Forum: Race Officers

I flag, RC reacting to dip start

Geoff Chambers
Nationality: Australia
The smallest boat, A, in a mixed fleet of 9 cruisers, has performed a dip start returning on stb to the pre-start side prior to 30 seconds to the start and tacking to port at 15 seconds to the start. 

There were no incidents, no boats put about, no boats at risk of being forced above the start mark.

At three seconds to the start with all boats approaching to start on port tack on a reaching start and none OCS, the starters make two sound signals and hoist AP.

For the re-start an 'I' flag is flown.

In the re-start, boat B, leading the series, is luffed out of the start,  which is the last race of the series, and has to circle round and starts last, places well down and consequently slips to end third for the series.

Questions;

1. Is the RC unfairly/inappropriately responding to A's dip start? ie it is implicit the abandonment of the start and the re-start with an I flag was a direct response to A's dip start which is a perfectly legitimate manoeuvre that should not be responded to in a way that implies it is not entirely within the rules. Reacting to the manoeuvre  creates an impression that A is somehow cheating or competing unfairly. This in turn stands to lower A's reputation thereby setting up a prejudice in any future protest hearings and participation generally.

2. Can B claim redress that abandoning the first start without proper reason disadvantaged her?



Created: 19-Dec-19 01:46

Comments

Peter van Muyden
Nationality: Canada
Certifications:
  • International Race Officer
0
According to RRS 27.3;  Before the starting signal, the RC may for any reason postpone a start.   This could include wanting to change to use flag I as the preparatory signal or they determined that the start was unfair.  Reaching starts should be avoided if possible and I hope that in this case the RC squared the line for the restart.  Based on RRS 27.3 "B" would not be succesfull in a redress hearing.

Created: 19-Dec-19 02:28
Dennis Hume
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
  • Club Race Officer
0
If the AP were hoisted because of A’s Start it is inappropriate. B could certainly claim redress but I doubt any would be granted, too many ‘ What ifs ‘
Created: 19-Dec-19 02:31
Paul Miller
Nationality: Sint Maarten (Dutch part)
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • National Race Officer
0
A1: Without asking the RC the reason for the postponement, it would be impossible to answer this question, but Rule 27.3 does say that prior to the start signal the RC ‘may for any reason...postpone,,,or abandon the race.’ Unless the RC says ‘ we did it to disadvantage a boat’, then it is likely not to be improper or an error. That is a low bar for the RC.
A2: No unless B can establish that their predicament was through no fault of their own. That will be a very high bar for B.
Created: 19-Dec-19 02:40
Paul Miller
Nationality: Sint Maarten (Dutch part)
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • National Race Officer
0
Peter, I disagree that reaching starts should be avoided. When they are correctly managed, they are a fair and tactically demanding start, and are often preferable to ‘synthetic’ windward starts where a windward mark is thrown in to make it ‘normal’. Better to have a .25 nm first leg with a reaching start than a 200m first leg with a windward start just to make it ‘normal’.
Created: 19-Dec-19 02:47
John Culter
Nationality: Canada
Certifications:
  • National Race Officer
0
The question is framed in a subjective manner, obviously reflecting a point of view that dip starts are to be avoided. While Peter's point is completely valid (postpone for any reason) in fact it indicates a race committee that imagines that meddling with competitive tactics is okay.  It is not. The RC, absent safety concerns which will be minimal in such a small fleet, has no business displaying AP here. 

As race officers, we have considerable power. Such power should be accompanied by responsible behavior as well.
Created: 19-Dec-19 03:30
John Ball
Nationality: Canada
0
For Q2, B should not be eligible for redress - it was an I flag start, and she put herself into a position to be pushed over early - requiring her to go around the end to start. As she contributed to her own problem, no redress.

John
Created: 19-Dec-19 03:51
Geoff Chambers
Nationality: Australia
0
It does appear at first pass to be clear cut under 27.3 which allows the RC to postpone a start "for any reason", and this is exactly why I have made the post becuase presumably there is an implied requirement for 'reasonableness' or 'properness' and to make the point consider hypothetically does 27.3 permit the starter (RC) postpone three seconds before the start signal becuase their son/daughter/sponsor who is competing is not well positioned for the start? Imagine postponing the Sydney to Hobart Race 3 seconds before the start because Wild Oats/Comanche weren't well positioned. And what of the maxi that had a great start and is denied it by an 'improper' postponement?

