Tuesday, 23 March 2010

LTW Readers Q&A | 039 continued; Still not finished?

In response to the best commented post on LTW so-far, the instigators of Seaweed and her finishing problems, asked me to run a follow up. I'm happy to oblige. But before I do, I must rectify something, in that the success of that problem was because of an overseas collaboration between an Aussie and a Yank, not like I previously presumed two 'Bruces' from 'Down Under'. Thanks again, guys!

Here's the follow-up:
(You might need to refresh your memory by reading the first posts and comments again: LTW Readers Q but no A | 039; Finishing Seaweed)

Seaweed sails home without re-rounding either end of the finishing line.

1. The race committee scores Seaweed in fourth place and protests her for breaking rule 28.1. Seaweed requests redress. The protest committee concludes that Seaweed broke rule 28.1. Where does the protest committee go from here?

2. The race committee scores Seaweed in fourth place. But suppose that nobody protested Seaweed for breaking rule 28.1, and the only matter coming to the protest committee was Seaweed's request for redress. What should the protest committee do, and what is the redress decision?

Like before I'm holding back publishing the answers in the comments a couple of days, so everybody can have a go at the answer without influence from previous commentators.

Like John C on my TomTom navigator would say: "You have reached your destination. You're on your own, I'm not going to help you carrying your bags".


  1. 1. a What is seaweed requesting redress for? One presumes the request for redress comes in response to the RC decision to protest which from my perspective is an admission of guilt for sailing the wrong course. DSQ Seaweed under 28.1. What is the improper act or omission of the RC. The course was shortened correctly, the requirement to sail between the gates had not changed and the gates where still laid in their original position. No redress.

    2. PC can't protest a boat from information it finds out about in a request for redress. Just been through a similar exercise at a Optimist regatta. I am still trying to fathom what redress Seaweed woul dbe requesting if she has been scored as a finisher.

  2. 1. The PC gives Seaweed a DSQ and then proceeds to the redress request which it denies because Seaweed could have corrected her finishing error and chose not to. The key words in RRS 62.1 are 'through no fault of her own.'

    2. The PC reviews the Redress Request and decides that they should protest Seaweed for failing to sail the course under RRS 28.1. Then they actually look in the rule book - RRS 60.3(a) - and find that they are not permitted to so do based on information in a Request for Redress.

    The PC denies redress on the basis that seaweed has failed the test of 'through no fault of her own' and proceeds - at a significant fraction of the speed of light - to the club bar while grumbling about the authors of the rules.

  3. 1. PC must decide if the Seaweed has grounds for redress. IMHO Seaweed does not. Game over, DSQ Seaweed. ;(

    2. 4th for Seaweed! Redress denied again. PC cannot open a new hearing for Seaweed's finishing error based on information arising out of her request for redress.

  4. Q & A 139 and 106
    A good friend of mine raced the Queen's Cup a few years ago across Lake Michigan from Milwaukee WI, to Grand Haven, MI. It was foggy at the early morning finish, a distance of 68 miles. He saw the finish mark but not the Committee boat. He sailed around the Committee Boat and crossed the line between the boat and the buoy. He was DQ'd. The race committee stated the "string theory" to uphold their decision. My friend took it to the higher authorities, Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation then to US Sailing for a decision from the supreme court of sailboat racing. They ruled in his favor and he was reinstated as the WINNER that year. So much for string theory. As long as you started correctly and crossed the finish line correctly it shouldn't make any difference on how you got there because that is governed by other rules.

  5. 1) Seaweed's score was made worse (DSQ for rule 28) due in part to improper hiding of a mark by the RC, with sailing instructions that made hiding that mark particularly confusing. Her leaving 3A to port was "through no fault of her own" because no other course of action could have let her correctly interpret the signals before rounding. Failing to un-wind the finish line error after she saw the signals, though, was fault of her own. Sympathy, but no redress.

    On the first post I commented that the RC should protest the rule 28 error, but after this followup I have changed my mind. The protest outcome does not seem to further the RC goals of perceived fairness and sailor satisfaction.

    2) Rule 60.3a seems to say the protest committee may not protest based on the redress request. In any case, they are not obligated to protest the course error. No protest means they cannot make Seaweed's score worse than fourth.

    The course error will come to light, though, and the PC should consider it when they decide the redress. On the one hand, Seaweed would not have faced the situation where she made her error, if the RC had not hidden the mark. On the other hand, now that the error is made and discovered some sailors will expect her to retire, while many others would consider this particular error just a technicality. The right adjusted score depends on the judgement of the PC of what the local group of sailors will perceive as fair. At my local club, I have seen sailors forgive unintentional errors due to confusion. I would argue here for adjusting Seaweed to first, keeping all other places the same so there are two firsts.

  6. I think O'Hara has identified the improper action of the RC as positioning the RC Boat so as to hide the gate mark 3B from boats finishing.

    I think Hugh Elliot is spot on in describing the actions of the protest committee, with considerable realism.

    From position 3 in the diagram, Seaweed could see Mark 3B and could have corrected her rule 28 error. She did not. That was her fault. No redress.


    Firstly, I don't agree that this is a good case for the RC to 'look the other way':

    * There is an obvious breach of rule 28;

    * right under the RC nose at the finishing line;

    * There is specific ISAF guidance Q&A 2006-003, that says the RC _should_ protest;

    * There are a number of other boats looking on.

    I think that this is a time for sticking to the letter.

    But I noted that in your response to the first part, you suggested that the RC could have or should have hailed Seaweed and told her to unwind her string and finish properly. I think that this would have been an excellent thing to do, and would have avoided the difficulties we are discussing.

    Secondly, I can't quite see the consistent logic in your 'fairness' argument.

