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Rules: Race Committee scoring someone as a DNF when they cross the finish


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Ok another quirky one.

So the situation was this. Morning back-to-back races then in for lunch at a National titles. As I crossed the finish line of the first race in the morning I noticed one of the older guys capsized and having trouble getting the boat upright. I sailed to him and got him on board then jumped off to right his boat. By the time I had his boat upright and transferred him back to his boat we were some distance downwind of the line and they fired the 5min gun for race 2 within 20secs of me being on my boat again.

I reached the line with about 1:30min to go in the thick of the fleet and had no clear sight of the start boat nor a line transit. I started the race clean and lead the whole way around the course, sailing the course from the morning race. What I didn't realise was that there had been a course change. I noticed this after I crossed the finish with no horn and saw 3 boats heading for another lap (about 7 boats followed me to the finish...).

I was subsequently scored as a DNF by the race committee for failing to sail the course properly.

So you ask what did the race committee do wrong, they saw me start cleanly and then sail an incorrect course. The thing they did wrong was that they failed to record me as a finisher and then protest me for not sailing the course under rule 28.1. Under appendix A5 the race committee does not have the power to score any boat as a DNF if they started and finished in accordance of the definitions of starting and finishing. Note: the definition of finishing is (dumb down) crossing the finish line from the direction of the last mark. Which I did, because the last mark I rounded was the last mark of the course regardless of the amount of laps.

I took them to a redress hearing and the jury threw it out. I argued that I didn't have sufficient time after rendering assistance under rule 1.1 to note the change of course, given that I had to sail a fair way back to the line & there was a precedence in the ISAF case book that I could not be scored a DNF for failing to sail the course when the race committee had not protested me for doing so. But I was told that the ISAF Case book didn't apply & the 5mins was sufficient time to note the change of course regardless of where I was and what I was doing.

Now, onto what Case 80 of the ISAF Case book says.


Rule 60, Right to Protest; Right to Request Redress or Rule 69 Action

Rule 61.2(b), Protest Requirements: Protest Contents

Rule 62.1(a), Redress

Rule A5, Scores Determined by the Race Committee

A hearing of a protest or a request for redress must be limited to the alleged incident, action or omission. Although a boat may be scored DNF if she does not finish according to that term’s definition, she may not be scored DNF for failing to sail the course correctly.

Summary of the Facts

When boat A crossed the finishing line in the direction of the course from the last mark, the race committee scored her DNF because it believed from its observations that she had not left one of the rounding marks on the required side and, therefore, had failed to sail the course correctly. A, requested redress on the grounds that, even though she had finished properly, she was not given a finishing place. The protest committee did not give A redress, deciding that rule 62.1(a) did not apply because A failed to sail the course correctly, and that her failure to do so was not due to an act or omission of the race committee but was entirely her own fault. A appealed.


A’s appeal is upheld. The race committee acted improperly in scoring A DNF when she did finish according to the definition Finish. The race committee could have scored boat A as DNF only for failing to finish correctly (see rule A5). Since A crossed the finishing line from the direction of the last mark, she should have been recorded as having finished.

A fundamental principle of protest committee procedure is that a hearing must be limited to the particular ‘incident’ alleged in a protest (see rule 61.2(b)) or to the particular incident alleged to be ‘an improper action or omission’ in a request for redress under rule 62.1(a). Although the incident that was the subject of A’s request for redress was that she had been incorrectly scored DNF, the protest committee turned to a different incident when it considered whether or not she had failed to sail the course correctly and therefore broken rule 28.1. Since that incident was not the incident alleged in the redress for request, the committee acted improperly. If a race committee believes from its observations that a boat has not sailed the course correctly, it may protest the boat for that breach as permitted by rule 60.2(a). In this case, the race committee did not protest A. Because A had not been protested for failing to sail the course correctly, she could not be penalized for that failure.

In summary, the facts show that A finished according to the definition Finish. She should not have been scored DNF and was therefore entitled to redress under rule 62.1(a) for an improper action of the race committee.

The decision of the protest committee is reversed and A is to be scored as having finished at the time she crossed the finishing line.

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The case book should apply of course, however most small regatta management probably wouldn't know about it. These days both the rules and the casebook can be downloaded (although not of course from the Australian organisations, they prefer to sell you the blue book and then make it a requirement to carry it).

Perhaps you should have made an appeal to YA since the issue was one of rules (law) not facts.

It does highlight an issue with regattas, they're generally run by 'corinthians' ie well meaning amateurs and sometimes untrained personnel and possbily that should be the expectation in anything other than international events.

In your incident one would or should expect there to be rescue facilities available so your better option would be to stand by the capsize until one turned up..

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The rescue guys were there. They just weren't doing much and the guy was getting exhausted so I helped out.

I think that its more that this happened at a National titles and the jury didn't know the rules.

As for the bluebook and downloading it, YA makes some changes to the rules that are specific to the aussie version. Mostly things inrelation to safety regs for yachts.

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Hi Tornadosport

Why would you assume that the course was the same, What was written in the SI's,??? Or could the courses be changed in between????

Why would you with 1:30 to go not have enough time to check?? You have done enough regattas to know to double check the start boat

Why when you saw 3 other boats heading for the extra lap, didn't you think that here could have been a change and followed them ???

