Thursday, 30 August 2012

The strange case of the (non)competitor

During a multi-class event locally, the PC came across a very strange case. I've changed names, numbers and classes, but left the facts as found. This kind of case is probably unique, but if you've run across anything similar, leave a comment.

A protest was delivered to the Race Office by a young sailor. Her Optimist was involved in an incident at a leeward mark where she capsized and lost several places. The PC scheduled and heard the protest in absence of the other party. It was a boat in a different class - a Contender.
Long story short; the Contender had broken rule 12, 18.2(b) and 14 and was disqualified.

After half an hour, between other hearings, the RC-person responsible for scoring, came into the protest room and told the panel that the Contender in the protest was not on her finish list nor on the starting list.As far a she was concerned, it hadn't competed!

After verifying the boat had entered the event - which was the case - the panel started to doubt if the Optimist perhaps had noted the wrong sail number?

After some deliberations a phone call was made to the Contender sailor and he confirmed that he was involved in the incident at the leeward mark. He was currently on his way home because the rest of the event he didn't have time to sail.

How come he wasn't on the starting- nor on the finish list?

The sailor answered that he had some problems with his boat after having sailed to the starting area and had returned ashore to do some repairs. He then sailed into the course following the rest and starting rounding marks. He however did not finish because he wanted to get his boat out before the rest came ashore.

The panel now faced the following question(s):
  • Was the Contender a competitor subject to the rules? 
  • Was the Contender racing ?
  • What penalty - if any - would be appropriate?

Continued after the break;

If you look at the preamble of part two, you find that the Contender was subject to the rules from the moment it starting sailing toward the starting area until it returned ashore after racing.
It also had broken several other rules - not in the least rule 28.1 - by not starting.

But was it a boat complying with the definition of racing?

If it was not, the Contender still has broken rule 23.1 and should be penalized with a DSQ in the previous race.

If it was racing, had it deliberately broken rule 28.1 - by not starting and starting to sailing the course, at the least a rule 2 infringement, possible a gross breach of a rule, which might be leading to a rule 69 hearing?

So the panel had a look at the definition: racing

A boat is racing from her preparatory signal until she finishes and clears the finishing line and marks or retires, or until the race committee signals a general recall, postponement or abandonment.
If a boat is sailing toward the line, but still on the course side when her preparatory signal is given, she's racing. Does the distance - how far away she might be - play a role?

If a boat is over the line early (OCS) and does not return, she's still racing - so starting is not a criteria. If the sailing instructions state that a boat has four minutes to start, but after that time she hasn't even crossed the line once, is she still  racing?  An OCS boat is.....

The boat retired, took her penalty, so, can she still be disqualified?

And what about rule 2? Knowingly sailing the course while not having started is deliberate, is it not?

The panel in the end decided to penalize the Contender with a DNE for that race. They were of the opinion that the boat was racing. Also that the boat deliberately broke rule 28.1, and thereby did not comply with recognized principles of sportsmanship and fair play, which is a rule 2 infringement. They did not start a rule 69 investigation....

I'll await your comments.


  1. I think it's definitely a Rule 2 infringement. He shouldn't have been rounding marks and screwing up other competitor's races (least of all a kid in an Optimist!) if he knew he hadn't even started properly and couldn't possibly score in that race.

  2. This is a relatively frequent occurence in Dublin Bay club racing. Boats are delayed for whateverreason, then join in the racing. One hopes that they all do the gentlemanly thing and do not cross the finishing line.

    However, i have not heard of such a boat being involved in a protest. I beleive that such a boat has deliberately broken a rule and therefore rule 2 applies.


  3. I disagree I think rule 2 is inapproprate. The boat effectivelly retired thus accepting and breach of the rules, and did not try to profit from any breach of RRs 28. Boats are allowed to sail after a rule breach with full rights this is an established pronciple.
    You now have a problem should you be considering redress for the boat as 62.1(d) applies?
    My advice would be not to mess with rule 2 when there has been a retirement. (DNF).

    Mike B

  4. The sequence of events is consistent with a 'novice competitor' in the Contender. Someone who does not know the rules and is clearly not a contender (small c) in the regatta. A heavy handed approach might drive them from the sport. There is a chink of doubt though, a Contender is not a novice's boat.

    I began thinking the PC might consider redress for the Optimist. Then, if the Contender had started properly it could still have messed up the Oppi. There would be no question of rule 2, hence no redress. Tough, but that is the rule.

    I think the Contender retired, leave it at that.


  5. On the facts available, it seems to me that the contender wasn't racing. By going back ashore, he abandoned his intention to compete and finish the race. After that he came out to just have a sail - to round the marks and return ashore without finishing. His actions were analogous to retiring, except that he abandoned the race before he had even started it.

    I believe the rule broken was rule 23.1 rather than 12, 14 or 18.2.

    Whether the contender broke rule 2 would depend on the context and nature of the regatta. There is no evidence that she deliberately sailed into the Optimist. Was the contender's actions, rejoining the fleet, consistent with good sportsmanship?

    In an ordinary club regatta, where participation is important, then I can't see that its clearly established that any recognised principle of sportsmanship was violated. The contender had, after all, travelled to the regatta, rigged and paid her money. However, if a national championship was at stake, then that would be different.

    In a club situation, I am very hestitant about invoking rule 2 unless a sailor has deliberately behaved in a way that is clearly unacceptable.

    John G

  6. I agree with John G in that the boat broke 23.1 (i.e. that it was not racing). The preamble indicates that the boat's intention is part of the criteria that define whether the boat is subject to part 2. Since the contender new she had not started and did not items to finish, I would say she did not intend to race. Being entered into the event and being aware that other boats are racing, she is bound by rule 23.1. She deliberately interfered with a boat that was racing and broke rule 23.1; I agree with the PC's decision of giving a DNE unde rule 2. Depending on how gross of a breach of the other rules was, it might make sense to give her a DNE in all of the races of the regatta. The optimist could not know whether the contender was not racing, and it made sense for her to expect the contender to respect the RRS; I believe redress is in order.


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