Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

Reasonable Apprehension Standard

Tim Hohmann
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
I’ve been thinking about whether the “reasonable apprehension” principle expressed in WS Case 50 might have broader implications. The case refers specifically to a Rule 10 incident. Can that standard be applied to incidents involving other rules where some judgment by the ROW/entitled boat is required? Example scenarios:

a.       Rule 11. Leeward curtails her luff, protests Windward and expresses apprehension that if she had luffed further W would not have responded and contact would have resulted.

b.       Rule 18. Inside boat entitled to mark room. Outside boat leaves what she perceives to be sufficient room. I doesn’t believe there’s enough room, expresses apprehension that if she’d tried to pass  between O and the mark she’d have contacted one or the other, possibly both. I passes to the wrong side of the mark, protests and then rounds the mark correctly.

c.       Rule 19. Boats are approaching an obstruction – Outside obligated to give room, leaves what she believes to be sufficient room but Inside disagrees. I bails out and protests.

d.       Rule 19. Similar to c.. but with the added complication that the obstruction is submerged (shoal water, anchor rode) so the exact location of the obstruction isn’t obvious to either boat.

In these kinds of situations, would you apply the “reasonably apprehension” standard to decide whether to rule in favor of the ROW/entitled boat? And if so, would you cite Case 50?

Created: 20-May-11 20:32

Comments

P
Pat Healy
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • International Judge
1
I think many judges utilize Case 50’s, ‘reasonable apprehension” test to the rule situations you cite. I submit a test similar to “seamanlike way” used in the Definition of Room and Cases 21, 91, et al., gives clearer guidance.

First it clearly spells out the requirement to use existing conditions and the sailing level of the crew. Second it clearly directs a judge to use their sailing experience to decided if boats got too close or were overly cautious.

A downside of Case 50 is that it hints of supporting “no contact - no foul”. All of the fleet racing Keep Clear definitions assume a buffer around the boats. The rule is broken, not when there is contact, but when a boat gets too close.
Created: 20-May-11 22:17
Benjamin Harding
Nationality: Hong Kong
Certifications:
  • International Judge
1
Yes and no! (To the original question)

The preamble of the Casebook (talking about the WS regulations) maintains that the cases are interpretations of 'rules'.

Case 50 offers interpretation of Rule 10 AND Rule 14.

So while I don't think Cases can be applied broadly across rules, you could apply and cite Case 50 when considering whether a boat was valid in taking action to avoid contact under rule 14 in other situations involving other rules.

Be careful though. 

Case 50 can only be applied to other situations at the moment the RoW/Room boat acts/needs to act to comply with rule 14 obligations.

However, in those other rules you mention (11, 18, 19) the first/broader requirement to act comes from the requirement to give 'ROOM' - the space a boat needs blah blah blah - and that is the measurable item which the protest committee should ascertain, based on those other terms such as 'existing conditions, reasonably competent crew', seamanlike-ness(!) etc.  So generally, the discussion of 'Room' would incorporate the boats apprehension, meaning that you would not normally cite case 50.

To summarise then, Case 50 works when RoW doesn't have any other obligation to act other than avoiding contact under rule 14.

(e.g. Rule 11, where L holds her course as boats converge, and then bears away at the last minute.  e.g. Rule 12 where Astern surges on a wave, and Ahead luffs up to avoid the bowsprit into her transom. e.g. Where a RoW boat has already given mark room at a port rounding leeward mark, but bears away at last minute to avoid some bad boat handling by inside windward boat.)

------------------------------------------------------
Response to Pat's post:  Yes!

I think we are basically saying the same thing...that is when 'Room' is in rule, there are similar but different measures of what 'the space a boat needs' means, which incorporate apprehension discussion.

Created: 20-May-11 22:49
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Pat Healy

Could you explain why you think "Case 50... hints of supporting “no contact - no foul”"

Case 50 very specifically says that this is wrong.

Rule 10 protests involving no contact are very common, and protest committees tend to handle them in very different ways. Some place an onus on the port-tack boat to prove conclusively that she would have cleared the starboard-tack boat, even when the latter's evidence is barely worthy of credence. No such onus appears in rule 10. Other protest committees are reluctant to allow any rule 10 protest in the absence of contact, unless the starboard-tack boat proves conclusively that contact would have occurred had she not changed course. Both approaches are incorrect.


Created: 20-May-17 23:44
P
Pat Healy
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • International Judge
1
Case 50 is famous for clarifying that contact is not necessary to demonstrate a boat did not keep clear. I believe it does encourage judges to determine whether contact would have been likely if the r-o-w boat took no action.

When Case 50 was adopted in 1981, the writers correctly described the then status quo as, "protest committees tend to handle them in very different ways ... (these) approaches are incorrect." The 1981-84 RRS did not specify a Standard of Proof judges should apply when deciding protests.

In 1996, fifteen years later, ISAF published Case 88, "A boat may avoid contact and yet fail to keep clear."

In 2012, World Sailing adopted Case 122 to explain the new "Comfortable Satisfaction" test as the standard of proof for rule 69 hearings. As part of that discussion, and as an offhanded side statement, the case mentioned "Balance of Probability" as the standard of proof for all but rule 2 and 69. (The next set of rules, 2021-24, does state Balance of Probability as the standard of proof for most of the rules.)

I think Case 50's wording, "... a genuine and reasonable apprehension of collision ..." focuses the judge to use as a test whether there would have been a collision if the r-o-w boat had not altered course. Instead the test should be closer to, "was it good seamanship on the r-o-w boat to conclude "this is going to be too close", and take actions to increase the distance between the two boats?

Pat
Created: 20-May-19 18:10
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Thanks Pat.

I don't think it would be a good idea to introduce words like 'seamanship' or 'seamanlike' into an interpretation about keeping clear.  Those words belong to 'room' and, I think would further add to the common confustion between keeping clear and giving room.

I think that 'seamanlike' or 'prudent seamanship' inevitably connotes, firstly assesment of risk of collision in the COLREGS sense, and further assessment of whether that risk is imminent:  that, in my mind equates to reasonable apprehension.  IOW, the 'reasonable' in 'reasonable apprehension' should be construed as 'reasonable in the eyes of experienced but not expert seamen'.
Created: 20-May-22 10:30
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