RYA Case RYA1992-09
Rule 18.2(e), Mark-Room: Giving Mark-Room
A protest committee should have recourse to rule 18.2(e) only when there is insufficient reliable evidence for it to decide the case otherwise.
A collision took place at a mark between I (inside) and O (outside). The two boats were overlapped at five hull lengths from the mark; at four lengths it was agreed that O luffed and broke the overlap but it was re-established (I claimed) while O was bearing away for the mark, at which time she was still outside the zone. In protest and counter-protest, O denied I’s statement that I had become overlapped again in proper time.
The protest committee, finding that I had become overlapped again in proper time and that O had failed to give I mark-room under the first sentence of rule 18.2(b), disqualified O. She appealed, on the grounds that ‘the onus was on the inside boat to satisfy the protest committee that she established the overlap in accordance with rule 18.2(b); not on the protest committee trying to prove the situation through dubious conclusions drawn from the facts given by both parties.’
O’s appeal is dismissed.
A protest committee begins a hearing with an open mind. Evidence is then presented. Contrary to the views of the appellant, statements made in evidence by the parties and witnesses are not facts. When, having heard the evidence, the protest committee is reasonably sure of what happened, even though (as is usual) there was conflicting evidence, it will state what it believed to have happened as facts found, apply the rules to those facts, and decide accordingly.
When the protest committee is unsure about the facts, it is normally the protestee that gets the benefit of any doubt. However, rule 18.2(e) states that, in the special case of reasonable doubt that a boat obtained or broke an overlap in time, it shall be presumed that she did not, a presumption that may favour either protestee or protestor.
While this was a case involving the obtaining of an overlap, it was not a case involving reasonable doubt. The protest committee was satisfied on the evidence that the overlap was re-established in time, and rule 18.2(e) was not applicable. The RYA is satisfied with the facts presented and that the protest committee took 81 proper care in establishing them. The protest committee applied rule 18.2(b) correctly to disqualify O.
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