Pursuit Racing Scoring Abbreviations

Sorry if this is the wrong place to ask this but here goes.
Under the Racing Rules Of Sailing 2021 - 2024 if a person sails the wrong course and decides that he has no chance of getting a place decides he is cold etc and goes back to the club room can he be put down as Retired (RET) as it would in a class or handicap race?
I’ve been through the rules and can’t find an answer. Appendix A A10 Scoring abbreviations doesn’t help.
An answer would be appreciated.

Hi Charlie,

In this case I would assign a score of DNF. I only assign a RET score if the boat, jury or their support people state that she is retiring from the race. Most of the time there is no difference in points between RET and DNF. Some might say that under the new rules you could assign the boat a NSC (Did not sail the course) score, but I would use that score only if the boat started, finished , but did not sail around all the marks.


Thanks for your view on it.

As it was a cold and crappy day when two of them went wrong way round the course they just decided to “retire” in their words. so I put RET.

I was told by our secretary that you can’t have a Retired or anything else in a pursuit race, I had to mark them down as, in this race 5th and 6th.

I’m not convinced but I couldn’t be bothered to argue.



For a number of situations two of the scoring codes apply so often a
choice is “not preferred” or “not recommended” as opposed to “wrong.” I
can certainly relate to “not wanting to argue” but in this case I think
what you did is actually contrary to the rules and therefore technically

First, there is no distinction in the RRS between types of races. You
could argue that every one-design race is a pursuit race because in both
cases the order of finish is the same as crossing the finish line. So, I
think you can ignore that argument.

If you are using the Low Point System in rule A4 then only boats that
meet the definition of “finish” can have a finishing place. Plus,
whether or not you use your own scoring system A5.2 says that a boat
that does not finish shall be scored points for the finishing place one
more than the number of boats entered in the series. That seems
crystal-clear to me.

So, bottom line, scoring them in finishing positions of 5th and 6th is
clearly wrong. I would say this should be obvious since they need to be
scored the same (since the same circumstances apply to each) and with
different finishing positions that is obviously not true.

As to DNF vs RET - every boat that retires before finishing is DNF and
every boat that is DNF must, perforce, have retired. So, there are two
terms for the same condition, which is NOT helpful. My advise to our
scorers is “if a boat uses the words ‘retire’ or ‘retiring’ when
contacting the RC then use RET, otherwise use DNF” (for example, when
they say “we’re dropping out” or “we’re going in”). So, the intent of
the competitor would decide which code to use. That is not entirely
satisfactory but it is probably as good as we can do.

New in the 2021-24 RRS is the concept that the RC can score a boat as
not having sailed the course (as opposed to the practice for the last 50
years of the RC must protest in that case). I’d limit use of NSC to that
exact situation only.


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Wow Art that was some concise explanation thanks.
I will have to give it some thought.
As the race series is not an official points series but an Ad hoc series as I’ve called it, I can cope with being wrong but hopefully later this year, June with a bit of luck I’ll sort it out and know what I’m doing.

Thanks again


There was a question recently on RET vs DNF. I thought some discussion
of the policy considerations would be helpful.

Unfortunately, in some situations two of the scoring codes in rule A10
could apply. That leaves the scorer (i.e., the RC) having to decide
which to use. Here are a few policies to consider when making those

A. In general, we want the RC to provide as much of the information that
it possesses in the posted results. That way a viewer of the results can
get a good idea of what happened without having to do more work.

B. When choosing between two or more applicable scoring codes we
probably want to use the one that is most specific.

C. If there are two scoring codes that are equally specific then you
probably want to use the one that occurred earlier in time.

D. You want to be sure the scoring codes used results in the “correct”

Some examples:

OCS - Of course, OCS could apply. But, an OCS boat doesn’t start so DNS
could apply and per the new Definition Finish an OCS cannot finish so
DNF could apply. DNF occurs after the other two so that probably isn’t
the one to use. OCS indicates that the boat attempted to start while DNS
says nothing about that, so OCS is the code to use. And, of course, the
OCS code is designed for exactly that situation. That is an easy
decision but highlights the considerations.

ZFP that does not finish - ZFP occurs earlier in time and is most
specific but would result in the wrong score. So, DNF (or RET) would be

ZFP vs SCP - There are some that think any boat with a percentage
penalty should be SCP. By that logic both might apply but ZFP is more
specific so use that.

RET vs DNF - To repeat what I wrote earlier, a boat that retires before
finishing does not finish. So, either RET or DNF would be fully
justified. To differentiate between the two I’d recommend RET for any
boat that uses the magic words “retire” or “retiring” when contacting
the RC and DNF for all other cases. I am unaware of any scoring systems
that treat those differently but if so then use the one that best
implements what you think should be the correct score.

RET or DNF vs DSQ - This is up to the protest committee (PC) to decide.
There is an unpublished US Sailing appeal that says a boat that is RET
or DNF cannot be DSQed. Their logic is that not finishing (aka retiring)
is “taking a penalty” and a boat cannot be penalized further if she “has
taken an applicable penalty.” [RRS 64.2(a)] In the appeal, the boat
didn’t finish because it sank! Appeals aren’t binding and are only
authoritative interpretations but I think that is a reasonable
conclusion so I’d be inclined to follow it. However, that appeal
demonstrates the difficult choices. DNF is earlier in time but ignores
the protest and DSQ. DSQ would ignore that the boat did not finish. In
the appeal, the RC had no choice because the PC made the decision, which
is as it should be.

