Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

Verbal changes to SIs

Alex Davis
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • National Judge
Morning all,

Had an interesting issue crop up recently concerning R28.
The SI paragraph for the course reads:

"
9.1 Courses will be windward / leeward(WL). The diagram in addendum B shows the course, the order in which marks are to be passed, and the side on which each mark is to be left.
9.2The course selected will be signalled by VHF.
"

sunbeam.PNG 11 KB


(screenshot of Addendum B hopefully attached here).


The Race Committee, whilst announcing the course, stated "mark one, mark two, two rounds". There was no visual display of the selected course either displayed, nor required in the SI.

Where this gets interesting is SI 4:
"
4.1 Except as provided in SI 4.2, any change to the sailing instructions will be posted before 0830 on the day it will take effect, except that any change to the schedule of races will be posted by 2000 on the day before it will take effect.
4.2 Routine information contained in these SI, e.g. mark descriptions and course configurations, may be changed by VHF announcement. Failure to receive this information shall not be grounds for redress. This changes RRS 62.1(a).
"

All boats except one sailed course WL2 as described in Addendum B (some started to sail straight from 1 to 2, but changed their minds when they saw their fellow competitors head off for 1a); one boat sailed the course as described in the VHF transmission (i.e. 1-2-1-Fin).

Let's assume that this boat was protested by the RC and that the facts are not in dispute and there are witnesses that can confirm, so it's just a question of the rule.

In order to determine whether or not R28 was broken, it seems to me the key question is: did the VHF transmission amount to a change under SI4.2? 
(I do have a certain amount of unease around allowing for verbal changes to the SIs, and the potential for unintended consequences).
Created: 20-Sep-15 15:58

Comments

P
Michael Butterfield
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • International Umpire
  • International Race Officer
0
The course was incorrectly signalled so here was an error of the race committee with a potential for redress.
There is that provision but it does not set out it is a method of changing sailing instructions afloat just clarification so there can be no change to the sailing instructions afloat.
The course cannot be changed so any boat that thinks it can is partly at fault and can have no redress that is missing 1a.
The nearest course to that described is WL2 and boats should sail this.
No redress for missing 1A.
Created: 20-Sep-15 16:33
Graham Louth
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • Umpire In Training
  • National Race Officer
1
RRS 90.2(c) allows sailing instructions to be changed orally on the water provided that the procedure for doing so is stated in the sailing instructions, and the change is communicated to each boat before her warning signal.

It seems to me that SI 4.2 specified a procedure for changing sailing instructions orally on the water. The race committee followed that procedure and hence in my view changed the sailing instructions. In my view the course to be sailed was therefore "mark one, mark two, two rounds".

That is not a very good description of a course (e.g. no mention of whether the marks are to be left to port or starboard, and could be interpreted as requiring an illegal hook finish) but no mention was made of mark 1a and hence in my view that was not a mark of the course on any leg.

Hence in my view the boat that ignored mark 1a sailed the course as described in the (changed) sailing instructions and therefore did not break RRS 28.
Created: 20-Sep-15 16:44
Graham Louth
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • Umpire In Training
  • National Race Officer
0
Sorry to disagree with you Mike, but the SI says "Routine information contained in these SI, e.g. mark descriptions and course configurations, may be changed by VHF announcement" (emphasis added). Not "clarified" but "changed". OK, it doesn't explicitly say that this is the procedure that will be used to make oral changes to the sailing instructions on the water, but since a change announced over VHF would have to be oral, and oral changes are only allowed on the water, this SI only makes sense (to me at least) in that context.
Created: 20-Sep-15 16:57
Don Becker
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • International Umpire
0
What was the testimony of the RC in the hearing about what course the RC thought they were calling?  Were working VHF radios required to be carried by each boat?
I have a problem with SI 4.2, penultimate sentence.  If the RC refuses to visually display the course that all competitors can see if have a problem with denying redress on "failure to receive" a VHF transmission.
If mark 1a was set properly, it could be interpreted that mark 1 and 1a were to be considered as one weather mark.  Otherwise why were the marks not identified as 1, 2 and 3?
There are too many holes in this scenario, and it looks to me like you need a new race officer.
I wouldn't give redress to the boat that eliminated mark 1a.
Created: 20-Sep-15 18:07
Philip Hubbell
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • Judge In Training
1
RC error, clearly.
PRO should always read, and be responsible for, the SI.
The only fair alternative to redress in this instance is abandonment.
Created: 20-Sep-15 21:06
Robert Lee
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
0
How do the SI describe mark 1? Does the description say that Mark 1 includes an offset?
Created: 20-Sep-15 21:22
Christian Hartmann
Nationality: Germany
Certifications:
  • Regional Race Officer
0
in my opinion any change to the SI, as permitted in SI 4.2, should be clearly(!) stated as a change even when given oraly. therefore the actual words cited do not qualify for a change, but (only) as a signal (read: clarification) as stated in SI 9.2. no redress. new RO
Created: 20-Sep-16 10:22
Philip Hubbell
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • Judge In Training
0
If the words do not qualify for a change, then NO course was indicated.
Hence, abandon.

