Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

Prestart Fouls

Eric Meyn
Nationality: United States of America
If someone commits a foul during the start sequence and is protested, they can clear it during the start sequence, correct?  And if it's a fleet race they have to do so as soon as possible, correct?  Conversely, if someone commits a foul on me during the start sequence and I don't protest it, do I still have the ability to make a protest when racing is concluded for the day, assuming I'm within the time limit for making a protest?
Created: 21-Jul-26 18:57

Comments

P
John D. Farris
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • Umpire In Training
  • Club Judge
-2
Can you give us a description of the alleged foul(s) that occurred?
Created: 21-Jul-26 19:11
P
John Porter
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Club Race Officer
1
Correct, Rule 44.1 states that, the penalty is for breaking one or more rules of part 2 while racing. Definition of racing is from the preparatory signal until she finishes and clears the finishing line and marks or retires, or until the race committee signals a general recall, postponement or abandonment. 

Assuming "in the start sequence" is after the preparatory signal (4 minutes in a standard rule 26 start), then yes, they have to do it in accordance with Rule 44.2 (after getting well clear of other boats and as soon after the incident as possible). 

Your requirements for protest don't change from the preparatory signal to the finish. You are still bound by the same requirements to have a valid protest whether you have started or not. 
Created: 21-Jul-26 19:17
Werner Esswein
Nationality: Germany
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • National Umpire
  • National Race Officer
1
See Rule 61.1(a) 
Created: 21-Jul-26 19:19
Craig Priniski
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
1
For Part 2 infractions, yes you can take your turns at the earlies opportunity even before the start.  It's a pretty mild penalty 4 minutes before the start, but it counts.  If you fail to protest (hail and/or red flag) at the time of the foul, in most cases you would not be able to file a protest later. Penalties may be taken while racing which is from the Prep signal until the finish (must be taken before finishing if it occurs near/ on the finish line). 
Created: 21-Jul-26 19:19
Tim Hohmann
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
1
You can still file a protest after racing, but if you didn't inform the protestee at the time of the incident it will likely be ruled invalid and dismissed. 

Other than the "as soon after the incident as possible" requirement, a boat that commits a breach before the starting signal isn't required to do her turns before starting, is she?
Created: 21-Jul-26 19:23
Craig Priniski
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
1
Before the start would be as soon as possible right? If it's a couple minutes to go I would absolutely do it right away.  If you're jammed up on the line in the last 30 seconds rail to rail, you can make the argument you don't have an opportunity until after the start. Nothing precludes you from doing it before the gun.  Prior to the Prep you technically aren't racing so you can't really protest or do a penalty for a part 2 breach.. 
Tim Hohmann

You can still file a protest after racing, but if you didn't inform the protestee at the time of the incident it will likely be ruled invalid and dismissed. 

Other than the "as soon after the incident as possible" requirement, a boat that commits a breach before the starting signal isn't required to do her turns before starting, is she?




Created: 21-Jul-26 19:39
Eric Meyn
Nationality: United States of America
0
Thank you for the replies. The fouls were simple port starboard infractions where I had to take abrupt avoidance maneuvers in order to prevent a collision. Our club is very protest averse. Kind of a double edged sword. Keeps everything friendly but there are a couple of people that exploit it. So I hailed, avoided, scowled, and sailed on. I mean, it’s in the 5 minute start sequence and he would have done circles anyway. 

Here’s the kicker. The boat that fouled me was the only other boat racing me. There were probably 15 boats in the start but they were all in B fleet while the boat in question was in A fleet with me. So no big deal. UNTIL, I win the race and am heading back to the harbor. The other boat is still finishing and is probably 400 yards from the finish line as we pass going opposite directions and I’m probably 50 yards abeam him. He screams at me for stealing his wind as a boat not racing, against him, a boat still racing. Now, fair enough, if you think I’m too close, even though the race outcome is decided, I’m sorry. But if you’re gonna be that petty, ya probably ought to pay attention to basic port starboard rules in the start sequence. 

I brought it up on the dock. When I mentioned his fouls his comment was, “That’s racing.”  I politely informed him that racing was bound by rules to which he replied, “Whatever.” 

So, I considered launching the first protest hearing in the last two decades at the club but, as y’all have pointed out, having not waved my red flag, it would probably get thrown out. But the next time he fouls me, game on. 
Created: 21-Jul-26 19:51
Brad Alberts
Nationality: United States of America
0
Protest calls must be immediate. Best I know, there are no end-of-race protests. That would prevent the offending boat from taking it's turn(s) to exonerate themself. 

Turns must be ASAP:RULE 44.2 — ONE-TURN OR TWO-TURNS PENALTIESAfter getting well clear of other boats as soon after the incident as possible, a boat takes a One-Turn or Two-Turns Penalty by promptly making the re- quired number of turns in the same direction, each turn including one tack and one gybe. When a boat takes the penalty at or near the finishing line, she shall sail completely to the course side of the line before finishing. (emphasise added) Cheers,Brad Alberts 
Created: 21-Jul-26 20:11
Jaakko Haataja
Nationality: Finland
Certifications:
  • Regional Race Officer
  • Regional Judge
0
Notice that there is no requirement to display a red flag if the hull lenght of the protesting boat is less than 6 metres (RRS 66.1(a)(2)).
Created: 21-Jul-26 21:11
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
1
Eric re:” Our club is very protest averse. Kind of a double edged sword. Keeps everything friendly but there are a couple of people that exploit it. ”

I’m not going to get on my soapbox (entirely), but there is nothing “friendly” about people breaking rules and not taking spins. 

