Rules of Racing

PostRules of Racing
AuthorRachel Quarrell
Posted At19:19, 10th Nov 2018
4 weeks ago
The link below is to a document with proposed changes to the rules of racing which will be brought to the next captains' meeting.

The changes are being posted here so that the general Oxford rowing community can see them and suggest any improvements. Please note that these have been put forward after considerable work by the Senior Umpires and OURCs committee. Many thanks to all involved in helping draft these.

Thanks in advance for any help you can give.
PostRE: Rules of Racing
AuthorRachel Quarrell
Posted At08:19, 11th Nov 2018
4 weeks ago
I've found a mistake - apologies, but with renumbering and trying to cross-check lots of people's input, one early suggestion which was improved on, was left in.

In the document, A3.13 Penalty Bumps should read

A3.13 Penalty Bumps
renumber to A3.14

(with no further additions since what it says has already been put more appropriately into A3.11.2.d)

The committee will probably spot if I've made any other errors.
PostRE: Rules of Racing
AuthorJorn Reniers
Posted At18:19, 11th Nov 2018
4 weeks ago
In general, I agree with the proposed changes and the increased focus on safety. I have two points where I would welcome some clarification.

A3.11.3.b on clearing the racing line. In past bumps races, it has happened that when I was about to bump the crew ahead, the crew behind me started steering around my boat before the bump had actually occurred. In this instance, clearing out of the racing line would have risked a collision with this crew and the safest option was to tuck in to the bank. The new rule seems to suggest that this might lead to a penalty bump. So I would like to hear some clarification about this situation (i.e. when safety demands to tuck in) and especially what would happen if a later crew doesn't see the tucked in boat and collides with it (is the crew who tucked in to initially avoid a dangerous situation in fault and liable for penalty bumps)? The "whatever other factors were also involved" seems to suggest so, but wouldn't that result in crews always clearing the racing line even if this risks a collision with the boat behind?

A3.15.1 on awarding technical row-overs. The original rules excluded factors 'internal to the crew' and I would like to hear OURCs opinion whether this is still the case. E.g. if there is rudder malfunction should you stop racing immediately and apply for a TRO, or should you continue racing and only stop if a crash is imminent? And what about the (admittedly not very likely) scenario where incompetence from the crew (crabbing) or cox (bad steering) makes the boat veer towards another boat and has to stop (is this a TRO or can you still get bumped by the crews behind you?). There is also typo ('rew' instead of 'crew')
PostRE: Rules of Racing
AuthorClaire Holubowskyj
Posted At22:29, 11th Nov 2018
4 weeks ago
I support the vast majority of the rule changes, which seem to be common-sense and safety based, but have some questions about a specific few. In particular,

A3.11.3.b - about penalising tucking into the racing line. This point seems to be highly black and white, especially in bumps situations in which tucking into the racing line may be the safer option, such as if a crew coming up behind meant a cox would risk a collision to tuck in on the other side, and therefore had to tuck into the racing line. Making this rule so black and white, especially going so far as to state 'whatever other factors were also involved' shunts the blame onto the cox tucked into the racing line, regardless of whether they tucked in because it was the safer option at the time. Especially in lower divisions, where there can be many crews racing very close to each other, it seems dangerous to incentivise coxes to tuck into one side over the other, rather than taking the safest possible course of action.

A3.11.4 - about coxes not wearing cameras or other distracting equipment. This one seems to be phrased rather vaguely: how would distracting equipment be defined? Why are cameras deemed distracting at all times, when a properly worn head-cam turned on before boating and off when landing would not pose any obstruction to the coxes view? While I understand the intention behind this, the concept needs to be better defined not only so clubs and coxes are aware of what would count as distracting, but also so the rule can actually be enforced. Under the current phrasing, even a wristwatch could be interpreted as distracting technology.
PostRE: Rules of Racing
AuthorJames Marsden
Posted At10:15, 12th Nov 2018
4 weeks ago
I think these are a very sensible set of rules, but I don't quite see the logic behind A3.11.3 as a whole. It totally reverses the principle that "the racing line is whatever route up the river is safest". It is true that too many crews clear "inwards" but I think the rule as drafted is excessively prescriptive and will encourage coxes to follow a script (always clear away from the line) rather than look around them and exercise their judgement.

