Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

sportsmanship - maybe hit a mark

David Chudzicki
Nationality: United States of America
Let's say I'm rounding a mark and I think I might have hit it, but I'm not sure (I was busy steering and trimming, my crew busy trimming, etc.). Should I circle? Presumably I should if I think there's a 90% chance I hit it. What about 50%? 10%? 1%?

The rules say:

A fundamental principle of sportsmanship is that when competitors break a rule they will promptly take a penalty, which may be to retire.

This doesn't give a lot of leeway -- it doesn't say that if you *know* you broke the rule, you take the penalty. So I suspect the right interpretation is that you must either take a penalty or be very very confident that you didn't break a rule.

But what do others think? Are there any relevant cases?

My interpretation has implications for how you allocate your attention as you round a mark. If I'm right, then it's really important to know for sure whether you hit it, so you should be looking at it if it's nearby -- even if that distracts from trimming and so on, and even if it actually increases the chances you hit it.
Created: 19-Jul-22 15:33

Comments

Greg Dargavel
Nationality: Canada
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • National Judge
0
Regular protests are decided on the "balance of probabilities". I think that would be good guideline here.

Created: 19-Jul-22 15:51
Charles Darley
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • Regional Umpire
1
What makes you think you hit it?  

'We were a bit close and we might have', I think is insufficient to cause you to take a penalty.  Pay more attention next time.
Created: 19-Jul-22 16:30
David Chudzicki
Nationality: United States of America
1
Thanks, you think you both are right.

I like Greg's point about how a protest would decide. It'd be weird to penalize myself when a protest commit that has all the information I have wouldn't choose to. That seems like a better interpretation than mine in the original post.

What makes you think you hit it?  

Yeah, just being close, maybe also the fact that we had to "shoot" it a bit to get past, etc.

Pay more attention next time.

Agree!
Created: 19-Jul-22 16:33
Philip Hubbell
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • Judge In Training
0
If it was that close that you are unsure, you can be sure that the competitor behind you was pretty sure you did hit it.
Embrace the opportunity for setting an example and establishing your reputation for sportsmanship.
Do your circle - it is only one circle, after all.  (Paul Elvstrom would have retired.)
How much better to circle, then chat at the bar afterward and admit you were not sure, and have a witness exclaim he thought you were clear!
Created: 19-Jul-22 16:45
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
0
I should store the link to the Q&A as a hot-key .. I reference it so much lately. : Basic Principles - Sportsmanship ... I think this might be helpful tangentially.

(emphasis added) "... [penalty] instructions shall be followed as soon as the boat becomes aware of the breach".

The breach needs to be real (which includes being real in the mind of the competitor) .. and the boat breaking the rule has to be aware of the real breach (awareness is a state of mind).

Let's flip the logic and play with it ....

Let's take a competitor that doesn't have a firm grasp of the rules, and they do something which they firmly believe 100% was a breach of the rules, but actually was not a rule breach.  

They are aware of a rule breach .. they should take a penalty.
Created: 19-Jul-22 17:50
Philip Hubbell
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • Judge In Training
0
Whoa, Angelo! I am not sure that was even tangential. Non-intersecting, parallel, maybe.  :)
"Aware of the breach" applies to the "as soon as" component of that sentence. And "as soon as" refers to when, not whether.
And the whole sentence refers to later circumstances unrelated to David's original on the water question.
Perhaps you can clarify your linkage.
.
RRS 44.1 states that a boat may "take a One Turn Penalty when she MAY have broken rule 31."
Very few of the rules have been accidentally worded. This one addresses David's situation.
(Just for fun: Turn that one upside down and the turns penalty alternative disappears if she absolutely broke a rule.)
Created: 19-Jul-22 18:18
Tim Hohmann
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
0
I second the "balance of probabilities" standard. If you think it's more likely than not that you made contact do a turn, but otherwise just be on your way. 

If a competitor saw contact that you missed they should hail their intent to protest, and in that event (unless you're sure there was no contact) you should do a turn. 
Created: 19-Jul-22 19:41
David Chudzicki
Nationality: United States of America
1
If a competitor saw contact that you missed they should hail their intent to protest, and in that event (unless you're sure there was no contact) you should do a turn. 

Completely agree. One of my assumptions here is that if they think they saw it, then they know better than I do.

That reminds me: If you're protesting someone for hitting the mark, they may not know they hit it. In that case it's understandable that they aren't circling yet, but they should circle once they hear you hail "protest".

