ISAF Q&A 2009-039 deals with a protest by the PC under rule 60.3(a)(2):
A protest committee may (a) protest a boat, (2) if during the hearing of a valid protest it learns that the boat, although not a party to the hearing, was involved in the incident and may have broken a rule;
What the Q&A is stating, is that although the PC may have not complied with all the validity requirements, its decision in the protest is still valid. As long as the PC does not change its decision, either by acting under rule 66, realising that it had made an error about the validity of the protest, or until the decision has been reversed or changed on appeal.
This is on of the reasons sometimes sailors get very frustrated. They feel that they have a legitimate claim that an error has been made, but still the PC will not 'budge'.
One of the reasons I think that it is very important to always at least listen to the sailor bringing the argument. PCees should not be afraid to use rule 66 and at the very minimum investigate that they may have made an error. It might be that the error is not something that changes the outcome and even after admitting that they made that error, the decision can stand. But if there's an error that has influenced the scoring, it should be corrected.
Rule 66 is very one sided: The PC MAY reopen a hearing.
Even if the mistake is obvious, the PC still has the power not to re-open. Then the sailor has no other recourse then to appeal. Something not everybody is willing to do.
Something to consider the next time a sailor asks you for a re-opening...
Three more Q&A's have been published on the ISAF Website:
ISAF Q&A 2009-037; Questions about rule 42 when rules 49 to 54 do not apply. This is for the AC33
ISAF Q&A 2009-038; Using a lead trapeze harness strap buckle (that is a dive weight) and rule 43.1(a).
ISAF Q&A 2009-040; About denial of appeal and national prescriptions.