The regatta was relatively small with about 200 competitors from 19 countries, sailing on two courses. The atmosphere was very relaxed and the behavior of the fleet quite good, with a relatively small number of rule 42 penalties and only five protests.
Moving the regatta to December to avoid a clash with Miami - but outside the traditional holiday period in Australia - has been a bit of challenge for the organizers and made it a little more difficult to get the vast number of volunteers required to run such an event. However, from what I have seen, they have succeeded and things are running quite smoothly. Importantly, the feed-back from the sailors is very positive as it fits quite nicely with other regattas.
We didn’t have anything very challenging in the rules area but did have a lively discussion on the last day when a competitor wanted to withdraw a protest. The incident was a rule 18 issue at the last leeward mark – which I happened to see. One Radial was on port and the other on starboard, a lot of shouting and a small bump as the boats rounded the mark. A protest was lodged within the time limit.
The protestor later came to the room and asked to withdraw the protest because there was no benefit to her as the other boat would drop this and the overall result would not change between them. There was no suggestion of parents being involved or coercion, threats or bullying. The sailors were mature age (? 20’s).
The jury then deliberated on whether or not to allow the protest to be withdrawn – the two sides of the argument being as follows:
- The protest should be heard as there had obviously been a breach of the rules and someone needed to be penalized for it.
- The protestor should be allowed to withdraw the protest as there was no coercion, threats, bullying or other bad behavior, no damage and the (alleged) breach did not effect the overall results. The protestor felt it did not serve any useful purpose.
I had this discussion in several jurys and think it's a good idea to draft some sort of policy on this issue; When do we allow a protest to be withdrawn? I'll have a look in my files, to see if I can find my previous criteria. In the meantime please give us your opinion....