Created: 20-Sep-17 21:32
Tim Hohmann
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
0
I think I'd go the other way. I think this was sloppy race management but not an improper action.

@Don, the configuration shown is similar to configurations in Appendix S that clearly treat 1a as a separate and distinct mark so I'm not sure I'd buy that in this diagram 1 and 1a should be treated as a single mark. And I think if you tried you'd start to generate some fairly ugly rule 18 discussions.

If the RC had meant to use course WL2 they could have said so, and at least as presented nothing required them to use a course which was described on the course chart. Instead, from the wording used, it appears that they chose to change the course configuration to an ad hoc description which could be translated as S-1-2-1-F. This change could have been communicated more clearly but was allowed by SI 4.2 and the course described did not include mark 1a. I wouldn't want to get into what the RC's intent was, I think you have to go by what they said because that's all the competitors can rely on.

So I'd say that all boats sailed the course correctly, RCs protest should be dismissed and all boats should be awarded finishing places. Those that were disadvantaged by rounding or returning to round 1a did so by their own fault and not because of an improper error or omission of the RC.

But I agree, there's definitely a need for some additional training for the RC.
Created: 20-Sep-17 22:28
P
Michael Butterfield
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • International Umpire
  • International Race Officer
0
I have been watching the development of this blog.
I still hold to my view that the course was incorrectly signalled so there was an incorrect action of the race committee. It should just have said the course is the description 2 or 3 (i cannot see the diagram on this computer).
to me 4.2 in the SI talking of" routine information" is not a description in the SI describing how verbal instructions to the SI can be made is valid under 90.2(c).
However, I have changed my view on the "no fault of her own" the confusion by the course signalled was such in its description that a boat sailing 1.2.1.Fin would have considered this a correct course, especially as the SI referred in addition to "routine course changes" but to "configuration" which could be misread to mean not only the two or three laps but missing A1.
So I do think that redress would be available. This is to a boat missing mark 1A. I think in the circumstances the redress for me would be to let the race results stand as they are.

Created: 20-Sep-18 21:53
Alex Davis
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • National Judge
0
Michael, you say that redress would be available to the boat missing 1A, to let the results stand.
Assuming there were a request for redress from one or more boats from rest of the fleet, would you think that redress would be available to them?
Created: 20-Sep-19 12:16
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
1
For what it's worth, here is my analysis.
 
I think the first step with any rule 28 problem is to decide precisely what the course a boat is required by rule 28 to sail is, that is, what is the course described in the SI, as validly amended.  Where there has been some action that may possibly change the course described in the original written SI, we need to examine whether the change to the SI is valid, particularly by reference to rule 90.2(c).
 
Having determined the course boats are required to sail, we can decide any protests, and then consider redress.
 
So, to the OP scenario.

SI 9.1 and Addendum B say that there can be only one of two courses WL2 or WL3.
 
SI 4.2 says 'course configurations' may be changed by VHF
 
I think the VHF announcement   "mark one, mark two, two rounds" does two things:

  • it signals the course to be sailed (WL2) as required by rule 27.1 and SI 9.2, and
  • it purports to change the course configuration (i.e. change the SI) according to the terms of SI 4.2.

Given that the SI only provide courses WL2 and WL3, and that nobody thinks the course was WL3 ("twice round" approximately equals WL2, no boat sailed any part of a third round, the RC, having set the precedent of protesting a boat under rule 28, did not protest any boat for not sailing a third round), then I would say that the VHF announcement, untidy as it was, adequately signaled the course to be sailed as required by rule 27.1.
 
