"Y" flag controversy

Crews obliged to wear lifejackets during the racing

Wednesday August 8th 2001, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
After yesterday's blustery conditions and the carnage this caused - the dismastings, the sinkings and the men overboard - the race took on a conservative tone today with even more wind forecast.

Many of the smaller keelboats in White Group did not race and those that did were sent round a shorter course. But the biggest issue of the day was of the flying of the Code "Y" flag, a precaution the Principle Race Officer decided upon, requiring competitors on every boat to wear a personal buoyancy aid.

The Cowes Combined Club's on the water scrutineers were policing this and during today’s racing picked up many, many offenders. In the end only 21 were penalized in white group and were awarded a time penalty of 3% added on to their elapsed time.

"We realized that some of the black group boats out early would't see the flag," commented Stuart Quarrie, Director of Cowes Combined Clubs. "We agreed with the race committee that black boats would be given a warning." As a result only yachts in white group have been given time penalties. Quarrie added that there has now been an amendment to the sailing instructions whereby individual classes can be given the Code "Y" flag and its implementation will be broadcast over VHF in addition to the flag flown from the Squadron.

In the event, of course, the harsh conditions did not materialize. While some forecasts were suggesting the boats might see 40 knots this afternoon, in fact the highest recorded gusts were around 32 knots at Brambles Bank and few boats saw more than 20-25 knots. Most were also back in port and placing their first orders at the beer tent by the time tide had turned.

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