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…
Depending on actions during an incident, and outcomes, 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 panel of three experienced members will hear evidence, from any parties summoned to appear, of how the unfair situation came about. The panel will record findings in the same manner as in the case of a formal protest hearing; however, the panel is not bound to find which, specific, rules have been broken and the manner in which the rules cited were broken, unless the panel feels such rules are contributory to the case or 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 three resolution avenues are open to the protestor:
- advisory – One-to-One discussion involving the protestor and an experienced member
- arbitration – an experienced member will hear the arguments from both parties and present a decision
- 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;
- give a rapid (same day) resolution in such incidents;
- provide 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 Advisory/Arbitration is not bound to accept an outcome and recommendation of Advisory/Arbitration, and may request a Protest Hearing; however, the party found to be at fault from the Advisory/Arbitration may accept the recommendation of the Advisory/Arbitration until time of the Protest Hearing.
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 the racing area that the Protestor was involved in, 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, in a manner affording rapid deployment, before the start of the race (in readiness),
- 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 Protest 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 register a Protest, please download BMYC Protest Form, complete and return it to us.
|Baradal and Mad Max||Download the full protest report »|
|Date||January 19, 2019|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|Alleged rule broken||69|
|L'Intrepide vs Brainwave|
|Date||September 9, 2012|
|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