The question then arises, did the VHF announcement validly change the course configuration?
 
There are two possible interpretations of SI 4.2:

1.      the words of SI 4.2 make any change of course description into a 'routine' change, and thus the change implied by the VHF transmission is valid, or

2.      the change of omitting Mark 1A, where that mark was laid, was not a 'routine' change, and is thus not validated by SI 4.2.

Consider Option 1

In Option 1 the VHF announcement validly changed the courses to exclude Mark 1A.  I think it is clear enough that the course, in this case is SL-1-2-1-FL, and the protested boat has sailed that course in accordance with rule 28 and the protest should be dismissed.  The course having been validly changed and signaled in accordance with the SI, there is no improper action by the race committee and therefore no scope for redress for other boats.
 
Consider Option 2

 In Option 2 the VHF announcement did not validly change the course described in the written SI.  The course was WL2 as described in the written SI, including Mark 1A.
 
In Option 2, the protested boat did not sail the course in accordance with rule 28 and thus broke rule 28, and on valid protest should be disqualified.
 
The VHF announcement, being invalid and confusing, was an improper action by the race committee.
 
The VHF announcement misled the protested boat (and the boats that jigged around between Mark 1 and Mark 1A), and caused the protested boat to sail the incorrect course and break rule 28, and be disqualified through no fault of her own.
 
The protested boat is entitled to redress, being to be scored for the place she was recorded in before being disqualified.
 
We therefore have to choose between Option 1 and Option 2.
 
Case 32 appears relevant
 
A competitor is entitled to look exclusively to written sailing instructions and to any written amendments for all details relating to sailing the course. 
 
This interpretation does not necessarily imply its converse, that a competitor is only entitled to rely on the written SI and should disregard anything the RC says, particularly when the SI provide for oral instructions.
 
Given that Mark 1A was in the water, I think the form of the announcement by the RC was a careless slip of the tongue, and far from a 'routine' change as envisaged in the SI.  I think Option 2 applies and the VHF announcement did not validly change the course, and misled the protested boat, who is therefor entitled to redress.
 
This whole problem is caused by a SI that overuses VHF.  What on earth is wrong with a Course Number Board or a flag signal to signal the course?

I'm grateful to Mike B for changing his stance on 'fault of her own'.  If a boat is misled by an action of the race committee, how can that be her own fault?

I think holding competitors at fault for being misled by misleading instructions from the race committee sets too high a standard on competitors.
 
If the race committee misleads competitors (in a way that is not fanciful or concocted), you can’t blame competitors for being mislead.  It’s not up to competitors, while sailing on the water, at least, to consider obscure points of construction of the rules and cases.
Created: Sun 07:37
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Alex Davis
said Created: Yesterday 12:16
Michael, you say that redress would be available to the boat missing 1A, to let the results stand.
Assuming there were a request for redress from one or more boats from rest of the fleet, would you think that redress would be available to them?
I think Mike B was a bit quick on the draw there.

If you have a protest afoot (in your OP, from the RC), then you can't 'let the results stand'.  You have to hear and decide the protest.  Then you can go on and consider redress.  These steps and their sequence are particularly important in rule 28 'missed a mark' protests, where, until a boat that 'missed a mark' is disqualified, there is nothing that has worsened her score.

Once having disqualified the boat that broke rule 28, all the other boats behind her that sailed strictly in accordance with rule 28 move up the placings.  If you then give redress to the disqualified boat, being points for the place she finished in, she will then get points equal to the boat that finished behind her, so that boat, and boats behind her, will retain at least some of the advantage of the boat having been disqualified in the protest hearing.

Given we have adopted the position that the RC did not validly change the course, then arguably these boats are not entitled to to redress because whatever improper actions or omissions the race committee may have made, none caused these boats positions to be made worse.
 
If these boats took some time dithering around between mark 1 and mark 1A, deciding which course was the correct one, when the protest committee has decided that the WL2 course including mark 1A was the correct course, I think that indecision was fault of their own, or at least, any worsening of their scores or places was not significant.
Created: Sun 07:55
Tim Hohmann
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
0
This whole problem is caused by a SI that overuses VHF.  What on earth is wrong with a Course Number Board or a flag signal to signal the course?

Or just saying "Whiskey Lima Two" on the VHF, which would have been more economical plus completely clear to all competitors. 
Created: Sun 16:34
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