Section F
Alternative Whistle Systems
Introduction to On the Water Judging
On-the-water judging, or direct judging for fleet racing has become popular with classes and Organizing Authorities. It provides immediate and final determination of a breach of a rule of Part 2, and often, Rule 31. Breaches of Rule 42 are covered under Appendix P, with penalties given by judges on the water. Some classes include class rules limiting crew positions as well.

When protests and breaches are resolved on the water with an immediate penalty or no penalty, boats know their relative positions and can continue to strategize their race without waiting for the result of a protest hearing.

On-the-water judging places judges on the race course with the competitors. Judges work in pairs to observe the racing and to signal infringements in accordance with the various systems provided in the event’s SIs and as discussed below.

These practices have been developed for fleet racing and continue to evolve as each system is refined through experience. Typically, a class association will choose to have on-the-water judging as part of their regatta and will ask the judges to implement the system preferred by the class.

The components required to implement a system include, reference in the Notice of Race, changes in the SIs, availability of judges, suitable boats for judges, and equipment including whistles and flags.

Briefing competitors before racing clarifies how the judging will occur, as indicated in the Sis and other rules governing the event. Debriefs are very beneficial to competitors in a large fleet held after racing or the following morning where judges explain the calls and all the sailors can learn from each call.
Basic Rule Infringements
Basic rule infringement is the simplest form of on-the-water judging and is different from Appendix Q and Addendum Q which will be discussed in a later section. There are currently different systems in use.

When judges observe a breach of a rule of part 2 or rule 31, they notify the boat immediately. Signals to the boat include a sound, typically a whistle, hail of the sail number, and a visual signal, typically a red flag pointed at the infringing boat or boats. These signals indicate that one or more boats have infringed a rule and may take a penalty under rule 44. If no boat takes a penalty, the judges may lodge a protest for the incident they have witnessed, or they can act as witnesses if a boat lodges a protest.

In other systems, judges simply signal that they saw a breach of a rule to indicate their expectation that a boat or boats take a penalty. Typically, this system involves blowing a whistle, but no identification of a boat. Yet in other systems, the judges are given the authority to penalize the boat they consider broke a rule. The boat’s failure to take the penalty would then result in a DSQ without a hearing. A careful study of the SIs at each event will advise the judges of the system they will be using.
Additions to the Notice of Race and the SIs
Notice of Race
The notice of race must state that on-the-water judging may or will be used in the regatta.

Example 1 Notice of Race

On-the-water judging in accordance with SI X.X may be used. The procedure and penalties will be detailed in the SIs.

Some OAs may want to include the exact same language in the notice of race that will be used in the SIs.
Sailing Instructions
A specific section must be added to the SIs to inform the competitors that on-the-water judging will be used. The procedure must be in a separate numbered paragraph that clearly states how the competitors will be informed that a rule has been broken and what actions the competitors are expected to take. Here are some examples that have been inserted into SIs at various events.

Example A
SI.XX.1 On-the-water judging will be applied for the rules of Part 2 and rule 31. Judges who are members of the protest committee will blow a whistle when they observe a breach of a rule, and they expect one or more boats to take a penalty. The judges must insure that they are close to the infringing boat when the penalty is signaled. If the incident results in a protest hearing, the judges may provide testimony as a witness.

Example B
SI.XX.1 In addition to rule 42 infringements, members of the protest committee will be on the water to observe racing. To indicate that a judge has seen a breach of a rule of Part 2 or rule 31, the judge will make one sound signal but no sail number will be hailed. This means that the judges have seen a situation which may be protested and one or more competitors should take a penalty or retire. If no boat takes a penalty under rule 44.1, the judges may protest one or more of the boats.

SI.XX.2 Action or no action by the judges under this SI shall not be grounds for redress. The changes rule 62.1(a).

Example C.
SI.XX.1 On-the-water judge boats will display code flag “J”.

SI.XX.2 In addition to enforcing rule 42, judges will be observing boats for breaches of the rules of Part 2 or rule 31. When the judges observe a boat breaking one of these rules, they will make a sound signal. If no boat takes a penalty under rule 44.1, the judges may protest one or more of the boats for that incident.
Note: The SIs must define the number of turns that a competitor shall take when penalized for breaking a rule.

