Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

Contact and the Necessity of a Penalty

P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
Scenario 1:
Boat A and B are Racing and make contact with each other on the race course.  
  1. No other boat is within 10 boat lengths of either boat at the time contact occurred
  2. Neither boat takes a penalty.  
  3. A valid protest is delivered and heard by the PC in which both Boat A and B is a Party to the hearing.
  4. The PC does not penalize either boat

Scenario 2:
Same as Scenario 1, but this time there are other boats close by at the time contact occurred.
  1. as in Scenario 1, Boats A & B were made a party to the hearing in the original protest filing.
  2. No boat takes a penalty.
  3. The PC does not penalize any boat

Questions
  • Did the PC necessarily make an error in these scenarios?
  • If so, why?  If not, can you give some examples of scenarios where the PC made the correct call?
Created: 21-Dec-29 19:15

Comments

Rick Myers
Nationality: United States
Certifications:
  • Regional Umpire
  • Club Race Officer
  • National Judge
0
Hi Ang.  60.1(a) seems pretty clear that a third party may protest for an incident that they were not involved in so long as they saw the incident.  

Is your question trying to get to the concept that because there was contact that there must have been a foul?
Created: 21-Dec-29 19:52
John Ball
Nationality: Canada
0
Whether there was a close witness or not, this is a total disregard of the RRS and if the competitors ignore the rules, they deserve to be thrown out. 

If the RC establishes as a fact that there was contact, and the boats admit to knowing there was contact,  then DSQ both boats under R 2 and for a failure to comply with Basic Principles.

If a repeat offense, then call an R 69 hearing for a breach of R69.1(b).1

And the PC needs a attitude adjustment.

John
Created: 21-Dec-29 20:03
Rick Myers
Nationality: United States
Certifications:
  • Regional Umpire
  • Club Race Officer
  • National Judge
0
I guess I should have looked at the title before I asked Ang the silly question.  

John, have you never seen a situation where there was contact that was not a foul?
Created: 21-Dec-29 20:26
Tim Hohmann
Nationality: United States
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
0
I presume that in scenario 1 one of the boats involved protested the other and in scenario 2 the protest was filed by a 3rd boat which saw the incident? Distinction without a difference I think.

Need more facts:

  • Damage or injury?
  • Where were the boats in relation to each other and how were they maneuvering when contact occurred?
  • Was is reasonably possible for either boat to avoid contact?
  • Which boat was ROW? 
  • Was either boat sailing within room or mark-room she was entitled to?
  • Was either boat compelled to make contact by the other boat breaking a rule?

Depending on the answers I think it's possible one or both boats would be exonerated and no penalty would be warranted.
Created: 21-Dec-29 20:41
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
1
Rick, re: "Is your question trying to get to the concept that because there was contact that there must have been a foul? "

Yea .. pretty much.  Just giving everyone an opportunity to challenge what they know and to look at things from different perspectives.

Put another way ..

'Are there scenarios where 2 boats racing can have contact with each other, but all RRS breaches for those 2 boats are exonerated?'

I've found that attempting to break preconceptions can sometimes lead to new insights, but almost always leads to better understanding.
Created: 21-Dec-29 20:46
Tim Hohmann
Nationality: United States
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
1
It's pretty easy to find scenarios where contact occurred but both boats either didn't break or were exonerated for breaking 14. But I guess the question is what other rules were broken that led to contact, and were either or both boats exonerated for those breaches.
Created: 21-Dec-29 20:55
Rick Myers
Nationality: United States
Certifications:
  • Regional Umpire
  • Club Race Officer
  • National Judge
0
Hi Ang.  If I had been smart enough to look at the title of your post I wouldn’t have had to ask.  

There are many many situations where boats make contact where the “right” thing to do is ignore it.  

No wind with current.  Boats touch or have to fend off frequently.  It’s often impossible to prevent contact.  Just one example.  

Fouls happen on the racetrack.  There is nothing in the rules that compels a protest. 

Many situations could lead to ambiguity as to who would prevail in a protest leading to both boats choosing not to file.  

Of course, 44.1(b) is always in effect.  A gentleman should not require a protest flag to remind him of his obligation in the case of injury, serious damage or advantage.  
Created: 21-Dec-29 21:06
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
1
Angelo,

Can we assume that rule 36 does not apply?

