Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

Request for redress. Improper action or omission

P
David Dalli
Nationality: Malta
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
Is there a guide as to what constitutes an improper action or omission. The racing rules are quite scant on the conduct of a race whilst the WS race management manual is profuse with recommendations. And there are so many things that can fall short of the ideal.
Created: 22-Sep-19 00:57

Comments

P
Christopher Walmsley
Nationality: Canada
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
0
If you can find a rule in the RRS, NoR or SIs that was broken, then it's an error, or something that the RRS, NoR or SIs state must be done that wasn't, then it's an ommision.   Most other things are judgments (neither errors or omissions).
Created: 22-Sep-19 01:30
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
4
The World Sailing Judges Manual WSJM - K29provides guidance

K.29.9
 
Improper Action or Omission

An improper action is doing something that is not permitted by the rules of the event (racing rules, notice of race or sailing instructions and any others). An omission is not doing something that the rules specify will be done. If a race committee or protest committee or the technical committee does or does not do something over which it has discretion or is not mandatory, it is neither an improper action, nor an omission for which redress can be given.

Race management policies, jury policies, and “Advice to Competitors” are not rules. If the race committee or protest committee did not act on those policies or advice, it would not be grounds for redress. World Sailing Case
129 provides an example of a race committee action that was not good race management practice, but was not an improper action of the race committee.

Examples:
If a race committee signals course 3 when only courses 1 and 2 are described in the sailing instructions, this would be an improper action as the course was not in the sailing instructions.

If the race committee signaled course 2 and subsequently the first boat could not finish the course within the time limit and the course was not shortened, this would not be improper action or omission. This course is permitted by the sailing instructions and shortening the course is not mandatory; it was not an improper action or omission.


Conduct that amounts to misconduct by a race official under the provisions and Codes of Conduct provided by WS and Member National Associations may also be an improper action.

But RRS 62.1 [deliberately] sets the bar high.

A mere error or mistake in judgement or execution by a race committee does not ground redress unless it can be shown to be improper.

No rule requires a race committee or race official to act 'fairly'.  RRS 62.1 does not provide an avenue for complaint based on a general perception of 'unfairness'.
Created: 22-Sep-19 01:36
Peter Nielsen
Nationality: United States
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • National Umpire
0
Is it just me, what improper action are you asking about. 
Created: 22-Sep-19 03:22
P
David Dalli
Nationality: Malta
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
0
Thank you. This has been very helpful. It occasionally occurs that sailors are aggrieved by what they consider unfair decisions or management. Such as shortening a course without displaying S flag or having a boat which is not anchored monitoring starters at the pin end of the line.
Created: 22-Sep-19 07:28
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
1
David, your shortened course is a good example to walk through.

First step is to read the rule and look for the words “may” and “shall” .. (emphasis added)

We look to the first line of RRS 32.1 ..
”After the starting signal, the race committee may shorten the course (display flag S with two sounds) […]”. 

Ok, the RC “may” shorten the course.  It’s their discretion to shorten or not. An RC deciding to shorten a course or not shorten is not an “improper action or omission” 

But, if the RC decides to shorten, the last sentence of RRS 32.2 is …
“[…] The shortened course shall be signaled before the first boat crosses the finishing line.“

The “Race Signals” pages in the RRS are rules, which designates flag S with 2 sounds as the signal for “shortened course”. 

If an RC shortens the course without displaying flag S with 2 sounds, that is an omission by the RC, unless the SI’s changed the procedure/requirements for shortening the course.  
Created: 22-Sep-19 12:12
P
David Dalli
Nationality: Malta
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
0
K.29.16
 
Requests for redress for alleged race committee error in scoring a boat OCS, ZFP or UFD or BFD

Boats sometimes challenge the race committee’s decision to score them OCS, ZFP, UFD or BFD by requesting redress under RRS 62.1(a).

For a boat to be given redress, she must provide evidence that the race committee has made an error.


Although it is self-evident that such an error should merit correction how does this situation fit the guidance given in K.29.9 of the WSJM.  It seems to suggest that redress may also be justified for a race committees' mistake

Has this paragraph been inserted as a singular situation that does not fit K.29.9's description? Or is it an example of how an error may be an improper action?
Created: 22-Sep-19 19:21
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
David,

I said in my previous post 

A mere error or mistake in judgement or execution by a race committee does not ground redress unless it can be shown to be improper.

Improper actions of a race committee will usually arise from a mistake or error.  To ground redress, it is then necessary to establish that this error or mistake was improper, or gave rise to some improper action or omission.

In the OCS case the alleged error is in the observation of whether or not the boat was over the starting line at the starting signal.

If that error was proved, the improper action would be not scoring the boat in her finishing place in accordance with Appendix A 4.

