Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Finishing Second?

Some comments have been written on Finishing Third? Before I give you my opinion on the issue, I have something for you to consider:

In one of the qualification races the fleet is split into two groups, which start with a five minute interval. At the finish of the first race a boat in the first group hits the "pin-end"-mark of the finish line and drags it behind it's rudder some 30 - 40 meters downwind, before she manages to get it released.

The RO tells the mark boat to get the finish mark back to it's original position, as soon as group one are all finished and before group two get too close. The mark boat DOES NOT manage this due to miscommunication and the mark is left in it's altered place. The first three boats of group two are about one hundred meters from the finish, with two boats at the committee-boat side and one at the left side.

The first one (Yellow) finishes at the committee boat side and 40 seconds later the second (Green), finishes at the pin-end side. The third (Blue), crossing the line at the committee boat side, another 10 seconds later.

Blue request redress, claiming she would have finished second if the mark was put back in it's proper position. She states on her request form: "According to rule 34, the PC has to replace a mark in its correct position, if its missing or out of position"

Does this change your view on the issue in the first post?

How would you decide on this request for redress?


  1. Dear Jos,
    This new case does not change my view on the issue in the first post. Because it is another situation. Do not mix situations. When you do this, the discussion is endless. I hate when’s, ifs, presumes, thinking a boat could/can shall/should do, in other cases this happened, my experience at another regatta, this case remem-bers me, and so on. That is something for rule scientists (I am not) and has most of the time nothing to do with the practice of yacht racing. You must approach every case as an isolated case – who thinks “ah, it is the same case we had dur-ing this or that championship”, is not a good PC-member – and the job of a pro-test committee is to establish the facts and apply the rule(s). That is it. When you do not, look at the football arbiters, who have their own interpretations and do not stick to the rules: result anarchy. Protest committee members must realize that they have minimum power, the rule book is all-powerful, and the pc-members are no more than executives.
    A part of the fun of yacht racing is to discus situations on the water without the knowledge of the exact rules or ignoring them. Endless bar talk and no one was wrong in a particular situation. Everybody happy: have another beer. Rule ex-perts are not popular in such a party; with the rule book in their hands they can stop the discussion in no time. So they must stay away, have their own fun with their colleagues.
    A way to spin out a serious discussion is quoting a rule incomplete, as you did Jos. Rule 34 does not read “… the PC has to replace a mark in its correct posi-tion, if it’s missing or out of position". PC must be RC, but that is not important, more relevant is that you delete the words “if possible”. The whole rule is: “If a mark is missing or out of position, the race committee shall, if possible, (a) re-place it in its correct position or substitute a new one of similar appearance, or (b) substitute an object displaying flag M and make repetitive sound signals.
    So, now your case is very easy to decide. When both options were not possible, Blue cannot complain. When one of the options was possible, and Blue is harmed by the fact the RC did nothing, the RC is in trouble.

    Now something different. When can we read your comment on the first post? And I’m still waiting for your view on “the Y-flag in the water picked up by an arbiter boat.” I do not know you, but I think you are such a nice guy that you want to avoid to say that somebody is in the wrong, what you do when you give your opinion. And sure some of the commentators are afraid to be presented as somebody who is in the wrong. That is why they do not sign with their (full) name. But do not forget Jos, when running a blog like you do, you must be a part of the discussion. You cannot put a case or a question on the table and sit aside waiting and looking what happens.

    Anyhow, go on with your blog. I like to read it. And it inspires me to think about rule basics. For instance: it is crazy that a sport for young people has such com-plicated rules that it needs high trained rule academics to run the races. There is a big (still growing) distance between the sailors and the race committees, which is not good for the sport. And: seldom the PC can make good the mistakes of RC with the result that there is an impulse to defend the RC, sometimes against bet-ter judgment. And another pet subject: the wording of the rules is so British. And that is very wrong. The ISAF has 121 member nations, most of them not English speaking. So they have their own interpretations and translating. Take i.e. the silly word “protest” (even in the Oxford Dictionary you cannot find the meaning the rules book uses), has the inventor of that word ever thought what that people has in mind reading this word in different countries? The ISAF wants to make yacht racing more popular to follow in newspapers, on the radio and TV. Well, no journalist understands the procedure of “protesting” not to say the newspaper readers. And every sailor ought to know you cannot protest the holy of holies race committee. You can (cap in hand) ask redress (although you need a protest form for that). Let’s make it unnecessary complicated, so the rules scientists have an item and a subject for articles. Is it a surprise that the sailors are not interested in the rules and have their own brief summaries?
    I’m very interested in your comments.
    Adriaan Pels.

