Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

Time Limit for Abandoning a Race and "Variable Conditions" in Considering the "Fairness" of a Race

Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
Sometimes we get a forum post that asks really good questions, but for one reason or another we disallow This comes from Tod Sackett, a forum participant (delayed, reworded and obfuscated by yours truly).
-
  1. What if any time limits exist for an RC abandoning a race?
  2. When do "variable conditions" meet the 32.1(d) standard of "effecting .. the fairness of the race" (assuming there is enough wind for the vast majority of the fleet to finish within the TL)?
  3. When if ever can/should a race be abandoned due to "variable conditions" AFTER the race is complete, assuming ALL racers finish within the TL?
  4. What openness and transparency is expected and required of an RC in their process of their 32.1 "considering the consequences for all boats in the race or series." responsibility?
  5. Considering a situation where all boats finish, and the RC decides to abandon after the race due to "variable conditions", why is that process' openness and right to notice so different than a redress hearing?
  6. If competitors don't like the decision (either to abandon or not to), what if anything can they do about it?

In the US we have Appeal US100 (note US 100 has 'fog" in the scenario, which could also constitute a safety issue .. and not simply "variable" conditions).

I also found interesting that RYA 1982-17 and 1999-08 touch on it ... and seem to put more limits on abandoning a race due to variable conditions when most racers can finish within the TL.

As a general topic, when (if ever) does a highly variable conditions make a race "unfair" and worthy of abandonment?

Ang
(Todd, I hope I did a good job rewording your post .. feel free to jump-in and correct where I fell short)
Created: 18-Jul-06 23:37

Comments

Ben Fels
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • International Umpire
  • National Race Officer
0
My answers to these questions are:
Question 1 - It depends
Question 2 - It depends
Question 3 - It depends
Question 4 - It depends
Question 5 - It depends

Created: 18-Jul-06 23:46
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
2
I think Ben's answers aren't too bad.

I suggest Ang and Tod read the Race Management Manual s1.6.1 and the WS Race Management Policies (referred to in RMM S Chap 11), and the appeals Ang has cited, then, perhaps revise the questions.

Abandoning is a last resort.

1. The RRS do not prescribe any limit on the time after a race that a race committee may abandon it .

2. See RMM and RMP.

3. Maybe the race committee might decide that at some point the race officer definitely should not have let the race continue.

4. None. The RRS do not require a race committee to conduct 'hearings'. Good RM practice is for wide and open communication with competitors.

5. Because it is not a redress hearing.

6. If boats don't like it they can request redress and have a hearing then.
Created: 18-Jul-07 01:09
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Based upon the replies, I appear to have touched a nerve with this post. Please allow me to explain how this post came about and why I posted it.

In my conversations with Paul, I know he hopes that this forum becomes a welcoming resource for Race Management, Judges and potential judges as well as just racers that want to understand the rules better, how and why decisions are made by management and judges, and where, when and how they might interact with those decisions.

As I said, this question came from a competitor more than a couple weeks ago. I think the questions are reasonable to ask and I understand his desire for insights into them.

As moderators, Paul has asked us to have a light-hand. Our job isn't to intercept questions, research and answer them offline.

I think we should all want to foster a welcoming environment here for judges, race managers and racers alike, from experienced to novices in those categories. We should all want to learn from each other and from those who have more experience and knowledge than we do .. and maybe discover new questions that we hadn't considered which come from fresh eyes.

FWIW, in the intervening time between when Todd initially posted his question, I did have a private email dialog with him pointing him to resources I listed.

I don't think it reasonable to expect racers to read Race Management Manuals and Policies (or to even know they exist or how to find them) .. or to gain any meaningful insight from "it depends".

Creating a "that's a stupid question" feeling here won't help anyone learn and only tends to intimidate others from asking questions.

I know many you have meaningful and useful insights to share. I hope those that are willing to, will.

