Restricting protests or requests for redress by boats

Guidance on the limited number of circumstances where it is good practice to restrict protests by boats. Restriction of request of redress by boats is not recommended.

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As stated in the RYA Racing Charter, a fundamental function of a race organiser is to ensure that the competition is both fair and safe for competitors. Weak or inconsistent enforcement of the rules results in dissatisfaction among competitors and, in extreme cases, can lead to competitors leaving the sport.

Sailboat racing is a self-policing sport, which means that the primary responsibility for enforcing the rules lies with the competitors themselves. This, in turn, relies upon the ability of a boat to protest another boat that she believes has broken a rule or to request redress when she believes that she has been significantly disadvantaged.

The right of a boat to protest or request redress is stated in rule 60.1.

Is it possible, within the rules, to restrict the right of boats to protest or request redress?

Yes, but there are few circumstances in which this is good practice. Competitors are usually more likely to be aware of rule breaches than either race or protest committees, whose view may be less comprehensive. In the absence of alternative mechanisms for enforcing the rules, restricting the right to protest or request redress diminishes the fairness of the competition.

Restriction of the right of a boat to protest or request redress should never

  1. permit a breach of a rule that affects the fairness of the competition;
  2. prevent redress for an action by the race committee (or other body) that affects the fairness of the competition;
  3. circumvent a rule that cannot be changed under rule 86;
  4. circumvent a class rule or World Sailing regulation (see definition rule).

A restriction under any of these circumstances would normally be improper and could be overturned by a protest committee or, on appeal, by the RYA.

Protests by boats may reasonably be restricted in situations where it is clear that breaches of the rule affected will always be seen by the race committee but only rarely by competitors, for example failure to collect or return tallies or to operate event-supplied tracking equipment.

When restrictions do validly apply, the race committee, or when appropriate the protest committee, should implement a robust procedure for monitoring compliance with the relevant rules and protesting boats that do not comply.

When a race committee is concerned that a rule may give rise to vexatious protests, it should consider the appropriateness of the rule and the possibility of discretionary penalties before deciding to implement a restriction on the right to protest. When appropriate and permitted by rule 86, rules can be modified to suit the circumstances of a specific event.

Restriction of the grounds for redress

Rules in the notice of race or sailing instructions frequently state that specific circumstances shall not be grounds for redress; for example, failure of a boat to hear a race committee VHF transmission or errors in supplied GPS coordinates for marks. To be valid these rules must state that rule 62.1 is changed.

Restriction of the right to redress will be improper if it conflicts with the principles outlined in the previous section. For example, a sailing instruction to prevent a boat whose entry is rejected from seeking redress would circumvent rule 76.1, a rule which cannot be changed under rule 86. The sailing instruction would therefore be improper, even if it did not explicitly attempt to change rule 76.1.

A rule in the notice of race or sailing instructions to restrict redress for an action or omission by the race committee or other body is proper only if that action or omission is not improper. However, in that circumstance, no redress is possible because the essential requirement for redress is an improper action or omission. Consequently, such attempts to restrict redress are redundant and may discourage competitors from making a valid request; it is recommended that they are not used.

Restriction of protests by boats

To restrict the right of a boat to protest, the notice of race or sailing instructions may list the rules affected and state that rule 60.1(a) is changed.

For example:

'Boats may not protest for breaches of [list of rules]. This changes rule 60.1(a).'

Alternatively, the notice of race or sailing instructions may include a rule such as:

'The notation [NP] in a rule means that a boat may not protest for a breach of the rule. This changes rule 60.1(a).'

The individual rules to be restricted should then be marked with [NP].

To ensure the restriction is seen to be fair, the notice of race or sailing instructions should also state how compliance with the relevant rules will be enforced.

Action when a protest or request for redress is received

Fairness requires that a race committee is not the judge of whether its own actions are proper. When a protest or request for redress is received, the protest committee must open a hearing even if a possible restriction applies. The protest committee shall then consider whether the restriction is proper using the criteria outlined above. If it finds that a restriction of the right to protest or request redress is improper, the protest or request is valid, regardless of the attempt to restrict it, provided all other requirements for validity have been met.

Redress may be given when a restriction of the grounds for redress is found to be improper.

It is recommended that, for events where a protest committee is appointed in advance, the race committee consult the protest committee on any rule in the notice of race or sailing instructions intended to restrict protests or redress.