Thursday, 12 August 2010

When is a DSQ not enough?

The protest committee sometimes has the obligation to look beyond a DSQ. During this year’s edition of the SNEEKWEEK we encountered some examples. It is sometimes not easy to decide nor think about this issue, during the hearing.

Here is what happened:

Someone sailing at the back of the fleet decides to skip not one, not two, but four marks in order to get just behind the front of the fleet. The PC decided - in absence of the party, who did not come to the hearing - that this must have been deliberate and goes to rule 2. The DSQ becomes a DNE.
An eight meter keel-boat sails above the layline to the mark and approaches on Port-tack the mark to be left to port. There are more the a few boats already approaching on Starboard and more then a few already rounded and on a reaching course to the next mark. While some see the port boat approaching they start to avoid her and keep a little higher other still follow the ‘train’ downwind.

The port boat (red) sails into the triangle in the hope she can find a space in between:

And this was what happened after that :

The committee found in the subsequent protest that indeed the port boat did not keep clear, but no penalty could be given, because the boat retired from the race (due to the extensive serious damage).

They did not consider going beyond that.

But should they have?

Is this reckless behaviour with serious damage and not a small change off personal injury, not something that should be at least or even more penalized then someone who skips a couple of marks?

The first argument that presents itself is about intent. Was the infringement deliberate? In case of the marks it was – according to the PC, but couldn’t the same be argued about sailing into such a impossible situation?

Is there a rule in the book that can do this?
The PC is still discussing it…..


  1. Some questions:

    Is the mark on one of the photos (#7 on it) the mark to round?

    If yes, what was boat 153 doing over here, heading the wrong way?

    What was the defence of boat 153 at the hearing, or his explanation of what he did?

    When I saw the photos Monday morning, my first thought was: Richard (de Jonge, the photographer) did it again, the second was: 153 was looking for trouble or going to commit suicide.

    May be it is good to consider that there were 40 competitors in that class and there were other classes sailing on the same course. And the boat, designed in 1917, is a long keeler and the manoeuvrability is correspondingly. Not a boat for Laser like tactics. One may expect that the helmsmen are experienced sailors.

  2. I'm fine with the inferrence that skipping marks (without a good excuse, like confusing SI) is a breach of rule 2.

    I am also with the protest commitee on the second incident.

    There is no rule that says that you must sail your boat in a seamanlike way.

    Incompetence or misjudgement are not, of themselves, unsporting.

    Maybe it is unsporting for an incompetent sailor to continue entering races and breaking rules (particularly where damage results), once the sailor has been warned of his incompetence and that he should not continue to (inentionally or incompetently) break the rules. This might be done by the RC, a club flag officer, or informally by a protest committee. So I think a 'serial offender' could go under rule 2, if he or she had been previoiusly warned, but not otherwise.

    The PC could also deal with the specific incident under rule 69 as a gross breach of (several) rules. The protest committee might DNE the boat, and in their report to the MNA, they could recommend that the MHA take no further action.

    There is a need for a bit of humanity and common sense here. More likely than not, the offender's boat has been smashed up and is out of racing for the rest of the regatta, and the competitor bitterly regrets the misjudgement. Do we help anyone or anything by taking further protest room proceedings? (Different if another boat has protested and wants a formal protest decision, to which they are entitled).

  3. Ronnie R McCracken IJ13 August 2010 at 09:13

    IMHO I consider that both instances are subject to further action beyond just a Rule 2 DNE. Both instances had a deliberate intent and is a gross breach of sportsmanship. For the second incident it could also be argued, due to the negative press publicity, that the skipper has also brought the sport into disrepute.

  4. I see that further action could be taken in each of the cases under RRS 68. What is a more Gross Breach of a rule then the cheating in the first matter or the suicidal act in the second. Scores for the whole regatta or otherwise could be attacked, and do justice here.

    Mike Butterfield

  5. Nothing is more likely to upset and discourage a competitor than allegations of misconduct or lack of sportsmanship. This was a most unfortunate incident. It might well have been attributable to inexperience, mental block or even incompetence. I expect the red boat now knows what she did wrong and feels badly about it. Her insurers will not be happy either.

    In the absence of evidence that this was a deliberate act of violence, I think further action by a PC is not beneficial.

    As for missing the marks, this was clearly someone way off the pace so by implication inexperienced. If so, a non patronising explanation that they lay themselves open to protests and unpleasant allegations from other boats. If it was someone who should have known better, or it was intended to delay particular boats to the benefit of another, then rule 69 might be looked at.


  6. DNE, on the surface, is the correct decision for the first incident. However, if the PC found intent for something other than "a better place", then skipping not one but multiple marks constitutes a gross breach. Rule 69 action could be considered.

    On the second incident, it is either gross incompetence or gross stupidity. The nature and standard of the regatta suggests that incompetence is not a defence. In this case I concur with Ronnie. Rule 69 for gross breach is a consideration. Rule 69 for bringing the sport into disrepute is also a consideration given the negative press.


  7. "Rule 69 for bringing the sport into disrepute is also a consideration given the negative press."

    The general press picked up on the story only because there was mehem and damage. Most of the journalists spend words on broken rules, rather they talk of windforce and broken masts :) If at all it pulled the event in the spotlights of the main press. Benefiting the event its sponsors, and the boat class.

    IMHO Retiring from the race, seams a cheap way out. Maybe take an example from formula 1 racing? Monetairy fines, banning from racing?
    As human nature is, the latter may decrease overall interest in the event for the fear of lack of spectacular crashes.. so i think i'ld go with the monetairy fines. Organising authorities could increase entry fines (no rule limitations on that) recursively by 10% of total damage caused. The insurance companies actually do that by increasing premiums ro canceling the insurance. Its rather a shame this money does not driectly go to the other owners who set themselfes out to the risk.

  8. To the second case.
    According to the Protest 88 only aked for redress.
    Looking at the situation. I think 153 did not protest as she surely would have incured penalties. I wonder if 153 has consieder protesting. I think a good case could have been made for the "train" of boats coming of the windward mark sailing above proper course. In the situation as sketched in the blog, 153 sails a reaching course in reality she looks as good as close hauled, where as the boats coming of the mark try to set them selves up to luvward of the preceding boat, sailing above their proper course.

    IMHO the race commitee should have considered putting in an off-set mark to ensure that boats on the port tack layline to the windward mark can sail up the layline to that mark without runing into boats who see their proper course as sailing down that same layline. Crews in the class may be considered competent enough to handle this normally though. From the press i take it that reaction of crews to the incidents was very subdued and decent. I wonder who picked up the tab at the yachtclub....


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