March/April 2018 - A Small But Important Rules Change

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March/April 2018 - A Small But Important Rules Change

At their annual meeting late in 2017, World Sailing passed some small changes in the Racing Rules of Sailing. None of them change the right-of-way rules, but they do change rules that I have discussed in the past two years.


In my May 2017 article, I discussed the new rule about “Support Persons”. A support person can be anyone assisting a competitor, including parents and coaches. The 2017 rulebook introduced a definition of a support person and it attempted to indicate how a support person and the boat supported by that person could be penalized. US Sailing identified a problem with this rule, in that the support person was a party to the hearing but the boat was not, yet the boat could be penalized. Another rule indicated that a boat could not be penalized unless they were a party to the hearing. These two rules appeared to contradict each other.


The new change fixes this. The definition of party has been expanded to include any competing boat that the support person supports. Now, all the boats linked to that support person in question are now entitled to attend the hearing.


A competitor can be penalized for the actions of a support person in two situations. First, if the competitor gains an advantage (rule 64.4(b)(1)). Second, if there has already been a hearing, the support person and the boat have been warned and there is a further breach. This year, the rule requires that the warning must be in writing (rule 64.4(b)(2)) and must come after a hearing. A general warning to all competitors at the beginning of the regatta is not enough.


Let me illustrate these two cases. One of the common problems covered by this rule is coaches getting in the way on the course. If the coach got in the way of a boat and this provided a competitive advantage to a boat supported by that coach, then the boat that gained an advantage could be penalized (rule 64.4(b)(1)). If the coach gets in the way, but there is no advantage to any of the boats supported by that coach, then there can be a hearing, after which the coach might be penalized and a warning might be delivered in writing to all of the boats supported by that coach. A repetition of that interference could lead to the boats being penalized.


The same rules apply to parents who verbally (or otherwise) attack other competitors or officials at youth regattas. The first time this happens, the parent can be penalized. The second time, after a warning has been delivered in writing, the boat can be penalized as well.

Party A party to a hearing is

  1. for a protest hearing: a protestor, a protestee;
  2. for a request for redress: a boat requesting redress or for which redress is requested, a race committee acting under rule 60.2(b), a technical committee acting under rule 60.4(b);
  3. for a request for redress under rule 62.1(a): the body alleged to have made an improper action or omission;
  4. a person against whom an allegation of a breach of rule 69 is made; a person presenting an allegation under rule 69;
  5. a support person subject to a hearing under rule 60.3(d) or 69; any boat that person supports; a person appointed to present an allegation under rule 60.3(d).


However, the protest committee is never a party.


63.1    Requirement for a Hearing

A boat or competitor shall not be penalized without a protest hearing, except as provided in rules 30.2, 30.3, 30.4, 64.3(d), 64.4(b), 69, 78.2, A5 and P2. A decision on redress shall not be made without a hearing. The protest committee shall hear all protests and requests for redress that have been delivered to the race office unless it allows a protest or request to be withdrawn.


63.9 Hearings under Rule 60.3(d) – Support Persons

If the protest committee decides to call a hearing under rule 60.3(d), it shall promptly follow the procedures in rule 63.2, 63.3, 63.4 and 63.6, except that the information given to the parties shall be details of the alleged breach and a person may be appointed by the protest committee to present the allegation.


64.4    Decisions Concerning Support Persons

  1. When the protest committee decides that a support person who is a party to a hearing has broken a rule, it may

  2. issue a warning,

  3. exclude the person from the event or venue or remove any privileges or benefits, or

  4. take other action within its jurisdiction as provided by the rules.

  5. The protest committee may also penalize a competitor for the breach of a rule by a support person by changing the boat’s score in a single race, up to and including DSQ, when the protest committee decides that

Posted: 4/29/2019 3:25:24 PM by Andrew Alberti | with 0 comments

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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
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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