Thursday, 20 May 2010

LTW Readers Q&A | 042; Juryprotest?

I'm skipping a few who have send in questions earlier; please forgive my redirection. I will get to you all - eventually. This Q&A is from Felix, a NU from Switzerland. This discussion has been done for many years, but because of judges going on the water for rule 42 observations, is now more in need of an answer, then ever before.

Dear Jos,
I would be interested on your (your readers) view on the following question:
"When should a jury protest an incident observed on the water?"

The Jury on the water is not present to enforce Rule 42 but simply observing the races. The Jury boat with two judges and identified with a jury flag was watching the start of the pin end of the line. The boat closed to the mark was not able to pass the mark despite luffing head to wind. The result of the luffing was, that the boat came to a stand still and the genoa got wind from port, which forced the boat to passed head to wind.

As a result, it made contact with the next boat approaching the starting line on Starboard and forcing it to luff in an attempt to avoid contact. The manoeuvre resulted in a "chain reaction" with multiple boats involved and making contact. There was no or only very minor damage. The whole situation was photographed from the jury boat and I have attached one photo from the series to this Email.

There was a lot of "protest" shouting during the incident from different boats, but only one boat (CAN 1034) displayed the protest flag. CAN 1034 however removed the red flag before reaching the windward mark. No boat involved in the incident took a penalty.

The jury agreed that because there was contact, a rule must have been broken.
The jury was, in disagreement if they should protest the incident. The disagreement evolved around the wording in the judges manual:
"Except where empowered by Appendix P or the sailing instructions, the Judges should only initiate a protest when they witness a clear infringement that is not observed by other competitors or when rule 2 (Fair Sailing) is involved."
Argument against protesting:
The witnessed infringement was observed by several other competitors and therefore the jury should not protest.

Argument for protesting:
A rule has been broken, as contact has been made. If contact has been made, one or more boat must be penalized by the jury. That no boat took a penalty after making contact nor protested, is not fair sailing (RRS 2) nor acceptance of the rules.

What is your position?
Best Regards,
Felix Somm, NJ / Switzerland

Link to the Judges manual:[4880].pdf

Excerpt: "However, our sport continues to be based on the premise that the competitors, not Judges, have the lead responsibility for enforcing the rules on themselves and their fellow competitors. Consequently, the information that Judges who are afloat gather concerning interaction between boats does not generally lead to direct action. Except where empowered by Appendix P or the sailing instructions, the Judges should only initiate a protest when they witness a clear infringement that is not observed by other competitors or when rule 2 (Fair Sailing) is involved."

My personal view is that unless I'm absolutely sure about the infringement of  fair sailing, I would not protest. Since in this particular case that is hard to establish - I vote for no protest by the Jury members.
Sailing should stay "self-policing" as much as possible.


  1. Felix and Jos, thanks for the specific quotations from the Judges Manual.

    I strongly agree with Jos.

    The following cases and Q&A refer, but the Judges Manual better states the principles.

    Case 39

    Generally except when the Race committee receives a report of a breach of a class rule or of rule 43 from an equipment inspector or a measurer for an event.

    The race committee is not required to protest.

    Basic Principle - Sportsmanship and the Rules says that competitors are expected to enforce the rules. It does not place that obligation on race committees, protest committees or other race officias.

    Q&A 2006-003 – Question 1

    Where a boat makes a rule 28 error at the finishing line.

    The race committee should protest.

    Q&A 2006-003 – Question 3

    Where a boat breaks rule 31 at the finishing line.

    The race committee may protest.

    Q&A 2009-012

    Where a boat breaks rule 31 at a rounding mark.

    A race committee should not normally protest for a breach of rule 31 unless that breach appears to be an apparent breach of good sportsmanship (rule 2). Examples are:

    • deliberately touching the mark in order to gain an advantage
    • failing to take a penalty after knowingly touching a mark.

    If the race committee is satisfied that the boat knew it touched a mark and took no penalty and did not protest another boat (for causing the incident) the race committee should protest.

  2. Sailing is a self policing sport and in this case one boat flew a protest flag and then decided not to pursue the protest. Why then should the jury do their dirty work for them if they decide not to protest.
    In the various international juries i have sat on over a number of years the policy has been not to protest a boat unless the infringement is a gross breach of a rule and the boat breaking a rule would know they have done so. The question of whether there has also been a breach of rule 2 also comes into the equation.

  3. This one is easy. Judges should not protest. If a boat purposely tacks to port at the pin and causes a big pile up and does not take a penalty, I would protest if no boat does. If the boat in the described situation clearly hits the pin and other boats, and no boat protests, unless she takes penalty turns I believe she breaks rule 2

  4. @Anonymous (Comment 3).
    I agree, that "if a boat purposely tacks to port at the pin and causes a big ile up..." she breaks rule 2 and in my view a hearing according to rule 69 could be considered on the grounds, that "purposely tacking" could be a gross breach of a rule.

    My uncertainty in respect to rule 2 is:

    a) Rule 3 (a) By participating in a race under the RRS, each competitor agrees to be converned by the rules

    If a competitor breaks a rule - and since there was contact, a rule has been broken - the competitor should take a penalty.

    If the competitor does not take a penalty, does she then really accept the rules? Is not accepting the rules fair?

  5. Fruitless discussion without the information which instructions the judges got to go on the water and why they took position at the pin end of the line. “… simply observing the races …”? Like in every day life: no clear instructions can result in discussions afterwards. By the way, today I’ll observe the North Sea Regatta races, sitting on a terrace at the boulevard of Scheveningen.

  6. Backing of an overlapping genoa does not by itself constitute passing head-to-wind. Indeed the photo suggests that after the incident and even after backing their mainsail the leeward boat is just barely rotated past head-to-wind.
    Leeward boat is entitled to luff. Jury was not in a position to make the head-to-wind call.
    Therefor, no protest.


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