Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

Rule 41 - When to withdraw

Swabbie Hondo
Nationality: Australia
During a long distance race a boat runs aground and requires outside assistance to be refloated. They continue racing and are scored. 
The next day they call the RC and ask to be scored RAF. 
 
What is the proper procedure? Shouldn't  they have withdrawn at the time they recvd outside assitance and why? 
Created: 17-Aug-03 14:07

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John Grills
Nationality: United States of America
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RFA (since 2013 replaced by general RET in Appendix A11) was used when a boat retires after finishing a race. This means that the sailor only realized at the end of the race that they have broken a rule. In this case, they may have not known at the time of the incident that the outside help would gain them a significant advantage (Rule 41).  Upon realizing this after racing, they did the Corinthian action and retired.  This holds the same consequences as receiving a "DNF"; usually a score of the number of boats in the fleet plus one. Such errors may include missing a mark, rounding to the wrong side, ignoring a protest from another boat, etc.

The scoring abbreviations are defined in Appendix A11 of the Racing Rules of Sailing. The term RFA is now obsolete as it changed in 2013 to "RET" or Retired. The meaning is the same as RAF except that it also covers retirement before finishing

Created: 17-Aug-03 14:25
Swabbie Hondo
Nationality: Australia
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Thanks.  I think in this case (being pulled off a sandbar) they probably knew they were receiving a significant advantage. 
Created: 17-Aug-03 14:41
Doug Bailey
Nationality: United States of America
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The problem with your statement is that you're questioning their honesty, which is far harder to deal with than simple ignorance of a rule, which is what they are claiming.

In these circumstances I would applaud their action in coming forward with the admission and doing the right thing and retiring. I'd completely ignore the time taken to do so as a matter for their own introspection and learning. Pointing out that they "should have known" or "should have done it sooner" or something like that could be seen as gloating, 20/20 hindsight or rubbing their nose in it - you'll look bad, they will feel bad and maybe be encouraged to hide future infractions because the risks of being found out are a better trade off than admitting to an infraction, and then having their honesty questioned in public anyway.

No-one wants to retire and confirmation bias is a strong force in the human psyche. In sailing, as in life, it's sometimes better to say nothing and let matters progress as they will, or say it privately if you really need to say something.
Created: 17-Aug-03 15:06
John Fox
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A boat may recieve help under rule 41 if a crewmember is ill, injured or endangered. If the circumstances of the grounding put the crew in danger, then she can properly receive help and not be penalized. The clock is still ticking VS other boats so she is not necessarily receiving an advantage in relation to them at all.

Lets take another example, two boats capsize near a bridge and the current will push them into the pilings. Crews would certainly be in danger and receiving assistance would not break rule 41. One of them is likely to be rescued first and that will put him at a significant advantage over the boat that was rescued second. It may or may not give them an advantage over other boats in the race.

It would be up to the PC to decide if the crew were in danger and if so, did a significant advantage occurred. In the case you brought up, the boat obviously decided that retiring was the correct thing to do. It doesn't really matter if the decision was made immediately or later.
Created: 17-Aug-03 15:19
Ted Jones
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They did a right thing. Good on them.
 
Created: 17-Aug-03 17:36
John Grace
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Swabbie. To answer your question, the boat should have withdrawn immediately after receiving outside assistance. She did not do the right thing, as some people have suggested. 

By receiving outside help the boat broke Rule 41. The un-numbered rule "Sportsmanship and the Rules" at the beginning of the rulebook states "A fundamental principle of sportsmanship is that when competitors break a rule they will promptly take a penalty, which may be to retire". In the case of a breach of rule 41, the only applicable penalty is retirement, unless a crew member was ill, injured or in danger.

If the boat continued to sail the race, knowing that she had broken a rule, then normally that would constitute a breach of rule 2 (fair sailing) or 69 (serious misconduct), even if she later retired, but that would depend on the context. If such a boat was in a cruising race, in which the remainder of the course constituted sailing back to the clubhouse, and she did not interfere with any other boat racing, then it would be hard to criticise her. On the other hand, if she knew she should retire, but continued racing to tactically disadvantage a competitor, that would be a definite case of serious misconduct.

