(This is an instalment in a series of blogposts about the ISAF Casebook 2009-2012 with amendments for 2010. All cases are official interpretations by the ISAF committees on how the Racing Rules of Sailing should be used or interpreted. The cases are copied from the Casebook, only the comments are written by me.)
Rule 32.1(d), Shortening or Abandoning After the Start
Rule 62.1(a), Redress
Each race of a regatta is a separate race; in a multi-class regatta, abandonment may be suitable for some classes, but not for all.
Summary of the Facts
In the third race of a regatta involving about 120 boats and 15 offshore classes, all classes sailed the same course on which a reaching mark was found to have moved almost a mile out of position. Various boats in several classes sought redress because of it. The mark moved out of position over an hour before any of the boats in the last two classes reached it. None of the boats in those two classes requested redress. The protest committee, however, abandoned the races for all classes. The boats in the last two classes then asked for redress, claiming that the abandonment of their races was improper. Redress was denied. They appealed.
The protest committee failed to distinguish between different procedures under which a race may be abandoned. The race committee could have abandoned the race under rule 32.1(d) because the mark was out of position. It did not do so, however, and appeared to have been satisfied to let the several races stand.
When several classes are racing at the same time, each class is competing in a separate race. If the protest committee had taken up the question on a class-by-class, race-by-race basis, it would have found that there was no requirement or need to abandon the race for the last two classes.
There may have been sufficient reason to abandon the races of some classes, but the protest committee erred when it abandoned the races for the classes in which no redress was requested. Its decision to do so was an ‘improper action’ within the meaning of rule 62.1(a).
The appeals are upheld, and all of the boats in the races of the two classes in question are reinstated in their finishing places.
Abandonment should always be the last options, in my opinion. As long as there’s a fair race – equal for all boats – it is better to keep the results. If races are abandoned for other reasons than mentioned in rule 32.1, we end up on a slippery slope.
As it is, rule 32.1(e) is relatively ‘open’ enough to be used in circumstances where the fairness is in question.
But also remember the rule only states the the Race Committee may abandon. There is no obligation. And not abandoning is in itself not a mistake or omission subject to redress.