A penalty is given to a boat if she breaks one of the rules.

A boat that has received a penalty may continue to have rights depending on her situation relative to other boats in the fleet. This is an often misunderstood fact and can be at the heart of many an argument among VSK skippers.

Penalty turn Edit

Rule 44.2 requires that a penalized boat "get well clear of other boats" and then "take a one turn penalty" as soon as possible after the penalty is received.

In VSK a 60 second countdown timer begins from the moment the auto-umpire assigns a penalty. (Such a hard and fast countdown does not exist for real life races.) So long as the penalized boat either (i) passes through head-to-wind or (ii) gybes before the countdown reaches zero then she has satisfied the VSK condition for starting her penalty turn as soon as possible.

She may take as long as she likes to complete the penalty turn so long as the maneuver is an uninterrupted and continuous turn in the same (clockwise or anticlockwise) direction. The penalty turn is considered complete as soon as the boat has completed either (i) one tack and one gybe or (ii) one gybe and one tack. This means that depending upon the situation a boat need not necessarily have turned through a complete 360 degrees. In the absence of a favorable wind shift this maneuver will require a boat to turn through at least 180 degrees.

Clockwise or anti-clockwise? Edit

Rule 21.2 requires that a boat taking a penalty shall keep clear of one that is not. Recall that a penalized boat is not considered to have started her penalty turn until she gybes or passes head-to-wind and she is considered to have completed her penalty turn after she subsequently passes head-to-wind or gybes, respectively. Therefore during that time she must keep clear however, before and after that period of time she is only required to keep clear if some other right-of-way rule compels her to do so.

For this reason, it is common to choose whether you first gybe or first tack such that you complete your penalty turn on a starboard tack. Of course, other factors such as course to next mark must be considered as well.

But the rules stipulate 2 complete turns? Edit

Yes, the ISAF RRS specify two complete turns (two gybes and two tacks) however VSK imposes only a one-turn penalty. When you consider the matter of scale and specifically how rapidly VSK boats move between marks on a virtual race track, the punitive nature of a one-turn penalty is more fair and more reasonable than a two-turn penalty.

Getting clear Edit

Not rule 44.2 nor any other ISAF rule stipulates that a boat sailing to get clear of other boats shall keep clear of other boats. By contrast, rule 21.2 very clearly stipulates that a boat taking a penalty shall keep clear of one that is not.

  • When a collection of rules explicitly stipulates a limitation for one activity (taking a penalty) but then omits any stipulation for a second activity (getting well clear) then the only reasonable interpretation of the rules for the second activity is that there is no such limitation.

Therefore, while a penalized boat is sailing to get clear:

  1. if she has right-of-way over your boat then you must keep clear otherwise, you may receive a penalty
  2. if your boat has right-of-way over her then she must keep clear otherwise, she may receive another penalty

Many a VSK skipper will argue against this point claiming that "a penned boat has no rights" or something similar. In fact, there is not such rule in the ISAF RRS. However, you should also check with any sailing instructions or so-called house rules.

Getting clear illustrated
File:Get clear row.png
File:Get clear no row.png
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Auto penalty raceEdit

The VSK auto-umpire will assign penalties as soon as the necessary conditions are satisfied. The right-of-way boat does not need to take any action to trigger a penalty however the condition for some penalties include the need for the right-of-way boat to change course to avoid contact.

Unfortunately the auto-umpire is not perfect. For example, it does not correctly recognize when a right-of-way boat on starboard tack "ducks" below/behind a boat crossing it's bow on port tack to avoid contact. This means that a right-of-way skipper must either swallow a huge piece of humble pipe and live with the fact that the port tack boat just got away with an exploit or very carefully maneuver his boat to ensure only slight contact is made with the stern of the port tack boat as it passes. The risk this right-of-way skipper faces is that the maneuver is detected by the umpire as the right-of-way boat changing course without leaving room for the other boat to keep clear and assigning a rule 16.1 penalty.

Manual penalty raceEdit

In a manual penalty race a skipper who thinks the other boat just broke a rule must manually protest the incident. The default key for this protest is the P key however the user may bind this action to any other key. The timing of this manual protest is critical if the correct penalty is to be assessed.

The auto-umpire algorithms are still used to test whether the protesting boat was just involved in a penalty worthy incident. If the auto-umpire concurs then a penalty is reported in the chat window. if it does not concur then no message will appear in the chat window.

If you protest too late then your protest will be denied. If you protest too early then the auto-umpire will not concur and your protest will be denied. If a rapid succession of rule violations take place then only the last penalty before your protest will be assessed.

Request penalty cancellationEdit

VSK provides a mechanism for a skipper to request the other skipper cancel a penalty. No such mechanism exist in real life races. The default key for this cancel request is the C key however the user may bind this action to any other key.

The cancellation request appears in chat to all skippers and the skipper of the other boat receives an on screen display prompting him/her to grant, refuse or ignore the request.

Whether or not so-called PC requests are allowed in a race is at the discretion of the host so check the sailing instructions. If the host announces NPC in chat then this means "No Pen Cancel" and often any skipper requesting a cancellation will be kicked from the server.

Whether or not the empowered skipper is required to respond is also at the discretion of the host. Some hosts of NPC races will kick both the requesting skipper and the granting skipper - presumably in an effort to make sure neither party ignores this house rule in the future.