Case 136 may be useful in these cases.
Created: 22-Sep-19 22:00
P
David Dalli
Nationality: Malta
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
0
Excellent. Thank you very much for this John. It ties up the loose ends in my mind very satisfactorily.
Created: 22-Sep-20 07:50
Gordon Davies
Nationality: Ireland
Certifications:
  • International Judge
1
The statement 'An improper action is doing something that is not permitted by the rules of the event ' only takes account of one definition of the word improper
However, as 'improper' is not defined in RRS we are required to interpret it in the sense ordinarily understood in noutical or general use' (see Terminology in RRS Introduction.Note that according to WS Constitution 2.3:The official language of the Federation is English...All official Federation English texts should be edited to comply with what is known as “Plain English” in the United Kingdom.
(Note RRS 47 does not comply with this article of the Constitution as, in plain UK English, it prohibits competitors and support persons from putting articles of low quality in the water, but does not prohibit them from throwing rubbish in to the water!).

According to the Cambridge online dictionary 'improper' may mean:
dishonest and against a law or a rule:
unsuitable or not correct for a particular use or occasion:
related to sex in a way that is rude or socially unacceptable

The Judges Manual only applies the first definition. I suspect that in most cases an incident involving a race official that meets the 3rd definition will lead to far more that an simple redress hearing.
However, there are frequent incidents in which a race committee does soemthing that, while not against a rule, is unsuitable or not correct for a particular occaision.
For instance - in a keelboat race the windward mark is laid with too much line, so that it extends a considerable distance to windward of the mark. If the line is not visible from the surface, but is not sunk deep enough, then keels will catch the line even though boats are passing a seamanlike distance from the mark.
Unless there is some way for crews to see and avoid the linethen, by definition, the mark has been laid by the RC in an improprer (and unseamanlike) way. This improper action may well make a boat's score significantly worse thhough no fault of her own and therefore under RRS62.1(a) the boat may claim redress.
Created: 22-Sep-21 14:55
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Gordon, re: "The Judges Manual only applies the first definition. I suspect that in most cases an incident involving a race official that meets the 3rd definition will lead to far more that an simple redress hearing. ... [3rd def] .. 'unsuitable or not correct for a particular use or occasion' .. "

Gordon, have you successfully applied this broader approach in practice?  Do we have any examples in any MNA Appeals or Cases that might support this more expansive approach?

Ang
Created: 22-Sep-26 17:21
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
USA Appeal US118 has a useful discussion of 'improper act or omission'.
Created: 22-Sep-26 22:33
P
David Dalli
Nationality: Malta
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
0
When accepting a wider interpretation of improper, do we not risk pitting the discretionary powers of the protest committee against those of the race officer.  Would the race officer then be in a position to appeal the PC's decision?
Created: 22-Sep-28 08:39
Gordon Davies
Nationality: Ireland
Certifications:
  • International Judge
0
There are two relevant RYA cases:
 RYA 1969/12  A race committee action or omission may be improper, even if no rule is broken, and even when it occurs before the preparatory signal.
In this case, the race committee moved the starting area and did not allow boats sufficient time to sail to the new starting area.

RYA 1989/10  Redress may be given for a race committee's failure to provide suitably equipped marks. In cases involving errors by the race committee, it is a good principle that any doubts be resolved in favour of the competitor
In this case several boats became tangled in the anchor line of a mark that was floating below the surface and was invisible to boats.
The case concludes:  Marks are laid for the benefit of competing boats and it is important that ground tackle be arranged to minimise possibility of being fouled by the boats. In cases involving errors by the race committee, it is a good principle that any doubts be resolved in favour of the competitor.

 RYA Case 2002/13 states that “The RYA cases are illustrative and persuasive but not binding on any protest committee or jury. However, if a decision was contrary to an RYA case on the same or very similar facts, and if the decision were appealed, it is likely that the appeal would be upheld.

I have applied the principle of RYA 1989/10 on several occaisions.


Created: 22-Sep-28 11:00
Gordon Davies
Nationality: Ireland
Certifications:
  • International Judge
0
David Dalli wrote:  When accepting a wider interpretation of improper, do we not risk pitting the discretionary powers of the protest committee against those of the race officer.  Would the race officer then be in a position to appeal the PC's decision?

I am not sure what you mean by 'discretionary powers'. 
As I see it if a request for redress is delivered the the protest committee must decide if the boat's race or series score has been made significantly worse, through no fault of her own by an action of the race committee was:
- against a rule
- unsuitable or not correct in the particular context or situation
- related to sex in a way that was rude or socially unacceptable.

As a judge appointed to the protest committee I am required to hear the request, find facts and make a decision.
In my experience most requests are refused on the basis that the boat was at fault in some (often small way).
The race committee will be a party to the hearing, and may appeal if they so wish.

So in RYA  1989/10 the key fact is that the anchor line was not visible by boats approaching the mark. If it had been visible and a  boat could reasonably have avoided the it then no redress.

Created: 22-Sep-28 11:58
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