SI.XX.3 Action or no action by the judges under this SI shall not be grounds for redress. This changes rule 62.1(a).
Initial Briefing at the Meeting for Competitors and Coaches
The procedure for on-the-water judging should be discussed with the competitors and coaches at the first briefing by a representative of the protest committee.

Care should be taken to:
  • specifically refer to the method to be used for on-the-water judging and how it will be applied;
  • give a brief description of the sound signal and what it means;
  • introduce the judges;
  • provide a description of and number of judge boats, and how they will be identified;
  • inform competitors that the judge boats will be very close to and amongst the boats as they race;
  • remind the competitors of the number of turns to take if penalized.
Racing best practices
Jury boats should be RIBs or similar motor boats, with adequate engine sizes which do not make excessive wash when driven in close proximity to boats racing. The boats should be seaworthy for the conditions and suitable for the type and size of fleet being judged.

Each judge boat should have two judges (at the higher event levels, a must). The judges should always try to work in pairs to agree on incidents; although there are instances when only one judge observes an incident. Judges should be anticipating potential incidents and the rules involved, so that if an incident does occur, they can make a quick decision. Typically, each judge will focus on one boat as an incident between boats develops. Before signaling a penalty, the judges(s) must be certain that a rule has been broken. If the judges do not agree or they are not certain that a rule has been broken, then the green and white flag is displayed to indicate no penalty. The judges must be experienced in driving small power boats, positioning in the best locations throughout the race to observe potential areas of contention between the competitors. They must be close enough to the competitors to not interfere with any boats racing or create excessive boat wash. They must be in position to see infringements, to decide any protests, and to have their sound signals heard.
Judging recording
Each judge should keep notes made while afloat for each instance where they signaled that a rule had been infringed. It is also useful to record incidents when a green was signaled). Record the race number, date, time, leg of the course, boats involved in the incident, the lead up to the incident, the boat(s) that broke a rule, and any boat that took a penalty. Where possible, make a diagram to include as many of the boat positions during the incident as possible. Notes help in fully describing the incident at the debrief.
Judges should always be available to discuss with any competitor the calls which have been made on the water. Holding a daily debrief session for all competitors is also useful. Discussions should include the pair of judges who made the call of penalty or no penalty. Through the explanations by the judges, competitors gain an in-depth knowledge of the racing rules.
The system for on-the-water judging used must be clearly explained in the SIs and to the competitors in order that they understand the sound and flag signals. In the system where just a sound signal is made, it is possible that more than one boat takes a penalty when only one boat broke a rule. It is possible that a boat that is not sure that they broke a rule would take a penalty turn, even if she did not break a rule. Getting close to the infringing boat or using a system which specifically indicates which boat broke a rule, by hailing the sail number, will help eliminate most of these ambiguities.

There are several advantages to this system. Boats that broke a rule have the option to take a penalty that is less than a disqualification in a protest hearing. Competitors also arrive ashore knowing where they finished in the race, with limited possibility that this will change. Other protests for rule violations for other parts of the rules not involving Part 2 or rule 31 are still decided by the protest committee through hearings.

In summary, the system provides an alternative to the full protest system, resulting in less time in the protest room, more opportunity to participate in the social aspects of the regatta.
Appendix Q and Addendum Q – On the Water Judging for Fleet Racing
Addendum Q can be downloaded from the World Sailing website at: World Sailing has approved it for the use as an addendum to the SIs in World Championships, World Sailing World Cup, Grade 1 and Grade C1 events for umpired fleet racing in the last race of each series for the Olympic classes. Approval for any changes of Addendum must be approved in writing from World Sailing.

Appendix Q can be downloaded from the World Sailing website at: Different from Addendum Q, it was developed for all levels of fleet racing. This appendix can be used under rule 86.3 to change or test proposed rules if the national authority prescribes and/or allows. Those seeking to use this new approach to on-the-water rule enforcement may be required by their MNA to seek approval before its use.

The use of either Appendix Q and Addendum Q is recommended for umpired fleet races in which there are about twenty to thirty boats. There should be one umpire boat for every 4 to 6 boats in the fleet. Fewer umpire boats can be used, but coverage will be more difficult.