Then drawing back from a gross hypothetical to, what if the starter's friend wasn't about to get a good start? OR what if a competitor, or a group of competitors had lobbied the starter to act to prevent A from dip starts? Is it proper for the RC to act to prevent a 'lawful' manoeuvre on the request of other competitors?

In the scenario, it would have been the prerogative of the starters to fly 'I' for the first start if as a matter of policy it had decided to discourage dip starts, however to postpone a perfectly clean start apparently for the sole reason that A had performed a dip start seems to directly insinuate something improper with the conduct of A - the postponement and subsequent re-start being to make an example of A. This puts A as competing on an unequal basis due to rumour and inuendo that they are somehow 'cheating' and need to be made an example of.  A is being held to a different standard to other competitors. It's letting a friend(s) of the starter limit the manoeuvring of A albeit her manoeuvring is within the rules. 

So the question becomes; 

i. is there an implied term that "any reason" in 27.3 implicitly means 'fair or proper' reason? And if so, 

ii. has the discretion been exercised improperly in the scenario? If so;

iii. does A have recourse, and/or

iv, does B have recourse?


To clarify other points raised;

there was no relaying of the line. The line is a fixed shore-backed estuary line (club line)  that almost always results in a reaching start. So the postponement was not for purposes of re-laying the line or because the start was unfair due to bias in the line or wind change or any other reason. All boats were reaching bow on bow with no congestion whatsoever toward the line which is a very long line. For purposes of discussion it can be assumed RC readily acknowledge it postponed directly in response to A's dip.




Created: 19-Dec-19 05:06
Juuso Leivonen
Nationality: Finland
Certifications:
  • International Umpire
  • National Judge
0
From IJ manual:
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.
Created: 19-Dec-19 07:44
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
John Culter
said Created: Today 03:30
The question is framed in a subjective manner, obviously reflecting a point of view that dip starts are to be avoided. While Peter's point is completely valid (postpone for any reason) in fact it indicates a race committee that imagines that meddling with competitive tactics is okay.  It is not. The RC, absent safety concerns which will be minimal in such a small fleet, has no business displaying AP here. 

I'm all for leaving the racing to the racers, but I don't agree that a race committee is prohibited from, 'meddling with competitive tactics' in ways such as are described in the OP.

The race committee is appointed by the organising authority (rule 89.2c) to conduct races as required by the rules, subject only to the direction of the organising authority (rule 90.1).

The rules contain no limitations on the race committee's choice of starting penalties under rule 30.

It is perfectly within propriety for a race committee to decide, or an organising authority to direct, whether and in what circumstances starting penalties under rule 30 will be implemented.  This might include, for example, deciding that, taking account manoeuverability of boats, and experience of crews, that dip starts should be discouraged by the use of rule 30.1, the I Flag Rule.  Another example, contained in World Sailing Race Management Policies, (paragraph 12.2) is to require  the use of the U Flag for the first start in any fleet with more than 10 competitors.

It would likewise be not improper for a race officer to decide, 'on the fly' even once a starting sequence has commenced, that one of the rule 30 starting penalties should be implemented, and postpone the start and recommence the sequence using the appropriate flag.  Rule 27.3 provides that the race officer may postpone the start, before the starting signal for any reason.  A perhaps more common example, would be where a race officer observes a significant number of unidentifiable boats over early, and chooses to abort the start by postponing it, and going to a U or Black Flag, rather than waiting until after the starting signal and using General Recall.

Given that rule 27.3 permits postponement for any reason, it is normally pointless to enquire what the reason for postponement was, but a misguided belief that dip starts were somehow unfair would not be improper.

As race officers, we have considerable power. Such power should be accompanied by responsible behavior as well.

Indeed we should.
Created: 19-Dec-19 08:04
Satish Kumar Kanwar
Nationality: India
Certifications:
  • International Race Officer
  • National Judge
0
The RC may postpone the race for any reason as per the rules. We are presuming that the RC took the action to favor a particular boat. Is this statement substantiated by any evidence? Merely presuming that the RC action was to favor a particular participant may be misplaced.
The race may be postponed due to wind shift/error at the RC vessel of any nature ie time keeping etc. 
There is no chance of Redress to B.
Created: 19-Dec-19 08:14
Gordon Davies
Nationality: Ireland
Certifications:
  • International Judge
0
No redress, but perhaps the race officer needs to go on a training course to update his race management skills!

