About ten seconds before the starting signal of a race, P was reaching along the starting line, approximately one length on the pre-start side on port tack. Many boats, close-hauled on starboard tack, were already over or on the line.
About five seconds before the starting signal, one of these boats (S) bore sharply away to a run. At the point of dead downwind, she found the gap between other starboard tack boats blocked by P, and collided with her port side, causing extensive damage. P had no opportunity to take evasive action, since S swung directly into the collision. There was then a general recall.
The protest committee found that ‘S altered course abruptly and unexpectedly giving P no opportunity to keep clear’, thus breaking rule 16.1
. P then requested redress under rule 62.1
(b) and was awarded average points. Although S was exempt from penalization because of rule 36
, she appealed, maintaining that P should have expected boats that were on the course side of the line to try to return.
S’s appeal is dismissed.
The RYA sees no reason to alter the protest committee’s decision. S was a right-of-way boat that changed course. She did not give P room to keep clear. P was not required to anticipate S’s action.
The RYA wishes to underline the importance of the correct procedure adopted here by the protest committee. When there is a protest in respect of an incident in a race that is then recalled or abandoned, the protest must be heard, so that facts are found and a boat that has broken a rule is identified, even though she cannot be penalized because of the provisions of rule 36
. When such facts are found, the protest committee may then consider and, if the requirements of rule 62.1
(b) are met, grant redress.