Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

Use of the word "will" in Sailing Instructions

Bill Handley
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
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I would welcome the thoughts of others on how we should interpret the use of the word "will" in sailing instructions. Personally I always favour the use of "shall" if an action is mandatory or "may" if it is discretionary. From time to time I come across the use of the word "will" , particularly in relation to an action by the RC and I wonder if this may be interpreted as a mandatory action or not.
Created: 17-Sep-11 14:57

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Michal Pasik
Nationality: Finland
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From Race Management Policies for World Sailing Events (Fleet Racing), June 2016:
1.7 “Will” means the intentions of the race management team.
From RYA Race Management Guide 2017–2020:
1.4. TERMINOLOGY
‘Shall’ - mandatory action
‘Will’ - intended action
‘Should’ - best endeavours
‘May’ - optional action
Created: 17-Sep-11 15:31
Sandy Grosvenor
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Michal found the citation I was looking for.  

In addition, somewhere (I have not found out where yet, IJ or RM manual or some seminar?) is guidance in writing SI - that "sailors/boats shall" and the "race committee will".   Both are considered pretty mandatory.  This also gives the writing style of SI a bit of a balance that is easier on the eyes - not too much "shall, shall, shall, shall'ing"

Sandy Grosvenor
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Created: 17-Sep-11 15:40
John Christman
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My understanding is, based on discussions with Rob Overton, "will" is used when it is a promise to do something and "shall" is used when it is a command.  In general then, the RC makes promises to the sailors to do something (the starting order "will" be, etc.) and the sailors are commanded to do things ("shall" check in by radio, etc.).  However, apparently, in the UK the typical use/meaning of these words is reversed but someone from there would have to confirm that.  If the RC breaks their promise then it is considered an error or omission :-).  If the sailor fails to obey a command then they broke a rule.
Created: 17-Sep-11 15:53
Randy Smith
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Required publications for a judge or umpire:

Current RRS
Call Book
Appeals Book
Webster's Dictionary
:))))))
Created: 17-Sep-11 16:24
Ric Morris
Nationality: Ireland
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It's an emphasis thing, rather than being there being a hard and fast rule.

"You shall count to 10."
"You will count to 10."

With heavy emphasis either could mean "now this instant". With a softer emphasis "will" is an instruction on the future. The added formality of "shall" lends it to both present and future.

There's also the question of 1st, 2nd or 3rd person. Who authors the NOR/SIs? "I shall go to the ball"? Quite poor taste.

I guess the real bother comes down to tense.

"When port and starboard tack boats meet the port boat will keep clear" ... does that mean port must keep clear at the time the boats meet, or that port must keep clear at some point after they meet?
 
Created: 17-Sep-11 16:39
Sandy Grosvenor
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Note that Webster's is an American English dictionary - so consulting perhaps the Oxford English Dictionary for a British English perspective is also essential as we Yankees don't always treat the language quite the same as other English speaking countries.
Created: 17-Sep-11 16:42
Bill Handley
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
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Thanks for all the comments so far guys - very interesting. I think John Christman gets to the nub of my concern. If the SIs say tha a RC "will" do something and they don't is that an "omission" in the terms of 62.1(a) and could it therefore form the basis of a request for redress if all other requirements of rule 62 were met?
Created: 17-Sep-11 17:33
Rob Overton
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Sandy is correct (as are those who agree with her).  "Shall" is a command issued to competitors; "will" is a promise from the RC (or, in the case of the NoR, the OA) to competitors.  In answer to Bill, the rules with "will" are binding on the race committee, and breaking one of them is definitely an improper action by the RC. For more on this topic, see my December 2012 post (or search for "shall") on http://racingrulesblog.blogspot.com/.
Created: 17-Sep-11 23:59
Steve Watson
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Reading the entire rules yet again I observe that "shall" is used consistently and frequently.
"will" is only used a few times.
"may" is frequently used.

it doesn't seem to be a problem.
"will" is used to describe a predicted situation that might not actually occur.

another wrinkle is found in rule 34 where a "shall" mandatory instruction is given a get out where it's only required "if possible" . No indication of what degree of possibility might excuse the instruction.
so if a mark is out of position for a good course due to a wind shift when might it be possible or not possible to comply with the "shall"?
Created: 17-Sep-12 19:09
Bill Handley
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Steve - I don't think that rule 34 deals with a situation where the position of a mark may not be giving a good course. That is dealt with under rule 33 where the word "may" is used to describe what the RC may do. Rule 34 deals with marks which are missing or out of position which to me means that they either are not there or are so far out of position that competitors could not reasonably be expected to work out the mark they had to round. In those circumstance "if possible" means that the RC may do either of the actions outlined to allow the race to continue. If it proves not possible to do either then the RC should abandon the race as provided in 32.1(c)
Created: 17-Sep-12 20:15
Steve Watson
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Thanks Bill for playing wrinkle of the day.

