Section E
Protest Committee
The extent and level of judging services that an organizer should provide to competitors depend on the type of event. Services range from a protest committee at a sailing clubs, where the local race committee or club appoints a protest committee of knowledgeable club members, to a non-appealable International Jury appointed or approved by World Sailing at the high-profile events. In most cases, the judge with the most experience, often a National Judge or International Judge, is asked to chair the protest committee and accepts the responsibility to ensure that the rules and procedures are followed.
Conflict of Interest
Rule 63.4 guides judges to determine whether they might have a conflict of interest related to a protest or request for redress, and to declare it as soon as he is aware of it.

The rule prohibits a member of a protest committee who has a conflict of interest from hearing a protest, except in three circumstances:
a) if all parties to the hearing have been fully informed of the conflict and consent;
b) if the protest committee decides that the conflict of interest is not significant;
c) when the conflict between the protest committee members is balanced (RRS M2.3).

The rule guides the protest committee on considerations in determining whether a conflict is significant.

The reason for these options is that it is not practical at all events, and especially at club events, to exclude all judges who have a conflict of interest. Some flexibility is needed to suit different events. Rule 63.4(d) does not permit a person with a conflict of interest to be a member of a protest committee at World Sailing major events.

World Sailing guidance on conflict of interest is available here.

A judge who has a conflict of interest should decline an invitation to be on an International Jury. If the judge is uncertain if he has a conflict of interest, it is advisable to check with the World Sailing office at

If the conflict of interest occurs at the event, then a protest committee formed by an International Jury remains properly constituted if it consists of at least three members and at least two of whom are International Judges.
In the majority of cases, the organizing authority appoints the members of the protest committee. In regattas such as a world championship, this decision is often made between the organizing authority and the class association. The only exceptions occur at specific events for which World Sailing is responsible for appointing the protest committee such as the Olympic Games, and other championships (see World Sailing Regulations 23.3 and 25.8).

When making up the protest committee, consider the type of boats and kind of racing. At least one of the members of the protest committee should be fully conversant with the boats being sailed, and the rules and traditions of the class. The protest committee at a windsurfing regatta will face different questions than at a one design world championship or an offshore race.

It is useful, where possible, to include one member who also has an intimate knowledge of the local conditions.

If Appendix P is used for on-the-water judging of rule 42 Propulsion, then the protest committee members should have the ability, and the majority of the members should have experience to participate in this specialist type of judging.

Finally, consider including one or two experienced national judges who would benefit from the experience and to assist them in obtaining the requirements necessary to apply to become an International Judge.

At an open event in which sailors come from other clubs, it is desirable that the organizing authority appoint a protest committee, usually with three members who are independent of the race committee. To avoid an appearance of favoritism, prejudice or conflict of interest, this protest committee could be made up of members from different clubs. To ensure a higher level of experience and knowledge, many national authorities have a national judges program, and certify individuals as national judges. Some national authorities require that at national events, the membership of a protest committee includes a majority of national judges.
No Appeals Jury and International Jury
If the Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions so state, the right of appeal may be denied (RRS 70.5) if any one of these three condition applies:
(a) it is essential to determine promptly the result of a race that will qualify a boat to compete in a later stage of an event or a subsequent event (a national authority may prescribe that its approval is required for such a procedure);
(b) a national authority so approves for a particular event open only to entrants under its own jurisdiction; or;
(c) a national authority after consultation with World Sailing so approves for a particular event, provided the protest committee is constituted as required by Appendix N, except that only two members of the protest committee need be International Judges.

The two key persons to the success of an International Jury are the chairman and vice-chairman. In order that the protest committee be seen as independent, it is best that the chairman is well known and respected by the competitors, and preferably not of the same nationality as the country in which the event is taking place. When this is the case, the “local” vice-chairman is given the responsibility and authority for pre-regatta administrative and organizational duties.

Since the regatta organizers usually know the “local” judge, he is often the first asked to help organize the protest committee. At this point the “local” judge should explain how the protest committee will be more easily seen as independent if a non-national is the chairman and he is the vice chairman. He should also offer to help recruit a qualified judge from a different National Authority to act as chairman, and with the chairman, recruit the remaining members of the protest committee.

Appendix N states the requirements for an International Jury to be properly constituted. The National Authority Groups are shown in Schedule A (Article 40) of the World Sailing Constitution. A protest committee member’s nationality does not create a conflict of interest.

Since a protest committee constituted as an International Jury is independent of the race committee, no member of the protest committee may also be a member of the race committee.

When a full International Jury or panel is reduced to three or four members because of illness or emergency, the organizing authority should make a diligent attempt to find a qualified replacement.
Approval by a National Authority of the Composition of the International Jury
Some national authorities, under their Prescriptions, require approval for the appointment of an International Jury. When approval is required, the organizing authority is usually required to submit details of the event with the names of the proposed chairman and members of the jury.

