The aim of this series is to practice judges' skills in writing Facts Found, Conclusions and Rules Applicable, and Decisions as required by rule 65.1.
These are not intended to be 'difficult' rules problems: concentrate on the writing skills. You are not expected to 'discuss' the rules or the scenarios, or enter into 'what-if' considerations. I suggest you write against the clock, and include a note of your time taken when you post your answers on LTW, to compare with others.
You are the scribe for the protest committee of the LTW Yacht Club, which races in Port Liberty Roads. You have received the written protest as shown, decided it is valid, and have heard both parties and witnesses as shown. Write Facts Found, Conclusions and Rules Applicable, and the Decision for this protest.
Please post your effort on LTW, for us all to share and learn. Don't be shy.
Written Protest -
1234 Amsterdam Avenger v 5678 Berlin Bandit
The parties' descriptions of the starting point of the incident agreed with the protest form diagram. The parties agreed that they were both doing about 6.5 knots.
Amsterdam Avenger's Description of the Incident
When we were about 2 lengths from Berlin Bandit I hailed 'starboard'. Seeing no response, I hailed 'starboard' again.
When we were half a boat length from Berlin Bandit we were pointing at their midships. I assessed that Berlin Bandit was not keeping clear and called 'ease main', and bore away to pass Berlin Bandit's stern.
We passed about 1m astern of Berlin Bandit, hailed 'protest' flew our red flag and resumed our close hauled course.
Berlin Bandit's Questions to Amsterdam Avenger
Q: Don't you think you passed 5m or more astern of us because you're not a confident helmsman and wanted to give us a wide berth.
A: No, we were only 1m away because I felt my boat Amsterdam Avenger react to your stern wave.
Berlin Bandit's Description of the Incident
When we were about 2 lengths from Amsterdam Avenger I heard them hail 'starboard'. I assessed that we would pass ahead of Amsterdam Avenger and held my course.
I then heard a further hail and continued to hold my course.
Amsterdam Avenger then did a massive unnecessary bear away and passed at least 5m astern of me.
Amsterdam Avenger is a well known 'nervous nellie' and could have safely passed astern of me if he had held his course.
Amsterdam Avenger's Questions to Berlin Bandit
Q: Is it possible you are exaggerating when you say Amsterdam Avenger did a 'massive' bear-away?
Q: How do you maintain good boat speed when sailing to windward?
A: By concentrating on the headsail luff, inclination, and mast-mounted knot-meter (speed indicator).
Q: What is your steering position on Berlin Bandit?
A: Standing up behind the wheel.
Q: If you were standing up behind the wheel, concentrating on your headsail and speed indicator in front of you, how could you see how far behind you Amsterdam Avenger passed?
A: I just sort of felt it.
Amsterdam Avenger's witness evidence
I was trimming the mainsheet on Amsterdam Avenger, sitting on the windward deck beside the wheel.
I heard the skipper say 'Berlin Bandit is coming on port and is close'. I then heard the skipper hail 'starboard'. I could not then see Berlin Bandit because of the headsail.
I heard the skipper say, 'if we duck, we'll duck close, one trimmer down for the duck', then he hailed 'starboard' again.
I then saw Berlin Bandit's bow around the headsail, about half a boat length away.
Then the skipper called 'ease main', I eased the mainsheet, and we did a controlled fast bear-away passing about 1m behind Berlin Bandit's stern.
Berlin Bandit's Questions to Amsterdam Avenger's Witness
Q: What made you think we were at risk of collision?
A: When I first saw Berlin Bandit's bow around our headsail, half a boat length away, I realized that in the time it would take us to travel half a boat length, Berlin Bandit could not travel any more than half a boat length, and thus could not pass clear ahead of us.
Q: Isn't it true that you set up and began to bear away about two boat lengths away when your skipper hailed starboard the first time?
Berlin Bandit's Witnesses
Berlin Bandit had no witnesses.
Protest Committee's Assessment of the Evidence
Your fellow protest committee members agreed that Amsterdam Avenger's evidence, particularly where corroborated by Amsterdam Avenger's witness was preferable to Berlin Bandit's evidence.
They also agreed that Berlin Bandit's opinion, that Amsterdam Avenger's bear away was 'massive' and 'unnecessary' and that Amsterdam Avenger is an excessively conservative skipper, was not supported by the evidence and was of little worth.