Friday, 5 June 2009

Fact Finding Friday |014 Driftwood v Elver

From “The Room” by Brass


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.

Hearing and Evidence

You are the scribe for the protest committee of the LTW Yacht Club, which races in Port Liberty Roads. You have received a written protest, and have heard both parties and witnesses as shown.

Protest Form

The protest form is as shown.

P Driftwood v Elver

The Hearing

Elver having been given proper notice by the Race Committee, did not attend the hearing.

Driftwood's Description of the Incident

I was steering Driftwood. I observed that Elver did not round the Liberty Point Mark as required by the Sailing Instructions.
When we next came within hail, I hailed 'Protest, you did not round the Point Liberty Mark'.
Elver gave no response.

Protest Committee's Questions to Driftwood

Q. Did you display a red flag?
A. No. I do not own a red flag..

Protest Committee's Assessment of the Evidence

Your fellow protest committee members agree that this should be a really easy protest to write up and suggest that you can do it in record time, but remind you that protestors can be really sensitive in cases like this, so don't make any mistakes..


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.


  1. Facts Found:

    1) Elver (E) was observed by Driftwood (D) to have not correctly rounded the Liberty Point Mark.

    2) D did not display a Red Flag at any time.

    3) D hailed E at the next opportunity announcing she was protesting.


    The protest is disallowed because rule 61.1.a requires that the protesting boat perform two things "at the first reasonable opportunity for each.":

    First, that the protesting boat (D) hail the offending boat (E) at the "first reasonable opportunity", which D did.

    Second, that the protesting boat (D) fly a Red Flag at the "first resonable opportunity", which she did not.

    D did not fulfill the requirements of Rule 61.1.a.

    Protest disallowed

  2. Opps, I forgot one fact (or rather the lack of an ability to confirm or deny a fact.)

    If Elver is smaller than 6 meters in length, then Driftwood's protest is valid as she is exempt from displaying a Red Flag under Rule 61.1.a.2


  3. Oops, I forgot to put it in the question Elver is a 10m keelboat.

    Well spotted Beau.

  4. Facts found

    1. E was given notice of the hearing but no representative attended on her behalf.
    2. D has a length of 10 meters.
    3. D did not display a protest flag.


    Protest invalid

    Rules applicable

    61.1(a), 63.3(b), 63.5.


    Protest invalid

    Time taken: 3 minutes

  5. Facts Found.
    1. Elver does not attend the protest hearing.
    2. Driftwood was beyond hailing distance and did not hail “Protest” to Elver at the time of the incident.
    3. Driftwood informed Elver that it was intending to protest Elver by hailing “Protest, you did not round the Liberty Point Mark”, at the first reasonable opportunity.
    4. Driftwood did not display a red flag.

    1. Elver was given proper notice by the race committee that Elver wss being protested for failing to round the Liberty Point Mark.
    2. Elver’s's hull length was 6 metres or more and Driftwood did not conspicuously display a red flag at the first reasonable opportunity per rule 61.1(a).

    1. The protest is invalid; the hearing is closed per rule 63.5.

    Time to review the facts and applicable rules, 5 minutes.
    Time to think about and look for the mistake I was going to make by not being sensitive to poor Driftwood's feelings. 12 minutes.
    Time to write the facts, conclusions and decision using the "Protest Wording Spreadsheet", 9 minutes.
    Total time, 26 minutes.

  6. I have a question regaring the "Protest Wordings" spreadsheet I am using in the Fact Finding Friday exercises.

    Who created it and how would we find out if there is an update to a version 10 in the future?

  7. About the protest wordings spreadsheet.

    I've found that it's best not copy their conclusions into my answers. If you do that, you will get stuck when you face a situation that isn't covered.

    I have found that it's best to use the spreadsheet as a guide for learning to write my own conclusions. You can see how the authors have taken a rule, and then rewritten the ingrediants in a way that makes it clear how the rule has been applied.

  8. There is another question required by the Protest Committee in order to solve this case properly: Was Driftwood racing at the moment of the incident Elver?

    If she was racing, them the protest is invalid.

    If she was not racing, them the protest is valid (for example, she has finished and cleared the finishing line and marks).

    The reason is that Elver does not break rule 28.1 until she finishes. Driftwood does not need to display a red flag in order to comply with rule 61.1 if she is no longer racing, and Elver was beyond hailing distance at the moment of the incident. The protesting boat need not to hail but she shall inform the other boat at the first reasonable opportunity, which she did.

  9. Dick and John G - Protest Conclusion Wordings Background

    Background to the protest conclusion wordings project is here:
    Protest Conclusions and Decision Wording 2009

    I understand that one of the original movers was Pat Healy, and Jos and others then took it up.

    I upgraded the English version for the 2009-2012 RRS, and it is currently with the European collaborators for translation.

    It has some limitations: because it is a simple spreadsheet, it has limited 'intelligence'. It can only deal with one rule at a time, and as I have discovered in writing solutions for FF Friday, with a few exceptions, it is no good for generating conclusions about rules that are _not_ broken.

    Bear in mind that the RRS are usually designed to be applied only between two boats at a time, so the wordings tool does not provide conclusions for multi-boat situations: in that case, write conclusions for each pair of boats.

    John G: could you indicate more fully how you have experienced situations that are not covered?

    All feedback for the project will be gratefully accepted.

  10. Brass

    To be honest, I have experienced very few judging situations altogether, as I only started judging at the beginning of this year.

    The situations I was thinking of where some of those we have encountered in the FFF series, such as when no rule was broken. I suppose that the speadsheet would also fail to cover decisions made under the Col Regs, which sailors can now protest each other for.

    It just seems to me that a tool like the spreadsheet should be used to help us to think better, rather than take away part of the thinking process - which would happen if we just copy what it says rather than taking our conclusions from the rule. This would make it harder to do the reverse engineering process you talk about, without predetermining the outcome.

    My apologies to Jos if this has been sent twice, but when I tried to send it before I got a notice that "The server can not process your request. Operation aborted." I think the firewall is reacting with the UK-HALSEY gadget.

  11. JOhn G - Protest Conclusion Wording Tool

    Thank you for your constructive feedback. I think you may have misunderstood the purpose of the Protest Conclusion Wording Tool.

    It is _not_ intended as an analytical or decision support tool. Judges need to develop and use other techniques and their own logical analysis for this.

    Rather the spreadsheet is intended for use _after_ the protest committee has decided which rules a boat has broken, to write the appropriate conclusions and decisions quickly, concisely and in a consistent style. By using cut and paste, it can help those of us whose typing skills are not all that fast.

    One of the problems many judges experience is what goes into Facts Found and what goes into Conclusions: if you use the standard conclusions wordings, then it is easy to see how all other inferences and deductions belong in Facts Found.

    I certainly agree that the tool has its shortcomings, as you have described, but I think the experience of judges who have used it over several years indicates that it covers a significant majority of protest decisions that are usually experienced.

    BTW, the red error message that sometimes comes up when posting replies in LTW does no harm, it seems to be a glitch in the blogger software. If you see it, just click on Post Comment or Preview again and eventually a single copy of the message will get through.


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