Yours truly,

Ang
Created: 18-Jul-07 05:03
John Culter
Nationality: Canada
Certifications:
  • National Race Officer
0
As a race officer, I must say I find the two RYA cases intrusive and off target. 32.1(d) is pretty clear: "for any other reason directly affecting ... the fairness of the competition." That is a decision to be taken by the RO, at the time. Of course the wind came in. It always does after an abandonment. :) Second guessing the RC is always good sport, but it would be nice if appeals committees lived in the real world.

Not sure where “variable conditions” came from. One of the manuals?

That said, Q3 should only happen under highly unusual circumstances. An example could be that the RO learns after the race that half the fleet went around the wrong mark. Unless you have something like that, leave it be. What you’re trying to avoid is a mass redress hearing.

As to Q4, the RO is required to consider. Not explain. Or consider aloud in public. Transparency is always best, but ROs make lots of decisions during a race without the expectation that they will be later required to explain them. OCS calls at the start, shorten course decisions, starting line bias are examples.

For Q5 and Q6, I think John Allan has it exactly correct.

Created: 18-Jul-07 06:49
Bill Handley
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • National Judge
0
Ok, I'll have a crack at this to get the ball rolling but these are just my personal views. Furthermore I am looking at this from my position as a judge which is where my experience lies.
So answering Q6 first competitors may seek redress under rule 62.1(a) claiming the decision to abandon the race was an improper action by the RC. Bear in mind that it would have to be "improper" and not just "wrong" in the mind of some competitors and that if the race had been abandoned before any boat finished then there is probably no realistic redress that could be given. The following are what I would consider and how I would approach it if such a request were made.
1. I can not see any time limits on abandoning a race. As a PC can abandon a race as a decision on redress (64.2) long after the race it would be inconsistent if a RC on reflection after a race could not do the same.
2. That is a mater of judgement by the RC based on what they consider to be fair for the majority of competitors, If a 180 degree wind shift turned the race inside out then the RC could either decide to abandon under 32.1(d) or let the race run on and neither would be an improper action.
3. See answers 1&2.
4. The RC are required to have these considerations but they are not required to share them with anyone except a PC and other parties to a request for redress. It would be good PR to explain such a decision by way of a competitor briefing but there is no requirement for this.
5 Because that's what the rules say. If you want to open up the process make it the subject of a redress hearing.
Clearly there is some back story her of which I am completely unaware and this is a simple statement of how I would handle a request for redress in the circumstances described.
Created: 18-Jul-07 07:09
John Mooney
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Umpire
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Ang, I note that you have used the phrase "variable conditions" in quotes a couple of times, and I'm wondering if those quotes refer to a specific use of the phrase with which I'm unfamiliar. If not, I largely agree with John's comments, and would respectfully suggest that references to those documents (Race Management Manual and Policies) that provide what guidance there is for such judgement calls is neither a way of calling the question stupid nor an esoteric exercise, but is a useful reference for those who want to understand that guidance. Racers need not read them if they don't want to - they can simply read the rulebook, a careful reading of which will provide the limits of what is permissible. Judges and race officers who want to make those calls in accordance with precedents and best practices should read the guidance those documents provide.

What follows doesn't differ much from what John has provided, but in hopes that some further explanation may be useful...