The friendly, honorable, sportsmanlike and Corinthian way to sail is follow the rules in the spirit of fair play and take your turns without fuss or muss. 

Shame on them for not spinning, not shame on you for protesting them for not doing so.  

Craig, i thing that if you are in the starting mosh pit with 30secs to go, you have to try to bail-out, get clear and spin.  30 secs is too long to blame on a crowded start for the delay IMO (if there is a way out)
Created: 21-Jul-26 22:09
John Christman
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • National Judge
  • National Umpire
1
Given the description you have provided, I would consider filing a protest not for the incident itself but for breaking rule 2 and violating the Basic Principles - Sportsmanship And The Rules.  Despite not having flown a flag at the time of the rule 10 violation, you can make the argument that the other boat knew that they had broken a rule and not taken the appropriate penalty.  As you were not racing at the time you became aware of the fact that they knew they had broken a rule, I believe the hail and flag isn't necessary.  Although in this case you may get dinged for not informing them as soon as reasonably possible.  A brief scan of the Cases and Appeals did not indicate anything on point about the validity of this type of protest although US Sailing Question 125 might provide some illumination.

You should not feel bad about protesting nor should you accept the "we don't protest here" attitude.  Again, the basic principle is that the sailors are expected both to follow and enforce the rules.  You should not have to put up with people breaking the rules and expecting to get away with it.

Letting them know you expect them to follow the rules and that you will protest is often enough to get them to follow the rules.
Created: 21-Jul-26 22:11
Eric Meyn
Nationality: United States of America
0
Angelo. I agree completely. I’m currently a provisional member for another 8 months so I’m treading lightly. But I absolutely agree with the idea that following the rules and protesting when they are not is the only way to promote civility and integrity in the sport and a club. At the VERY least, there should be an opportunity for a learning discussion following races between competitors and moderated by competent judges so that people grow in their understanding. At least in races where there’s nothing on the line. Appreciate the words. 
Created: 21-Jul-26 22:26
Craig Priniski
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
1
Personally it’s a sliding scale in club races depending on how much the foul influenced my race and how much the offender should know better… new sailors get a benefit of doubt. Often I prefer to educate rather than protest. Sometimes I’ll protest and withdraw it later if needed.  I had a port tack boat try and head me up when I was on starboard down wind, claiming he didn’t know about that rule…. There are all kinds out there. 
Created: 21-Jul-26 23:27
Eric Meyn
Nationality: United States of America
0
Craig, I agree, as long as the info is welcome. If they bow up and don’t want to have a discussion then the next foul gets circles or judges. Their call. 
Created: 21-Jul-27 00:36
Tim Hohmann
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
1
If the club hasn't done a protest hearing in decades, to be honest I wouldn't expect a very satisfactory result if you protest. Almost certainly nobody there knows how to run a proper hearing and the "jury" may not know the rules very well themselves so there's no telling if their decisions will be correct. Plus if you're a new guy I can see where you don't want to get off on the wrong foot with the club.

Maybe next time just hail "that's a foul, you should do turns" loudly enough for the offending boats and anyone else nearby to hear. Maybe also make the point to the club that there are boats that appear to be taking advantage, and suggest they consider putting in a voluntary post-race penalty (US prescription Appendix V2) or arbitration (Appendix T)
Created: 21-Jul-27 02:27
Charles Darley
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • Regional Umpire
2
To quote The Incomparable Dave Perry:

Protests that are the result of honest differences of opinions on the rules or observations of the incident should never have a negative taint to them. Quite the contrary, protests are an essential part of our competitor-enforced rule system and are expected

There are stories of resentment simmering within clubs on account of incidents on the water years ago.  Ducking a novice who is on port or allowing them to barge a little at the start is one thing (and probably better for your own race to avoid the distraction) but where there is controversy, it should be handled in accordance with the rules.  I am against shouting without protesting which in some circumstances might be considered bullying.  After all, if you protest you put your own race result on the line.

I agree there are some ill informed protest committees and some dubious results.  The answer to that is to obtain a written record and appeal to your national authority.  

All of this has the potential to generate bad feeling so that it is vital to stay calm and polite and not to discuss the incident outside the protest room.
Created: 21-Jul-27 07:57
Eric Meyn
Nationality: United States of America
0
All great points. Appreciate the insight. 
Created: 21-Jul-27 12:18
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Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
1
To Tim’s point about a club maybe not having a competent PC, there is one thing we did learn during the pandemic … and that’s how to run hearings remotely. 

A club should reach out to their Regional Admin Judge RAJ (in the US) and they can help pull together a remote panel.  

Also, I’d imagine there are judges here on RRoS that would be happy to lend a hand in a remote hearing if asked. 
Created: 21-Jul-27 12:20
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