Competitors retiring or withdrawing a retirement

Guidance for race committees on time limits for competitors retiring or withdrawing a retirement.

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Q1. Are there any time limits, under the Racing Rules of Sailing (‘RRS’), when a race committee may refuse to accept the retirement of a boat from a race or the withdrawal of such a retirement (‘unretiring’)?

A1. The RRS refers to retiring in the contexts of penalties and of scoring, but in neither case is there any reference to time limits or constraints. The RRS do not refer to unretiring; however, there is no rule that precludes a boat that has retired after finishing from withdrawing that retirement.

However, rule 90.3(e) allows an Organising Authority to set a time limit after which the score for a series, including a single-race series, may not be altered. This time limit rule must be stated to apply in the notice of race and the time limit is 24 hours after:

  1. the protest time limit for the last race of the series;
  2. being informed of a protest committee decision after the last race of the series; or
  3. the results are published.

The 24 hours may be changed to a different time period in the notice of race and, because the rule allows such a change, doing so does not constitute a rule change.

This time limit, at an event at which rule 90.3(e) applies, would apply to a retirement or unretirement.

Q2. Is there a time after which a race committee should not accept a retirement or unretirement in the absence of good reason to do so?

A2. For the practical requirement of scoring a race, the end of the protest time limit (under rule 61.3, two hours after the last boat in the race finishes, unless the sailing instructions state some other time limit) can be used as the last time for accepting a retirement or unretirement from a competitor who is not a party to a protest. However, bear in mind that the protest committee shall extend the protest time limit if there is good reason to do so.

A party in a hearing can retire at any time before being asked to withdraw for the protest committee to consider its decision.

Q3. What should a race committee do if a retirement or unretirement is requested after the end of the protest time limit?

A3. The race committee should ask the competitor to state in writing why the ‘late’ request should be accepted. If the race committee considers that the statement gives a good reason for accepting the request, it should do so; otherwise, it should reject the request. Either decision, to accept or to reject, will be open to challenge by competitors through a request for redress. Alternatively, the race committee itself may wish to refer its decision to the protest committee (also through a request for redress), which can then decide:

  1. whether there are grounds to extend the time limit in order to hear the request; and
  2. whether there are good reasons such that the boat’s retirement or unretirement must be accepted by the race committee.

Q4. What circumstances might provide good reasons for accepting a late retirement or unretirement?

A4. The most likely situation is that the competitor learns that an action that was considered to break a rule did not, in fact, do so or vice versa. This information might come from the published outcome of a protest or redress hearing, or from conversation with another competitor or a race official.