Forum: Protest Hearing Procedures

"First Reasonable Opporunity" relative to long duration incident(s)

P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
Two 16-foot OD boats under jib+main are broad-reaching on port-tack, converging toward a mark to be rounded to port, which is still 15+ boat lengths away.  Winds are 5-6 kts and the boats are moving leisurely in smooth water at 3+ kts.

Windward (W) believes that rule 17 applies and thus is holding her course directly toward the mark ahead.  Leeward (L) does not believe 17 applies and converges on W to force W away from the layline in an attempt to break W's inside position before the zone.

The boats converge and gently make contact still far from the zone.  Both believing they are in the right, W holds her course and L hold hers and so the boats stay in contact for 20 seconds .. with quite a bit of "philosophical discussion" between the boats about who has to give way in this situation.

After 20 sec's, L finally gives-up, falls away from W and hails "Protest" just as the boats separate. L files a written protest containing the required info within the Protest Time Limit . There is no damage or injury.

Putting aside questions surrounding who broke which Part 2 rule(s) and who might ultimately be penalized , here are a few questions for thought ....

  1. Is this one incident?
  2. Can waiting over 20 sec's after the incident(s) began to hail "protest", meet the criteria of "first reasonable opportunity"?
  3. Is there an implied "after the incident" in  61.1 (a) relative to both the flag (not required <20' BL) and the hail ?
  4. Is the protest valid?
Created: 20-Mar-10 16:57

Comments

Matt Bounds
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • National Race Officer
2
"First reasonable opportunity" in those conditions and those size boats (<6 m - no flags) = immediately.  Once contact was made, somebody broke a rule.  Someone needed to say. "Protest!" immediately.  No one did, yet there was time for "philosophical discussions."  Protest invalid.
Created: 20-Mar-10 17:26
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Matt re: " Once contact was made, somebody broke a rule."

True, but during the 20 sec's that contact continues to occur  (assuming details as described above), isn't someone still ongoingly breaking a rule ... 10sec's in? ... 15 sec's in?

In situations such as these, are there 3 distinct sections of time ..  ?
  • 'before an incident,  
  • 'during an incident' and 
  • 'after an incident'?

US Appeals (emphasis added below)

US82, "[..] Three to five seconds was short enough to justify the conclusion that the hail was made at the first reasonable opportunity after the incident."

US122, "The “first reasonable opportunity” to hail “Protest” is the first reasonable time after an incident when a boat is able to hail “Protest,” which is usually immediately"

US124, "A protest flag flown 10–15 seconds after an incident when a member of the crew is able to retrieve and display the flag in that time and acts to do so is consistent with displaying the flag at the 'first reasonable opportunity.'"

Don't get me wrong, I can definitely see calling it as you did, but I can also see reasonable arguments to interpret another way.
Created: 20-Mar-10 18:37
Philip Hubbell
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • Judge In Training
0
The first violation and reasonable hailing opportunity for both boats was before contact was made.
Created: 20-Mar-10 18:59
Tim Hohmann
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
2
From the cases you cite it does appear that "after the incident" is implied in 61.1(a).

If we had a two hour meeting scheduled and I said I needed to leave "as soon as possible after the meeting", would you expect me to leave immediately when the meeting began, or when it ended?

So granted, it would be possible for a crewmember to hail protest at any time after the first rule breach, assuming that the boat had determined that they intended to protest. But I'd have a hard time tossing this incident on validity if the hail came during or immediately after the end of the incident.
Created: 20-Mar-10 19:09
Matt Bounds
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • National Race Officer
1
The definition of "incident" (noun) in Webster's is, "an occurrence of an action or situation that is a separate unit of experience."  If you look further down in the synonym section, (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/incident#synonyms), the word "incident is used for something that is brief and unimportant."  The incident here is when boats made contact, when there is no uncertainty that someone broke a rule (if only RRS 14).

20 seconds is a very long time in sailboat racing.  3+ kts = 5.5 ft/sec = almost 8 boat lengths in 20 seconds.  And you're saying nobody said the magic word in all that time, when they had time to argue about who and what rule was broken?  Protest invalid.
Created: 20-Mar-10 20:49
Tim Hohmann
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
0
Matt, would you hold the same opinion if there was no contact? 

Suppose the boats were sailing close and parallel, and L was yelling "up, up!" and W was yelling "don't sail above your proper course!" and they had a brief argument about the situation and the relevant rules. Meanwhile, whether 17 was on or not, somebody (maybe both) was breaking a rule.

Have the boats forfeited their ability to validly protest because they didn't hail "protest" at the first instant when they felt the other boat was breaking a rule?
Created: 20-Mar-10 21:07
Leo Reise
Nationality: Canada
Certifications:
  • International Judge
3
Just a thought – here we have 2 boats in contact with each other for an extended period.

