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Rules Disputes Process 

The RYA has a structured process in place for dealing with incidents whilst racing on the water.

The simplest level, the Advisory Hearing, exists to educate those involved in such incidents especially when they may not know who was in the right or wrong. The next level, RYA Arbitration, offers exoneration penalties rather than disqualification and is a simpler procedure than a full Protest Hearing.

 The aim is to encourage everyone to follow The Racing Rules of Sailing. The procedure adopted as the entry level at an event is dependent upon the nature of that event, e.g. Advisory Hearings would not be offered at a World Championships but this process may be very appropriate for club events and junior and youth open meetings when education is important.

The detailed Rules Disputes Procedures may be downloaded in pdf format and are also contained along with other guidance in the RYA’s Racing Rules Guidance book.

Advisory Hearing

Use this if you just want to learn whether you were in the right or wrong. ·        

  • An incident has occurred and no party wishes to protest, but instead want to learn for the future from what happened.
  • No protest form is required.        
  • The parties describe what happened then a Rules Adviser explains what rules may have been broken and whether anyone was in the wrong.
  • No one is disqualified or penalised, although a boat in the wrong may accept an exoneration penalty (specified in the SIs and commonly a 30% scoring penalty) or retire.

 Arbitration

Use this if you want the dispute resolved quickly and simply.  This is not as formal as a Protest Hearing and the potential penalty is not as damaging to a boat's score. ·

  • An incident has occurred and a valid protest is lodged within the normal time limit. ·      
  • All parties agree to opt for RYA Arbitration and meet with a Rules Adviser. ·       
  • The parties describe what happened, and the Rules Adviser will decide whether any witnesses should be called.
  • The Rules Adviser explains what rules may have been broken and whether anyone was in the wrong.
  •  A boat in the wrong is asked to accept the exoneration penalty.
  • No one is disqualified. ·
  • If the exoneration penalty is not accepted, the protest may go to a formal protest hearing. ·        
  • There are occasional scenarios when it is not possible or correct to resolve a dispute by RYA Arbitration and instead it has to be taken to a formal protest hearing.

 Full Protest

Use this if the dispute is complex, or if there has been injury or serious damage or a boat gained a significant advantage by her breach, or if it’s a request for redress.  ·        

  •  An incident has occurred and a valid protest is lodged within the normal time limit. ·       
  • A traditional formal hearing of the parties with a Protest Committee (typically 3 people) will be arranged.
  • Any boat that has broken a rule (of Part 2) will be disqualified.

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