by Kentrock Messmer and Jane Fossett
On June 26, the Race Committee granted Faster Pussycat an extraordinary appeal over the protest ruling in Race Four. Kentrock Messmer and Jane Fossett are the two appeals judges for this case, for reasons discussed in the Notice.
Trapez Breen (skipper of Faster Pussycat) made no complaint about any of the Solstice judging, and declined the offer of an appeal. Armano Xaris (skipper of New Horizon) and the Protest Committee both welcomed an Appeal review. They submitted notecards detailing their understanding of the protest event and the applicable Rules.
Although Trapez Breen voiced no complaint, other members of the Faster Pussycat crew did, as detailed here, here, and here, and in many in-world discussions. The allegations are strongly worded, and could delegitimize the success of so many great sailors during the competition. In addition, it’s important to add that Trapez Breen and her Pussycats raced truly brilliantly in both the Qualifying heats and the Finals. If it were not for the disqualification in race four, they would have easily captured First Place. It’s important to make sure the judges called it right. The Finals race judges were Silber Sands (#1 judge), Joro Aya, Bea Woodget, and Samlara Vintner.
For these reasons, another review seemed well-justified.
The Protest Event
The protest occurred during the last leg of the race (highlighted in red on the above chart). As shown below, both boats were on a broad reach in Flat Hammock and Armano was clear astern of Trapez. In this situation Rule 12 applies, and Armano must keep clear. However, in the second image below, Armano next establishes overlap with Trapez from the Windward side. As soon as that occurs, Rule 12 switches off and Rule 11 kicks in. Armano is the windward boat, and he must keep clear.
The images below show this from another perspective, and demonstrate the two boats remained overlapped with roughly the same heading as they approached the finish line.
Joro Aya was the judge on the water; she also wrote the summary note card for the appeal review with the consensus support of the other three judges. Joro had a good view of the boats and commented on the tactics in this situation:
“Trapez now has a big tactical advantage. She is leeward and is not limited by Rule 17 because She did not come from clear astern when the overlap started. She could have luffed Armano all the way to hell and back if she had wanted to.”
Trapez remained on course however, and Armano slowly advanced on her windward side. Joro documents:
“Trap’s crew hails “up lee”, warning Armano to keep clear. Armano is still keeping clear, even steers up slightly and shortly to make sure.”
The appeals judges did angular measurements on the boat headings shown in each of the many pictures from this segment of the race, providing evidence that Armano did veer roughly 5° windward, but then came back on course when Trapez didn’t luff and both boats hit the “Zone.”
Joro summarized this part of the race for the protest group:
“The situation remained pretty much the same until the boats reached the markzone. During this time Trap was not once forced off her proper course and had room to steer both upwind and downwind if she chose to.”
The New York 30 is a relatively large boat, and the size of the Zone was a point of discussion in the race thread. Jane Fossett documented in the regatta Rules:
“Judges will use a two boat-length zone to resolve Rule 18 protests over ROW at racemarks. Rule 18 does not apply at start line marks, but will apply at the marks that define a GATE, except as stated in Rule 18.4.”
Head Judge Silber Sands added:
“Please note that rule 18 does not apply at start line marks BUT at finish line marks!”
These comments become directly relevant as both boats approach the East end of the finish line as shown above. The last two pictures in that sequence have both boats clearly in the zone. At that point Armano falls off by 5° in order to clear the green finish mark.
Joro summarized the race judge’s view:
“Both still on a port tack, nothing has changed except that it is now a rule 18 situation. Armano is inside and overlapped at the time the 1st boat (Trap) enters the zone. Trap must give Armano room to sail safely between her and the finish mark. Nothing more and nothing less.”
However, if you look at the last two ‘in the zone’ images above, the Pussycat boat actually heads up by 10°, cutting off any window for Armano to pass.
The pictures below show what happened next. Armano calls for Room! but his destiny is sealed; Trapez only turns away to avoid the debris after Armano slams into the buoy.
Joro again summarized the judges’ impression:
“Trap could have steered down to give Armano room and would have easilly won if she had done so. She could also have gybed away from Armano and would have also easily won the race.
BUT… she did neither. Armano hailed for mark room and Trap did nothing.”
That assessment by the protest committee seems amply confirmed by the multiple images documenting the incident, and by the direct observation of both current Appeals Judges who watched it happen.
At the end of the race, the protest committee concluded:
Armano – New Horizon tried to finish and broke rule 11 and 31 (and 14).
Trapez – Faster Pussycat broke rule 18.2b (and 14)
They exonerated Armano for breaking rule 11 (as stated in rule 18.5) and for breaking rule 31 (as stated in rule 64.1c).
As there was no damage or injury, neither boat was penalized for rule 14
Trapez – Faster Pussycat was DSQ for breaking rule 18.
Appeals Review Ruling
Kentrock Messmer and Jane Fossett are the appeals judges on behalf of the Solstice Challenge race committee.
After reviewing all of the available evidence, we concur with the decisions of the protest committee in each instance, and see no evidence supporting any other conclusion. Therefore, the results of race four are affirmed, and the appeal motion to overturn is denied.