1 - There are several places where the WS manuals (both judges and race officers) suggest that abandoning a race, particularly one that has finishers, is not to be done lightly. That said, the rulebook imposes no time limit on when an RC may abandon a race, as John observes.
2 - The answer to this is necessarily a judgement call, and will have varied answers in varied circumstances. As you will have seen, the RMM and RMP documents provide a couple of examples of conditions that might affect the fairness of racing, such as a wind shift causing the fleet to invert, but other than those limits specifically stated in Rule 32 and the aforementioned guidance to avoid abandonments whenever possible, RCs are given wide latitude by the rules to make their own judgements about what "directly affect(s) the safety or fairness of the competition." FWIW, my own preference is to consider abandoning once it has become clear that a race has become a complete crap shoot, but others might well argue that there is nothing inherently unfair about a crap shoot, since everyone is rolling the same dice. I don't believe either choice is improper under the rules, so when I'm running a regatta, I try to get a sense of what the fleet's pleasure is in this regard before we start, and to follow it as best I can. Like many RM decisions, this is a matter of "scalable formality", with different requirements in major regattas than in more local racing, those more formal requirements to be set forth in the SIs (and frequently discussed in the championship conditions documents for major class regattas). I submit that the RYA 1982-17 case you referred to speaks to this somewhat (as well as providing a graphic illustration of the utility of time limits!)
3 - As John observed, it's possible that an RC might become convinced that they had allowed a race to continue that was unfair and that they should therefore have abandoned. As Appeal 100 notes, it's within their power to abandon such a race whenever they so decide, but their decision will be reviewable in a redress hearing, and as the last line of Rule 32 indicates, it's going to require some pretty solid justification to abandon a race that everyone has finished. (I note that while it's true that the Noroton RC was concerned about the presence of fog, the appeal says their concern was for the fairness of the race, not for its safety.)
4, 5, 6 - As noted above, an RC is (and should be) given pretty wide latitude under the rules to run races as it sees fit, and there is no requirement for them to explain the rationale for what they're doing, as long as it's within the rules. That said, as John also notes, best practice is to communicate with the competitors as much as is practicable, so one might say that; "no explanation is required, but much is expected." Also, all RC choices are reviewable in a redress hearing, which preserves the due process elements of ensuring adherence to the rules, and obviates the need for the same formalities to be repeated in the RC's notices to competitors about their conduct of a race.

Hope this helps...
Created: 18-Jul-07 08:15
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
As one of the posters whose nerve appears to have been touched by the questions in this topic, I'd like to provide a few comments about the questions and Angelo's later post.

I don't think I'm alone in finding posts in this forum that deal with philosophies, discretionary decisions, and practices of Race Management, as distinct from the application of the RRS, awkward, particularly when, as in this topic, they are phrased as if they were 'rules questions'.

I don't want to get all net-cop-ish, but, the stated purpose of this (The Racing Rules of Sailing) forum is "Posts interpreting or analyzing rules and cases including competitor's questions". There is another (Race Officers) forum for "discussing issues relevant to Race Officers and the administration and running of races". I guess I'd prefer non-rules issues about race management to go there.

I was perfectly genuine when I suggested that reading of the RMM and RMP, and the relevant Appeals would probably lead to better phrased questions.

I don't agree that that is unreasonable. The Forum Guidelines say " Before posting a new question, look at the relevant rules and associated cases. Review the recent posts. Make an effort to research before you post". I think that is a quite reasonable 'price of admission' to the forum.

I quite understand that new posters may ask simplistic questions, or go to the wrong forum.

I wonder if, from among the regular postes, having a 'Duty Judge' maybe a week at a time, to provide simple answers to simple questions, or to 'massage' awkward questions into a more constructive form would be a useful idea?






Created: 18-Jul-07 11:54
Tod Sackett
Nationality: United States of America
0
Thank you Ang for posting my question and making me sound like I understand this issue better than I do. I approach this question only as a competitor and I have no race management credentials. I do however read the rules and try to understand them as best I can. I always look for the logic in the rule as it helps me to understand how it is implemented. In this case, there was a complete fleet inversion with a 180 degree wind shift, however all competitors finished within the time limit. If the race had been abandoned I do not think that anyone would have complained, but the race stood. The PRO said the following day he was thinking of abandoning this race. This is what got me wondering what the latitude was for abandonment after the fact and what specifically would trigger such action. Surely it can not be just because upon reflection maybe it wasn't a fair race. It must require something tangible or it would open the issue up to a fairly obvious redress hearing. John Mooney's comment (3) seems to come closest to the issue sighting that it will take "solid justification" to abandon after the fact. Just what that justification would look like I can only speculate but at least it would prevent it from being an arbitrary decision.