  2. RRS 34 says: The RC shall, if possible , replace or substitute the mark.

    So no improper action of the RC, no redress. Blue took a chance and it didn't work out. Tough luck.

    This, and the parallel case posted previously is a good example of why we ought to consider seriously restricting the possibilities of granting redress. All too often PCs try to "put things right" by correcting one mistake and making another. And 1 mistake + 1 mistake = 2 mistakes - not 0 mistakes.

    In the specific case, the race officer should have decided whether he could get the pin back in place before the approaching boats made tactical decisions based on the skewed finishing line. If yes, move the pin, if no leave it where it is. As a sailor, that's what I would prefer.

  3. When I first started sailing, the rules were different on my side of the pond than yours. Now we have improved and consolidated the rules so we have one set world wide. The obvious principal that is being followed in these changes is to remove as much Protest and Hearing as possible. This blog has discussed some of the refinements that are necessary to keep improving our sport. One of the ways that the rules committee has used to keep the literal interpretation of the rule from changing their intent is to insert words like, if possible.

    If possible, to me, means that all mistakes by the race committee are not a reason for granting redress simply because things would have been different had they not been made. The test for redress needs to be that the action caused the scoring change. In both of these similar but different situations, the sailors had time to respond to the problem created by the mark being moved, and in the first, most of the way back.

    The mistake by the RC did change the course a little, but it did it the same for all the boats involved. It did it soon enough for all to respond equally. No redress.

  4. According to the diagram, the new finishing mark during finish of group 2 brought an advantage to Green, because the new finishing mark is nearer than the original position for finishing mark for Green.
    As a result, the change of the pin-end mark brought a disadvantage to Blue. Blue’s score has been made significantly worse.
    There was an improper action by the race committee and Blue is the innocent victim of it.
    If the protest committee decide to give redress, Blue will take a point which is lower, 3rd place or the place based on the position of the last mark under rule A11(c). Therefore Blue’s score is not worse than 3rd place, that is, the 1st, 2nd or 3rd. And the positions of other boat's including Blue must not be adjusted.

    10 July 2008 06:39

  5. Sorry I carelessly made mistakes.
    And the positions of other boat's including Blue must not be adjusted.
    And the positions of other boat's including Green must not be adjusted.

  6. G noel demonstrates what I tried to make clear about personal interpretations and not sticking to the rules. “If possible, to me, means …”, wrote g noel. Does he really thinks it is good that, when we are talking about yacht racing rules, we discus what ‘if possible’ means in our individual eyes? With own interpretations you can make every argument true. And “… the sailors had time to respond to the problem …”, g noel wrote. Good answer, but where is the question? Not in this case or in the rule book. And "respond the problem", in time? in a fair way? who decides and on what grounds? Again a personal interpretation. As I said: we have to stick to the facts and the rules. And when you do this, this case is not very complicated.
    In general, realize that the rules are more than acceptable difficult without personal interpretations. And the gap in rule knowledge between the sailors and the race officers/pc-members is already too big. We are talking about a sport. How can competitors handle (varying) personal interpretations, not to speak of arbitrariness? Look at football, during Euro 2008 in some previews the habits and interpretations of the arbiter were a part of the talking. Crazy world.
    Last words: sailors must not hesitate to protest race committees, it’ll keep them alert.
    Adriaan Pels.

  7. Adriaan Pels comments about individual interpretation of the rules are well said. My qualifier "to me" did not refer to my opinion of what the rule should say, but to my understanding of what they do say. We are all limited by our understanding. That is why we are participating in this blog. A difference in understanding is the only legitimate reason to participate in the hearing process.

    As for my opinion, which I did not state, the only reason for the sailors to make the requests for redress in these two cases is to use the hearing process to improve their score beyond what skill got them on the race course. Yes, we can not make decisions on sentiments like this one. That is why I did not state it before.

    The rule says "if possible". "If possible" means 'if capable of occurring or happening'. The RC's best efforts to put on a fair race are not grounds for redress unless a boat was hindered by it. Making the decision to sail to the wrong end of the finish line is not ground for redress unless the line was moved after the ability to change the decision has occurred. The facts listed in this case did not indicate this.