    How is it fair, if you say thre should be no redress where the RC has protested Seaweed, and she has been DSQ, but then say she should be given redress from fourth to first place, if she has not been protested?

  7. I do not know if the RC would be wise to protest or not, Brass.
    I do not, however, suggest they 'look the other way.' The rules allow them to stare straight at Seaweed and keep silent (with due consideration to Q&A06-003 before they apply their own judgement). If another sailor complains, they can answer "We had the option to protest, at our discretion and decided it would not further our goal of holding a satisfying race. The fact that close competitors also chose not to protest indicates that they, at least, were satisfied with our decision."

    My redress suggestion for (2) does not seem fair when compared to the outcome of (1), which bothered me for a moment, but then I reasoned that the rules will not always seem fair to the group of sailors involved, and they will only see one of the two cases (plus any what-ifs they imagine). From there I imagined the group of sailors who chose not to protest the 'technicality' and pushed how far the PC could go within the rules to satisfy this group of sailors. My attitude was "there is no such thing fair, there is only the perception of fair; what will these sailors perceive as fair?"

    Jack, people mockingly call it 'string theory' but rule 28 on how to sail the course does use the string concept, and this rule does include the finish marks. I boldly speculate that the first place skipper in the Queens Cup (what year?) knows the rules quite well, and corrected whatever technical error he might have made. There's lots of time to correct an error before the next between finisher comes along, in a race that long. It would be interesting to see the details of how US Sailing handled that case.

  8. Thanks O'Hara,

    Doubtless you you would point out that even though ISAF Q&A 2000-003 says the RC _should_ protest, Case 80, dealing with exactly this situation says the RC _may_ protest, and that the Cases are 'authoritative interpretations and explanations of the rules'. Furthermore that you ara completely at a loss to know why ISAF has published two contradictory documents on exactly the same situation.

    As for "there is no such thing fair, there is only the perception of fair", that seems to be inconsistent with rule 2 which tells us that there are "recognised principles of sportsmanship and fair play", but perhaps that is for another day and another LTW post.

  9. The appeal Jack describes was probably US Sailing Appeal 1993/289, which became ISAF Case 80.

    Where an ISAF Case is based on a national appeal, the national appeal reference appears at the foot of the ISAF Case in the Case Book.

  10. No one has brought up the fact that the shortening of the course was done illegally by the RC. Rule 32 addresses shortening the course, but Rule 33 also aplies regarding altering the next leg of the course. The RC shortend the course after two boats had rounded the windward mark and were sailing on the leg that was changed. Rule 33 prohibits this. The RC can shorten the course but they have to do it before anyone is sailing on the leg that is to be changed.

    The RC did not properly notify the sailors of the course change, illegally changed the leg, and parked their committee boat so as to obscure the line.

    Seaweed should be given redress and placed wherever she would have placed if the RC hadn't blown it.

    Don D.

  11. I realize the diagram is different, but doesn't the conclusion support Seaweed's argument that she finished correctly?

    Don D.

    CASE 106
    Rule 28.1, Sailing the Course
    When a boat’s ‘string’ lies on the required sides of finishing marks or gate marks, it is not relevant that the string representing her track, when drawn taut, also passes one of those marks on the non-required side.

  12. I disagree with Don D. Shortening the course under rule 32 is NOT Changing a leg of the Course under rule 33.

    ISAF Race Management Manual Pert 2 Slide 60 tells us that for Shorten Course:

    "Signal made as boats commence leg towards new shorten course finishing line"

  13. Brass, you say you disagree and then confirm what I said. "Signal made as boats commence leg towards new shorten course finishing line"

    The RC has to signal the course change at the mark before anyone is sailing the leg. Once any boat has rounded the mark that begins a leg, the RC can not shorten or change it. This is Rule 33 and it applies to shortening a course, a leg, or moving a mark.

    In this situation, 2 boats had already rounded the windward mark and were sailing down the leg when the RC signaled the course change. The RC was wrong to do so and Seaweed should be given redress. (although I do think Case 106 gives her a good claim that she actually finished correctly)

    Assuming the 2 boats that were already sailing the leg when the course change was signaled split tacks, one of the two would have been advantaged by the course shortening. The new finish line was offset quite a bit to one side of the course relative to the position of the original finish mark. The skipper who chose the wrong side of the course would be justified in being very unhappy with the RC. (but this would be a whole different case study)

    Don D.

  14. To Don's comment 10, I reply that I believe it possible for the RC to shorten the course without changing a leg. When the wind dies, we set the S flag so that boats rounding the next mark, just as they would have otherwise, will finish at the end of that leg, so there is no change to the last leg. Then rule 32.2 (flag S) applies but rule 33 (flag C) does not.

    Brass quoted a recommendation that it is a good idea to signal S as the boats start the leg, but anytime before the first finish is early enough. No rule requires the RC to signal S before anyone is sailing the new final leg.

    It seems that Don in 13 is considering a different course layout than what I understood from the initial post. I understood the leg to end at a gate, which signal S turned into the finish line. Tactics racing to a gate are pretty much the same as tactics racing to a finish line between the gate marks.

    (The RC could be unfair if a leg ended at a rounding mark, by setting flag S to be the favored end of a long finish line, when their buddy is on the S side of the course, but that was not the situation here.)

    Maybe the confusion comes from the same source that confused Seaweed. Seaweed could not see the signal, and guessed it was signal C, which would have been too late once any boats start the leg. Seaweed then remembered the (crazy) SIs said that in flag C also changed the rounding direction of the next mark, maybe prompting different tactics than one would use to race to the gate = intended-finish-line.

    All of us did finally agree that Seaweed finished correctly. The probem was that before finishing she sailed a changed course as if C was flown, but the RC had not actually signalled a course change with flag C.


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