As you point out, if a boat gets outside help to become afloat again, it should be obvious to a reasonable sailor that a rule has been broken. In your scenario, the skipper is likely to have some explaining to do. However, if the boat genuinely thought she was entitled to continue racing, she would not have broken rules 2 or 69.

The type of racing may also be relevant. In a club context, a word from someone in the race committee may be appropriate. In a major regatta the response will be more formal.

 
Created: 17-Aug-03 23:25
John Allan
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Swabbie Hondo said

During a long distance race a boat runs aground and requires outside assistance to be refloated. They continue racing and are scored. 

The next day they call the RC and ask to be scored RAF. 
What is the proper procedure? Shouldn't  they have withdrawn at the time they recvd outside assitance and why? 

and

 I think in this case (being pulled off a sandbar) they probably knew they were receiving a significant advantage. 

The ‘proper procedure’ is actually spelled out in the last sentence of rule 41

However, a boat that gains a significant advantage in the race from help received under rule 41(a) may be protested and penalized; any penalty may be less than disqualification.

If there is a valid protest, and the protest committee concludes that the boat gained a significant advantage, she might be penalised,

BUT

Rule 64.1( b ) provides that

if a boat has taken an applicable penalty, she shall not be further penalized under this rule unless the penalty for a rule she broke is a disqualification that is not excludable from her series score [that is, rules 2, 30, and 69]

Basic Principles – Sportsmanship and the Rules provides that

… when competitors break a rule they will promptly take a penalty, which may be to retire.

The boat has retired.

The rules place no restrictions or conditions on when a boat may retire.

Rule 44.1( b ) restricts the taking of a turns or scoring penalty at the time of an incident with respect to significant advantage as follows

if the boat … despite taking a penalty, gained a significant advantage in the race or series by her breach her penalty shall be to retire.

The reference to ‘her penalty shall be to retire’ makes it clear that this does not restrict a bot taking the penalty of retirement.

Having retired, in accordance with rule 64.1( b ), the boat shall not be further penalised.

If there is no valid protest, then people should be very cautious about, in effect, calling a fellow sailor a cheat.

Created: 17-Aug-04 01:24
Ted Jones
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Not that I needed any validation. I stand by my comment.

If they waited until after taking the trophy for 1st place, I might have a different opinion of them.

Swabbie, thank you for adding verbiage to my brevity. We make a good team.

T
Created: 17-Aug-04 03:44
Swabbie Hondo
Nationality: Australia
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I do not believe there was any cheating or intent to cheat. But by not RET promptly one exposes onesself to the possibility of only doing so a day after the regatta once they were 'caught'.  Better to do it promptly. 

Also competitors have a right to know who is still in the race and who is not. 

Finally, the rightful winners were denied that glory until the day after the regatta when scores were reposted. 



 
Created: 17-Aug-04 12:25
Bill Handley
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I think it is significant that the exception in 41(a) refers to a crew member while the final paragraph of the rule refers to an advantage gained by a boat. If the only way the risk to a crew member or members can be eliminated is by the boat being assisted to refloat then clearly the exception in 41(a) cannot apply as the boat gains an advantage. There are lots of ways in which an ill or endangered crew member could be assisted without advantaging the boat and then the exception would apply.

This whole thread has got me thinking about the question of post race penalties. These are allowed under Appendix T when it is applied and in the UK by the RYA Arbitration process - I imagine other MNAs have something similar. In both cases a boat may take a points penalty any time prior the a protest hearing with the object of reducing the number of hearings. If as has been suggested here that the boat should have known she was breaking a rule (particularly at a major regatta) then the boat may well be breaking rule 2 by taking a post race penalty. The only way to determine whether or not rule 2 has been broken is to have a hearing which rather seems to destroy the whole object of the exercise. Bear in mind that a post match penalty may follow on from an arbitration hearing but doesn't have to, all a boat has to do is inform the arbitrator in writing she want to take the penalty.

I wonder what others think about post race penalties and rule 2.
Created: 17-Aug-04 18:43
John Grace
Nationality: New Zealand
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Bill. Post race penalties, as provided for in the arbitration provisions in App T, are only available for breaches of the Rules in Pt 2 (the boat on boat rules) and Rule 31 (touching a mark), when Rule 44.1(b) does not apply. In other words, they apply to infringements for which a boat could have taken a two turn penalty, had she done so promptly after the incident. Post race penalties, under App T, are not available for breaches of other rules such as Rule 2 or Rule 41 (as in Swabbie's scenario). 

