(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 2, Fair Sailing
Rule 62.1(d), Redress
Rule 69.1, Allegations of Gross Misconduct: Action by a Protest
Hindering another boat may be a breach of rule 2 and the basis for granting redress and for action under rule 69.1.
Summary of the Facts
As the sixth and final race of a championship series began, A’s accumulated score was such that the only way she could lose the prize was for B to finish ahead of her and among the first three of the 48 competitors. A crossed the line early and was recalled by loud hailer.
About 70 to 100 metres beyond the starting line, she turned back, but she had sailed only some 20 to 30 metres towards the line when she met B, which had started correctly. Instead of continuing towards the pre-start side of the line A turned and began to hinder B by covering her closely. The race committee hailed A again that she was still above the line and received a wave of acknowledgement in return, but A continued to sail the course, hindering B throughout the windward leg. When A and B reached the windward mark, they were last but one and last respectively, whereupon A retired. B ultimately finished in 22nd place.
Since it was obvious to the race committee that A continued to race solely for the purpose of hindering B, it protested A under rule 2. A, which had been scored OCS, was then disqualified for breaking rule 2. She appealed, asserting that she believed she had returned and started correctly.
A’s appeal is dismissed. It is clear from the facts found that A knew she had not started as required by rule 28.1, and that she chose not to do so. Facts are not subject to appeal. The disqualification of A for breaking rule 2 was appropriate.
A would not have broken rule 2 if she had returned to the pre-start side of the starting line and started and, after having done so and without intentionally breaking any rule, she had managed to overtake and pass B and then closely covered her.
B could have requested redress and was entitled to receive it under rule 62.1(d). The facts show a gross breach of sportsmanship and, therefore, of rule 2.
Such a deliberate attempt to win by unfair means should be dealt with severely. The protest committee could also have called a hearing under rule 69.1, as a result of which it could have disqualified A from the entire series.
The Case hinges on the deliberate rule infringement by boat A. This tactic, of slowing another boat to gain an advantage in the overall results, is perfectly legal as long as you do NOT break any rules. As soon as a boat does break a rule, it is also considered a breach of rule two – or in severe cases - gross misconduct.
See also Case 78.
The reasons why a boat can use this tactics has been expanded recently. Case 78 will be rewritten and in the meantime a revised Q&A has been published to deal with this. ISAF Racing Rules Q&A-2011 022 A01.