RRS N1.8 requires that when the national authority prescribes that its approval is required for the appointment of an International Jury (see RRS 91(b)), notice of its approval shall be included in the Sailing Instructions or be posted on the official notice board.
Approval by World Sailing of a Three-Person International Jury
In limited circumstances under rule N1.7, World Sailing may authorize an international jury of only three persons, all of whom are international judges, from three different national authorities (two, in Groups M, N and Q). Application is made to World Sailing based on Regulation 25.8.13.
The main duty of the appointed protest committee or International Jury is to conduct hearings for protests, requests for redress, to write allegations under rule 69, and to hold hearings under rule 69. Sometimes its responsibilities are extended to include on-the-water judging of rule 42 (Propulsion) and monitoring rule compliance. Often protest committee will provide advice to the race committee or the organizing authority, when requested, and help resolve problems that occur at regattas.
Additional Responsibilities of International Juries
Although technically there is no difference between the duties of a local protest committee and one formed by members of an International Jury, in practice the higher the regatta the more pressure on the judges, organizers, and competitors. Since there is no right of appeal, from a protest committee formed by an International Jury, the reputation of sailing rests upon the regatta’s International Jury making correct and fair decisions.

When asked by the organizing authority or race committee, an international jury has the responsibility to advise and assist them on any matter directly affecting the fairness of the competition. At these events the International Jury are often asked to decide questions of eligibility, measurement, boat certificates, and to authorize the substitution of competitors, boats, sails, and equipment (see rule N2).
Protest Committee decisions are reached by a majority vote. If there is no majority, the Chairman of the hearing may cast an additional vote.
International Jury Panels
The requirements for a panel hearing are outlined in Appendix N1.4(b). In most cases, you need three judges from different MNA's, two of whom must be IJs. The only difference in the hearing is that you tell the parties that you are a panel of the International Jury and if they are dissatisfied with the decision they are entitled to a hearing with a full jury, except concerning the facts found.

In practice, this means that the International Jury will review the procedures used in the original hearing. They would then focus on whether the conclusion and decision matched the facts. This new hearing is not a reopening under RRS 66; although the International Jury could decide that the panel might have made an error, and then decide to reopen the hearing.
Off-site Protest Committee Members
Appendix N outlines the requirements for International Juries and Appendix M gives recommendations on how to conduct hearings. Even though neither requires all members of a protest committee to be physically present at hearings, this should be the normal situation. However, in some exceptional cases, the protest committee could still act adopting a Remote Hearing (see below), even without having all the members physically together.

For example, it would make sense to proceed without the physical presence of one or all the members in the following situations:
  • if something has to be decided before the event, e.g. about the eligibility or classification of a sailor;
  • if something has to be decided after the event finished, e.g. a complicated measurement protest that will require several days to the technical committee;
  • in oceanic races;
  • when a full jury, or a panel, has fewer than five members, because of illness or emergency, and no qualified replacements can be reasonably found, despite a diligent attempt (see also RRS N1.5)
Off-site parties and witnesses
RRS 63.3 grants a party the right to be present throughout the hearing, specifying that if a party does not come, the Protest Committee can nevertheless proceed with the hearing in the absence of the party.

Even though the best practice is to have all the parties and witnesses physically
present during a hearing, there are some exceptional cases where the Protest
Committee could offer them to attend the hearing by adopting a Remote Hearing, for example:
  • if something has to be decided before the event, e.g. about the eligibility or classification of a sailor;
  • if something has to be decided after the event finished, e.g. a complicated measurement protest that will require several days to the technical committee;
  • in oceanic and offshore races;

In general, if the protest committee decides that its members can be present through a remote system, they could allow the same for parties and witnesses.
Recommendations for Remote Hearings
Remote hearings should be conducted with video conference systems and simultaneously transmitted to all the persons involved in the hearing.

A video conference system is a program, protocol or device that uses Internet to transmit multimedia streams that include at least voice and video of the persons involved. Eventually, other streams can be included, like a video feed of the protest room table or a virtual whiteboard.

It is essential to have a strong broadband connection to make video conference hearings work. It is a responsibility of parties and witnesses to have a proper connection available.

If present, the on-site protest committee member has a major role in setting this up. The following is a non-exhaustive checklist of his or her additional duties:
  • For hearings occurring during an event, have a default time set up in advance of the event when you expect off-site persons to be available. Consider the time zones for all persons involved.
  • Send copies of the protest and other documentation to the off-site protest committee members and parties.
  • If the parties will use video evidence, try get copies in advance to forward to the off-site protest committee members and parties.
  • Have a projector and screen so that the parties can see as well as hear the offsite protest committee members.
  • Make sure that all the parties and witnesses are alone in the room, without communicating with others.
  • Make sure everyone, both at the hearing and off-site, are happy with the procedures.

In some remote situations, video conference remote hearing might not be possible (for example, during oceanic races). Only in this case, the remote hearing can be processed through emails. This should be specified in the Notice of Race / Sailing Instructions, as detailed in Section O.
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