Be sure to note to the competitors that the Addendum changes the definition of Finish and several other rules. Note that Addendum Q was specifically designed for the Medal Races at Sailing World Cups and the Olympics. Check the World Sailing website for possible new templates.

Also note that the Addendum includes a section on Advice to the Competitors as well as Advice to the Judges/Umpires. This advice pertains to Appendix Q as well. The OA may separately use this advice part of the document or use the complete Addendum or Appendix so that all involved will understand the system.
Additions to the Notice of Race and the SIs
Notice of Race
The Notice of Race must specifically state that Addendum Q or Appendix Q will be used in the regatta.
Sailing Instructions
In addition to the notice of race statement, the full Addendum Q or Appendix Q must be added to the SIs as an attachment.
Initial Briefing at the Meeting for Competitors and Coaches
There are significant changes to the rules in Addendum Q or Appendix Q which should be discussed during the initial skippers briefing. Advise the competitors that they should review and understand completely the Advice to the Competitors section of the Addendum and be open to questions.

Addendum Q and Appendix Q reduces a boat’s rights to protest and to get redress, and changes the procedure to use when protesting. Point this out and advise competitors that if they use an improper protest signal the incident will become an invalid protest and the judges will signal no penalty, even though there may have been an infringement.
On the Water
Positioning is critical in order to view each incident correctly. In most cases, the judge should be a few boat lengths away from any situation in order to properly understand the actions of the right-of-way boat and the keep-clear boat and to be certain that a rule has been broken. If they are not in position to clearly see the incident they must signal no penalty. Under this Appendix, judges both respond to the sailor’s request for a decision, and give judge initiated penalties.

Each judge should understand the procedure for signaling penalties. The complete judge team must use the same procedure when signaling a penalty.

Each judge team should develop a system to identify locations where boats are close together and incidents are more likely to occur, known as “pressure points”. Communicate these with each other to ensure good boat positioning. These points will generally be at the start, at marks of the course, and at the finishing line.

When covering these pressure points, there may be more than one judge boat in an area, with judges on each boat who may have seen the incident. Each judge boat might have a different perspective of the incident so that each judge team could make a different decision. When a judge sees an incident and other judges are in the area, they should raise their arm to signal they have seen the incident and that they are ready to make a decision. If no other judge raises their arm the judge should make the call. If judges on two boats raise their arms, one points at the other judge to make the call.

Addendum Q provides in-depth details of positioning, communication among the judges, viewing the incident and signaling the penalty. This advice also applies to Appendix Q.

Since judges must be in position to see incidents they need to be aware of their wake and the effect it has on the competitors, especially in light air conditions. Anticipation of where the pressure points might occur will assist the judges in properly positioning their boats while minimizing adverse effects from their wake.
The judge boats must be of an appropriate size to be close to the competitors in tight situations, and seaworthy for the conditions. In many cases this should be within a few boat lengths of the action, and closer than for judging for rule 42.

The judges will need whistles to signal their actions, VHF radios to communicate within the judge team, and recording devices or notebooks to detail all calls, penalties as well as non-penalties incidents.

Each judge boat will need the flags specified in the SIs and any Addendum, or by the Class. These include a green and white flag to indicate no penalty, a red flag to indicate a penalty to one or more boats and a black flag to indicate that a boat is disqualified. For breaches of rule 42 under Appendix P a yellow flag may be required; although Addendum Q uses red for all breaches.
Debrief discussions with competitors should be done by the pair of judges from each boat, taking into consideration emotions and allowing time to fully discuss. Debriefs can take place on the water or in a separate session for all competitors at the end of the day after racing.

Explain what the judges saw and what rules applied to their decision. It should not become a heated debate or one party trying to convince the other party of who is right. If the conversation moves in this direction, it is best to limit the discussion and move on.

It is also important that when a judge team has made an error, they are willing to tell the competitor, either in a debrief or when speaking just with the competitor. No decision can be reversed, but all will realize that the goal is to serve the sport and to make it better.
On-the-water judging systems can be beneficial to the competitors when small fleets are involved. Most breaches of Part 2 rules are identified so boats can take penalties. While breaches of other rules and requests for redress will still go to hearings, sailors can finish a race knowing that what took place on-the-water will stand as is.

