April 2014 - Protest Committees II

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April 2014 - Protest Committees II

Last month I started a series on how to handle a protest from the protest committee’s side of the table. At that end of that article, we had the protestor and protestee in the room and we had introduced the protest committee. We’ll continue now as you and the rest of the committee take your next step, determining if the protest is valid. If you’ve ever been party to a protest, you’ll be familiar with the front page; most sailors, however, don’t know the second side, which includes a simple checklist to guide the protest committee through the protest process. The first part of the list concentrates on the validity of the protest, so you should understand validity’s requirements and ensure that the protest in front of you meets them.

For a protest to be valid, the protestor must inform the protestee that he or she is being protested as required in rule 61.1. The protestor must also file the protest with the information required in rule 61.2 and within the time limit of 61.3 (more on this farther along).

61.1 Informing the Protestee
(a) A boat intending to protest shall inform the other boat at the first reasonable opportunity. When her protest will concern an incident in the racing area that she was involved in or saw, she shall hail ‘Protest’ and conspicuously display a red flag at the first reasonable opportunity for each. She shall display the flag until she is no longer racing. However,
(1) if the other boat is beyond hailing distance, the protesting boat need not hail but she shall inform the other boat at the first reasonable opportunity;
(2) if the hull length of the protesting boat is less than 6 metres, she need not display a red flag;
(3) if the incident was an error by the other boat in sailing the course, she need not hail or display a red flag but she shall inform the other boat before that boat finishes or at the first reasonable opportunity after she finishes;
(4) if the incident results in damage or injury that is obvious to the boats involved and one of them intends to protest, the requirements of this rule do not apply to her, but she shall attempt to inform the other boat within the time limit of rule 61.3.

61.2 Protest Contents
A protest shall be in writing and identify
(a) the protestor and protestee;
(b) the incident, including where and when it occurred;
(c) any rule the protestor believes was broken; and
(d) the name of the protestor’s representative.

However, if requirement (b) is met, requirement (a) may be met at any time before the hearing, and requirements (c) and (d) may be met before or during the hearing.

61.3 Protest Time Limit
A protest by a boat, or by the race committee or protest committee about an incident the committee observed in the racing area, shall be delivered to the race office within the time limit stated in the sailing instructions. If none is stated, the time limit is two hours after the last boat in the race finishes. Other race committee or protest committee protests shall be delivered to the race office no later than two hours after the committee receives the relevant information. The protest committee shall extend the time if there is good reason to do so.

Time limits are a moving target. There is a default of two hours, but many regattas and race series set a limit more appropriate to the situation (for instance, our midweek limit is one hour, for obvious reasons). Be sure the protests in front of you are submitted in good time (they should bear a timestamp or notation). If a protest is filed after the time limit has passed, then a very early question should be, “Is there a good reason that you filed this protest late?” If the protestor was taking a crew member to the hospital, that is good reason and the committee is obligated to extend the time limit (note the use of the word “shall” in the rule). If on the other hand, a competitor came ashore, washed his boat, went for a swim, had lunch and then decided to file the protest, that is not a good reason and you should reject the protest.

63.5 Validity of the Protest or Request for Redress
At the beginning of the hearing the protest committee shall take any evidence it considers necessary to decide whether all requirements for the protest or request for redress have been met. If they have been met, the protest or request is valid and the hearing shall be continued. If not, the committee shall declare the protest or request invalid and close the hearing. If the protest has been made under rule 60.3(a)(1), the committee shall also determine whether or not injury or serious damage resulted from the incident in question. If not, the hearing shall be closed.

Informing the protestee is another step to validity. My first question to the protestor to check validity is “How did you inform the protestee that they were being protested?” I am trying to find out if the protestor flew a flag (if it was required), if they hailed “protest” (if required) and whether they informed the protestee. It is quite common at this point for the protestee to say that they never heard the hail of protest. This may raise doubt in your mind about whether the hail was actually made, but it is not actually a requirement that the hail is heard, just that it was made. If there was damage that is obvious to both boats, then the flag and hail are not required.

You should also be looking at the protest form to see if it has the required elements. At the time it is first filed (that is, before the time limit), it is sufficient to identify the incident; this could be the time and location of the incident and a brief description. A diagram is nice but not required. By the time the hearing starts, the form must identify the protestor and protestee.The form should also identify the rule that is believed to have been broken and the name of the person representing the protestee. Note that the protest committee may invoke any applicable rule when looking at the incident, so the absence of an applicable rule on the form does not tie the protest committee’s hands.

At the end of this process, the protest committee needs to decide if the protest valid. If it is, then the hearing can proceed. If it isn’t, then the hearing ends – we cannot continue with invalid protests. Next month, we will continue further into the hearing.
© Copyright 2014 Andrew Alberti
Posted: 4/1/2014 10:40:51 AM by Andrew Alberti

Trackback URL: https://rcyc.ca/trackback/63a67cec-0942-42bb-be32-37fb4f362962/April_2014_-_Protest_Committees_II.aspx?culture=en-US

This page provides links to a set of articles original published in Kwasind magazine. The versions here include animated diagrams. The original articles can be found within the original magazines which are available online back to January 2007. 

Articles before December 2020 are based on the Racing Rules of Sailing 2009-12 or 2013-2016 or 2017-2020 and have not been updated to reflect the changes that apply as of January 2021 with the publication of the Racing Rules of Sailing 2021-24. A copy of the new rules can be found on sailing.org.
Andrew Alberti has been writing these monthly articles in the Kwasind since early 1997.  They explain the Racing Rules of Sailing. Andrew is an International Judge and National Umpire. He is a member of the Sail Canada Rules and Appeals Committees. The interpretation of the rules contained in the articles is Andrew's and not that of the RCYC or any of the committees he sits on. 

Send your questions to Andrew at [email protected].


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