  8. Dear g noel,
    I’m afraid we never come to an agreement.
    Concerning the first subparagraph. My knowledge of the English language is limited but when I understand it right my conclusion is that I should not be happy serving in a protest committee/jury with more people thinking like you. Endless, unnecessary and irrelevant discussions will be the result.
    Subparagraph two. Why the sailors make requests for redress is not relevant. They have the right to do and they do. And one cannot look in their minds to find out what their motives are. At least I cannot, may you can. And when it is relevant, protest committees can ask. But as I said, it is irrelevant.
    Subparagraph three. "If possible" means 'if capable of occurring or happening'. Where can I find this explanation in the rule book? Or somewhere else, in the Oxford Dictionary? Or is it one of your own interpretations. If not, it must be verifiable; one cannot rely on his authority as authority does not exist anymore these days. And you put in data to base your conclusion on which does not belong to the facts. “The RC's best efforts to put on a fair race are not grounds for redress unless a boat was hindered by it.” Again: good answer but where is the question? “Making the decision to sail to the wrong end of the finish line is not ground for redress, unless ….” I should say: “… is never ground for redress …”. Even when what comes after “unless” has happened. Moving the line is another item to consider.
    Stick to the facts. There was a finishing line, between a committee boat and a pinend mark, both somewhere in the water when the line came in sight when the boats where approaching the line. Green choose to finish near the pinend mark; Blue near the boat.
    In the first case the RC moved the pinend mark about twenty meters while Green was on the lay line to this mark and pretty close. An improper action of the RC. Green claimed he was harmed by it. It is up to the protest committee to decide whether he really was.
    In the second case Blue found out that the pinend mark was, through no fault of the RC, out of the position the RC had considered as the right position. And Blue claimed that the RC should have re-placed the mark in its correct position. Not doing this is an improper action, Blue claimed and it is up to the RC to counter this. When the RC does not succeed in this, then the protest committee must decide whether Blue was harmed by this.
    There are most of the time enough choices to make for protest committee members. There is no need for more as a result of personal interpretations, irrelevant data, and put ins as what competitors had in mind.
    Adriaan Pels

  9. Whether or not the RC has made an error is not the only criteria for giving redress.
    What about the "through no fault of her own" provision in the redress rule.
    Surely in each of these cases a boat has contributed to her final position by the choice of which side of the course, or which end of the finishing line, she is sailing towards. The RC did not arrange for the mark to be moved.

  10. Same two alternatives as discussed in Finishing Third.

    If PC is persuaded that, considering wind, sea conditions, and any other factors, that the RC did all it possibly could to reposition the mark, there is no improper action and no redress.

    In the second case, where PC concludes that RC did NOT do all it could:

    Conclusion: RC did not do all that was possible to replace or substitute the moved mark in accordance with rule 34.

    Blue's score has been made worse by this improper action of the RC.

    Relying on the diagram (presumably the PC's endorsed diagram), at Posn 2, Y was ahead of both G and B relative to the actual or the 'proper' position of the pin Y beats G and B no matter where the FL is. B crosses where the FL _should_ have been ahead of Y.

    Redress is granted as follows: B to be scored points for second place. Other boats' scores to remain unchanged.

    Rules 34, 62.1(a) 64.2, A10(c), A 6.2

    Exactly the same analysis as for Finishing Third.


  11. Dear Brass,
    I’m sorry but rule 34 don not read “that the RC have to do all it possibly she could to reposition the mark” or “all that was possible to replace …”. So the grounds of your comment are wrong. The rule says that the “… race committee shall (…) (a) replace it in its correct position …” with the extenuating circumstance “if possible”.
    If I may advise: stick to the rules. With personal interpretations you can discuss till the last day, especially when you put in wind and sea conditions (and what all more you can invent to consider).
    In cases 1 a fact is that de race committee tried to replace the mark in its correct position, but did not succeed. So it was not possible. The words “if possible” are there because otherwise the race committee can always be blamed when she does not succeed, whatever the circumstances are. But the job is: to replace the mark, and not to do all it possibly. Maybe the action on the water is the same, but in legal terms there is a big difference.
    In case 2 the race committee did nothing. Maybe because she realized that it was not possible. Maybe because she was just lazy. Maybe because … We do not know. When somebody is attacking the race committee for doing nothing, the RC shall have to counter it.
    Adriaan Pels.

  12. What I'm missing in all the comments is the third condition of getting redress: I'm referring to "the significantly worse" part.

    Even if you find that the RC omitted in not replacing the mark at it's right position, the worsening of the score in both posts is ONE place.

    That is not "significant" by a long shot in my opinion.

  13. Jos
    One has to bear in mind that redress may be that a boats score in a race OR SERIES has been made significantly worse.
    One place in a race may not appear significant but if this was the difference between winning or coming second in a championship it would I think be significant.

