Sunday, 7 February 2010

A little tragedy…….

It’s a glorious summer day with a nice breeze. Perfect weather for the 300 competitors in the clubs annual regatta, sailing in 18 different classes, who all have a good time.
The balcony of the clubhouse, overlooking the race area, is packed full with family and spectators who follow the racing with great enthusiasm. Daddies of the competitors in the youth classes, can be recognize by the size of their massive binoculars on tripods.

A Pluis Cadet is sailing on starboard-tack on a half wind reach and is having the time of her life. A Regenboog Rainbow on port-tack, also on a half wind reach, is approaching. The Regenboog Rainbow is sailing a course to windward of the Pluis Cadet.
While the Regenboog Rainbow is passing to windward, the Pluis Cadet looses pressure in her sails, turns upright, flips trough and capsizes to windward. The top of the mast of the Pluis Cadet hits the sail of the Regenboog Rainbow and a big tear in the sail appears.
Big panic, the children in the Pluis Cadet end up in the water, as does the middle-man in the Regenboog Rainbow and the ‘fun’ is over.
Both Pluis Cadet children in tears, Dad Pluis Cadet almost has a hart attack and Grandpa Pluis Cadet is shouting and cursing.
Grandpa Pluis Cadet, who’s been world champion in the Vrijheid Freedom-class at least three times, demands a protest form and while fuming starts to fill it in.
The wind indicator has sunk to the bottom, the fittings on masthead are bent, children don’t want to sail ever again and the Pluis Cadet is practically unsellable. In short, beside a rule infringement, this is also a case with mental injury and serious financial damage.
Grandpa Pluis Cadet will straighten this out! He will represent the boat in the hearing and demands the middle-man of the Regenboog Rainbow as his opponent.
This was the exercise that was used to start discussing rules and procedures in our National Race Official education program, which I was part of last Saturday.
(I gave a presentation on Umpiring & Match Racing, later that day)
Although in first glance the case was easy enough – the discussion that took place, made one thing very clear. There are a lot of rules involved!
Rule 10 is a given, but what else?



  1. OK. I'll have a shot.

    Rule 14 will get raised of course. Was it "reasonably possible" for the Cadet to have avoided the capsize and collision?

    Rule 16 will also be mentioned. Did the flip by the ROW boat constitute a "change of course"?

    Rule 61. Did the children in the Cadet hail "protest"? If not, is this a valid protest?

    Rule 63. As Grandpa Cadet was not on board at the time of the incident, he cannot be the representative of that boat at the hearing (unless the PC rules that there is a good reason otherwise.)

    Can the Grandpa actually specify the middleman of the other boat as his opponent. Is that a Rule 63 issue too?

    OK, what did I miss?

  2. Agree with Tillerman, with the following comments.

    Although doubtless Rainbow will start their defence by saying they were keeping clear, I think that if Cadet had been sailing with no heel, she would have had reasonable apprehension that she would have needed to change her course to avoid contact, so Rainbow broke rule 10.

    Rotating about the longitudinal axis is not changing course, so the 'stand-up' by Cadet is not a rule 16 course change. Again, Rainbow will probably try to argue that somewhere in all the confusion, Cadet actually did change course towards her. There is no reason to infer this from the facts given, and I think it will be pretty difficult to get eye-witness evidence that she did, while Grandpa Cadet will, if he is a good ex-World Champion bring along witnesses saying that Cadet never changed course.

    There was obvious damage, so 'protest' hail is not necessary as long as the protestee is informed within the protest time limit (rule 61.1(3)) as well as submitting the written protest within time.

    I think there may be good reason to allow Grandpa Cadet to represent the Cadet (provided he is named as the representative in the written protest), IF there is evidence, (and I would be inclinded to accept Grandpa Cadet's say-so) that the skipper and crew of the Cadet are unable to properly represent themselves because they are physically or mentally upset as a result of the incident. Note that this is a Cadet v Senior protest, so there is not the same disadvantage as there would be in a Cadet v Cadet protest if an Adult represented one of the boats and a Cadet represented the other.

    But this is not World Championsip Wrestling: Grandpa Cadet does not get to choose his opponent: he meets whoever the representative is that Rainbow sends along to the protest hearing.

    The protest committee may give the Cadet redress physical damage. There is no redress for 'mental anguish' (rule 62.1(b).

    Any demand for money or other damages by Grandpa Cadet should be dealt with in accordance with any National Prescriptions made under rule 68. In USA, Canada, Australia, GBR (at least) this means that the protest committee should not address this issue, and if Grandpa Cadet raises it, he should be firmly and promptly told about the relevant National Prescription.

  3. I was very relieved when I read that this sad story was part of an exercise, and not a real event at your club.

    Looking through the rules on protests,
    61.1(a3) allows a protest with no hail, in case of damage. The dubious point is whether the boat, which could only include the children, intended to protest.

    The PC itself can protest based on 'hearsay' if there was serious damage, per 60.3(a2). This might be the best way to handle this case.

