With so many yachts in the racing area, occasionally at close quarter, it is inevitable a Rules dispute will arise.  In its simplest format a Rules dispute is a matter of two or more persons holding differing views of how a rule is to be interpreted; of course, it is the personality of these persons that will present their understanding in a calm, clear, and well constructed manner; or otherwise…

BMYC adheres to the RYA’s Racing Charter. See Sailing Instructions for more details on racing rules at BMYC.

Depending on actions during an incident, and desired outcome(s), a dispute may be resolved by following one of two distinctly different routes:

  • a Request for Redress; or
  • a Rules and Advisory Process.


Request for Redress

A Request for Redress is a peer review – An appeal to set right an unfair situation from a person or persons who feel they have been wronged; I.E. to put/set/make right via compensation for the grievance.

A Request for a Hearing must be documented and submitted to the Race Committee within the Time Limits specified in the BMYC Sailing Instructions; it is recommended the Request for a Hearing Form is used to document the matter.

A panel of three experienced members will, decide which, if any, parties are to be summoned to appear, and hear evidence of how the situation came about.  The panel will record findings; however, the panel is not bound to identify which, specific, rules have been broken and the manner in which the rules cited were broken, unless the panel feels such rules may be contributory to a reoccurrence.

Any award made resulting from a Request for Redress may equal, but will never penalise, an award gained by other competitors in fair competition; in this manner, it is possible an award from a Request for Redress may result in two boats holding identical placings from the same race.


Rules and Advisory Process

The Rules and Advisory process is a structured, formal, process designed to ensure (i) Rules are followed in a correct sequence, and (ii) lessons are learnt, to reduce risk of a reoccurrence of an incident. Emphasis is on education from which opportunities exist for the parties to understand and accept the intention behind RRS, and to take appropriate actions to avoid a forced disqualification.

When there is dispute about compliance with racing rules two avenues are open to the protestor:

  • advisory – One-to-One discussion involving the protestor and an experienced member
  • hearing – a panel of three experienced members will hear the arguments from both parties (and any witnesses) and present a decision

The purposes of these alternatives is to:

  • encourage competitors to notify examples of poor behaviour – even when the observer may not wish to follow a formal protest route;
  • provide a rapid (same day) resolution in such incidents;
  • recognise an alternative (exoneration penalty) to disqualification or retirement in lesser cases;
  • improve the overall standard of racing.

The party deemed to be at fault must be given the opportunity to voluntarily accept a penalty:

  • If the sailing Instructions permit, an Exoneration Penalty (taken on-the-water) may satisfy a protest.
  • If the Sailing Instructions do not permit Exoneration Penalties, a party found to be at fault must be allowed to Retire post race as an alterative to a forced disqualification.

n.b. A party found to be at fault from the Advisory is not bound to accept an outcome and recommendation of the Advisory and may submit a Request for a Hearing; however, the party found to be at fault from the Advisory may, until time of the Protest Hearing, withdraw the Request for a Hearing to accept the recommendation of the Advisory.


Advice for protestors

Registering a Protest

RRS Rule 61.1(a) requires that the Protestor must inform the other party (Protestee) “at the first reasonable opportunity“.

When the Protest concerns an incident in which the Protestor was involved, or witnessed, the Protestor must:

  • Hail ‘Protest’ (it is advisable to ensure the Protestee acknowledges and that witnesses are noted),
  • Conspicuously display a red (Protest) flag,
  • “at the first reasonable opportunity for each”…

‘First reasonable opportunity’ can become a ‘bone-of-contention’ if the matter goes to a hearing; one of the oldest and most favourite avoidance tack-ticks is for the Protestee to attempt to have the Protest dismissed on grounds the ‘protest flag’ was not displayed immediately.

The Protestor’s salvation will be found in ensuring:

  • the red protest flag is rolled-up and attached to the backstay before the start of the race (in readiness), in a manner affording rapid deployment,
  • rules are followed in communicating (hail) with other yachts before undertaking a manoeuvre in close quarter at time of the incident,
  • witnesses are noted.

Ensure you register your protest with the Race Officer ASAP and that your completed Request for a Hearing Form is submitted within the time limit specified in the Sailing Instructions.


Bring a Witness!

Two yachts collided when there was an unexpected wind shift. The two versions of events given were quite different. The version that was consistent with the account of an external witness is likely to be preferred by the panel.


A Disagreement in Testimony

Make sure you have crew well positioned about the boat where circumstance may lead to a rules infringement. A crew member purposefully positioned at the bow can confirm if an overlap exists, or not..!  Likewise, a crew member purposefully positioned at the stern, leaving the helm free to, well… Helm..!


Publishing Protests/Requests for Redress

Outcomes of formal protests will be published on this webspage.



The dispute resolution process is covered in detail in the BMYC Sailing Instructions.


If you wish to Request a Hearing please download the form, complete and return it to us.



Protest Library

Baradal and Mad Max Download the full protest report »
Date January 19, 2019
Type Protest
Alleged rule broken RRS Rule 11 (Section 2 - Right of Way)
Outcome During club racing on the morning of Sunday 13th January an incident occurred between yachts Mad Max and Baradal. Following this, both yachts lodged protests. Mad Max alleged that when passing the #4 mark of the course, Baradal had infringed Rule 18 (Mark-Room). Baradal alleged that after passing the #4 mark of the course Mad Max had infringed Rule 11 (Windward Boat Keeps Clear) resulting in their need to alter course to avoid a collision.

Mad Max and Race Officer Download the full protest report »
Date March 9, 2016
Type Redress
Outcome Mad Max had registered a request for redress arising from alleged actions on the part of the race officer in running a spring series race on 28th February 2016. The panel found that Mad Max were the authors of their own destiny; hence, it would not be fair to other competitors to award redress to Mad Max for undesirable outcomes arising from their own decisions. No redress was due to Mad Max.

Heaven's Above V
Date May 4, 2013
Type Redress
Alleged rule broken 90.3(c)
Outcome The race committee published the finish times of Heaven’s Above V and Scattered Magic incorrectly. The Race Officer indicated what error had been made and the finish time was corrected; however, heaven's above maintained the corrected finish time remained in error; so, in accordance with rule 90.3(c), sought redress. The panel found that (i) a slight time difference existed between the recorded times taken by the Race officer and that recorded by heaven's Above, and (ii) the time difference was consistent wrt Heaven's Above and Scattered Magic. That finish times had, already been corrected the error had been resolved. The Race Committee must publish the corrected results to show the actual elapsed times. Heaven's Above agreed. No redress was given.

Bob vs Revive
Date September 9, 2012
Type Protest
Alleged rule broken 69
Outcome Protest dismissed

L'Intrepide vs Brainwave
Date September 9, 2012
Type Protest
Alleged rule broken 10
Outcome Whilst approaching the windward mark Brainwave was within 3 boat lengths on port and tacked onto starboard, obstructing L’Intrepide that was on starboard tack. Brainwave retired