I know you do both dinghies and keel racing.  Dinghy courses tend to be quite small, especially on lakes.  I think you have given a reasonable explanation for 'out of position' but at my recent inland water regatta there was a different interpretation by competitors.  It does not concern whether the mark was known or not but that it was definitely 'out of position'  to be a proper windward mark: that is to provide a windward leg that required one or more tacks.  However, this then presumes an obligation on the Race Officer that a quality course is provided.  The Sailing Instructions state that the 'course to be used will be Triangle-Windward-Leeward ("Triangle-Sausage")'.  The marks to be used were clearly described and a clear course diagram provided.  Does the SI promise a beat or just a leg to windward?  If so must it be on the first side of the triangle? The SI uses 'will' so we can understand an intent rather than the 'shall' of definite achievement. How might the phrase 'correct position'  in RRS 34 be determined?  Might we see a SI that states this measure  and thus oblige the Race Officer to respond (depending on 'shall' or 'may').  Rule 32, the abandonment facility, is a 'may' not a 'shall'. It also has the phrase 'out of position' but I suggest that (d) might govern a decision to abandon. When the race is more than halfway through, what is 'fair' to the competitors?  Whilst the competitors might complain, has the race committee done anything wrong within the rules prevailing?

How might a PC respond to to a request for redress?



 
Created: 17-Sep-13 10:26
Bill Handley
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Steve - I think the real difference here is between marks that are fixed and marks that are not and of course the RRS have to cover both situations. If marks are fixed they will have a defined position in the SIs and if they are not in position they are out of position. RYA 2002/10 provides some interesting guidance on how far out of position a mark may be before it becomes a problem.
With most dinghy sailing the marks will not be fixed but may be set and reset for every race depending on the wind. WS Case 44 finds that even though boats were able to fetch a mark that was decribed as windward in the SIs that no redress was given. This case is not all that helpful in that the reason that redress was refused was that the boats position had not been worsened - the case is silent on the point as to whether or not leaving the mark in the position it was constituted an improper action by the RC.
With an abandonment under 32(d) I think the PC must always give the RC the benefit of the doubt. The RC will be making a decision probably with imperfect and incomplete information on the fairness of the competition. I don't think it is helpful to anyone for a PC with the benefit of all the facts and with no time constraints to "double guess" what should have been done. Unless the abandonment was an obvious error I would not consider it an improper action.
Created: 17-Sep-13 13:52
Ric Morris
Nationality: Ireland
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The race was run on a course that didn't meet the requirements in the SIs. That seems fairly improper.
With fixed marks "at no fault of their own" is a higher hurdle to clear for the competitors.

In similar curicumstances I once wtinessed and IJ call an IRO into the room to add his thoughts. The IROs profuse applolgy certainly went some way to defuse the situation when redress was not given.
Created: 17-Sep-13 14:01
Steve Watson
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Thanks for the case indicators.  Very useful.
Case WS 44 is close to the actual situation, the windward mark could not be moved because boats were on different legs (eg some still on the triangle, others on their second sausage beat) and were sailing towards it.

However, surely a backing of 55 degrees still means that the boats are sailing towards the wind albeit not on a beat but a fetch to the designated windward mark. The Case states that the SI 18 provided for a windward leg and the PC decided that after the wind backed it no longer complied with SI 18. Surely the definition of Leeward and Windward infer that  the boats, even after the shift, were sailing to windward as the leeward side is determined by the main sail on the leeward side. If so then there was no improper action as SI 18 had been complied with. However, the case rejects the redress on the basis that there was no evidence that the boat's score had been made worse by an alleged improper action and therefore no redress was given. So that invites an answer to when the boats course to the designated windward mark ceases to be to windward under the SI 18 and concluded as breaking a rule by the PC but not necessarily by the Appeal committee. Clarity of the SI is required.

It is tempting to take Rule 34 entitled "Mark Missing" as being indicative of the rules authors' intent but the titles are not considered to be part of the Rules. Perhaps the 'out of position' phrase really means 'out of sight'.

Anymore? Or have we lost the 'shall' to live?




 
Created: 17-Sep-13 15:50
Ric Morris
Nationality: Ireland
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Dictionary defines as
Windward (noun)
From the direction or quadrant of the wind.

So dirrection of the wind +/- 45 degrees.

While the RRS has a broader definition of windward that applies to boats.
Created: 17-Sep-13 15:57
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