January/February 2019 - Making It Fair? - Request For Redress I

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January/February 2019 - Making It Fair? - Request For Redress I

At some regattas, protest committees spend more time on requests for redress than on protests, but I don’t believe that I have spent much time in these articles discussing them. What is a redress? The Oxford dictionary defines redress as “remedy or set right (an undesirable or unfair situation), set upright again”.  Under the racing rules, some undesirable or unfair situations can be fixed, some cannot. Redress is covered by rule 62.

1.1    Helping Those in Danger

A boat or competitor shall give all possible help to any person or vessel in danger.



62.1    A request for redress or a protest committee’s decision to consider redress shall be based on a claim or possibility that a boat’s score or place in a race or series has been or may be, through no fault of her own, made significantly worse by

(a)    an improper action or omission of the race committee, protest committee, organizing authority or technical committee for the event, but not by a protest committee decision when the boat was a party to the hearing;

(b)    injury or physical damage because of the action of a boat that was breaking a rule of Part 2 or of a vessel not racing that was required to keep clear;

(c)    giving help (except to herself or her crew) in compliance with rule 1.1; or

(d)    an action of a boat, or a member of her crew, that resulted in a penalty under rule 2 or a penalty or warning under rule 69.2(h).

62.2    A request shall be in writing and identify the reason for making it. If the request is based on an incident in the racing area, it shall be delivered to the race office within the protest time limit or two hours after the incident, whichever is later. Other requests shall be delivered as soon as reasonably possible after learning of the reasons for making the request. The protest committee shall extend the time if there is good reason to do so. No red flag is required.


64.2    Decisions on Redress

When the protest committee decides that a boat is entitled to redress under rule 62, it shall make as fair an arrangement as possible for all boats affected, whether or not they asked for redress. This may be to adjust the scoring (see rule A10 for some examples) or finishing times of boats, to abandon the race, to let the results stand or to make some other arrangement. When in doubt about the facts or probable results of any arrangement for the race or series, especially before abandoning the race, the protest committee shall take evidence from appropriate sources.

A number of conditions must be met before any redress can be granted.  The first two conditions are in the first paragraph.  First, the boat’s score in the race or series must be made significantly worse. A single place is probably not significant. Second, it must be “through no fault of her own”. You cannot claim redress for damage from a collision when you are at fault. If it was clear to you that you were On Course Side (over the line early) then you cannot get redress, even if the committee signals it incorrectly. After looking at the first two conditions that apply to any redress, one of the four redressable situations must apply. The four situations are listed a) to d) in rule 62.1.

Let’s start with giving help, part c. According to rule 1.1, sailors should provide help to anyone in danger. This is a key obligation. It is also something that is rewarded. If you (or someone else on your behalf) requests redress after you have spent time and lost places rescuing someone, you can be given a place that the committee thinks fairly reflects where you would have finished in the race, had you not stopped racing to help. Larry Lemieux’ rescue in the 1988 Olympics provides the most famous Canadian example. Larry was in second place in an early race in the series when he saw a 470 sailor separated from his boat, and so left his own race to save the 470 sailor. Although Larry was given redress for his result in the race, his later races didn’t go so well, so he didn’t win a medal based on standings. He was, however, given a special medal by the President of the IOC and was fêted in the sailing press. Like many protest committee members, I am always happy to encourage people to provide help, so a high percentage of requests for redress under this section of the rule are successful.

Improper actions or omissions of the race committee are the most frequent reason people request redress, but they are also the least likely to be granted. First, a race committee action that causes you to lose a position is not a cause for redress – there must be an identifiable improper action or omission. Putting the wrong colour mark in the water or not making a sound signal for an individual recall are improper actions or omissions. A big wind shift that allows the last-place boat to finish first, or a dying wind that causes some boats to miss the time limit, are probably not. Even if there is an improper action, there may be no redress granted. Both of the first two conditions, the boat’s “score being made significantly worse” and “through no fault of her own”, have to be met.

Once the committee decides that there was an improper action and that a boat’s score was made significantly worse, they have to decide what redress to grant. Rule 64.2 says that the committee has to make as fair an arrangement as possible for all boats affected. If the problem only affects one boat, she may be given finishing position points equal to her average place in the series. If the problem impacts a lot of boats so as to change multiple results, duplicate places may be awarded; sometimes the entire race may be abandoned. There is an old saying “you can’t unscramble an egg”, but sometimes protest committees have to try. Regrettably, they will seldom be able to satisfy everyone.

© Copyright 2017 Andrew Alberti

Posted: 5/1/2019 9:07:57 AM 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 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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