Since there is contact, it is given that at least one boat broke a rule.

The most likely boat is the windward boat for failing to keep clear.

However, with the boats remaining in contact, both now have broken Rule 14

Since out basic rule is based on sportsmanship under Basic Principles, and Rule 2 is all about Fair Sailing and the principle of sportsmanship, I might argue that to remain in contact for a period of time, regardless of what anything else was said or done, both boats have broken Rue 2.

Since an official is supposed to uphold the rules, and if one really wanted to make a point, I might accept the argument that the hail was proper when the contact was broken and have a valid protest, for that is the only method by which the clear facts might be gathered.

Given what has been presented, windward broke RRS 11, 14 and 2, and leeward broke RRS 14 (no damage thus exonerated) but also broke RRS 2 as she clearly broke RRS 14(a) by not acting to avoid contact and continuing to not avoid contact.

For R-O-W, this is not any different than a hit on purpose to prove a point, but with no damage.  I do not think the rules were ever intended to allow that to happen.


Created: 20-Mar-10 21:36
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Leo .. thanks for chiming-in with your thoughts.  Perhaps in trying to build a scenario that explored my targeted topic, I inadvertently described one that wondered into unexpected territory (Rule 2).

So, maybe if we stipulate that this incident took somewhere between 6-10 secs to complete (outside of US82's 3-5 sec's), with the same set of facts. 

As I thought about the issue, I first imagined the hail occurring during incident.  Then I thought about moving the hail to the very last second before the incident ends.  I could argue those hails would be within the time limit.  Following that logic brings me up to the moment the incident ends, and then from there to the first reasonable opportunity after the incident ends, all possibly being valid hails.

Thanks to Matt for bringing in the def's from Webster's.  I think the def is more useful than the synonym  .. "def: .. a separate unit of experience".  That one is really handy to file away.

Since you brought up Rule 2 in my original conditions (which wasn't my intent ... but heck since we are here) .. would much of it lay at the feet of the parties' intent and understanding of the rules and their responsibilities under them?  Would you share what would you be looking for in your questioning of the parties as you explored that question?
Created: 20-Mar-10 23:58
Rick Hatch
Nationality: Canada
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • National Umpire
0
RRS 61.1(a) requires a boat to inform the other boat at “the first reasonable opportunity. (PERIOD)”  It doesn’t say “after the incident ended” or “during the incident”, so I would submit that, except in extenuating circumstances (such as serious damage or injury; neither occurred during the incident as described), the first reasonable opportunity is when a boat realizes that the other boat or boats may have broken one or more rules.  In US Sailing Appeals 72 and 122, if one reads the words “after the incident” in the context in which the phrase is used, one cannot interpret it to mean “after the incident ended” but instead, it means after the incident occurred.

Whether or not RRS 17 applied to L (which is a question of fact), W broke RRS 11 BEFORE there was contact, when the boats were so close to each other that W was no longer keeping clear of L; see part (b) of the definition of “keep clear.” That moment - before there was contact - was when the incident occurred.  It did not occur some 20+ seconds later when the boats separated from each other.

Once contact occurred, it should have been plainly and reasonably obvious to L that W had broken RRS 11 and RRS 14, and similarly to W that L broke RRS 14 and may have also broken RRS 17.  THAT moment was, IMO, the first reasonable opportunity after the incident occurred to hail the word “Protest.” To not do so until MANY seconds later (try counting out 20 seconds verbally - it’s nearly an eternity, even in sailing!) is NOT in the circumstances described even remotely the first reasonable opportunity.  This brings up a question of validity of L’s protest.  If the PC determines that L’s protest is invalid, because there was no injury or serious damage the PC cannot take any further action against the boats under RRS 60.3(1).  Given the incident described, I don’t think the PC can proceed to consider a hearing under RRS 69, and because it can’t protest the boats (assuming L’s protest is invalid), the PC cannot apply RRS 2 either.  
Created: 20-Mar-11 00:45
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Rick, that's a really complete description of that position.  Thanks.  Again, I don't necessarily disagree, I'm only exploring the question for the sake of discussion and consistency.

If I dig to the heart of what I could see when thinking about this, I could see a long-duration incident as a series of ongoing "occurrences" .. that each moment in time that a rule-break continues is an "occurrence' unto itself and that each of these are tied to the occurrence immediately proceeding it.

As US 65 puts it ... 
"The test of whether two occurrences were one or two incidents is whether the second occurrence was the inevitable result of the first. [...]"

