Monday, 19 April 2010

(pillow)Case of the Week (16) - 100

(This is an installment in a series of blogposts about the ISAF Call book 2009-2012 with amendments for 2010. All calls are official interpretations by the ISAF committees on how the Racing Rules of Sailing should be used or interpreted. The calls are copied from the Call book, only the comments are written by me.)

(pillow)Case picture

CASE 100

Rule 41, Outside Help

When a boat asks for and receives tactical racing advice she receives outside help, even if she asks for and receives it on a public radio channel.

Summary of the Facts

Three large boats were to round a mark near coastal rocks and then sail into a 6-knot current. The wind was light. Boat A radioed to boat B, whose skipper was more familiar with the area, asking whether it was safe to anchor in the vicinity of the mark. Boat B replied that it was not safe to anchor. Boat C protested both boats under rule 41, for discussing what tactics were to be used for rounding the mark and sailing the next leg. The protest committee dismissed the protest against B and disqualified A for receiving outside help. It noted that she could have sailed or motored away from the mark in perfect safety at any time, and that the only reasons for anchoring at the mark were to overcome the adverse current and to win the race.

Boat A appealed, on the grounds that she did not believe she had received help, that she believed that advice given on a public radio channel was not outside help, and that a national authority should not condone disqualification for receiving safety information.


A’s appeal is dismissed. Boat A asked for help for tactical racing reasons and received it. It is irrelevant that A’s question and the information she received in response were broadcast on a public radio channel. The help A received did not come within the scope of the exceptions to rule 41, especially not rule 41(d) since she solicited the information. Therefore A broke rule 41. Even if she had needed help because she was in danger, the receipt of such help would have been a breach of rule 41.

RYA 2001/4

blogcolorstripe Note: The rule specifically is about receiving help, not about giving it. Boat B in this case was breaking no rules by answering the question of boat A.



  1. Great Blog! I'm not sure if this is the correct way to post a hypothetical question, but here goes: At the start signal, Boat A is very close to the line but thinks that they are ok so they press on to the mark. The RC hoists the X-flag and makes a hail via radio calling only boats B, C, and D OCS. After finishing, Boat A discovers that they were marked DNF for being OCS. Boat A requests redress. Do they have a case?

  2. @SeaFlorishes
    There are several cases about your hypothetical question. Have a look at case 71 and 79,
    First boat A must genuinely have the believe she was not OCS.
    Normally hoisting X and a sound signal is all the RC have to do, but if the procedure (calling on the radio) was described in the SI and the RC did not do that, she has a case.

    Boat never should have been scored DNF. If she was early and the RC want the score her as such, she should be scored OCS.
    So, even if she knew she was early, she has a very good case in requesting redress for being scored DNF. She did finish - according the definition. Have a look at case 80

    If you want to as questions - please do - you can use the mail address written on the contact page (button at the top bar)

  3. Jos said:
    "First boat A must genuinely have the believe she was not OCS."

    I don't think this is quite correct. Case 79 says "A boat that has no reason to believe that she was on the course side of the line at her starting signal has the right to assume that she started correctly"

    There is quite a difference between "genuinely believe" and 'has no reason to believe not ...".

  4. Referring to Case 100, what if a boat is not sure what course is being sailed (i.e., is it a windward-leward course, which marks are to be rounded, etc.)? If she asks what the course is and someone answers, then would that be considered asking for "tactical racing advice"?

  5. FredG3,

    Yes, being told what the course is is obviously 'assistance'.

    Rule 41, and the rest of the rules of Part 4 only apply to a boat while racing, that is after her Preparatory signal.

    So if you don't know what the course is, find out before your Prep signal.

  6. Wouldn't what course is being sailed be considered "information freely available to all boats" and be protected under 41(c)?

    A boat shall not receive help from any outside source, except
    (c) help in the form of information freely available to all boats;

  7. The information about the course that is 'freely available to all boats' is the information in the SI and in the signals made by the RC.

    Rule 41 was changed in 2005 based on a US Sailing submission[1496].pdf

    which was drafted to permit any communication between boats.

    The RRC changed this to require that boats be both in the same race and disinterested:[2932].pdf

  8. On reconsideration, rule 41 says that a boat may receive information subject to any of the four listed conditions.

    Being told the course number, or list of marks, by another boat after asking for it is not 'unsolicited' help and it is not 'from a disinterested source', but it might be 'in the form of information freely available'.

    Closely construing that phrase, it refers to the 'form' of the information, not the 'content' of the information, or the information itself.

    Certainly a course number or list of marks is 'information freely available', but when that information is given in the 'form' of a conversation, whether whispered or shouted, from one boat to another, there must be boats that do not hear that interaction, and thus it can well be said that the 'form' of the information is not 'freely available'.

    There is a difference, but I don't think it gets you there in this case.

    You're also struggling uphill against a sort of tradition that you are expected to know what's in the SI and pay attention to the race signals, and you should be penalised if you don't.


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