    As Tillerman mentioned, the PC may find "good reason" to let Grandpa represent the Cadet. I am interested to hear if those here with more experience think this would be wise.

    I think 'keep clear' as in Rule 10 requires allowance for the ROW coming upright due to windshadow, but I think it does not require allowance for possible capsize. (Case 30, where windshadow induces a gybe, seems relevant, but I never really understand Case 30.)

    I would confirm at the hearing that the children were trying to avoid a capsize, and take that as evidence they were also taking all reasonable efforts, within their ability, to avoid this particular collision. So no rule 14 violation.

    I see no rules broken, and no rule that says the PC must find a rule broken in case of collision.

  4. I was assured the whole story was based on a true incident - many years back.
    Here's my list of rules:
    Rule 10; Port - Starboard as a given.
    Rule 14; Was it reasonable possible for the cadet to have avoided the contact?
    Rule 16, Is flipping over by the right of way boat a course change subject to 16?
    Rule 44.1; Did either boat do turns or retire? Was there serious damage? Or injury?
    Rule 60.1; There are rules about who represents the boat but no rules about who fills in the form.
    Rule 61.1(a); Hailing protest, was it done? Or can we go to 61.1(a)(3) and has either boat tried to inform the other within the time limit?
    Rule 62.1(b); Any redress for the Rainbow? Or maybe for the Cadet?
    Rule 63.3(a); Grandpa may be a witness but cannot represent the boat in the hearing. The Rainbow is also free to choose which of the crew represents the boat in the hearing. It is not up to Grandpa.
    Rule 64.1(b); Did (could) the Rainbow finish the race? If not, then that is a DNF which satisfies Rule 44.1(b) and in case the PC concluded she broke rule 10, the Rainbow cannot be punished.
    Definitions: Keep Clear. Did the Rainbow do it or not?
    World championship in the Freedom class? A national class claiming world domination? I'd be suspicious.

    I agree with OHara - provided the Rainbow was considering wind-shadow - she kept clear and did not break rule 10.

  5. The most interesting part of this problem is whether the capsize of the Cadet was a "change of course" under the rules.

    Changing course is not a defined term under the rules. In the US, there is a Sailing interpretation (US Appeals Q#30) which obviously would not be controlling in Europe, but is of interest: "To change course means to change the direction in which the boat is heading or moving."

    The issue of whether the capsize is a change of course or not is a double edged sword for Cadet. If the capsize is a change of course it was immediately followed by "contact with the windward boat" and under the definition, Rainbow was not keeping clear and may have broken Rule 10. At the same time, Cadet may have broken Rule 16 if she changed course and did not give Rainbow room to keep clear, i.e., the space she needs while maneuvering promptly in a seamanlike way. The important word is seamanlike since it is a given that capsizing is not seamanlike.

    Case 60 says, "When a right-of-way boat changes course such that a keep clear boat cannot keep clear when acting promptly in a seamanlike way, ROW has broken rule 16." Case 93 - "when a ROW boat luffs immed. after she becomes overlapped to leeward of another boat and there is no seamanlike action that would enable the other boat to keep clear, ROW breaks rule 16 and other boat entitled to exoneration."

    Case 105 is to same effect.

    On the other hand if Cadet's capsize is not a change of course, then she does not break rule 16, and coversely, Rainbow keeps clear under the definition because the contact was not a result of Cadet's changing course. Hence no violation of Rule 10.

    Rule 14 may apply, but if it was not reasonably possible for Rainbow to avoid contact, she does not break the rule. Rainbow is not required to anticipate that Cadet will capsize. Case 3, Case 27. For Cadet, however, it was reasonably possible to avoid contact since capsizing is not seamanlike and not a reasonable action. If Cadet had kept control over the boat, the contact would not have occurred.

    My sense: Cadet violated rule 16 and 14. Rainbow is exonerated of any violation of Rule 10.

    Gramps can sit on his hands and let his grandchild learn to stand on his or her own two feet for a change - sheesh.

    Good problem!

  6. I'd be interested to hear further comments on a couple of issues arising from the comments by OHara and Wasabi.

    1. In the case where there is major contact (causing damage) between two boats is it ever possible to conclude that no rules were broken (as OHara argues)? Or must the PC always find one boat (at least) to be at fault.

    2. In the case where the capsize of a ROW boat causes contact and damage (as here) is it possible to argue that if the crew made reasonable efforts to avoid capsize that they did not violate Rule 14? (OHara). Or must the PC always decide that capsize is not seamanlike and not reasonable and that therefore she must have broken Rule 14? (Wasabi).

  7. Wasabi makes a reasonable conclusion that the children broke rule 14. We do not sail Cadets here, but I assume that many children have found it possible to sail them through windshadows without capsizing.

    I bring up for consideration, though, that the rules never require sailors to be seamanlike, nor to be reasonable. Children do unseamanlike things all the time. The rules forbid them, when they have ROW, from forcing me into an unseamanlike maneuver.