Gordon
Created: 19-Dec-19 09:34
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Geoff Chambers
said Created: Today 05:06

It does appear at first pass to be clear cut under 27.3 which allows the RC to postpone a start "for any reason",

'Appear' and 'at first pass' are not relevant qualifications on rule 27.3.  The rule is simple and clear.

and this is exactly why I have made the post because presumably there is an implied requirement for 'reasonableness' or 'properness' 

There may be a necessary implication of reasonableness, but I suggest the bar is pretty low, probably no higher than 'not arbitrary or capricious'  See US Sailing Appeal 53, recently followed in RYA Appeal 2019/1.

As to propriety, the Judges Manual guidance on 'improper' has been quoted upthread, and Thorsten and I discussed impropriety outside that guidance with respect to misconduct by officials, such as preferential treatment of a competitor the last time you raised this dip start issue in post Conduct of starters regarding U or I flag.

and to make the point consider hypothetically does 27.3 permit the starter (RC) postpone three seconds before the start signal becuase their son/daughter/sponsor who is competing is not well positioned for the start?
 
Would be a clear instance of partiality amounting to serious misconduct by officials and if provable would be good grounds for redress.

Imagine postponing the Sydney to Hobart Race 3 seconds before the start because Wild Oats/Comanche weren't well positioned. And what of the maxi that had a great start and is denied it by an 'improper' postponement?

Then drawing back from a gross hypothetical to, what if the starter's friend wasn't about to get a good start?

Again, if provable, serious misconduct, improper action and redress available.

OR what if a competitor, or a group of competitors had lobbied the starter to act to prevent A from dip starts? Is it proper for the RC to act to prevent a 'lawful' manoeuvre on the request of other competitors?

You raised this issue, and it was discussed in the previous thread Conduct of starters regarding U or I flag.

There is nothing improper about the race committee or race officer listening to what competitors have to say, and if they agree with it, to act on it.  The race committee and race officer are expected to engage in effective two-way communication with competitors.

In the scenario, it would have been the prerogative of the starters to fly 'I' for the first start if as a matter of policy it had decided to discourage dip starts,
 
Yes,  although I'm not keen on the use of the word 'prerogative'.  Suffice that it would have been perfectly proper.

however to postpone a perfectly clean start apparently for the sole reason that A had performed a dip start seems to directly insinuate something improper with the conduct of A - the postponement and subsequent re-start being to make an example of A.

Things are likely to get a bit tangled here.

If there was a policy to prevent dip starts by using a rule 30 penalty flag and the race officer forgot, used the wrong flag, then realised his or her mistake and postponed to correct the mistake, this would be wholly unexceptionable.

If there was no formal policy, but the race officer just decided that going ahead with a dip start was a bad idea, this is pretty clearly 'for any reason' as contemplated by rule 27.3.  Absent partiality or other misconduct by the race officer, there is no improper action.

If it could be proved that the postponement was intended to disadvantage A for some reason other than that A was performing a dip start, then this would be partial and unfair treatment of A, misconduct by a race official and, if proven, an improper action giving grounds for redress.

All the more so if it could be proved that the intention was 'to make an example of A'.  Race officials have no business 'making an example' of any competitor.  Their job is to conduct racing and decide protests according to the rules.  Nothing more.  That said, unless the race officer is stupid enough to come right out and say 'I did it to make an example of A', it is going to be very hard to prove.

I don't see how the actions of postponing and restarting under flag I, on their own, can lead to any 'insinuation' about impropriety by A.

This puts A as competing on an unequal basis due to rumour and inuendo that they are somehow 'cheating' and need to be made an example of.  A is being held to a different standard to other competitors. It's letting a friend(s) of the starter limit the manoeuvring of A albeit her manoeuvring is within the rules. 

Now you are starting on a completely different story which would need to be based on a good deal of evidence quite different from the narrative you provided in the OP.

So the question becomes;

i. is there an implied term that "any reason" in 27.3 implicitly means 'fair or proper' reason?

As I said above.

There may be a necessary implication of reasonableness, but I suggest the bar is pretty low, probably no higher than 'not arbitrary or capricious'  See US Sailing Appeal 53, recently followed in RYA Appeal 2019/1.

