Monday, 9 January 2012

(pillow)Case of the week (02/12) – 28

(This is an instalment in a series of blogposts about the ISAF Case book 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.)

(pillow)Case picture


Rule 28.1, Sailing the Course
Rule 32.1, Shortening or Abandoning After the Start
Rule 64.1(c), Decisions: Penalties and Exoneration
Rule A5, Scores Determined by the Race Committee

When one boat breaks a rule and, as a result, causes another to touch a mark, the other boat is to be exonerated. The fact that a starting mark has moved, for whatever reason, does not relieve a boat of her obligation to start. A race committee may abandon under rule 32.1(d) only when the change in the mark’s position has directly affected the safety or fairness of the competition.


Summary of the Facts

As S and P, close-hauled, approached the port end of the starting line, a strong tide was setting them towards the line and the starting line mark.
When S was two hull lengths from the mark, she hailed P to keep clear. There was no response, and S was forced to bear away to avoid a collision. Immediately after the starting signal, P sailed over the mark. As S luffed back to close-hauled, on a course to the wrong side of the mark, it jumped out from under P’s hull and bounced against S. P did not take a penalty, and S did not return to start between the starting marks.

S protested P under rules 10 and 31, and also requested redress, asking that the race be abandoned, citing rule 32.1(d). The protest committee disqualified P for breaking rules 10 and 31, refused S’s request for redress, and scored S DNS. The latter decision was referred to the national authority for confirmation or correction, along with a question: If S had returned to start as required by rule 28.1, could the race have been abandoned under rule 32.1(d) because of the mark having moved?


Although S touched the mark, she could not be expected to anticipate how it would move when another boat touched it. Therefore, as provided in rule 64.1(c), S is not penalized for contact with the mark because it was P’s two breaches that caused the mark to touch S. However, S could have returned and started as required by rule 28.1. The fact that the starting mark moved does not relieve her of her obligation to start. Because S did not start, the race committee was correct in scoring her DNS (see rule A5).

Rule 32.1(e) makes it clear that the most important criterion for abandoning a race is that, for some reason, the safety or fairness of the competition has been adversely affected. The last sentence of rule 32.1 and the use of ‘competition’ in rule 32.1(e) imply that the adverse event should affect all boats competing. Rules 32.1 (a), (b), (c) and (d) give examples of reasons that may justify abandoning a race; rule 32.1(e) implies that there may be other reasons. In this case, the unexpected movement of the starting mark as a result of P riding over it did not justify abandoning the race. Indeed, the exact position of a mark frequently and routinely changes as a result of wind, current, waves or it having been touched by a boat, even though its anchor does not move. Such movement is a risk that competitors must accept and does not justify abandoning a race.

ARYF 1971


When a boat breaks a rule, exoneration is only available by two ways:

  1. Because the infringement was caused by another boat breaking a rule and thereby forcing the boat to have broken that rule; or
  2. By taking a penalty (which may be to retire from the race), but only for a rule in Part 2 while racing or rule 31.

In this case boat S broke two rules: rule 31 and rule 28.1 For the first she did not have to take a penalty, because option 1 already exonerated her. P forced the mark touch.

For not starting there is no exoneration available. A boat is never forced to not start correctly. S could have gone back and sail between the starting marks. The fact that P initially forced to bear away and end up on the wrong side of the Pin-end, does not negate that.

Boat P also broke two rules: 10 and 31. She was neither forced to do this nor took a penalty. The PC could come to only one conclusion: DSQ.


  1. Is there any reasonable chance in this situation (no physical damage, no injury) for S to get a redress if she would have returned to start correctly?

    1. I don't think so. In order to get redress under 62.1(b) there has to be damage or injury - that effects the boat speed or performance in the race.
      The only other possibility is if P was penalized for rule 2. Then rule 62.1(d) gives the possibility to grant redress. But since this was at the start, boat S would have to convince the PC that it was this incident that made her score significantly worse and not anything else that might have happened during the race.

      In order for P to be penalized for rule 2 the PC would have to conclude that P knew she broke a rule and deliberately chose not to take a penalty. Something that is not unimaginable in this scenario, IMHO.

  2. P did not respond to the hail and sailed on. If during the hearing it is established that P deliberately break rule 10, should P be found to have broken rule 2?

    1. That would be quite possible. The difficulty is that rule 2 demands that the violation, of recognized principles of sportsmanship and fair play, must be clearly established. That is something beyond the balance of probability that is needed for other rule infringements.

  3. In the case above, the hitting of the mark was unavoidable (as it surfaced and bounced against S).
    Imagining a slightly different scenario - S still ducking P but a boat length further away from the mark. Would she be exonerated if the bouy was always visible but she touches it - still as a result of the R10 breach by P?
    If yes, would she still be exonerated if the result of the duck being that S was pointing directly at the mark - and with say 2 seconds to decide on her actions she has 2 choices :
    1. Duck below the mark and gybe round to return to start.
    2. Try to 'shoot' the mark using momentum to pass on the correctt side.
    I think you've established that in option 1 she would not get redress for the lost time and resultant poor start.
    But would she get exonerated if she tries to shoot the mark on the correct side but just brushes it?

  4. She would be only exonerated if there was no fault of her own. If the mark was visible all the time that would be hard to deny.
    In scenario 2 it is still - maybe partly - her own fault. So no redress.


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