In the OP, one might argue that the contact-occurrence of the boats mid-incident, is an occurrence unto itself and is the inevitable result of W breaking rule 11 and both breaking, and continuing to break, rule 14.  As long as they remain in contact, the incident continues, with a trail of uninterrupted occurrences traceable back to the original.

For instance, let's move away from my OP-scenario for a moment and imagine receiving a written protest filing (within the PTL, no injury/damage, BL<6m) where the described incident details a sequence of 2 occurrences.  The protestor indicates that she hailed "protest" at the second occurrence. The protestee does not object to that assertion and the PC decides the protest is valid and proceeds with the hearing.

The PC finds that the 2nd occurrence was " ..the inevitable result of the first", and thus the 2 occurrences are actually one incident.

Finally, the PC concludes that neither boat broke a rule in the 2nd occurrence, but a boat did break a rule in the 1st occurrence .. a rule-break for which she is not exonerated.

Shall the PC penalize the boat for breaking a rule during the 1st occurrence?

PS ..

 Thinking about a long incident as a continuous series of occurrences, would be similar to thinking about a ROW boat carving a smooth circular path relative to a keep-clear boat.  When considering rule 16.1, we can think of that continuous course change as a series of individual course changes at each moment in time.
Created: 20-Mar-11 15:39
Tim Hohmann
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
0
Relative to the precise wording of 61.1(a), at what point does either boat intend to protest? Must they necessarily intend to protest at the instant of the first rule breach?
Created: 20-Mar-11 23:39
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Tim, I’m not clear on what you are asking. The “intend to protest” in 61.1(a) is the notification of the protestee that you intend to  file a protest that complies with 61.2 (Protest Contents)  and  61.3 (Protest Time Limit). 
Created: 20-Mar-12 03:02
P
Michael Butterfield
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • International Umpire
  • International Race Officer
2
In match racing you could consider here an initial breach and if it continued for 20 seconds a second or continuing breach so I think any hail right to the seperating would be in time.

Created: 20-Mar-12 10:25
Tim Hohmann
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
0
Ang, I'm saying that 60.1(a) says a boat may (not shall) protest another boat for a breach of the rules. And 61.1(a) says that "A boat intending to protest shall inform the other boat at the first reasonable opportunity."

So a boat that observes a breach of the rules and doesn't intend to protest that breach has no obligation to inform. The obligation to inform the other boat doesn't come into effect until the boat decides that she intends to protest.

Obviously this can be taken too far. You can't ponder your options for 10 minutes after a port-starboard cross and then decide you intend to protest. But I don't think waiting until the incident (even a longer incident like this one) is over to decide whether you want to protest or not is unreasonable, unless your objective is to invalidate protests.
Created: 20-Mar-12 16:07
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Tim, replies in-line .. all JMO of course

 I'm saying that 60.1(a) says a boat may (not shall) protest another boat for a breach of the rules.

Yes it does.

 And 61.1(a) says that "A boat intending to protest shall inform the other boat at the first reasonable opportunity."

Yes it does.

So a boat that observes a breach of the rules and doesn't intend to protest that breach has no obligation to inform. 

I think you've created recursive logic here and starts to go astray IMO.  If a boat observes what she believes is a rule-break and does not intend to protest, there is nothing to inform, so the concept of obligation is meaningless.

The obligation to inform the other boat doesn't come into effect until the boat decides that she intends to protest.

Following from above .. "The obligation to inform the other boat doesn't come into effect until [unless] the boat decides that she intends to protest.

Obviously this can be taken too far. You can't ponder your options for 10 minutes after a port-starboard cross and then decide you intend to protest. 

If you intend to protest under 61.1(a), "first reasonable opportunity" is relative to the incident, unless the conditions detailed in 61.1(a).1 thru 61.1(a).4 apply.  [At the heart of this question is whether an incident can have "thickness" in time (so to speak) or if an incident is only a point in time.]

But I don't think waiting until the incident (even a longer incident like this one) is over to decide whether you want to protest or not is unreasonable, ...

That's the question at hand.  I think there are 2 reasonable ways to look at this question, and I'd argue they are both consistent with how we apply the rules.

The first, as Matt, Rick and Phillip have put forward, that the "first reasonable opportunity" notification-clock starts ticking when the rule is first broken.  In this view, the subsequent continued rule-breaks that may occur as time moves forward are not their own "occurrences" (as US65 puts it) and these subsequent occurrences do not have their own inform-timer.  

Looking at it this way is certainly consistent with how we see incidents which take only a moment.

The second, that I've tried to do justice to, is that a longer duration incident can be seen as a series of ongoing, connected, "occurrences", each being the "inevitable result" of the occurrence preceding it.  In this view, each occurrence has its own notification-clock ... such that a hail at any time during the incident until it ends could be timely.