As to propriety, the Judges Manual guidance on 'improper' has been quoted upthread, and Thorsten and I discussed impropriety outside that guidance with respect to misconduct by officials, such as preferential treatment of a competitor the last time you raised this dip start issue in post Conduct of starters regarding U or I flag.
 
And if so, 

ii. has the discretion been exercised improperly in the scenario?

Based on the description of the race committee's actions in the OP:  NO.

If you are trying to make out unfair partiality then you need much more evidence about the race officer's/race committee's intention and state of mind.

If so;

iii. does A have recourse, and/or

iv, does B have recourse?

Unnecessary to answer.

To clarify other points raised;

there was no relaying of the line. The line is a fixed shore-backed estuary line (club line)  that almost always results in a reaching start. So the postponement was not for purposes of re-laying the line or because the start was unfair due to bias in the line or wind change or any other reason. All boats were reaching bow on bow with no congestion whatsoever toward the line which is a very long line. For purposes of discussion it can be assumed RC readily acknowledge it postponed directly in response to A's dip.

As discussed above





Created: 19-Dec-19 09:52
Bruce Hebbert
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • International Umpire
0
Agree with Peter van Muyden.


Created: 19-Dec-19 11:05
Ryan Hamm
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Race Officer
0
I choose to use common sense.  If the RC postponed because he didn't like that someone dip-started that is just bad decision making on the part of the PRO.  But without being sure why he did it, you can't assume.  If you constantly have the same issues with a PRO don't use him.  If this is just a one-time thing, get over it.  On the second start no redress.  It was a separate incident totally and he set himself up to get shut out.  Not a smart move when winning a series.  That's racing.  
Created: 19-Dec-19 14:13
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Certainly "any" doesn't really mean "absolutely any" .. can we agree there is an implied "legitimate" tossed in there somewhere?

Let's take this past the question of redress-requests .. What could a competitor do if they feel that an RC is conducting themselves (within the letter of the Rules) in such a way to single that competitor out in a disadvantaged way?

  1. Write a letter?  Address it to the RC-Chair and the PC-Chair, detailing these concerns.  If there is a pattern of activity (and I don't think we'd be at this point if the competitor didn't discern a pattern), detail the instances and the effect it had.
  2. Ask for a meeting with the RC-Chair and PC-Chair to address these concerns directly?
  3. If a competitor continues to feel they are being singled-out unfairly, I guess they could kick concerns "up the chain" to the Regional Administrative level (RAJ and/or RARO)?

After all that, I think the competitor has done all they can do to let their feelings known (if there are other steps, please offer them).  

In the end, they can always decide not to play if they don't like the game.
Created: 19-Dec-19 15:03
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Angelo Guarino
said Created: Today 15:03
Certainly "any" doesn't really mean "absolutely any" .. can we agree there is an implied "legitimate" tossed in there somewhere?

Definitely NOT.

See USA Appeal US53

'The appellant’s belief that the rule requires a “legitimate” reason is incorrect. Rule 76.1 does not state or imply any qualitative tests for the acceptability of the reason other than that the reason cannot be arbitrary or capricious or based on race, color, religion, gender, age or national origin (see the prescription to rule 76.1).'

Let's take this past the question of redress-requests .. What could a competitor do if they feel that an RC is conducting themselves (within the letter of the Rules) in such a way to single that competitor out in a disadvantaged way?

  1. Write a letter?  Address it to the RC-Chair and the PC-Chair, detailing these concerns.  If there is a pattern of activity (and I don't think we'd be at this point if the competitor didn't discern a pattern), detail the instances and the effect it had.
  2. Ask for a meeting with the RC-Chair and PC-Chair to address these concerns directly?
  3. If a competitor continues to feel they are being singled-out unfairly, I guess they could kick concerns "up the chain" to the Regional Administrative level (RAJ and/or RARO)?

Probably the best starting point is a request for redress.  As has been variously discussed, the Judges Manual is not determinative as to what is an 'improper action', and it can hardly be argued that partiality or bias amounting to official misconduct is not 'improper'.

If the local protest committee does not give satisfaction, Appeal.

Remember that rule 3.3 requires competitors to pursue avenues of redress provided by the rules before going outside the rules.

