by Douglas Creelman, Protest desk / Race committee A recent ISAF Q&A reminded me of a practice we try to follow on Wednesday evenings, when starting races. Rule 26, which sets out the starting procedure, states that timing is to be taken from the display of visual signals. But when, the Q&A asks, does “display” happen? Here is what my team does to make it clear – our flag person, Ming, was especially consistent in following the procedures this last season:
- Thirty seconds before a flag is to be displayed, Ming grasps the halyard, well above his head. This gives timers watching from nearby boats a heads-up. Then, when the timer finishes the countdown he whips the flag up. To make sure it is “displayed” when the sound signal happens, the flag has been balled up in his other hand, so it breaks out precisely at the time of the signal. This way of doing things is not universal. I recall helping with Race Committee at a well-known club in the States, where the crew tried to raise the flag slowly, during the last minute or so, so it hit the top at the moment of the sound signal. This was ambiguous, un-necessary, and wrong.
- The take-down also has to be precise. I ask my flag person to drop a signal flag sharply. This can sometimes lead to fun games – for instance when in a strong wind the quick pull down ends up with the flag flying free and wild, astern of Grand National because the halyard got away.