On-the-water judging does require more resources in power boats, equipment as well as a possible need for more judges and added fuel costs.

Discussions of incidents will offer new opportunities to understand the rules in more depth and allow the competitors to increase their awareness of how the rules can be a benefit to their racing results.
Radio Sailing
IRSA - International Radio Sailing Association
SYRPH - System for Reducing the Number of Protest Hearings
Radio Sailing differs from all other forms of sailing as the crew handling the boat is not on board. Competitors and race officials stand side by side on the bank. As a result, Radio Sailing has developed specific rules set out in RRS Appendix E, along with and practices for race judges and umpires.

Most racing is run without umpires. However, Radio Sailing has developed the use of observers, who may be competitors not sailing in that heat, who hail and record contacts between boats, and between boats and marks. These reports are made available to parties to any protest hearing before the hearing opens. A party to the hearing may then choose to retire. This procedure is set out in IRSA System for Reducing the number of Protest Hearings (SYRPH).

No more than 24 boats may compete on the water at any one time. A system of heats is used allowing events to be run with up to 84 competitors. In many cases an incident has to be resolved by the protest committee before the next heat can start, as one or more competitors involved may be scheduled to sail. Amongst other elements, these heat systems modify RRS Appendix A, Scoring. In particular, these changes introduce a significant difference in the points for retiring or being disqualified.

Major events, for which an International Jury would be appointed, such as World or Continental Championships are umpired. Umpiring for Radio Sailing has been developed over a period of 15 years. The basic principles are now clearly established, but further development continues.

Procedures for umpiring are set out in the International Radio Sailing Association (IRSA) Addendum Q. This addendum recognizes that umpires cannot resolve all incidents. If there is no decision from an umpire, then the competitor still has the right to a hearing.

It is intended that umpiring should modify normal procedures as little as possible. In this way, IRSA Addendum Q retains the use of competitor observers, who work closely with the umpires. It provides pre-hearing procedures in which parties are given access to reports from umpires or observers before the hearing is opened.

Other recent developments include an Accelerated Protest Procedure, which integrates (SYRPH) and an IRSA Case Book which gives guidance on rules and situations specific to Radio Sailing.
Additions to the Notice of Race
Radio Sailing is sailing under Appendix E of the Racing Rules. This fact should be stated in the Notice of Race, as there are many rules which are changed for this type of racing. Mention should also be made of other documents that may govern the event, including IRSA Addendum Q when racing is to be umpired, SYRPH and the Accelerated Protest Procedure.

IRSA has published a Notice of Race Guide.
Additions to the Sailing Instructions
Appendix E requires certain details to be specified in the Sailing Instructions, for example, whether there will be a defined Control Area, a defined Launching Area and how it may be used.

In addition, the Sailing Instructions should set out how observers will be appointed for each heat, and any penalties for not carrying out observer duties.

IRSA has published a Sailing Instructions Guide.
For a major event, seven judges should be appointed. Four judges umpire each heat. The three others hear any protests as a panel under Appendix N1.4(b).

It is possible to umpire a race with fewer umpires. However, the more boats an umpire is required to follow, the more incidents will go unobserved. Umpire teams work well when each umpire handles 6 boats per umpire.

Each umpire works in close partnership with a competitor observer. Umpires may base their decisions on information provided by an observer, even if they themselves have not seen part or all of the incident.
Little equipment is needed. Comfortable walking shoes are essential, as umpires may walk up to 15 km per day. Observers are provided with paper and a clipboard to make note of incidents. Judges should also have a means of recording incidents.

Signals are verbal, as the judges are very close to the competitors controlling their boats. Strong clear voice sounds must be made to ensure that all the competitors hear the hail at the moment. At some events, umpires are provided with microphones and hails are broadcast over the public-address system. At international events umpires should take into consideration that many competitors will not have English as their primary language. Judges should use a minimal number of standard hails. In particular, sail numbers must be hailed, under RRS E2.1(b) using single digits (e.g. 15 is one five, and not fifteen).
Basic principles of Radio Sailing umpiring
Umpires work as a team to cover the whole fleet, from the warning signal until the last boat finishes. Umpires work in partnership with observers, one observer for each umpire. Umpires may rely on information provided by an observer when making a decision.