Under Rule T2 the arbitrator needs to decide whether arbitration is not appropriate. An arbitrator should not undertake an exhaustive investigation into the incident, but if it becomes clear from the information availalble, that any rule, other than those in Pt 2 and Rule 31, is applicable the arbitration should be closed. That is something that an arbitrator needs to consider. See Rule T2 and the International Judge's Manual section L.

If a boat takes a post race penalty or otherwise retires after racing, that does not necessarily absolve her. Hearings may still be held to consider whether Rules 2 or 69.1 have been breached, and if so, the boat may be penalised further. 
Created: 17-Aug-05 00:00
John Allan
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Bill Handley said
I think it is significant that the exception in 41(a) refers to a crew member while the final paragraph of the rule refers to an advantage gained by a boat. If the only way the risk to a crew member or members can be eliminated is by the boat being assisted to refloat then clearly the exception in 41(a) cannot apply as the boat gains an advantage. There are lots of ways in which an ill or endangered crew member could be assisted without advantaging the boat and then the exception would apply.
In the refloating scenario, and assuming endangermenet of crew, rather than actual illness or injury, this might arise, for example, where seas were breaking over the shoal or the boat, so as to put the crew in danger.

I think it would be a bad idea to place emphasis on the type of help being given.  It would be undesirable, in a situation of danger to have either boat considering whether or not refloating the boat, or taking off the crew was the most 'rules-favourable' course of action.

Rather we might think carefully about the meaning of 'significant advantage'.
 
I think that 'significant advantage' in the last sentence of rule 41 should be understood to mean 'a significant advantage over the position that the boat was in immediately before receiving help'.

It should not be understood to mean 'advantage merely gained by the cessation or amelioration of the disadvantage being suffered by the illness, injury or danger'.

Thus, a disabled boat that was towed to a landing place to enable the evacuation of a disabled crew member, and the landing place was 'ahead' of the boat's original position, and the boat continued to race, might receive a significant advantage, but if the landing place was was 'behind' the boat's original position, she would not receive a significant advantage.

If the help received was, say the helicopter evacuation of the disabled crew member, the boat should not be understood to have gained a significant advantage just because she no longer needs to devote resources to taking care of the injured crew.

In another example, a boat that has fallen aground on an obstruction, say a sand spit, that lies between her and the next mark, if she is given help that refloats her on the 'new mark side' of the sand spit, has recieved a significant advantage, but if on the 'last mark side' she has not recieved a significant advantage.
Created: 17-Aug-05 00:43
Bill Handley
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John Grace - I'm sorry I didn't make myself clearer. I was not for one moment suggesting that post race penalties applied in this situation, I was saying that the whole thread had got me thinking about post race penalties which perhaps I should have started as a separate subject.

What I am trying to resolve in my mind is the need in the Basic Principle to "promptly take a penalty" and the whole concept of post race penalties. Taking a penalty after the race can not to my way of thinking be described as "promptly" in respect of a Part 2 rule breach that takes place on the race course. It seems that the only way this could apply is if a boat comes ashore and then realizes that she has broken a rule by studying the rule book. If she hoped that there would be no protest but discovers there is and decides a points penalty is better than a DSQ then this seems a clear breach of rule 2 to me. The problem is that these "facts" could only be discovered under questioning in a hearing. Many replies already on this thread have taken the view that the boat in the original scenario should have known the rules and retired earlier and if you apply this approach to post race penalties you come up with the situation where boats could never take a post race penalty.
Created: 17-Aug-05 06:52
Bill Handley
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John Allen - whilst I agree that we have to consider what is meant by "significantly advantaged" it only becomes relevant if the preconditions of 41(a) are met. In your final paragraph you would need to consider whether the grounding on a sand bar represented endangerment to the crew. It might be very inconvenient to sit out the tide on a sand bar but unless real danger is apparent then 41 (a) does not apply and whether or not the boat gains an advantage from being towed of is irrelevant as she has broken rule 41 and should retire.
 
Created: 17-Aug-05 11:59
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