I think a lot of people in my fleet don't protest when they should b/c they're avoiding conflict. In some of these cases I try not to think of protests as conflict, but a collaborative effort to do the right thing.


Created: 19-Jul-22 19:47
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Philip, not sure I'm on board with your "may" interpretation.

The way I've always thought of the use of "may have broken a rule" is that the only way that a boat definitely is determined to have broken a rule, is as a result of a hearing and she being found to have done so.  Until then, she "may" have broken a rule.

When it comes to Sportsmanship, when a boat to the best of her knowledge believes and thus becomes aware she broke a rule, she should take a penalty which may be to retire.  When a boat does so, she has not be found to have broken a rule .. she may have or may not have actually broken a rule depending upon her knowledge and understanding (that's why I offered the flip-logic scenario).  What she has done is taken a penalty, which is the only thing definitive, on the basis of her belief and awareness.

That's why the Q&A is pertinent, as it speaks to the moment of awareness, which transcends any time limit.


Created: 19-Jul-22 20:30
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
0
I was trying to put my finger on the Case or Appeal that states that when a boat that takes a penalty it is not an admission that they broke a rule.  That's not the exact language used (thus why I'm trying to find it as I want to confirm the language used in my mind).  

Anyone know the Case/Appeal that I'm thinking of?  Please post here.  Thanks in advance. - Ang
Created: 19-Jul-23 21:34
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Is this what you are looking for

 Rule 67
 After rule 67 add US Sailing prescribes that:
 (a) A boat that retires from a race or accepts a penalty does not, by that action alone, admit liability for damages. 

More generally, I think that you have to look to the opening words of rule 44

A boat may  take a Two-Turns Penalty when she may  have broken o e or more rules...

The inference that you can draw from a boat taking a penalty is that she may have broken a rule, nothing more.
Created: 19-Jul-23 23:04
John Grace
Nationality: New Zealand
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • National Umpire
0
Angelo, US Sailing has a prescription to RRS 67 which states "A boat that retires from a race or accepts a penalty does not, by that action alone, admit liability for damages". Many other MNAs have a similar prescription. Is that what you are thinking of? 

I'm not aware of any case that says taking a penalty is not an admission of breaking a rule, although there are cases where it is implied.
Created: 19-Jul-23 23:18
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Both Johns .. thanks for the bread crumbs. 

I think maybe I was putting that USS Prescription together with Case 142's answers 1,2 and 3 in my head.  Case 142

Case 142 differentiates acknowledging breaking a rule from the act of taking the penalty.

If she " ... signed an acknowledgement of infringement or reported to a race official that Y took the appropriate penalty or retired from the race because she broke a rule of Part 2 ...  [is an] example[s] of evidence that would lead a protest committee to that conclusion:".

Given the language above .. using "would" instead of "could",  .. that seems to point to the idea that a signed acknowledgement of infringement is definitive where just the appropriate penalty is not. 

Created: 19-Jul-24 00:34
Thorsten Doebbeler
Nationality: Germany
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • International Umpire
0
As far as the original question went, RRS 44.1 says take a turn when you hit the mark.

The rule does not care whether you think you may or may not have hit it - it simply says spin when you hit it.
The standard of proof for that is up to everybody.

There is no need to take a turn when you believe you hit the mark and in fact did not.
But at the same time, taking no turn when you are 100% sure you did not hit a mark does not save you from a DSQ in a hearing when in fact you did (witnesses, videos etc...).

The only answer really is: when you round a mark, make sure to pay attention to it to prevent any doubt.
Created: 19-Jul-26 13:46
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Thorsten Doebbeler
said Created: Today 13:46

As far as the original question went, RRS 44.1 says take a turn when you hit the mark.

The rule does not care whether you think you may or may not have hit it - it simply says spin when you hit it.
The standard of proof for that is up to everybody.

There is no need to take a turn when you believe you hit the mark and in fact did not.
But at the same time, taking no turn when you are 100% sure you did not hit a mark does not save you from a DSQ in a hearing when in fact you did (witnesses, videos etc...).

I agree that this is the 'rules' answer to the OP.

The only answer really is: when you round a mark, make sure to pay attention to it to prevent any doubt.

I don't think that this is the only answer.

If you are in doubt whether you broke a rule of Part 2 or rule 31 or not, it becomes a 'race strategy' or 'risk/reward' decision whether to take a Turns or Scoring Penalty or await the decision of a protest committee hearing a valid protest, which may be disqualification.

