Monday, 21 April 2008

Umpire Call (8) and RRS 2

I received a mail analyzing Umpire Call (8) and MOB revisited from Brass. Because I think this is a good contribution to our discussion, I've posted his mail below:


Shown below are some responses I wrote to Umpire Call 8. My comments on sportsmanship are also relevant to Fair Play and RRS 2. Perhaps a renewed thread on RRS 2 might be good?

Looking at Jos' later post, 10 foot waves, I agree that Y was 'rescuing', the mob who is 'in danger', so rule 21 applies.

My understanding has always been that rule 21 switches off all Part 2 obligations for the boat concerned, so if rule 21 applies Y is not obliged to keep clear of B.

Mike B or anyone else: can you cite a case to the contrary?
I think Adrian is right: Green.

What is B's obligation under rule 21? It is NOT to 'keep clear' of Y. It is to 'avoid' Y. B changed course and did not contact Y, therefore B 'avoided' Y. B did not break rule 21. Perhaps if the umpires formed a view that it was 'only by a miracle' that B did not contact Y or injure the mob, then I could be persuaded that she had not avoided and had broken rule 21.
Jos saw it: was it that bad?

I always get the shivers when people start talking rules 2/69. These are 'thought-crime' rules. We have spent many years developing the RRS so that they depend as much as possible on observable behavior, not on inferred mental states.

Generally rules penalise boats for what they do, not what they were thinking, regardless whether the action is due to bad seamanship, lack of knowledge of the rules, or misjudgment. I think Pat starts down the right path by saying that rule 2 does not come into play unless "[Blue's] actions were flagrant and deliberate". I think we need to go a bit further than
that: we need to be able to show that some action, even though it may have broken a rule, been unwise, put another competitor at a disadvantage or whatever, broke those unwritten "recognised principles of sportsmanship and fair play" that RRS 2 calls up.

Note, by the way, that umpires are not permitted to penalise a boat for breaking rule 2 (RRS C8.4) Umpires act against 'breach of sportsmanship' under RRS C8.3.

In particular, if a boat acts while genuinely believing that she is entitled to act that way under the RRS, then I don't think that she has broken the principles of sportsmanship and fair play. It is a recognised principle of sportsmanship and fair play in sailing that a boat may exploit the rules. In fact that is what Match Racing is all about.

While a boat that races without knowing the rules, and breaks Part 2 rules because she couldn't be bothered trying to learn them is a good candidate for rule 2, You can't say that not knowing or not correctly applying a fairly obscure rule like rule 21 directly implies a breach of sportsmanship.

In this case, if B luffed up on Y because B failed to appreciate that rule 21 applied and believed that she was entitled to attack Y under rule 11, then I can't see any breach of sportsmanship.

If the umpires saw something to show them that B was trying to do something unsporting, such as trying to scare the crew of Y, or injure the mob or some other crew, then, of course they should be reaching for the black flag, but I think that you have to have positive evidence of a breach of sportsmanship that you can put into words (at least afterwards). As an umpire (or judge) You CAN'T, in my opinion, argue that a boat did something, and that you do not know of any other reason or excuse, therefore you conclude that their intention was unsporting.

I don't agree with Pat's suggestion that the effect of rule 47.2 is that Y is somehow not 'racing'. The last words of rule 47.2 are 'continues in the race', NOT 'continues _to_ race'. I understand 'continues' here to mean 'continues along the race course', not 'continues in the state of racing'.

I also disagree with Pat when he says "Further, if Yellow is forced by Blue's aggressive actions into evasive maneuvers and must interrupt rescue efforts, that is evidence that Blue is violating RRS 2." See my argument above: if B genuinely thinks that she is entitled to attack Y, there is no breach of sportsmanship, and you cannot validly deduce B's state of mind by her aggressive actions alone.

I don't agree that B may have broken rule 1.1. You just can't turn an obligation to give help into an obligation not to hinder. Jos, do you have a case on this?

I can't generally agree with 'Safety First' See rule 4. There is no rule that requires 'safe sailing'. We're umpires, not seagoing safety officers.

Coming to Mike's comments:

I cannot imagine how Y could have "had a man overboard to enable her to gain an advantage over blue" - Mike, can you describe a scenario? - then penalize yellow. RRS 2

Mike is not correct to say "If Yellow had a man overboard otherwise than by accident then penalize yellow RRS 47.2"

Firstly, I think it is always a reasonable presumption that a mob has left unintentionally. Rule 47.2 also allows a person to leave to swim. Doubtless the mob was swimming. Once again we are venturing into the difficult area of 'thought crime': What evidence can the umpires possibly have about the mob's intentions?

Secondly, umpires can't penalise for breaking rule 47 (rule C8.4)

Mike raises an interesting point when he says "[Yellow] is in breach of RRS 11 and can only be exonerated under RRS 64.1(b) this refers to another boat compelling her to break a rule. No other boat compelled her to break a rule and thus she cannot be exonerated.

This analysis of rule 64 makes sense to me, but In light of my comment at the head of this post, that rule 21 should be taken to switch off other Part 2 obligations, I don't think we need to go there.



I myself was not one of the umpires for this incident, but it happened in Calpe and the circumstances where 10 foot waves and half a meter distance. The discussion in Umpire team afterwards was about these issues.

RRS 1.1 states that a boat or competitor SHALL give all possible help to any person or vessel in danger. That certainly means it shouldn't engage when a boat is recovering a mob, in my opinion. From case 20: "A boat in a position to help another that may be in danger is bound to do so."
I think there's also an appeal case were a boat didn't stand by, when another was in danger, but continued racing. She was then disqualified for breaking rule 1.1. I'll try to find it.

I don't think rule 21 switches off any obligations of part 2. If a boat capsizes it may be physically impossible to keep clear and therefore she's not penalized, but if she does nothing - not even when she's able to - she might. Rescue comes first, the whole rulebook is off - including 42 - when that is needed. But if a starboard tack boat hits a port tack boat, which is capsized, she might be breaking rule 21, but the other is still breaking rule 10.

Brass' analysis is correct in stating that it is very hard to determine intention of the blue boat. Was she or was she not aware of the Yellow's mob and the danger she put him in?
I rather err on the side of caution in this one....

1 comment:

  1. I had a quick look at the posts.

    If I were windward boat and part 2 was off if RRS 21 applied, if I were luffed I would have a crew member go over the side to create RRs21 rights. This puts a coach and horses through the rules.

    You would have to be brave to black flag me for breach or sportsmanship.

    I can find no case that giving RRS 21 precedence and in the UK RYA 1990/6 says Rule 18. a section c rule, still applies when rule 21 applies. perhaps and Idea to the contrary of that suggested.

    To get me in the scenario above, RRS 47 because the crew intentionally left for a reason other than to swim.

    Do not forget last year a jury disqualified a boat for having a crew go overboard to cut a rope off the keel. Yes he was swimming but the intention was to cut the rope. I think we all consider this as badly decided, but it is there.

    DSQ the windward boat.

    Mike B


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