Looking at it this way seems consistent to the way we think about constant-rate course changes of a ROW boat when applying rule 16.1.  We take that smooth curve of course change and break it up into discrete moments of course-change in time.  Like this approach to 16.1, this 2nd view breaks up a continuous incident into discrete occurrences each at their own moments in time.

... unless your objective is to invalidate protests. 

My goal here was to ask the question and get the input of the wealth of experience that exits on this board to chime in.  I can go either way on this frankly.

We had a protest recently that had similar elements.  The protest was withdrawn and so the panel never had to formally decide, but we did discuss it informally outside of any hearing.

Personally, I think I would have come down on the side that .... 

  • A Protest hail's timeliness, when regarding a long-duration incident, is measured relative to the most recent occurrence of the incident closest in time to the hail.

... but I could have gone the other way if the other 2 took a contrary position.
Created: 20-Mar-12 17:12
Matt Bounds
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • National Race Officer
0
Tim, I disagree.  By delaying the utterance of "the magic word,"  you are depriving the other boat of "promptly taking a penalty."  And like you said, if you give them an inch . . . they will take ten minutes.  There is nothing in this whole situation as proposed by Ang that prevents anyone from saying, "Protest!" as soon as reasonably possible - which is immediately.  There's no excuse for any delay.

IMHO, this whole discussion is what drives competitors crazy with juries.  We debate endlessly about how many judges can fit on the head of a pin, when all they want are consistent, expeditious rulings on their particular protests.  (And yes, I am a graduate of the Ted Everingham school of no BS, rapid decision-making judging - even if it results in an invalid protest.)  Perhaps it's because I still consider myself a competitor first, then a race official.

Every invalid protest is a teachable moment for the protestor - and hopefully, they won't make the same mistake next time.
Created: 20-Mar-12 17:22
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
1
Matt, re:"IMHO, this whole discussion is what drives competitors crazy with juries. We debate endlessly about how many judges can fit on the head of a pin, when all they want are consistent, expeditious rulings on their particular protests "

I agree.  That's why I'd rather think about these things outside of the room .. here .. where we are not wasting the time of parties and our fellow panel members .. and where we can get the benefit of the knowledge and experience of those who would not be in the room with us.

Forewarned is foreamed.
Created: 20-Mar-12 17:36
Tim Hohmann
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
0
Consider this situation which I think is a fairly common windward-leeward scenario. Assume that rule 17 is not on and about 2 seconds elapse between positions. From 1 to 3, neither boat alters course and the boats are close enough that Blue is unable to alter course without making contact. Has Blue met her obligation to inform?

windward leeward.png 34 KB


Created: 20-Mar-12 17:45
Philip Hubbell
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • Judge In Training
0
The original description says  "Leeward (L) does not believe 17 applies and converges on W to force W away from the layline"
I have assumed that "converges" means no change of course by L, thus no discussion of 16.
L is not entitled to room to alter course to make contact, whether or not 17 applies. 
Ergo, 14 would apply to both, and exoneration would not apply to L. 
DSQ both.
Created: 20-Mar-12 18:12
Rick Hatch
Nationality: Canada
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • National Umpire
0
Whereas the first sentence discusses a boat’s intention to protest - for example, regarding an incident that doesn’t occur in the racing area -  the second sentence of RRS 61.1(a) is what applies in this instance, because  this incident occurred in the racing area.  That oart of the rule reads:  

“If her protest will concern an incident in the racing area that she was involved in or saw, she shall hail ‘Protest’ ... at the first reasonable opportunity ...”

Nothing in this requirement provides a boat unreasonable delay so as to think about deciding whether or not to intend to protest the other boat. The “reasonable opportunity” per the rule does, in my opinion, include time for the boat to reasonably realize (no excuse for ignorance of the rules, btw, so that doesn’t include time to read the rulebook while racing!) that another boat may have broken one or more racing rules.

The RRS are not worded so as to become a protracted exercise in interpretive semantics.  As a past member of the World Sailing Racing Rules Committee (2009-2016), I soon learned that the RRS are written in as few words as possible so that they can be meaningfully translated into many foreign languages - particularly those like Mandarin, Russian, and other Asian and Cyrillic languages which have completely different grammatical constructs compared to English.  The racing rules say what they say, perhaps imperfectly at times.  Nevertheless, I strongly recommend NOT spending mental energy and time trying to read into the rules more than the words in the rules actually do say.  If there’s something unclear, there are some additional options for help: (1) ask your club to submit a racing rules-related Question to your national authority’s appeals committee for an interpretation; or (2) have an IJ, IRO or IU whom you know submit a question to the World Sailing Rules Q&A Panel.
Created: 20-Mar-13 03:54
[You must be signed in to add a comment]
Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn more