(This is an instalment 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.)
Case 79Rule 29.1, Recalls: Individual Recall
When a boat has no reason to know that she crossed the starting line early and the race committee fails to promptly signal ‘Individual recall’ and scores her OCS, this is an error that significantly worsens the boat’s score through no fault of her own, and therefore entitles her to redress.Assumed Facts
At the start of a race for one-design boats, ten boats near the middle of the starting line were slightly across the line at their starting signal. The race committee signalled ‘Individual recall’ by displaying flag X with one gun. However, these signals were made approximately 40 seconds after the starting signal. None of the boats returned to start, and several of them lodged requests for redress upon learning after the race that they had been scored OCS.
In rule 29.1, what does ‘promptly display’ mean?
No specific amount of time will apply in all circumstances, but in this rule it means a very short time. A race committee should signal ‘Individual recall’ within a very few seconds of the starting signal. Forty seconds is well beyond the limits of acceptability
Is it reasonable for a boat to request redress because of a less-than-prompt individual recall signal, even when she did not return to start?
Why should a boat be given redress because of the committee’s failure to signal promptly, when the rules say that failure to notify a boat that she is on the course side of the starting line at her starting signal does not relieve her of her obligation to start correctly?
The rules do not say this. Rule 29.1 obligates the committee to signal all boats that one or more of them are on the course side of the starting line at the starting signal. Rule 28.1 and, if it applies, rule 30.1 obligate each boat to return to the pre-start side of the line and then start, but this assumes that the signals, both visual and sound, have been made. When a signal is not made or, as in this case, when the signal is much too late, it places a boat that does not realize that she was slightly over the line at the starting signal at a significant disadvantage because she can not use the information the signal provides, in combination with her observations of her position relative to other boats at the time the signal is made, to decide whether or not to return to the pre-start side of the line.
How can a boat that fails to start properly be entitled to redress when rule 62.1 requires that her score be made significantly worse ‘through no fault of her own’?
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 unless properly signalled to the contrary.
As Answer 3 indicates, a boat can be significantly disadvantaged by a delay by the race committee in making the recall signal. That error is entirely the race committee’s fault, and not that of the disadvantaged boat. (See Case 31 for a discussion of appropriate redress in a similar situation.)
Most sailors will state they did not know they were ‘over’ when asked.
And in many cases I believe them. It’s very hard to judge when you are close to the line. So with a less then prompt signal, I tend to grant the redress.
However, when it is obvious that the boat was over, or even completely above the line, I do not permit redress for a less then prompt displayed recall flag and horn. The ‘through no fault of her own’ part of the rule kicks in and prevents this.