Scenario 1

Circumstances in second part of case 77, equipment of clear ahead right of way boat (A) moves unexpectedly out of position and there is nothing that the clear astern boat (B) did or failed to do required A to take avoiding action, and there is no injury or damage.  B does not break rule 14, A is exoneated for breaking rule 14, and does not break any other rule.

Scenario 2

Breach of rules by either of the parties was compelled by a third boat breaking a rule, and the third boat takes an appropriate penalty making a protest committee protest nugatory.
Created: 21-Dec-29 21:07
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
0
John B re: "If the RC establishes as a fact that there was contact, and the boats admit to knowing there was contact,  then DSQ both boats under R 2 and for a failure to comply with Basic Principles."

Personally, I wouldn't go there so directly.  There is a difference between knowing and admitting there was contact and knowing and admitting that you broke a rule that was unexonerated.  Every WS Case I've read on Rule 2 relies to some extent on 'awareness' or 'intent' and Rule 2 requires that it be " .. clearly established that these principles have been violated.".
Created: 21-Dec-29 21:08
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
0
John A .. no assumptions .. including a Rule 36 scenario (fresh in our minds from another thread) is a good example to add.  It lives in the category of unexonerated rule breach which can't be penalized (if we were to sort the answers).

Ang
Created: 21-Dec-29 21:12
Philip Hubbell
Nationality: United States
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • Judge In Training
0
If only A and B are made parties, then one of them must have hailed Protest and flown a flag, as you say it was a valid protest.
Hence, PC cannot DSQ both.
Created: 21-Dec-29 21:59
John Ball
Nationality: Canada
0
The description for these two scenarios was clearly for a 3rd party protest.

If there was contact, then one boat was ROW or entitled to room, and the other boat was keep clear or required to give room

If my reply sounded draconian, it is because I think that the existence of R 44 requires a prompt action by one of the parties.

Failure to inform the other boat that you believe a rule has been broken may result in them not taking an R44 penalty, and a 3rd party protest results in them being DSQ. The boat that failed to protest has resulted in an increased the penalty on the other party. I see that as unsporting too and should share in the penalty.

John
Created: 21-Dec-29 22:30
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
0
John B, FWIW I purposely attempted to phrase both scenarios to be inclusive of both an incident-party and a 3rd party protest … to keep the ideas and possible answers open. 
Created: 21-Dec-30 01:34
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Phillip re: “PC cannot DSQ both.”

Would you like to explore that train of thought more Phillip?  It’s sort of the opposite of my question … Why can’t the PC DSQ both?
Created: 21-Dec-30 01:53
Rick Myers
Nationality: United States
Certifications:
  • Regional Umpire
  • Club Race Officer
  • National Judge
1
Funny how these hypotheticals always create interesting thoughts. 

John.  I think there’s a difference between a competitor that’s bullying their way around the racetrack or sailing recklessly or dangerously and a minor incident.  

There are many reasons why a competitor would choose not to protest an incident.   It could be tactical in the regatta as a whole.  A competitor might not want to dsq a boat that is ahead of another that is copse to them in the regatta standings.  

It could be that they thought it was an honest mistake and the protest would cause hard feelings or dissuade a new sailor from continuing.  

Maybe you are a bit unsure if you might be the one that gets the dsq.  

Hell it could be your girlfriend.  That would really cause a fuss.  

Those are fair considerations in the protest calculation.  

Exactly how that works in a third party situation Is up to the PC.  They’ll have a hearing, hear the testimony and make a decision based upon the facts they find.  

Phillip, I could see a lot of situations where both boats could be dsq.  Rules 11/17 is a place where that could happen easily.  The leeward boat goes up when they were bound by 17 but the windward boat does not keep clear.  There’s no echo station for the windward not in that senario.  
Created: 21-Dec-30 02:31
Philip Hubbell
Nationality: United States
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • Judge In Training
0
The question poses only A and B as PARTIES to the protest. That excludes the possibility of a third-party protest, as a third party would necessarily be a PARTY to the protest.
Given that A protested B, or vice versa, there can be no charge of RRS 2 for failure to protest or take a penalty.
Created: 21-Dec-30 02:43
Rick Myers
Nationality: United States
Certifications:
  • Regional Umpire
  • Club Race Officer
  • National Judge
0
Philip,   The question states that both A and B were made parties in the hearing. It did not state that they were the only parties.  The protestor would automatically be a party.  