NSC vs DSQ - The new scoring code of “NSC” was added because the RC can
now penalize a boat that the RC observes (believes?) did not sail the
course correctly. But, the RC might do nothing and another boat protest.
I’d recommend NSC for when the RC makes the decision and DSQ for when
there is a protest and the PC makes the decision. DSQ doesn’t give the
reason for the decision but I think NSC should be limited to the exact
circumstances as to why the new code was added. DSQ arguably give less
information but limiting NSC to RC actions gives more information in the
larger context.


PS - I couldn’t figure out how to post via email so if someone thinks
this should go in a new thread PLEASE move it.

Hi Art,

That is a very good explanation. I have one comment regarding your last paragraph. The “believe?” part makes it correct. However, without it as per RRS A5.1 the RC shall score the boat NSC.


Peter, I’m not sure I understand your point. I think you are saying that
the RC can score a boat NSC only if it believes there was an incorrect
course but not if it observed the incorrect course.

If the RC thinks it observed an incorrect course then it obviously
believes it. But, if a competitor comes to the RC and says “X sailed the
wrong course” then maybe the RC “believes” it but since it didn’t
actually observe it then I don’t think it should score based on that.

I don’t think this is any different from OCS. The RC says “we observed
the starting line and there were no boats OCS.” A competitors says “No,
boat Y was OCS.” I don’t think the RC should be scoring Y as OCS. If
they think there is an issue then someone (RC or another boat) should
protest and let the PC resolve it.

I can think of one exception to that general rule re OCS. The RC says
“There was a boat that was clearly OCS but we couldn’t see their sail
number because of other boats.” After talking to competitors there is
agreement as to the identity of that boat. In those limited
circumstances I should think it appropriate for the RC to score the
now-identified boat as OCS. But, maybe that should go to the PC and I
would find that perfectly reasonable.

I used “believes?” to indicate that there might be circumstances where
the RC can score based on belief rather than direct observation. But, I
should think those would be very limited. For example, the RC saw two
boats miss the offset mark but couldn’t see the sail number of the 2nd
boat. The identified boat talks to the RC and tells them which boat was
next to them when they cut the offset mark. Or, the RC thinks it knows
which boat was unidentified and after talking to them that boat confirms
that they missed the offset mark.

In the end I don’t think this is terribly significant since a boat can
always ask for redress from the scoring actions of the RC so in cases of
any uncertainty the PC will be making the final decision. In general, I
don’t think the RC should be relying on anything other than its own
observations unless what they are acting on is undisputed.

[Caveat: Following up on “undisputed” - when a boat is missing from the
finishes the RC often asks “Who was ahead and behind?” and if those two
boats agree (“X finished just ahead of me” and “X finished just behind
me”) then the RC just puts the missing boat in the results. Since all 3
relevant boats agree I don’t have a problem with the RC fixing the
problem itself, rather than requiring the PC to get involved when there
is no factual dispute.]


To address a couple of pursuit specific questions.

Can a boat retire? Of course they can. Retirement is an option from a rule infringement. So your secretary is wrong.

If they hadn’t retired, could they be finished 5th and 6th?

Some have said they didn’t cross the finish line. With pursuit races there are 3 approaches (that I know of) to handle the finish… No doubt more.

  1. A finish is layed immediately in front of the lead boat at the race duration. All finishers sail through this line to finish

  2. A snapshot of positions is captured at the race duration. Effectively imagine an aerial photograph

  3. Similar to 1, but the line is two committee boats who proceed back through the fleet capturing positions as quickly as possible

#1. Is the simplest for the face committee etc, and to some extent to explain to sailors. It is also the least fair (don’t tell me handicap racing is never fair). A skiff lying 6th may be able to pass 3 boats in the final leg. That’s down to bait speed not sailing ability

#2. Is great on paper but for big events unless you have a drone / helicopter… …and some magic say to identify the boats in the snapshot… Is a race committee nightmare. Working out who is in front of who is hard. But this is technically the fairest if it was done right. For what sounds like a 6 boat race that is fine, except your sailors were no longer on the race course… You’d need a virtual marker for them… At the point they passed the last mark correctly.

#3. (The method I’ve used) attempts to be a compromise between the two. At a really big event you may have multiple position capturers along the fleet (we would ask a safety boat to work from the back to the front). It assumes all sailed the correct course. If they didn’t you’d need to know where they were in the grand scheme. In reality if they are no longer on the water… you can’t really do it.

Ultimately the SI’s should state how a boat gets a finish.

Personally I’m a fan of rewarding participation. But that would mean a DNF and a DNC having different scores. I can’t see how else you can do it other than the retirement order… But if I missed mark 1 but don’t realise till near the end…? And in my experience the RC can’t clock every boat round every mark on a pursuit while tracking the starting sequence etc

Thanks. As no one has questioned what I’ve put on the website and the two sailors won’t be very far off the bottom of the results I think I’ll keep quiet.
Thanks everyone for your input, much appreciated.