These discussions are very valuable for sailors like me. The expertise in this forum is very high and it can be intimidating to jump in with comments or questions. The RRS and supporting documents have become very refined over the years yet they can still produce a wide range of interpretation as seen in this discussion or as Ben said "it depends".

I appreciate everyone's opinion on this and understand that there is often no single correct answer to these questions.
Created: 18-Jul-07 12:18
Tod Sackett
Nationality: United States of America
0
John I think this question, as posted, reflects on the point that race management and the RRS are not divisible. Ang and I did have an offline discussion about what rules and appeals were relevant prior to posting. This issue was researched however it was difficult to come to a solid conclusion hence the posting here.
Created: 18-Jul-07 12:26
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Thanks all for the detailed responses.

FWIW, what I tried to do was take the questions that Todd brought up during our offline dialog and then put them out onto the forum from the POV of someone who didn't know any of the answers.

I thought I made that clear that's what I was doing at the top. Obviously I did not.

I also tried to make it non-specific to any case and thus not second-guess any decision that was made. Given that there is no time-limit, in effect all races ever raced are still open to abandonment, so it's really impossible to discuss the matter without touching "live" cases.

"Variable conditions" was my own construction. Maybe the combination of these facts made the post too awkward to handle.

My apologies for that. I should have been much more clear that's what I was attempting to do.

-----

Out of all questions, what I do find the most interesting is that the RRS's allow RC's to abandon a race at any time without requesting a redress for the effected fleet. Seems that RC's have 2 choices by the RRS's, they could simply abandon or request a redress for the fleet (and put into the PC's hands), opening it up for testimony and participation. The PC could also determine the race should be nullified, but in a much more open process.

Curious if anyone has thoughts on one approach vs the other.

Ang
Created: 18-Jul-07 14:00
Bill Bell
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • National Umpire
  • National Race Officer
0
I do not believe the RC can abandon a race after it has been completed
Firstly they can only abandon a race by displaying flags while the race is being run and once it is completed they are required by the rules to score the race
Appendix 10 states only the protest committee can make a boat’s score worse (the RC can correct any scoring errors but this is only correctly scoring a boat with its correct score and not making it worse even though it may be greater than it was.
If the RC thinks it has made an error it can only request redress for the boats effected which may result in the race being abandoned
Created: 18-Jul-08 23:35
Tod Sackett
Nationality: United States of America
0
Bill, this certainly seems to be the most reasonable conclusion. Tod
Created: 18-Jul-09 12:32
Peter van Muyden
Nationality: Canada
Certifications:
  • International Race Officer
0

There are cases when the RC has to abandon the race after all boats have finished.
Consider the following scenario:

  • The race time limit is 60 minutes
  • Boat A finishes in 59 minutes
  • Boat B finishes in 61 minutes
  • All other boats finish after boat B
  • Boat A is protested and disqualified under RRS 28 for not sailing the course

The RC has to abandon the race under RRS 35

Created: 18-Jul-09 12:33
Lloyd Causey
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Peter
I do not understand RRS 35 as you have interpreted. All the contestants finished and were recorded. At the time the protest was filed, the race was a valid race under RRS 35 and should be scored. If the result of the protest is to DSQ Boat A, how does that automatically abandon this race? I am not saying the PC cannot abandon the race, but the PC must decide the result of the hearing.

