Is there a special meaning in the racing rules of the term ‘serious’ when it is used in the phrase ‘serious damage’?
No. The term ‘serious’ is not defined in The Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS). The Terminology section of the Introduction states that ‘other words and terms are used in the sense ordinarily understood in nautical or general use.’ As understood in general use, when ‘serious’ is used in the phrase ‘serious damage’, the term means: important because of possible danger or risk; having potentially undesired consequences; giving cause for concern; or of significant degree or amount.
This suggests that when a protest committee has concluded from the facts found that damage occurred in an incident, it must then consider whether any of the four criteria implied by the definition above apply, and if so it should conclude that the damage is ‘serious’.
Questions to consider may include:
- Did the damage reduce the safety of the crew?
- Did the damage adversely impact the boat’s sailing performance in a significant way?
- Will the cost of repairing the damage be a significant amount relative to the market value of the boat?
- Will the value of the boat after repairing the damage be significantly diminished?