Certainly in a doubtful case a written complaint, including a complaint of official misconduct in accordance with OA, or MNA by-laws might be a way to go, but equally it might bring sanctions on individuals, but not get redress.

After all that, I think the competitor has done all they can do to let their feelings known (if there are other steps, please offer them).  

Sue, once other reasonable avenues have been exhausted.

In the end, they can always decide not to play if they don't like the game.

Yup.
Created: 19-Dec-19 20:03
Peter van Muyden
Nationality: Canada
Certifications:
  • International Race Officer
1
If the allegation that the decisions were made to favour or disfavour a boat were proven, the race officer should be reported to their National Sailing Association and in the case of an International Race Officer to World Sailing.   
The following section below is out of the World Sailing Race Officials Code of Conduct
2.2 All decisions must be made in good faith, be based upon the rules, and in a fair and objective manner. Racing must not only be conducted in a fair manner, but be seen to be so. 
Created: 19-Dec-19 20:22
Geoff Chambers
Nationality: Australia
0
The suggestion that the RO would be “stupid” to disclose their reason for postponing at 3 seconds before a ‘clean’ start so that an I flag could be used rather suggests the RO has something to hide. Wouldn’t one expect an RO to be entirely forthcoming as to the reasons for such a decision - there was a wind shift, we couldn’t identify boats OCS etc. Rather, and notwithstanding they may not be obliged to, it would be unusual, possibly stupid, for an RO to refuse to give a reason. What could they possibly want to hide and what signal would refusing send.

But taking that further, what could the reason be in the OP scenario?

i that a mistake was made in not flying I in the first instance. Well that doesn’t wash as the postponement could have been flown much earlier.

ii that a mistake was made in not flying I in the first instance and we were not going to worry about it provided no one was OCS (in the triangle) in the last minute. Again that doesn’t wash because one would have expected to fly AP immediately within the last minute when A was observed OCS in that last minute.

iii a mistake was made not flying the I in the first instance and we were not going to worry about it so long as there was no ‘carnage’, ie boats being put about by a boat doing a dip start - approaching on stbd. Well that doesn’t wash because what ensued was an entirely clean start - no ‘carnage’ whatsoever in the lead up or the final approach.

So the decision to postpone long into the start sequence and long after P was flown, and late in the final minute is not consistent with these possible reasons nor the conventional reasons.

And suppose, the RO has it in their mind that dip starts are a safety concern, then the time to postpone was either immediately it realised P had been flown instead of I, or, immediately in the last minute when A was observed OCS preparing for a dip start. To let the start sequence continue once that was observed was to allow the supposed ‘unsafe’ event to unfold and such decision is inconsistent with genuine concern for safety. If a dip start was considered somehow unsafe then AP should have been flown earlier.

And further, if safety was the concern, once an entirely clear start was imminent and definite, what was to then be achieved by postponing at 3 seconds?

They say in medicine “at the sound of hoofbeats, think not of zebra”, in other words don’t ignore the obvious. Although it is appropriate to give benefit of doubt we know there was no wind shift, no re-laying of the line, no large number of boats OCS, no boats OCS that could not be identified, no safety issue etc. 

Instead, the starter let the start sequence progress long after P had been flown, long after it could readily observe A OCS in the final minute, long after a completely incident free and clear start was certain and imminent. Is it not the more compelling conclusion that the starter has consciously allowed the start sequence to play out and only postponed a perfectly satisfactory start at the final seconds in order to draw attention to A’s dip start and imply it is a manoeuvre so wrong that in furtherance of a competing friend's request that dip starts be prohibited, A would be made an example of by inconveniencing the fleet with a last second postponement.

And if so (ie hypothetically), would that be an example of ‘partiality’?
Created: 19-Dec-19 21:36
P
Paul Zupan
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • National Judge
  • Regional Umpire
0
So let me just make the observation that the conversation has strayed from a rules question to second guessing the RO's decision.  Criticizing what an RO may or may not have done during a race is not the purpose of this forum.  The question is, what do the rules allow when the question of redress is raised and there have been some very good answers to that question already.  Please stay on topic as we are not here to criticize how this race may or may not have been conducted.
Created: 19-Dec-19 21:55
Geoff Chambers
Nationality: Australia
0
Point taken Paul. Thank you for bringing me into line.
Created: 19-Dec-19 22:15
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