I do agree that if  A protested B or vice versa then Rule 2 probably wouldn’t be a result.   
Created: 21-Dec-30 02:56
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Rick, to me the most important take-away from your list is that, in 99.9% of the scenarios, a boat doesn’t break a rule by not protesting another boat.  The exception I could imagine would be if somehow it was discovered that boats colluded with each other in a rule-breaking compact of some sort.  Maybe we get to RRS 2 down that road.

On the flip side, in the US .. Appeal US46 establishes that, “The failure of a boat to take a Two-Turns Penalty does not break a rule.”

Also recently added, US124 mentions in the discussion section,.. (the context below talks to one of JohnB’s thoughts … that somehow a protestee is “owed” a timely on-the-water protest so that they can avail themselves of an OTW penalty.  US124 addresses this question directly).

“[Protestee] claims that when an on-the-water alternative penalty is available, protested boats should have immediate and complete notification of a boat’s intention to protest. […] [The] rules do not provide time for a boat to wait until she hears the word “Protest” and/or sees a red flag displayed before taking her penalty.

“[….] Furthermore, a boat that realizes at the time of an incident that she broke a rule and does not take her penalty not only risks having her [OTW] penalty found to be invalid, she also breaks a recognized principle of sportsmanship that requires a boat that realizes she has broken a rule and is not exonerated to promptly take a penalty (see Basic Principles: Sportsmanship and the Rules; rule 2, Fair Sailing; and World Sailing Case 138, Answer 3).”

Note the use of “realizes” above.

When I read the Cases and Appeals dealing with RRS 2, they seem to be consistent that realization, knowledge, awareness and/or intent are a key component in determining breach of sportsmanship and Rule 2. 

If you have 2 boats where they make non-damage contact … both can be unsure which one of them broke an unexonerated rule. 
Created: 21-Dec-30 14:13
Rick Myers
Nationality: United States
Certifications:
  • Regional Umpire
  • Club Race Officer
  • National Judge
0
Hi Ang.  I think we are both reading from the same book here.  My point I guess was to remind that it’s not an absolute.  

The 11/17 example is a good one.  Another would be two sport boats converging on a planning run.   The port boat tries to keep clear but can’t breaking 10. The starboard boat changed course during the incident so may have broken 16.  The contact was slight. Ports spin makes a little contact with starboards backstay.  No damage.   Both boats decide that the protest could go either way or even dsq both Remembering the woody Hayes rule.  (In a protest - three things can happen -  two of them are bad)

Both competitors decide not to protest.  

I think those scenarios are reasonable decisions and do not break Rule 2.  

Somewhere in the fuzzy DNA of any class there is a line that cannot be crossed without repercussion.  Other competitors notice and solve the problem.  Either they stop letting the little things go or they tack on him more often, or don’t let him cross.  Competitive sailing can be like a middle school playground and the bully often gets the horns. 
Created: 21-Dec-30 14:40
Paul Murray
Nationality: United States
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
0
Rick Meyers - I am not in agreement with your assessment on contact, especially when two sport boats are in planing mode. The port boat is the keep clear vessel and should have acted sooner to avoid contact. If the starboard boat changed course in a way that prevented the port boat from keeping clear then she broke a rule and should be penalized.   With higher speed boats like Melges 32s, contact can be dangerous to the crews of both boats; one of the primary purposes of the rules is safety and boats colluding not to protest on contact increase the risk and breaks rule 2.  
Just my .02
Created: 21-Dec-30 15:05
Rick Myers
Nationality: United States
Certifications:
  • Regional Umpire
  • Club Race Officer
  • National Judge
0
Hi Paul.  I’m with you.  I’ve spent a fair amount of time in that situation.  These boats sailing angles change radically with small changes in wind velocity.  What is too late?   Who best to make that call?  I would think that the ROW boat would be my first choice.  If she thinks that the lee clear not did all that she could do who are we to disagree?   Again,  irresponsible sailing should be dealt with appropriately but there are circumstances where it’s not absolute.  
Created: 21-Dec-30 16:08
Philip Hubbell
Nationality: United States
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • Judge In Training
0
The answer to the original question of the necessity of a penalty is "no."
Forbearance is written into the rules most clearly in the exacting requirements of validity.
A large percentage of clear, obvious rule breaking is left unpunished due to the validity failures of protestors.
Even the RC and PC are forbidden to protest a boat for actions discovered in an invalid protest (with exceptions for injury and serious damage).
Created: 21-Dec-30 18:14
Richard Jones
Nationality: United Kingdom
0
Hmmm???