I am not convinced that Bill Bell is incorrect.
Created: 18-Jul-09 13:59
Peter van Muyden
Nationality: Canada
Certifications:
  • International Race Officer
0
Lioyd

I believe that RRS 90.3 (a) comes into play. No boat sailed the course as required by RRS 28 and within the time limit. RRS 35 became in effect after boat A was disqualified for not sailing the course as per RRS 28. Due to the DSQ of A under RRS 28 all the other boats finished beyond the time limit.
Created: 18-Jul-09 15:29
Lloyd Causey
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Peter,
We are looking at this from a different point in time. At the time Boat A finished he had not violated RRS 28. Only the PC can determine that Boat A violated RRS 28 with a filed protest and a hearing. The RC cannot say that boat A violated RRS 28. If they believe this is true they must file a protest with the PC. Boat A FINISHED within the time limit. Until the protest is decided we must accept that Boat A did not violate RRS 28. At this point the Race Committee does not have reason to abandon this race.
They should follow RRS 90.3(a) and score the race.

Now after the hearing on the RRS 28, the PC may indeed DSQ Boat A . I am not sure this invalidates the race or requires it to be abandoned.
Created: 18-Jul-09 20:20
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Peter .. VERY interesting scenario to ponder.

Bill B. .. in the US we have the US100 which directly opposes your position. Curious on your thoughts on their Q&A in that US Appeal.

Ang
Created: 18-Jul-09 21:00
Bill Bell
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • National Umpire
  • National Race Officer
0
US Appeal 100 appears to be in conflict with Appendix A as it worsens boats scores.
In the senario stated boat A can not be scored in Accordance rule 90.3 as she has not complied with rule 28. It would therefore seem the RC could abandon the race and comply with Appendix A as no boats scores are made worse, but what if boat A had been disqualified for infringing a rule of, say, Part 2 in which case she would be scored DSQ. The could effect boats score in a series as it could alter any discards thereby making some scores worse, there does not appear to be a definitive answer to this question
Created: 18-Jul-10 03:27
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Bill B,

Thanks. The original scenario was abandonment after all boats finish for a variation in wind conditions. Based upon what Todd offered later, his specific case was a 180 shift and "inversion" of the fleet (though I have to admit, the RRS 28 scenario and Llyod's replies are very interesting too).

After reading everyone's input, this is where I think I'm left.

The other item in the RRS's that we have that does not have a time-limit seems to be the responsibility of a competitor to report their foul and take their penalty if, contemporaneously with the event they were unaware they had broken a rule, they at some later date discover they did. It's as if Lance Armstrong was unaware that his trainer was spiking his food and water and years later at the bar the trainer confesses what he'd done. There is no time-limit for Lance to fess-up even if it means loosing all that silver and recalculating the standings going back years.

Q&A 2017-007 Basic Principles - Sportsmanship

In the case of considering fairness and effect on competitors due to weather conditions and whether or not to abandon a race (after all boats finish), seems we have 2 avenues .. the RC can abandon and the PC can abandon if they have a redress before them making the unfair conditions claim.

In the US, the question was asked and answered in a direct and straight-forward manner. US100 leaves really no ambiguity. RC's have a perpetual, unending ability to abandon a race.

US Appeal 100

That said, why should the RRS's leave a perpetual ability for the RC to abandon, when redress through the PC is a path available? Looking around at the TL's that are already defined in the RRS's, seems to me the logical default TL for an RC to abandon 'could-be' (not 'is', I acknowledge that this is currently not in the RRS's) the Protest-filing TL. If that TL is reasonably set for a competitor to get their act together and file, then seems it should be enough for the RC to make the most obvious calls. Also, if before the filing TL, the RC can file the redress and have it posted at the time the effected competitors are supposed to be looking for notices (PS .. the Protest-filing TL also just seems a natural break-point between the RC's and PC's purviews).

If it's not an obvious enough call for the RC that they can't make it by the filing TL, then I'm wondering if the redress path through the PC is maybe more appropriate for those instances?

It's just that interpreting the RRS such that the RC has a perpetual, unending ability to reach-back and abandon races is hard to wrap my head around.

