Monday, 31 March 2008

NYYC Judge's Roundtable

Yesterday evening I received a mail from Ron Hopkins telling me about a rules-day he and Dan Davis organized. On Saturday 29/03/08 they organized the 'New York Yacht Club Judge's Roundtable'. Back in January when they first thought about doing this, they contacted me asking to use some of the material on the blog. Of course I said yes immediately. I think this is a great initiative which deserves following.

Some of what Ron mailed:
` We had a great day and a fun time. When we started planning this we though that maybe we'd get a dozen or so interested. We ended up with 36 Judges and Judges in Training in attendance plus a few observers. Considering that there are around 290 Judges in the US total, our group amounted to nearly 10% of the countries judge pool. An interesting and very talented group for sure.

As we planned, our focus during 3/4 of the time was discussing 'facts", conclusions, terminology and proper decision writing. The last hour was an open forum and it provoked some very interesting discussion. The feedback we received was positive and most all agreed that we need create and provide more training. There were several judges who felt they were not hearing as many protests as in the past, and wanted more rules exposure and process training. All said they'd like a full day (more time), so we're working on an outline for the fall.

In the open session, Rule 44.1 brought the most conversation. Many were interested in discussion on "serious damage". We never reached a consensus but agreed that the term might apply differently to events of different types, where one might consider intrinsic value, and a different event might rely on the ability to continue sailing, or safety issues. Something that needs to be discussed with the OA for guidance prior to an event perhaps.

The other interesting discussion was about the protest forms "diagram". In the heat of a regatta, most are poorly drawn, and by only one party. If not contested, what weighting as a fact is the diagram? If not endorsed by the PC, is it still considered a "fact", especially when forwarded on appeal? Is the PC obligated to draw it's own diagram, if it feels the provided one is not proper or correct? Some in attendance felt uncomfortable in drawing a diagram if they "did not see" the incident, where others felt comfortable providing a diagram from the facts found. Might be an interesting topic for your blog. `

Here´s a photo of the group.

Sound sure like a interesting discussion on the diagram issue. Personally I always draw my own diagrams, several in fact. For both parties as they tell their side of the incident and one I believe fits the facts. But I´m biased, because of my profession. I´ve done drawings and diagram all my working live. Not about boats, but still.

One of the exercises I use in teaching new PC members is to split the group in two give each a different diagram and ask them to write down the facts found. After that is done, group one gets the facts found from group two and vice versa. Without the drawing, only the written part. They then have to draw a new diagram based on those words. Finally we compare the two diagrams to see where the facts founds were not sufficient and produced a different drawing.

But back to the discussion during NYYC JR. What is your opinion?
Should the PC always endorse or make a diagram?
Has a not endorsed diagram from one of the parties any standing in an appeal?
How consistent are you in a protest-hearing in drawing a diagram?


  1. Diagrams, facts and evidence.

    I suspect that NYYC may have been led into this discussion by the recent US Sailing Case 104 which discusses facts, inferences, conclusions and decisions

    Your quote from Bryan Willis on Evidence and the facts on 3 February 2008 is also very relevant.

    My view is:

    A diagram in a protest is evidence.

    A diagram prepared by the PC is probably facts found. Note my previous reservations about diagrams not necessarily showing all the facts or not showning all the facts accurately.

    If the PC agrees with the diagram in the protest it 'endorses' it and it becomes facts found.

    I don't think a PC needs to draw a diagram for every protest. For example non-Part 2 protests don't need diagrams. I can think of, for example, a simple Port/Stbd protest where a diagram would add nothing.

    Diagrams are best at illustrating complex layout issues like your Sybesloot case, or complex manouvre. The test is, perhaps, does the diagram save a thousand words?


  2. Had a little more of a think and a read about the necessity for the PC to produce a diagram.

    The PC should always prepare or endorse a diagram.

    RRS F2.2(b) says in an appeal the Appellant must produce a diagram prepared or endorsed by the PC ... and lists what the diagram must contain.


  3. In principle I agree with your assessment. However I've made diagrams for protest only after receiving a request for comments from the appeals committee. Does that not fulfill the requirements of F2.2(b)?

  4. I thought you were the one encouraging us to make diagrams whenever possible?

    I must confess, that in Sydney diagrams are often not made (probably because we're not that good with TSS).

    If you don't make a diagram until 'requested' by the Appeal authority, doesn't that mean that you have to reconvene another meeting of the PC?


  5. Perhaps I´ve been a little unclear. I was trying to convey that the reason the PC should make a diagram, should not be because they think it´s needed for an appeal.
    I am a great fan of making diagrams, but for other reasons.

    As for reconvening, I live in a very small country, remember. Besides E-mail works fine...


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