To make a decision, umpires must follow boats before, during, and after any incident. To do this, each umpire follows a small, manageable number of boats. There will usually be an overlap between the groups of boats followed by each umpire. Each umpire can follow his boats because he relies on the other umpires to follow their allocated boats.

Umpires work to a pre-ordained plan to ensure that umpires concentrate on key points of the course. For example, all four umpires with their observers, follow boats into and around the first windward mark.

When an observer hails “Contact” between boats that are not in the group being followed by his umpire partner, he must assume that the umpire has not seen the incident. The umpire may request the observer to report to the pertinent umpire. The umpire partner will only penalize a boat if the observer provides convincing evidence that a rule has been broken.

An umpire may not have sufficient information on which to base a decision. In this case, he will either remain silent or hail ‘No Decision’ to inform competitors. Following an observer or umpire hail of ‘Contact’ the incident will be reported to the Race Committee as an unresolved incident. When no decision is made following a valid hail of ‘Protest,’ the protestor may proceed with the protest after the heat.

Umpires apply the principle of last point of certainty: Umpires will assume that the state of a boat, or her relationship with another boat, has not changed until they are certain that it has changed.

Umpires move around the control area in order to find the best viewpoint for observing their boats. This viewpoint may not be where some competitors choose to stand to control their boats. In most cases, the best view of a group of boats can be obtained by being level with leading boats, looking back.

Umpiring minimizes time lost to protests, and umpire procedures are designed to reduce the chance of error. Umpires will, on occasion, make errors, for which they should promptly apologize. When there is contact and neither boat takes a penalty, the umpire decides who is at fault; it is unlikely that both competitors will agree with the decision.

When giving a decision the umpire may add a few words of explanation. When requested, the umpire may give a more detailed response after the end of the heat.

Competitors may assist umpires when there is a protest by:
  • indicating where the incident took place;
  • indicating why they are protesting;
  • acknowledging rapidly if they intend taking a penalty;
  • taking penalties promptly;
  • indicating if they believe that an infringing boat has gained an advantage despite taking a penalty
Umpire positioning
Umpires, accompanied by their observers, follow a preordained plan as they follow boats round the course. Umpires must remain within the control area which limits the movements of competitors. This ensures that umpire decisions are taken from the same view point as that of the competitors handling the boats.

Umpires have developed, and continue to develop, a framework for umpiring positioning which allows for:
  • each umpire to follow a manageable group of boats;
  • good coverage of key moments in the race;
  • reducing the movement of umpires. (This is important when the control area may be 150 meters long and umpires need to run to keep up with boats, especially on the downwind legs).

The framework combines following groups of boats with observing specific zones. For instance, all 4 umpires cover the start, each umpire takes a small group boats around the windward mark and down the first run. Two umpires then handle the passage through the gate whilst the other two follow the last boats down the run as they cross through the leaders on the beat.

The framework has been described in a document that is available to competitors so that they can more easily follow umpires when appointed as observers.

Appendix F.1 shows Radio Controlled Umpiring Positioning Framework
Unresolved incidents
Incidents that are not resolved immediately will be dealt with after the heat. As an alternative to the standard protest procedure, which includes a 10-minute protest time limit, judges have developed an accelerated protest procedure which does not require the protestor to lodge a written protest. Instead, having hailed protest after the incident, the protestor informs an umpire of his intention to protest to an umpire immediately after finishing. The umpire notes the essential details and hails all other parties to the protest. All competitors involved then recover their boats and report to the Jury Desk. The judges that are assigned to protests then apply pre-hearing procedures, and open a protest hearing if necessary. In many cases, a competitor will retire rather than choose to proceed to a hearing.
Umpired racing under IRSA Addendum Q works extremely well, with judges making on-the-water decisions on protests involving the rules of Part 2 and rules 31 and 42. At the same time, the system maintains the competitors’ right to protest and to have a hearing for alleged breaches of all other rules.

The accelerated Protest Procedure ensures fast-track hearings for incidents in which a judge’s decision was not available. This makes the result of each heat completed shortly afterwards.

The speed with which radio sailing boats sail and maneuver means that incidents develop extremely rapidly. Radio Sailing provides a real challenge for all race officials.
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