  14. Dear Jos,
    I join anonymous (although I hate the Anonymous family, but I’ll forget this for now and stick to his comment). We do not know all the facts. You say the difference is one place; but in fact we are talking about being second or third, maybe silver or bronze, who knows.
    And I do not like that you put in: “That (ONE place) is not "significant" by a long shot in my opinion”. Do you mean in general? Then the logical question is how many points are significant. Dangerous and undesirable discussion. It all depends on what the case is.
    And as I said before: seldom can a PC make good the mistakes of the RC. A consequence of giving redress is that the PC “… shall make as fair an arrangement as possible for all boats affected, …”. Most of the time it is an impossible job. So PC members come in seduction tot use the escape of ‘not significant’. I should be ashamed to do so. You admit that the RC made a mistake that gave a competitor a disadvantage and then you say: but your disadvantage is minor. And consider: it is the claim of the boat that his finishing place has been made significantly worse. The PC has to counter this when she does not agree. That is a special approach. In my opinion the start of good thinking is that the competitor has been disadvantaged, and a strong argument is that he was seeking redress. Only when you doubt, you can discus the matter. I feel slightly the tendency that this is an example of the habit of RC’s to do everything to exonerate her selves against better judgment. I hate this. RC and PC have the job to serve the competitors. The competitors are not there to give the RC and the PC the opportunity to show how good they are and to disguise their faults.

    An example of how significant an apparently trivial change in the scoring can be. It was during a world championship Mistral on Barbados. In this case the chairman of the PC made big mistakes reopening the hearing when a party was unavoidably absent at the original hearing, but that is another although very instructive matter. But now the case. A competitor did everything he could to win a protest and to end the series on the 48th place. Brought in trouble by his mistakes the chairman asked the man: what is the big deal of being 48 instead of 53 in the total scoring? Well, the man said: in my country (island) the Mistral-class is in a very young stage and the sports council has said we are going to recognize the class and give some money to raise the class, when I finish in the first fifty of the fleet. So you see, each case is different.
    Adriaan Pels.

  15. One place in a qualifying race is not significant.
    One place in the medal race giving you gold instead of silver is.

    Of course this makes all the difference. I was just trying to make the point, that it should be part of the discussion in the panel.

  16. I follow Jos' reasoning, and it is now apparent what he was trying to bring out in setting the problem.

    I have some problems with Jos' approach in considering whether the worsening of a boat's score is significant..

    No doubt Jos would be right in most cases where the PC knows that the race is a Qualification race, and that any redress granted will make no difference to whether or not the boat qualifies, but Adriaan has given an excellent example of where there may be some factor not immediately obvious to the PC that would affect whether the change of the score was 'significant' or not.

    As a general rule, when I sit on PCs we try to avoid paying much attention to the pointscores, so as to avoid being influenced by whether or not a redress is likely to have a 'significant' effect.

    Perhaps more significantly, we should look closely at rule 62.1.

    Rule 62.1 requires that a request for redress shall be based on a claim or possibility that a boat's score has been made significantly worse.

    Whether or not a boat's score has been made worse will nearly always be a simple matter of fact. Whether the worsening is significant is a matter of judgement. If the PC concludes that the boat's score has been made significantly worse, there is no problem, but if the PC is tending towards a conclusion that a boat's score has been made worse, but not significantly, the PC needs to be very careful. To close the gateway on the redress, the PC needs to decide that there is no possibility that the worsening of the boat's score was significant.

    In my experience, a PC will tend to take it for granted that a boat's score has been worsened, and consider the rule 62.1 issues in the following order:

    • whether there is an improper action (or one of the other things listed in in rule 62.1(a) to (d));

    • whether that improper action or other thing caused the boat's score to be worse;

    • whether the boat's score being worse was also caused by any fault of the boats;

    Only if and when the PC concludes that those criteria have been met will the PC turn its mind to how much the score has been made worse, and hence whether or not this may possibly be significant.

    In my opinion, once having decided that every criteria for granting redress has been met except for 'significance', it will probably be safer and more cost-effective for the PC to give redress than to deny redress on the grounds that the worsening could not possibly be significant. My reasons for this are:

    • all the hard work about fact finding, and what caused the worsening of the score has been done

    • having heard all the evidence, the requester will have had it demonstrated that there has been an improper action (or other qualifying cause)

    • not giving redress, is open the PC making a mistake about the possibility of the worsening of the score being significant;

    • the requester will feel a sense of injustice (particularly where the cause is an improper action), if no redress is granted: It seems pretty unfair to say: The RC made a mistake and caused you to lose a place but you cannot have this fixed because your loss was not significant enough.

    In my opinion, a decision to deny redress because an otherwise redressable worsening of a score was not significant could be overturned on appeal, but a decision to grant redress, on the possibility that the worsening may have been significant should be almost appeal-proof.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...