Monday, 4 June 2012

(pillow)Case of the week (23/12) – 10

(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 20.1, Room to Tack at an Obstruction: Hailing and Responding
Rule 64.1(b), Decisions: Penalties and Exoneration
Rule 64.1(c), Decisions: Penalties and Exoneration
Definitions, Obstruction

When two boats are involved in an incident and one of them breaks a rule, she shall be exonerated when a third boat that also broke a rule caused the incident.

Summary of the Facts

As P approached the mud flats, she tacked onto port. M, on starboard tack, immediately hailed and then hailed again when one hull length away, since it was apparent that P was trying to cross ahead and a collision would be inevitable. When there was no response to her hails, M tacked, hailing S as she was going about. S tried to respond but there was contact. P retired promptly after the incident because her crew believed she had gained an advantage over M and S who had lost considerable time as a result of the contact between them. S protested M under rule 10. The protest committee, commenting that M had sufficient time to take avoiding action to keep clear of both P and S, disqualified M under rule 14.

M appealed, asserting that the protest committee erred in suggesting that she, a right-of-way boat, was obliged to keep clear of P. Furthermore, after her second hail, had she borne away and then P finally responded by tacking, contact would have been likely. M also alleged that S had not given M room to tack as required by rule 20.1.

pCase 10


P broke rule 10. When she retired promptly after the incident, she took the applicable penalty and is not to be penalized (see rule 64.1(b)).

S was subject to rule 14, but did not break it as it was not possible for her to avoid contact. Rule 20.1 did not apply between M and S because, according to the definition Obstruction, P was not an obstruction since M and S were not required to keep clear of P.

M, in the circumstances, took proper action to mitigate the effects of P’s error of judgment. Both M and S were the innocent victims of P’s breach of rule 10. M broke rule 13, but is exonerated under rule 64.1(c). M’s appeal is upheld. M is to be reinstated.

RYA 1964/8


I have a question for you, regarding this third boat.

We all know that a procedure has to be stopped and restarted when the PC has found that a third boat might be involved and might have broken a rule. That usually means that the whole hearing is pushed to the next day, in order to locate and protest that third boat.

Have any of you ever been in a protest where the third boat was not or could not be identified. Both parties agree on the facts found, they agree that the third boat was the ‘root’ cause of the incident, but can’t remember which boat it was.

Did you still exonerate the ‘middle’ boat? Without finding the guilty boat and penalizing her?



  1. Terence Brownrigg5 June 2012 at 11:30

    About 20 years ago I was on a protest committee where there was a domino effect caused by an unidentified boat perhaps 6 or 7 boats away from the parties to the protest. Initially the give way boat in the hearing was penalised but on a re-opening, with further witnesses, she was exonerated and it ended up with no boat being penalised because the perceived culprit was never identified. This may have been irregular but was a just and sensible decision as far as identified boats were concerned.

  2. Hugh Elliot - USA5 June 2012 at 13:05

    I have indeed been there a couple of times. Since the third boat can not be identified no valid protest can be filed against her. See RRS 61.2 (a) which requires that the protestor and protestee be identified before the start of the hearing.

    The reason for that, of course, is found in RRS 63.3 (Right to be Present). A boat that seeks exoneration in accordance with RRS 64.1(c) as a result of being compelled to break a rule by a boat breaking a Rule, she has an obligation to file a valid protest against that boat.

    Imagine a protest against a boat under RRS 30.1 and the protestee's testimony is simply:

    - Yes, I hit the mark.
    - No,I did not take a penalty because I was forced into the mark by another boat that did not give me enough room.
    - No, I did not file a protest against the other boat even though I knew who he was.

    Decision = DSQ!

    WHy would the situation when the boat was not know be any different?

  3. I was involved in a protest about 15 years ago. The black flag was flying so RRS 30.3 was in effect (or its equivalent at the time). Two boats were sitting behind the line. Another boat came up from behind and bumped them hard enough to push them over. A protest was filed against what we eventually concluded was the wrong boat (it was a junior regatta and several boats had the same logos on them). After hearing the tape from the race officer we were convinced that the incident had happened and that the boat would not have been over in the minute before the start if the had not been hit from astern. We exonerated the protesting boat for her breach of 30.3.

  4. I was involved in a protest 15 years ago in a national youth championships. The black flag was flying before the start so rule 30.3 (or is predecessor) applied. Two boats were sitting just behind the line with less than a minute to go. A boat came up out of control from behind hitting one of the two in the stern and pushing her over the line. The boat pushed over protested the boat who hit from astern. As a committee we eventually concluded that she protested the wrong boat (there were several boats from the same club that all appeared the same). Eventually after quite a bit of testimony including an audio tape from the race committee we concluded that the incident had happened, the protesting boat was properly on the prestart side of the line until the she was hit and she was pushed over the line. We decided that we would exonerate her for breaking rule 30.3.

  5. Doesn't all this come down to the principle that a protest committee needs to have an evidential basis to make a decision.

    In a situation like this, a bald assertion by an offending boat that someone else is to blame isn't enough. If that was enough, then many protestees could avoid disqualification simply by making such assertions. However, if there is evidence to support the contention that rule 64.1(c) applies (such as in aalberti's situation), then the protest committee would take that evidence into account. It isn't compulsory to have a successful protest against another boat, although the failure to protest could be another factor for the protest committee to consider.

    Naturally, the need to have an evidential basis is not the same as having a burden of proof.

    John G


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...