Ang
Created: 18-Jul-10 13:07
Bill Bell
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • National Umpire
  • National Race Officer
0
I am not sure how US case 100 can override a RRS rule namely Appendix A5 which sets out how a RC scores a race and clearly states “Only a protest committee may take other scoring actions that worsen a boat’s score”
If you can answer this I would like hear how
Created: 18-Jul-11 05:32
Bill Handley
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • National Judge
0
I think that the answer is that A5 only restricts what a RC may do in respect of "scoring actions". This is not a defined term but I think most people would accept this to mean actions that deal only with scoring adjustments, such as changing the score of am individual boat in a valid race - it is significant the the use of "a" and the position of the apostrophe in A5 means that it refers to an individual boat . When an RC abandons a race (at any time) it isn't taking a scoring action, it's taking a race management action. There are of course scoring consequences of what the RC does but these follow on from the decision to abandon the race and is not a decision that relates only to scoring which is what I would think a scoring action would have to be.

Rule 90.3(c) specifically allows a RC to change a boat's score upwards or downwards if it decides that it has scored a boat incorrectly so this correction of an error is clearly not regarded as a scoring action. This confirms in my mind the limited nature of the term "scoring action".
Created: 18-Jul-11 06:28
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Bill,

When an RC abandons a race (at any time) it isn't taking a scoring action, it's taking a race management action.

I'm wondering if we can't bracket this question a little and poke at that position a bit.

First, what type of race are we talking about?

I think we are talking about a race on a drop-mark course ... W/L or other config where the RC has positioned the starting line and marks so they are aligned as best they can dead-windward and dead-downwind. We aren't talking about "distance" races that are around mainly fixed navigational marks. I don't think a 180 shift in a distance race, though it may "invert the fleet" would normally be considered "unfair".

Second, are we talking about a single race or a series?
If we are talking drop-mark racing, then more often than not, we are talking about a race in which it is intended to be part of a series of races.

So, "When an RC abandons a race (at any time) it isn't taking a scoring action, it's taking a race management action."? I think if an RC abandons a race at anytime before boats finish, then absolutely, they are not making a scoring action. On the other end of the spectrum, if an RC abandons a race 2-days later in a race where all racers finish and are scored, I think one can make the strongest argument (not necessarily a winning argument) that they are taking a scoring action, maybe even more so if this race was part of a series.

To my mind, time matters. The longer it passes, the more those scores lived in the world. That's why in my last post I was arguing that it would be better to put a time-certain for the RC to make the call. It helps define a process and lends a sense of what is expected.

Thinking about it a little deeper now, if it is a multi-race regatta and it's not the last race of the day, I think the abandon after finishing TL should be before starting the next race, as it can be very important to competitors to understand their place in the series for their strategy and tactics in the following races.

If it's only one race or the last race of the day or series, then I would say the TL could be protest-filing TL (as stated before).

If it's after that, then I think it should be done through redress in the PC and be subject to an open, fact-finding process.

Without appropriate TL's, we risk decisions appearing to come out of left-field and maybe with a perceived sense of unfairness to those effected.

Ang

PS ... isn't that one of the reasons that in multi-day regattas, we try to hear the protests at the end of each day and have a filing deadline that allows that to happen? So that competitors understand where they stand when the next day's racing begins?

Created: 18-Jul-11 13:11
Bill Handley
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • National Judge
0
Ang - My post was limited in scope to reconciling how a RC may abandon a race after it has finished without breaching A5. Clearly US 100 says this is the case and I was trying to put some flesh on the bones of the argument. I was not addressing the desirability or otherwise of abandoning a race some time after the boats had finished.

It seems to me that for something to be a "scoring action" as set out in A5, it has to be just that, a change of scoring and nothing else and A5 states that this can only be done by a PC if it worsens a boats score. I think (and US 100 tends to confirm this) that other actions that may have a knock on effect on the scoring such as abandoning a race under rule 32 or correcting an error under 90.3(c) are not just scoring actions but in fact are other race management actions that have an impact on scoring.
Created: 18-Jul-11 13:53
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