly legible.

And I don’t care what the customer wants. If they want colored numbers on their black sail, they should be admonished and educated. Forcing volunteers on Race Committee to struggle isn’t what they signed up for. John Dukat, who recently wrestled with this issue on a finish line boat, offers his view on the topic:

Theseus, after killing the Minotaur on Crete, sailed back to Athens in triumph but forgot an arrangement he had made to his father. If he was returning alive, he would put up white sails. If he had been killed, the boat would return with the black sails.

But upon return, Theseus’ boat stopped for a long celebration and forgot the plan. King Aegeus was waiting at Cape Sounion to see the sails of the boat, and when he saw the black sails from afar, he dropped himself to the waters, committing suicide.

But for Theseus, as the #1 son, he got to be king. Darn those Greeks’ sense of dramatic irony.

Well, this harrumph is about the BLACK sails, as amid an overcast and rainy afternoon during the Big Daddy Regatta on the San Francisco Bay, the yachts were descending our finish line, and a bunch of those Theseus-es had BLACK sails (how many house payments in those sails?)

In spite of regulations to the contrary, their NUMBERS were not contrasting, and may I say plainly those aforesaid numbers were not legible.

So must RCs do their equivalent of jumping off the Acropolis, disregarding the oversight and maintain the peace, or pursue the highly justifiable wickedness of “you wanna trophy, see you in the protest room” and let’s see how that black sail competitor with the dark blue numbers responds.

Oh, I hate a gray area that’s so black and white.

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