Monday, 13 April 2009

LTW Readers Q&A | 23 - Redressing

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.


  1. Could the second protest committee have granted redress, effectively altering the initial decision?
  2. Should they have sent it back to the first protest committee?
  3. Is there some other process by which the second protest committee could have achieved a result fair to all?
  4. 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?

Rob Ware


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:

  1. Yes, the second PC could have granted redress if they decided that the first decision was not the most fair to all boats.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

  4. 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!



  1. What would be the procedure when instead of the race committee making the request for redress the boat that had finished second had made the request for redress?

    Would the boat that had finished first then have been able to request redress on the PC decision? In which case could any new PC committee could hear that request?

    Also. when a race committee makes a request for redress for a boat(s) who is the party? The race committee or the boat(s) the race committee is making the request for? And, who gets to sit in for the complete hearing and who is only a witness, the RC or the boats the RC says were affected?

  2. There is a fundamental flaw in this. In granting redress, a PC must abide by all the other rules and regulations. It can not simply ignore rules whether it thinks them unfair or inconvenient or otherwise.

    One such circumstance is the notified time of start. There is no provision in the rules for a race committee to make verbal amendments to the notice of race (re starting times). The race committee has powers and procedures to postpone, resail, or abandon a race. It has no powers to start a race early.

    Clearly, the race should have been abandoned. Abandonment would have been fair to all competitors in the race as all competitiors would then have been treated equally.


  3. criteria is the plural of criterion.

  4. This is a new request for redress. Procedurally it is nothing like a reopening, although the RC should, of course, have applied the principle of having as many of the original PC on the new PC as possible.

    I can't see anything wrong with average points here. It's the last race of the series, so the sample size is as as good as it is going to get. The 'sailed result' has all the objections that the boat requesting redress pointed out. I reckon there's a reason rule A10 gives examples of average points in order: that's because, it's a good way to give redress.

    Dick, before the RC requested redress for the late starter, first and second were quite happy with their results and the late starter was last. It was the boat that was displaced into second place by the first redress decision that made the second redress request.

    Suppose the late starter, having been reduced from first to average points by the second redress was aggrieved and wanted to lodge a third request for redress: she is at liberty to do so if her grounds is that the second PC made an improper action: she was not a party to either the first or second hearing: she was granted redress, but she did not request redress (definition of Party). Desirably the same protest committee should hear all the redresses, but there is no improper action if this does not happen.

    Where a RC requests redress under rule 62.1(a) for its own improper action the RC is a party, otherwise there is no party. See Definition of Party. Only parties stay for the whole hearing.

  5. I think most questions have been answered.
    Sometimes you just cannot alter the results so they have to stand.
    Here I would have considered an alternative.
    I would not have altered the results of the boats that sailed correctly, and would have slotted the other finisher in without changing the other results.
    This would have led to there being two first places here but all the other boats would have retained their places, this could have had a beneficial effect on the overall results problem.

  6. I would suggest you look to the minimum required safety equipment. The Long Island Sound Yacht Racing Assocation generally requires VHF Radio under the Minimum Equipment Recommendations of the YRALIS. The fact that the first PC permitted the late start seems to ignore such a requirement (if one existed for the event).

  7. Dennis,

    I think you misunderstand the way redress works.

    In this case, all but one boat have started together and had a fair race. They should not be denied the results of their racing by abandonment.

    The Judges Manual, page 50 tells us that abandonment is a last resort, and that where only a few boats deserve merit it is 'rarely the most equitable solution'.

    The Protest Committee's role is to grant redress to the boat deserving it, not punish and embarrass the Race Committee for its admitted mistake, particularly where abandoning would deprive the other competitors of their earned results.

    Bear in mind that abandonment, while equal to all competitors, may be unfair to particular competitors, for example by reducing the number of completed races, thus affecting discards, by depriving a competitor of a result needed for selection or another pointscore, or in a long series, by depriving boats that started of their deserved advantage over boats that did not compete.

    By the way, I agree with Mike B that adjusting the scores of all boats into second, third and so on was a poor, or even improper decision of the first protest committee. When giving a boat redress stick with rule A6.2 and leave the original results alone.

    Abandon only as a last resort!


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