On A3.11.4, is there any evidence of camera or other equipment obstructing a cox's view or mobility? A cox who is fiddling with their GoPro during racing is clearly acting unsafely and that would already be covered under both the Rules of Racing (dangerous conduct) and the Code of Conduct provisions about maintaining situational awareness. The emphasis needs to be on actions, not equipment.

The Technical Row-Over rule could do with making explicit that the cause of stopping must be external to the crew, to avoid the scenario that "our rudder broke, we stopped rather than try to pass the Gut on pressure steering, we want a TRO because we did the right thing and letting the bump stand against us encourages dangerous conduct next time."
PostRE: Rules of Racing
AuthorSophie Schauman
Posted At15:59, 16th Nov 2018
3 weeks ago
I really like the new introductory clause (A0) as it sets the tone for the document to really be guided by safety considerations. However, I do not believe that all the proposed changes reflect that theme.

The changes about substitutions (A3.4.5 a-b) are good as this makes it easier for colleges to allocate competent coxes to the higher divisions where the speeds are higher.

The requirement to 'row on' also for insertions is also good as this makes it more likely that the speed differentials are reasonable, which again, is good for safety.

I suggest changing the wording of A3.11.1 to say “All competitors in both Rowing On and Bumps must make safety their first priority. Coxes, with the help of rowers, are required to keep a good look-out at all times ahead and around them.” This is because safety is not the responsibility of the cox alone, but the whole crew’s responsibility. Furthermore, I am quite confused by the wording and purpose of A3.11.1 a-b. What constitutes an obstruction? Anything except other racing crews? Making contact with other crews is the purpose of bumps racing so they cannot be included in the definition of obstruction. In that case, I suggest a rewording along the lines of “Coxes are expected to steer their crews around any obstruction on the river that is not another racing crew when it is possible to do so safely. Following that, I suggest changing A3.11.1b to “When interpreting whether it was possible to steer around the obstruction safely a Race Committee shall apply the test of the behaviour expected of a competent crew relative to their position in the start order”. Overall. this clause is quite vague but I understand the purpose of this is to give the Race committee the flexibility to interpret the rule slightly differently for lower and higher divisions. I believe my suggested changes makes the clause slightly clearer. If, I have interpreted the purpose of that rule wrong I would be interested what the intended purpose was, and suggest a re-wording as it clearly wasn’t clear enough.

Rule A3.11.2 is well worded, and stronger penalties for dangerous conduct is a welcome change.

Rule A3.11.3 has some major flaws. As brought up by previous comments, the idea that the racing line is no longer “whatever clear passage there is on the river” is a problem. Especially when combined with rule A3.11.1 where it is stated that you should steer around obstacles (i.e. not stick to the optimal racing line). Furthermore the wording is incredibly vague and contradictive. Even the two first sentences contradict themselves. “Crews are expected to race **wherever possible** within the racing line area.” and “ If they are outside it **for any reason**, they may be required to abide by their own accidents.” If the SUs wish to impose a stricter racing line as proposed in A3.11.3a, then this should be marked by buoys on the course so that disputes whether or not the crew was in the racing line area can be easily resolved. Finally, I would like to suggest a word change of A3.11.3b to emphasise that crews clearing out of the racing line should only do so if safe. Sometimes it is safer to stay in the “racing line” if there are crews overtaking you etc… If we want to include a stricter racing line definition then it is ok to say that you shouldn’t race outside it or clear into it, but not to force you to clear out of it unless safe to do.

I do not believe that the suggested rule banning cameras (A3.11.4) is well motivated. I have not heard of a case where a camera has distracted a cox from looking around (if I am misinformed, please let me know). On the other hand I know of many cases where camera footage has been used to resolve unclear bumps situations. They are also incredibly valuable as a tool to assess incidents and figure out what happened and what we need to improve on (I believe many of these suggested rule changes have come up because of camera footage allowing us to analyse what has gone wrong). Finally, the videos are useful for training a new generation of coxes and rowers in Oxford to provide examples of good and bad coxing and handling of stressful racing situations. The only downside of cameras that I can see is that uploading crash videos to YouTube is not always a good idea for many reasons. My opinion of this is that OURCs should offer some training regarding social media conduct and what is good and what is bad to post openly online, but that this rule will not improve safety and should be removed.

The suggested changes regarding Penalty bumps and TRO’s are generally good, the only comment I have is on A3.15.1a, where it has to be made clear if "a safe and viable route” can only be within the newly defined racing line area or can a safe route be outside the racing line area.

Finally, I found one typo in A3.15.1, (missing “c” in the word "crew”).