or - When to apply the basic principle? -
Guest Post by Luis Leal de Faria
Here is a thought that I would like to share with you and your readers:
In the same report that you mention in your post "Informing the boat within the time limit?" (06 September 2008), there is another issue which for me, is of utmost importance: just at the first paragraph we can read "There was concern about the extent to which sailors; particularly in the 420 class were knowingly infringing rule 31.2, and part 2 rules without taking penalties".
One may say that society is no longer as it was, sailors behavior is no longer as it was and all that bla bla, but it is my opinion that we, judges, mainly international judges, share a great deal of responsibility in that situation.
the Basic Principle "Sportsmanship and the Rules"
From the very first time that I was a member of an International Jury, at that time only as a national judge, I was surprised to see how reluctant judges are in applying the appropriate rules and penalties to boats who, being aware of having broken a rule, did nothing about it. Formerly there was Fundamental Rule D, now we have the Basic Principle "Sportsmanship and the Rules" and rule 2. The result in infringing either former Fundamental Rule D or current rule 2 is the same: DNE (formerly DND).
However, very seldom I see these rules applied. Also very seldom I hear the question "why didn't you take a penalty or retire?" or "did you know that you broke a rule?". More surprisingly to me, also very seldom a penalty of DNE is applied, even after the Jury knows that the competitor was aware of having broken a rule. It is also very rare that I hear any mention of the Basic Principle, the very first rule in the rulebook. However, it is not so uncommon to hear judges complaining of this sort of behavior from sailors.
As a competitor, I once protested a boat for breaking a basic rule (then rule 36, now rule10) and, both in the protest form and at the hearing, I mentioned the infringement of Fundamental Rule D. The protestee acknowledged being aware of the infringement at the time of the incident and not having taken a penalty nor retired, but even though the protest committee did not apply Fundamental Rule D.
Apply rule 2 more often....
If Protest Committees and, mainly International Juries, who are supposed to apply and enforce the rules above everybody else in the sport, do not apply them, why would the sailors care to apply them? It is my strong belief that if we, judges, would apply rule 2 more often to competitors who, being aware of having broken a rule, did not take a penalty nor retired from the race, certainly that sort of attitude would be discouraged and much less common. Sailing would certainly benefit from that.
Your comments are invited.