(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.)
Rule 1.1, Safety: Helping Those in Danger
Rule 62.1(c), Redress
When it is possible that a boat is in danger, another boat that gives help is entitled to redress, even if her help was not asked for or if it is later found that there was no danger.
Summary of the Facts
Dinghy A capsized during a race and seeing this dinghy B sailed over to her and offered help. A accepted help and B came alongside, taking the crew of two aboard. Then all hands worked for several minutes to right A, whose mast was stuck in the mud. Upon reaching shore, B requested redress under rule 62.1(c).
The protest committee considered several factors in its decision. First, A’s helmsman was a highly experienced sailor. Secondly, the wind was light, and the tide was rising and would shortly have lifted the mast free. Thirdly, she did not ask for help; it was offered. Therefore, since neither boat nor crew was in danger, redress was refused. B appealed, stating that rule 1.1 does not place any onus on a boat giving help to decide, or to defend, a decision that danger was involved.
B’s appeal is upheld. A boat in a position to help another that may be in danger is bound to do so. It is not relevant that a protest committee later decides that there was, in fact, no danger or that help was not requested. B is entitled to redress. The protest committee is directed to reopen the hearing and to grant appropriate redress following the requirements and advice given in rules 64.2 and A10.
This appeal makes it clear that rule 1.1 is above all a safety rule. It MUST be adhered to. It is far better to grant redress to a boat that erred on the side of caution, in stead of having to punish a boat because she was reluctant to help. Let alone the possible injuries that are prevented or worse, lives that are spared.
Never hesitate to help a boat that can be in danger.