    The un-reasonableness of a capsize would not convince me that they broke 14. The question is whether some other action, that would avoid the collision, was reasonably possible for the Cadet.

  8. Guys, I think you are applying an unwarranted level of sophistry to rule 10 and the definition Keep Clear.

    Surely it is plain that when there is contact the keep clear boat has failed to keep clear. That is the whole purpose of having Section A Right of Way rules, to provide a simple, certain starting point.

    The rest of the definition of Keep Clear is about how you decide when there has NOT been contact.

    Consider this: suppose that Cadet had suddenly luffed hard and hit Rainbow hull to hull: we would have no doubt:

    * Rainbow (P) did not keep clear of Cadet (S). Rainbow broke rule 10.

    * Cadet when changing course did not give Rainbow room to keep clear. Cadet broke rule 16.

    * Cadet's breach of rule 16 compelled Rainbow to break rule 10. Rainbow is exonerated.

    The only time I can see contact not being accompanied by a breach of a Section A rule is under Case 77, Equipment moving out of normal position.

    Case 77 relies on being able to say that nothing that the give way boat did or failed to do required the right of way boat to take avoiding action. I would argue that by failing to change course away from Cadet when Cadet began to counter-heel, Rainbow caused Cadet to need to take avoiding action and thus Rainbow did not keep clear. This notwithstanding that it may not have been possible for Rainbow to initiate or execute the keeping clear manowuvre in the time available and notwithstanding that Cadet did not actually change course.

    Given all the latitude allowed by rules 15 and 16 and the exoneration available, I don't think it is at all useful to complicate matters where there is clear contact, but finding that the relevant Section A rule does not apply.

  9. O'Hara has answered Tillerman's second question.

    Tillerman has partly answered his own first question in his blog


    In the degenerate case of a boat capable of sailing deep by the lee, a starboard tack, by the lee downwind boat and a starboard tack beating boat can come together and neither is the right of way boat.

    But if there is contact, one almost certainly breaks rule 14, except, just possibly in a case like Cadet v Rainbow, where an incident happens so quickly that the 'reasonably possible' bit of rule 14 lets both off the hook.

    The other example of no rule broken is Case 77, equipment out of normal position.

  10. Brass, I disagree with your conclusion that whenever there is a collision the give way boat is at fault.

    Your question: "Consider this: suppose that Cadet had suddenly luffed hard and hit Rainbow hull to hull: we would have no doubt."

    I agree and have no doubt - Cadet would be DSQ'd. Take a look at ISAF cases 60, 93 and 105 and let me know what you think.

    The hard luff-tap out rule was eliminated over 15 years ago.

    That being said, the facts we have are not clear enough to conclude whether Rainbow could reasonably have avoided the contact. Rainbow was on a reach approaching the crossing ("half-wind reach??? that's not a term I'm familiar with) so perhaps she could have hardened up a little more to give more room to Cadet - certainly not unreasonable especially if the conditions were puffy.

  11. Breaking a rule is different from being at fault. Most of us are uncomfortable with that difference. The exoneration methods in the RRS resolve the uncomfortable difference most cases.

    Exoneration for Rainbow required concluding that the capsize was a change-of-course which seemed even more unfair to me. I admit that this perceived unfairness caused me to look harder at rule 10.

    But 'applying unwarranted sophistry'? (Looks up the word...) Brass, I think you overestimate our cleverness.
    Your conclusion that contact implies a breach of part A (unless parts fly off the ROW boat) makes sense.

  12. I'm relieved to see that OHara agrees with me on the simple application of Section A rules: when there is contact, then the keep clear boat has not kept clear (except, of course in the 'artificial' cases in Cases 73 and 77).

    It seems to me that Wasabi is approaching the problem from the wrong direction.

    In his first post, Wasabi said "... if Cadet's capsize is not a change of course, then she does not break rule 16, and coversely, Rainbow keeps clear under the definition because the contact was not a result of Cadet's changing course. Hence no violation of Rule 10."

    I suggest that this is a complete misunderstanding of the definition Keep Clear. The change of course in the definition is one that is necessary so that the right of way boat can avoid [contact] with the keep clear boat, not a change of course that causes contact.

    In the last paragraph of Wasabi's second post, he discusses whether it was 'reasonably possible' for Rainbow to have avoided contact. This is a consideration for rule 14. There is no 'reasonably possible' in any of the Section A rules: just look at the facts.

    Cases 60, 93 and 105 provide little assistance to the issue. They are all about rule 15 and 16. Cases 93 and 105 in fact demonstrate the process I have advocated, that is, 1) find that the keep clear boat broke the Section A rule, 2) find that the right of way boat broke the Section B rule, 3)find that the Section B breach compelled the Section A breach, and 4) exonerate the keep clear boat under rule 64.1(c).

    I think OHara has made the point clear: just because it is not a boat's fault that she has broken a rule doesn't mean that we say she has not broken the rule.


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