Case 136
Rule 29.1, Recalls: Individual Recall
Rule 63.6, Hearings: Taking Evidence and Finding Facts
In finding facts, a protest committee will be governed by the weight of evidence. In general, a race committee member sighting the starting line is better placed than any competing boat to decide whether a boat was over the line at the starting signal and, if so, whether she returned and started correctly.
At the starting signal, the race committee member sighting the line judged three boats to be over the line. Flag X was promptly displayed with a sound signal, and it remained displayed for the required amount of time (see rule 29.1). Another race committee member, at the other end of the line, confirmed the identity of the three boats and that they had not returned and restarted correctly. All three boats were scored OCS. One of these three boats completed the course and finished first. On learning that she had been scored OCS, she requested redress, maintaining that she had returned and started correctly. She called as witnesses two other competitors who had been close by and who believed that she had returned and started correctly.

Question 1
May the decision of the race committee that a boat has not started or restarted correctly be overruled on the basis of other evidence? If so, in what circumstances?

Answer 1
Yes, if the protest committee is satisfied on the weight of the evidence that the race committee members sighting the line and observing the boats after the starting signal were not watching while the boat was crossing the starting line or carrying out the returning manoeuvre, or were mistaken as to the identity of the boat.

Question 2
In assessing the weight of evidence in such a case, should the protest committee attach more weight to that of race committee members?

Answer 2
The evidence of race committee members, who are in the best position to judge, is usually more reliable.

Question 3
If the issue is simply whether a boat was ‘over’ the starting line, or whether it had ‘wholly’ returned, is a person who was not in a position to sight along the line a competent witness?

Answer 3
See Answer 2. A race committee member sighting directly along the line at all relevant times is in the best position to make such a judgment.

RYA 1984/8
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