And whether the hail and flag requirements in rule 61.1 are met, may influence your risk/reward decision.
Created: 19-Jul-26 14:16
David Chudzicki
Nationality: United States of America
0
 it becomes a 'race strategy' or 'risk/reward' 

I disagree with treating it as a race strategy decision - my question is about sportsmanship (as defined by the rules), not winning the race. If it helps, assume no one else is nearby, so we're sure no one else could have seen. Then it's definitely not about winning the race.

Besides, if we're just treating it as "race strategy", isn't it easy? If no one hails "protest" (and/or no flag is raised), then you pretty much know you aren't being protested. But that's not how I'm trying to approach the question.

I appreciate all of the answers/suggestions I've been getting.

Created: 19-Jul-26 14:28
Philip Hubbell
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • Judge In Training
0
44 offers Turns Penalties which "may" be taken. (The wording carries over from the time when they were labelled as "Alternative Penalties.")
Why is it that our rules nowhere state a requirement of a penalty for infractions, and rely instead upon the oblique "sportsmanship" obligation - or the threat of protest committee?
Any rules historians have thoughts? Was there ever such a rule?
Created: 19-Jul-26 16:57
Kim Kymlicka
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • National Umpire
0
The Rules do not operate on the percentage principle. The competitors may. The sport relies on the Corinthian principle.
 What should govern your action is this: Unless you are 100% certain that you did not make contact, take the penalty.
The rest of the competitors will respect you (as said before, Elvstrom would retire). If you wait for protest from another boat to take turn(s) or wait till the 'Room', your results and reputation will diminish in the eyes/minds of your competitors. That quality is much harder to get back than a turn or two and next time you will to plan better.
 
Sail fast, sail fair.
 
P.S. This is much easier in Match racing. The decision is handed to the Umpires. (C8.2).
Created: 19-Jul-30 02:17
John Mooney
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Umpire
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Why is it that our rules nowhere state a requirement of a penalty for infractions, and rely instead upon the oblique "sportsmanship" obligation - or the threat of protest committee?

Philip, the RRS do require competitors to be bound by the rules (see Fundamental Rule 3), and to accept penalties for breaches (see particularly 3.3), whether those penalties are voluntary (Rule 44) or imposed by protest committees. The same sportsmanship obligates a boat to take a penalty, no matter how it’s imposed.

The reason that Rule 44 says “may” is that the two turns and scoring penalties are voluntary penalties created in 1973 to provide a less draconian and more efficient alternative to either retiring or being disqualified by a protest committee, as long as the boat didn’t gain a significant advantage (that the alternative penalty couldn’t nullify) or cause injury or serious damage by her breach (see 44.1(b) - if she does, she must retire). Before 1973, the only option for a boat that broke a rule was to retire or take her chances in the protest room.

One of sailing’s rare qualities is that (partly because it’s a game played on a uniquely large “field” that’s difficult for officials to cover adequately) it’s self-policing. The assumption is that she’ll be protested for a rule breach by a competitor, and if she is found at a hearing to have broken a rule, she’ll be penalized by the PC, unless she’s already taken the voluntary penalty. During the race, though, she may read the rule differently or disagree about the facts, so she may not agree that she owes a penalty. Therefore, that penalty is still voluntary, hence she “may” take it, not “shall”.

If you want an interesting history of the rules, this is pretty good:
https://www.rushallsailing.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/The_Racing_Rules_of_Sailing.pdf
Created: 19-Aug-13 10:57
Philip Hubbell
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • Judge In Training
0
John, you have eloquently stated the current status.
Still, that does not answer my question:
Why does no rule anywhere state that "the penalty for violation of the rules is disqualification, unless another rule provides an alternative penalty."
Created: 19-Aug-13 16:06
Tim Hohmann
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
0
64.1 Penalties and Exoneration does define the default penalty imposed by a PC as disqualification.

I think sailboat racing tradition has been that competitors accused of breaking a rule are entitled to due process - a hearing (essentially a trial) after the fact with a decision rendered by a jury. Voluntary penalties and on-the-water judging/umpiring are modern attempts to address the shortcomings of this system. 

Umpiring is great for immediate penalties on the water, but can you imagine trying to round up umpires for every beer can race? Although maybe where we're going is drone umpiring - that would be cool. 
Created: 19-Aug-13 17:19
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