Best practice in rules disputes

With so many yachts in the racing area, and 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 events; of course, it is the personality of these persons that will present the dispute 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 how the rules are changed from time to time.

Depending on outcomes of actions during an incident a dispute may be resolved by following one of two distinctly different routes:

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

Request for Redress

A Request for Redress is a peer review – An appeal from a person or persons who feel they have been wronged to set right an unfair situation; I.E. to put/set/make right via compensation for the grievance. The panel will hear evidence of how the unfair situation came about from any parties summoned to appear.  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.

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, (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.

The new instructions allow two alternatives to a protest hearing when there is dispute about compliance with racing rules:

  • advisory hearings; and
  • arbitration.

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 these cases;
  • give an alternative (exoneration penalty) to complete disqualification or retirement in lesser cases;
  • improve the overall standard of racing.

Advisory hearing can occur when one party verbally asks the Organising Authority for a hearing, when no serious damage or injury has been caused and when all parties involved agree. The Organising Authority will appoint an independent adviser who will briefly hear the arguments and deliver a judgement about whether a rule was broken. As an outcome; the party deemed to have broken a rule may then choose to accept an exoneration penalty.

RYA Arbitration is similar but requires a protest form completion. Arbitration can be sought by one party or the race management team as long as no serious damage or injury has been caused and when all parties involved agree. A single appointed arbitrator will follow the same processes as a protest committee. If there is no conclusion, a full protest hearing will be arranged; however, the Protestee has, until the time of the Protest Hearing, to accept a decision of the Arbitrator and to take appropriate action to avoid possibility of a forced disqualification, which may result from a Protest hearing.

Protest Hearing – A Protest Hearing is a formal hearing arising from an allegation made under rule 61.2 by a competitor, a member of a race management team or a protest panel that a competitor has broken a rule; similar to the manner in which UK Courts hear cases under jurisdiction of UK Law, a Protest is heard founded on Racing Rules.  Under a Protest Hearing the Protestor must prove their case via citing which, specific, rules have been broken and the manner in which the rules cited were broken.  It is NOT for the protestor to request the outcome they desire; rather, for the panel to direct what outcomes will follow from the findings of the case.

If you wish to register a Protest, please download BMYC Protest Form, complete and return it to us.

Publishing protests

Formal protests will be notified on this website.

Advice for protestors

Bring a witness!

Two yachts collided on the start line 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 was preferred.

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 (it is important the red protest flag is attached to the backstay before the start of the race in readiness).
  • “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 rules are followed in communicating with other yachts before undertaking a manoeuvre in close quarter at time of the incident, and, that witnesses are noted.

The Protestee must be given the opportunity to take a penalty.

Ensure you register your protest with the Organising Authority ASAP and that your completed Protest form is submitted within the time limit specified in the sailing instructions.

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 at the bow can confirm if an overlap exists, or not..!  Similarly, have a crew member at the stern for the same reason leaving the helm free to; well… Helm..!

Advisors and arbitrators

Race officers seeking advice from senior members on protests or any other matter related to running their race are advised to speak to one of the list below:

Recent protests

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