Rob Ware from Australia send in a Q&A about a request for redress and how to arrive at redress which is fair to all boats.
At the start of an IRC keelboat race, the race officer decided to start the race early as it looked like the wind would die later in the afternoon and so he made an announcement to that effect on the radio. With the exception of one boat, the fleet heard the call over the radio, and started.
One boat, without a radio, did not hear the announcement and arrived at the starting area only to see the fleet already racing, about 10 min up the track in very light air. In an effort to recover from their error, the race committee told the boat to start and took his time across the starting line and, later, at the finishing line. The finishing times of the rest of the fleet were recorded in the normal way.
After the race, the race committee lodged a request for redress on behalf of the 'late starter'.
Redress Hearing No 1.
The protest committee granted redress which was to give the boats - including the late starter, their actual elapsed times, corrected in accordance with their respective TCF's.
As it happened, this gave the late starter a result some 4 minutes ahead of the next boat on corrected time. As a result, he won the race, the final race in the series, and this, in turn, critically altered the overall score of other boats in the race and the series.
Redress Hearing No 2.
The boat displaced from first place in the series, lodged a request for redress, claiming that the protest committee did not properly consider the fairness to all of the competitors.
His argument was that the late starter benefited unfairly from a number of factors including; he effectively got a 'perfect' start; he sailed the whole race in clear air and without interference from other competitors; the bulk of the fleet languished in a 'soft patch' whilst the late starter had a better breeze and, finally, there was a significant wind shift after the start with benefited the late starter.
This was all backed up with wind readings from a nearby weather station, statistics on boat performance, etc. This request for redress was heard by protest committee made up of different people.
The protest committee declined the request for redress on the basis that they could not do anything to correct or overturn the decision of the first protest committee.
- Could the second protest committee have granted redress, effectively altering the initial decision?
- Should they have sent it back to the first protest committee?
- Is there some other process by which the second protest committee could have achieved a result fair to all?
- If you were to accept that the first decision was not fair to all competitors, what redress could be given that more closely meet this criteria?
Well Rob, your questions are about the hardest part of requests for redress. How to get a solution which is most fair (to all boats). The rulebook has only a few guidelines on this subject, the manuals a few more. But because many requests are very unique the solution isn’t a matter of checking off a few suppositions and arriving at a proper compensation.
Let me first try to answer your questions:
- Yes, the second PC could have granted redress if they decided that the first decision was not the most fair to all boats.
- Technically it is a new request, not a reopening. The request cannot be made by one of the original parties (one of the changes in RRS 2009-2012) but in effect it will be handled as a reopening. For a reopening the rules state that, a majority of the members of the protest committee, if possible, be members of the original protest committee. A second PC is not required to send it back. I would however try to get as many members of the original PC involved, as possible.
- Other process? No. The 2nd PC has the same options as the first, they can ask anybody or any source to help them. Rule 64.2 specifically states:
“When in doubt about the facts or probable results of any arrangement for the race or series, especially before abandoning the race, the protest committee shall take evidence from appropriate sources.”
If that means asking all boats in the fleet to give their opinion, the PC can do that.
- To absolutely meet a criteria which is ambiguous at best, cannot be done. You can arrive at an approximation, but even then some will be unhappy with the solution. The solution the first PC arrived at, may lack in certain respects, but it at least has the pro that it is a ‘sailed’ result. Not a calculated one from averages.
Perhaps a little more weight should have been given to the fact that the result had such a big impact on the overall score. Like in ISAF Q&A 2007-001, where the redress granted scored the boat in overall first place.
Robert, I can’t give you a clear cut solution. That’s why a PC is made up off more then one person. To get a balance of what is fair. If they also take the time in asking appropriate sources for their evidence and opinion, they have done their job.
By the way, I applaud the quick thinking and the initiative of the Race Committee to request redress in this case. They may have made a mistake, but they did their very best to fix that. Kudos to them!