Did Ang say there was physical contact... or perhaps it was radio contact.
Created: 21-Dec-30 22:48
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Richard,

Was this what you had in mind?
Created: 21-Dec-30 23:15
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Phil,

I think you are inappropriately importing some law-court concepts into protest hearings.

A protest hearing is not a court of strict pleading.  There is no rule that requires that a boat can only be penalised for a rule breach described in the written protest.

There is no concept of ‘charge’ in Part 5 of the RRS.
 
A protest form is not a ‘charge’ or ‘indictment’.  It is just the starting point for a protest hearing,  which is an inquisitorial investigation, administrative and not judicial in nature, and not confined to ‘pleadings’.
Created: 21-Dec-31 00:00
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Wow, didn’t all that stuff about rule 2 and ‘third party protests’ derail this thread.

Here are some thoughts.

  1. The Section A (Right-of-Way) rules are written so that between two boats there is always one right-of-way boat and one give way boat. (OK, the two lasers, both starboard both windward, is a degenerate exception).
  2. Contact between boats is prima facie evidence that the give way boat has not kept clear (Case 77 exemplifies an exception).  The give way boat may be exonerated for failing to keep clear but, the starting point is that she has broken the relevant keep clear rule.
  3. There is no test of reasonableness or possibility applicable to the right-of-way rules.
  4. I am inclined to say that a give way boat that is not denied room, could always have avoided contact by keeping clear in the first place.  If that be wrong, then the give way boat has failed to keep clear and will be penalised anyway.

Considering hypotheticals like this can help us to test and clarify some generalisations, and identify exceptions to them.  Generalisations about rules obligations can be very helpful to sailors in making tactical decisions on the race course, even though they overlook some unusual exceptions.
 
Sailors can focus on the generalisations
 
Judges can focus on the exceptions.
Created: 21-Dec-31 00:02
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Thanks John A for bringing us back to the intent of the thread.

Richard … yes .. “physical” contact … but I have to say that would have been a fun twist if my intent was to make this a “puzzler” (I’m kind’a jealous I didn’t think of it!).

In both scenarios I’d hoped to remove the question of OTW penalties by taking them post valid-protest-hearing to the PC’s decision as at that point we can tally if a penalty resulted based on the contact.  Also bringing the question through the hearing should have removed things like “girlfriend” considerations.

As John points out, we need to count on PCs to be deaf to such considerations.

So, as I put the question, ‘When does and does-not a PC make an error by NOT penalizing at least 1 boat?’  Not, ‘When does a boat make an error by not taking an OTW penalty or deciding to protest or not?’  

With Scenario #1, I’d hoped to conjure some analysis as John just provided … also Rick’s 2-boats drifting without way and a nod to the RRS 36 possibility.   Also Case 77’s ROW boat’s equipment moving unexpectedly out of position is a good catch. 

Are there any more I missed here?

With Scenario #2, I had worded it to be open to more possibilities .. with other boats possibly causing the contact between A and B (imagining a crowded pinwheel around a leeward mark).  Here maybe a 3rd boat protests A&B but the PC finds that it’s a 4th boat at fault, but is either unidentifiable or since Boat-4 was not protested, the PC decides not to protest Boat-4 (thus no boat DSQ’d is not an “error” as a PC “may” protest Boat-4). 

In the end, I think it’s a reasonable QC check on the part of the PC when there is contact to make sure they are not inappropriately exonerating a rule breach when confronted with physical contact between boats. 
Created: 21-Dec-31 13:57
[You must be signed in to add a comment]
Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn more