Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

Redress request as a result of boats score being made significantly worse by the action of a drone.

Paul Kimmens
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Regional Race Officer
Does anyone have any experience of protests or requests for redress as the result of a photographic drone making a boats score significantly worse? Or any wording they use in SI's or NoR's if a drone is to be used at an event.

Reason for asking is that our club is considering the use of a drone to capture some race action and I am thinking ahead of the unlikely worst case scenario where the drone crashes into a boat causing damage and/or injury resulting in the boats score being made significantly worse obviously through no fault of her own. 

Looking at rule 62.1 could an incident like this be classed as an improper action by the organizing authority  (62.1a)?

Created: 20-Jan-12 18:43

Comments

Peter van Muyden
Nationality: Canada
Certifications:
  • International Race Officer
-1
To avoid redress requests you could add to the Nor or Si's something like this:   Actions by official boats, drones or aircrafts shall not be grounds for requesting redress by a boat. This changes RRS 60.1(b).

Created: 20-Jan-12 19:25
Stephen Ouellette
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • Club Judge
0
I would think that if the organizing authority permits these drones, interference with a competitor would be grounds for redress, as long as all other conditions for granting redress are met.  I would not limit the protest committee's ability to grant redress if this occurred, since that is what redress is for.
Created: 20-Jan-12 20:32
John Mooney
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Umpire
  • Regional Race Officer
1
If the drone(s) are operated by the OA or RC, I would consider a collision between a drone and a competitor to be an improper action on the part of that OA or PC,  and would be inclined to grant redress if there was an otherwise valid request, unless specifically prevented by SI from doing so.

FWIW, I agree that an SI preventing the granting of redress in such circumstances would be a bad idea, though probably not improper in itself. Competitors shouldn't have to worry about avoiding flying objects on the racecourse, nor should they be distracted from their duty to avoid floating objects.
Created: 20-Jan-12 21:15
Paddy Fitzpatrick
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
0
It appears to me that the whole scenario of using drones may be fraught with problems and the devil would bein the details.

If the RC uses the services of a drone pilot who is not a member of the club can the RC be held responsible for instances of pilot error that might impact on some competitors who later seek redress?

If a club member, sailor or support person is used the issue of conflicting interests may need to be considered.

If a competitor was injured by a drone operated by a non club member would they be covered by insurance from the yachting association or need to go after the drone operator? 

Could footage be used in a protest? 

So I think if a club wants to use Drones it will have to be very careful to set out procedures and parameters carefully in the SIs to advise competitors of all the eventualities, responsibilities etc.

Perhaps sailing authorities will need a course or procedure to ratify drone operators.

Perhaps a drone pilot would need to be a certified race officer?
Created: 20-Jan-13 01:06
Valentijn van Duijvendijk
Nationality: Netherlands
Certifications:
  • Regional Race Officer
0
I don't think the OA should allow drones above or near the athletes at all. 

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/drones-are-you-flying-yours-safely-and-legally

Created: 20-Jan-13 01:16
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Actions by official boats, drones or aircrafts shall not be grounds for requesting redress by a boat. This changes RRS 60.1(b). 

I think it’s a good idea for our sport to experiment with new technologies and methods. One never knows when some combination will help to significantly improve the sport. 

That said, I don't think it is necessary to exclude a competitor from the possibility of redress when a competitor is damaged by the RC or an asset which is an extension of the RC. 

I think excluding the “presence” of such assets as grounds for redress could be prudent, but I can not see the reason that physical contact between these RC assets and competitors, that results in damage,  should. 

PS ..maybe a mod to Peter’s suggested language...??

Actions by [The physical presence of] official boats, drones or aircrafts shall not be grounds for requesting redress by a boat [, unless there is contact between one of these official assets and the boat, which causes damage and/or injury]. This changes RRS 60.1(b)(a). 

Created: 20-Jan-13 03:07
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
1
OA and RC should be very cautious about trying to exclude interference with competitors by their actions from redress.

Consider Match Racing Rule C9.2

C9.2 A competitor may not base a request for redress on a claim that an action by an official boat was improper. The protest committee may decide to consider giving redress in such circumstances but only if it believes that an official boat, including an umpire boat, may have seriously interfered with a competing boat.

This rule is there because you can't play the match racing game without umpires in umpire boats and sometimes accidents will happen (don't ask me how I know).

But note the very strong limitation in the second sentence.

I can't see any necessity for drones in any form of the game and I don't think there should be any attempt to limit redress.
Created: 20-Jan-13 07:34
John Mooney
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Umpire
  • Regional Race Officer
2
FWIW, after some small experience with drones on racecourses, I think drones can provide footage that's fun for everyone to watch and can be an invaluable teaching tool, providing a very useful "birds eye view" of tactical and rules situations in ideal conditions. However, that utility diminishes to zero immediately when the drone gets low enough that a collision is possible, because aside from the risk of interference, the "bird" can't see very well from lower angles, and the view it does have is often misleading (this is one of the reasons for the caution in Appendix M (M7) about the value of photographic and video evidence in a protest hearing)..

I'd suggest that if an OA wants to use a drone:
1 - it should be flown by an experienced pilot who knows to stay above the fray (who is also an experienced sailor that understands the view it must have to be useful),
2 - it should be the only one on the racecourse (to avoid midair collisions whose debris can fall on sailors), and
3 - the OA must take responsibility for its behavior, and if it interferes with the racing at all, that interference should be fully subject to redress requests.
Created: 20-Jan-13 20:19
P
Pat Healy
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • International Judge
1
If this is a rules-redress question, then the above comments may have wondered a bit off topic. If it's an OA question, then lets refocus on it as a 'regatta management best practices' topic.
Rulewise, it looks like a judge seminar question. "What is necessary for a boat to be awarded redress? What conclusions must the protest committee reach?" 
I think the correct answer is: (1) the boat's score was made worse, (2) there was no (reasonable-my opinion) fault due to the boat's actions, (3) (Rule 62.1(b)) the errant vessel was required to "keep clear", (4) there was injury or damaged that was a direct result of the incident.
It really doesn't mater whether the vessel is a out-of-control party water ski boat, tug boat pushing barges, a coach boat, safety boat, mark set boat or drone. All are governed by rules that define whether the vessel was a give-way or stand on if IRPCA or similar rule, or keep clear if the RRS. (Drones in the US have required distances FAA they must keep from any person, place or thing.)
I would recommend that if the OA is considering using drones to enhance their regatta service, they would add that to the NoR and SI as 'information [that] would help competitors decide whether to attend the regatta." Beyond that, the specific rules has been tested for a long time and proven to work.
(A follow up rules study group discussion might be, "Are the redress requirements of a R/C Mark Set boat that collides with a competitor during the race causing damage and the boat to withdraw, tested under 62.1(a) or (b) or either?")
Created: 20-Jan-13 23:06
P
Paul Zupan
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • National Judge
  • Regional Umpire
0
If you want to see some language in the wild, look no further than the IKA events.  The NOR/SI's at para. 2.8.1 have amended RRS 62.1.
Created: 20-Jan-13 23:49
Nicholas Kotsatos
Nationality: United States of America
0
Drone crashes do happen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeviAWB0i4Y
Created: 20-Jan-13 23:51
Peter van Muyden
Nationality: Canada
Certifications:
  • International Race Officer
0
Pat,

(3) (Rule 62.1(b)) the errant vessel was required to "keep clear",  I don't think that this would cover a drone.  The term "Vessel" has the meaning of "Any boat or ship" in the RRS Introduction

It's interesting to note that there are two drone rules for the Sailing World Cup:
  • Kite sailing:  C1.1 Add rule 62.1(e): the action of a drone, or any other flying device, significantly affecting the safety or the fairness of the competition for a kiteboard. 
  • The rest of the classes:  21.2 Actions by official boats, drones or helicopters shall not be grounds for requesting redress by a boat. This changes RRS 60.1(b). 
Created: 20-Jan-14 00:02
P
Pat Healy
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • International Judge
1
Personally, I think the kites have it right and rest of the classes are making a mistake. Drones shouldn't be near boats or kites. The lens and stabilizing systems make the video HDTV ready. They are there for to promote the class and the competition, not for competitive reasons. If it is equipment or pilot error, and a boat can get redress for extraneous boat coming into the race course making the same mistake, it doesn't make sense to deny redress for a media, OR, RC. or TC effort that goes FUBAR.  This principle is easier to apply using rule 60.1(b) rather than rule 60.1(a). (What to do with a judge boat or umpire boat that causes the problem while preforming their assignment is a problem. I don't have a good answer.)
Created: 20-Jan-14 01:42
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
0
This thread had me thinking about how to characterize an RC boat outside the line on the pin-end calling the pin-half-end of the line at the start that is not anchored and is maneuvering under power to maintain its sight-line position.  

  • She’d be a “power driven vessel”
  • She’d be “underway” as she “... is not at anchor, or made fast to the shore, or aground.”

Do we characterize such a boat as "vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver" ?... since maintaining her station is “the nature of her work”?

“vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver"means a vessel which from the nature of her work is restricted in her ability to manoeuvre as required by these Rules and is therefore unable to keep out of the way of another vessel.”
Created: 20-Jan-14 14:11
Tim Hohmann
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
0
Angelo, in my experience (Navy) "restricted ability to maneuver" was reserved for things like flight ops and underway replenishment where a significant change of course could be dangerous. Note that in IRPCAS rule 18 even fishing vessels are discussed separately and differentiated from restricted in their ability to maneuver. To take the issue to an absurd conclusion, is a ferry on her regular route restricted and therefore always stand-on vessel? (although I'll grant that I've seen ferry skippers who might answer yes). 

So I'd say the RC boat you describe should maintain their position as a matter of convenience but is not restricted. It's just a power driven vessel underway, obligated to "keep out of the way of" (not "keep clear" of) a sailing vessel. 
Created: 20-Jan-15 15:25
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
I agree with Tim.

You can't say that a whaler, RIB or small motor launch is 'restricted in her ability to manoeuvre'.

If it worries you, anchor the pin boat and put up your black ball, or make the pin boat the starting mark in the SI.
Created: 20-Jan-15 22:45
P
John Porter
Nationality: United States of America
0
The topic of drones could certainly use some definition as popularity and regulation increases. I agree with Pat that the kites have it right. I think it is also reasonable to start discussing good policy for our events. As a starting point, I think the following things are true:

1. As soon as 2 or more flying things (drone, helicopter, airplane) are in the sky in the vicinity of your race course, it would be ideal if they don't hit each other and fall on someone's head. 
2. The FAA has a licensing program for commercial operation.
3. No flying object should be in a position to collide with or interfere with a boat that is racing.
4. If footage exists, it would be ideal if that footage could be viewed by the jury if it is useful. 
5. If there is an airport nearby, flying your drone without permission from the controller is potentially a big deal. 
6. If you happen to have an airport nearby, knew about a drone being used at your regatta, and it caused a plane crash, that would be a BAD day for everyone, including the OA. 

I think it makes sense to have a sample framework that you could use (at least in the USA) to minimize these issues.

My thoughts:
  • Each OA could establish a media policy that is referenced in the NOR (boat and pilot). 
  • It would be ideal if there was a way to tie in pilots in a manner similar to support person so they are bound by rules.
  • Permission to fly in the vicinity of the race course should be required before you can fly. 
  • If your club is in controlled airspace (mine is), then any pilot should have a license. 
  • Any pilot should probably sign a legal document assuming all responsibility for their actions.
  • Any pilot should probably prove insurance that covers damage and injury caused by their aircraft. 
  • There should be a minimum altitude defined by knowledgeable people. 
  • If multiple aircraft are in use simultaneously, they should coordinate altitudes windows, flight plans, etc. If they can't agree, nobody flies. 
  • It is reasonable to show preference to someone like an official sponsor or a pilot hired by the event. 
  • "Some guy" who is a sailor and flies a drone without meeting these requirements, they should be able to be penalized similar to a support person.
  • The FAA requires that if you are operating a drone over people, you need their consent. This should be part of registration and/or a condition of entry. 
  • Captured media is valuable. It is reasonable that any pilot allowed to capture media around our race course be able to charge for the same. It is also reasonable to require that if they have photos and/or video that is valuable in a protest, they should share it without fee. This should not be reproduced.
  • It might be reasonable to say that the OA expects limited quantity of web resolution images to promote the event. 

So, how do we write rules that cover ourselves for drones? I think we have a few flavors of drone/helicopter/airplane operator that are active on race courses around the USA. 
1. Someone who fits the definition of support person.
2. Professional photographer who covers sailing as part of his business. 
3. Someone hired by the event.
4. "Some guy" who thinks sailboats are pretty and wants to take photos/video but has no real ties to the event. 

Number 1 is easy, they are a support person.
Number 2 is not something easily regulated in the current Rules.
Number 3 is arguably RC or OA. 
Number 4 is operating illegally if they are over people without permission. 

Created: Sun 21:46
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
1
I don't think OA/RC need to write War and Peace to cover drones.

As a bare minimum, it would suffice to extend rule 62.1b to include airborne objects that are required by law to keep clear (AIUI, Aviation Regulations just plain forbid any airborne aircraft from hitting anything on the ground).  A SI saying that rule 62.1b is changed to include airborne objects that are required by law to keep clear should do the trick.

Where a drone controlled by a person connected with the OA or RC,  interferes with a boat racing, I would be happy to take this as an improper action by the OA/RC under rule 62.1a, and I think, as discussed above, that it is highly undesirable for OA/RC to attempt to deny boats redress in this situation through an exclusionary SI.

Where a drone controlled by a competitor or a support person interferes with a boat racing other than accidentally, this might also be dealt with under rule 2 or rule 69, although redress would still be founded on rule 62.1b.


Created: Sun 23:09
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