Time Limit?

Ask the Rules Guy

Time Limit?

From our new "Ask the Rules Guy" series.. The questions are from you and the answers are provided by rules expert Bryan Willis. Bryan is the author of the brand new The Rules in Practice 2009-2012 book, is a member of the ISAF Racing Rules Committee and has chaired a number of Olympic and World Sailing events. If you have a rules question or situation you’d like Bryan to take a look at, send it on in, and if you’d like to get a copy of thee book, which we highly recommend, click the above link.

Q: A sailor commits a foul on the race course, and does their penalty turn(s). There is no other protest of that sailor, or action taken by the protest committee in a subsequent hearing that is tangentially related to that incident. 

The sailor who committed the foul is scored for their finishing position within the race where the tangentially related protest hearing is held, and that scoresheet is used as part of the facts found in the hearing. The hearing in the tangential incident is reopened six months later.

A new scoresheet is introduced in the reopened hearing (which is classified as a "de novo trial"), showing the sailor who committed the foul in the related incident has having now been scored as RAF.

Is it proper for a protest committee in a hearing to reopen to use a scoresheet that is different than the one used in the original facts found? What timeline is acceptable for a sailor to RAF themselves and for the scores of a race/regatta to be amended?

A: There is no set time limit for a boat to retire.  But there is normally no opportunity to retire once the results have been published and everyone has gone home. But you mention a re-opening after 6 months. For a sailor to ask for a re-opening, the request must be within 24 hours after being informed of the decision. A protest committee may reopen a hearing when it decides that it may have made a significant error, or when significant new evidence becomes available within a reasonable time.  My own view as to what is reasonable depends on the circumstances; if it is determining who is to be World champion, and some pivotal new evidence comes to light, 6 months might be reasonable. Usually however ‘reasonable’ would not extend beyond the prize-giving at end of a regatta or series.