Maybe you could answer these questions, Without trying to point blame at the officials trying to help sailing clubs stay around, So that those of us that just want to sail can, Without all the B.S that can and often does happen

Just me 2 cents worth


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1/ i was buried in the fleet and had no line of sight to the boat and didn't at any point have a clear line of sight to the boat, so what else was I to do, the SI's didn't say they couldn't but then they hadn't changed courses for any of the 3previous days where we had back-to-back? so I wasn't about to assume it had changed and sail a course that was longer.

2/ i would have loved to have been able to go see the boat but the fleet was early for the start and as I said I was buried in the fleet and wasn't able to go around without hitting someone...

3/ I was within 50m of the finish line when the 3 boats headed for the wing mark, they had followed me for a little while. What would you do? assume you got it right when there was another 7boats still following you or follow 3 boats on a different course?

4/ what BS? the case I presented has a precedence set by ISAF, not me. If you have a beef with the casebook take it up with ISAF, i'd love to see a copy of the correspondence...

Just my 2 cents worth.

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Hi Tornadosport

So the way the i read the protest from ISAF, Is that you would rather have been DSQ than DNF, Because if what you are trying to say is that providing you round the last mark and cross the finish line you can be classed as a finisher. The case that you refer to is a mark rounding NOT a complete course change. If your case was upheld that means that anybody sailing could start the race sail around the top mark sail around the bottom mark and be termed a finisher, Without sailing any other legs of the course,???

From ISAF blue book


A boat shall start, leave each mark on the required side in the correct order, and finish, so that a string representing her track after starting and until finishing would when drawn taut

(a)pass each mark on the required side,

(b) touch each rounding mark, and

©pass between the marks of a gate from the direction of the pre- vious mark.

She may correct any errors to comply with this rule. After finishing she need not cross the finishing line completely.

So straight out of the blue book, You have failed "in the correct order" of rule 28.1. It doesn't matter if you have finished or not.

You have not sailed the correct course

If you think thats unfair i come back to my opening lines

And it wouldn't be the first time i have seconded guessed the race course if others are doing something different.

Looking back at it you probably should have finished forth,Assuming you couldn't catch the other 3 boats than carry a DNF

Any other thoughts


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Re-read Case 80.

I was scored a DNF for not sailing the course as observed by the Race Committee. However I was never protested by the RC or any other competitor for failing to sail the course in accordance with Rule 28.1. Which was the first mistake onbehalf of the RC.

Now read Appendix A5 and it states that if you cross the finish line in accordance with the definition of Finishing then the RC must score you as a finisher, regardless of whether you did or did not break rule 28.1.

So what Case 80 says is that you cannot be scored a DNF by the race committee unless you actually do not cross the finish line in accordance with the definition of finishing. For the Race Committee to score you a DNF they must protest you under rule 28.1 for failing to sail the proper course because only a protest jury has the ability to score you a DNF for failing to sail the full course.

Case 80 makes a precedence that if you start the race and finish the race in accordance of the definitions of starting and finishing then it does not matter what you do inbetween those 2 points, the RC must class you as a finisher and then protest you under rule 28.1 for failing to sail the proper course, which would result in a DSQ. They cannot simply record you as DNF for not sailing the course if you start and finish properly.

So what you say "... anybody sailing could start the race sail around the top mark sail around the bottom mark and be termed a finisher, Without sailing any other legs of the course" is mostly right except that you must finish from the direction of the last mark ie. if the top mark is the last mark of the course and you round it then head to the finish then you are correct, you can do just that and it is then the responsibility of another competitor or the RC to protest you under rule 28.1, to have you excluded from the race.

I've had this scenario checked by an Internation Jury member who happens to have also just passed his International Principal Race Officers course.



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Hi tornadosport

If what i'm reading is correct they could have DSQ you and we wouldn't be having this conversation??

Wouldn't a DNF be better in points to you than a DSQ,(or is that a completly different topic)

What i'm thinking is it might have been better to say to the RC that you may have got it wrong (maybe you did this), Than taking it to the protest room.

I know from my own experience, i have had some sailors with more experience than my self come up to me after the start of races or course changes and said. We knew what you where doing but you could have done it better this way. This is the way the we all learn.

You must rememeber that alot (probably nearly all), the RC are weekend sailors, that do this out of the goodness of themselves and there partners to support the club, Maybe they mightn't be so keen next time. If they find themselves in that situation.

And it would be ashame to loose these people as they normally keep the clubs afloat


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A DNF & DSQ actually have the same points in the current rules and you can drop a DSQ just like a DNF.

But for them to have DSQ'd me the RC had to protest me under rule 28.1 which never happened, under the Case 80 precedence I should have been scored a first.

Case 80 sets out the precedence of someone scored a DNF for not complying with rule 28.1 who was never protested for a breach of rule 28.1. They requested redress and upon appeal they were granted redress for their finishing place because the jury that heard the redress did not stick to the alleged incident. The alleged incident was that they were scored a DNF when they actually 'finished'. Rule 28.1 was never apart of the original request for redress and under appendix A5 the RC didnt have the power to score them as a DNF without protesting them under rule 28.1. That's the fact of Case 80.

I hope you aren't suggesting that we don't protest? Protests are a necessary way of enforcing the rules and should not be viewed in a negative light. My personal hate is when you go to a regatta and the commodore or head organiser stands up and goes "We want a good regatta with no protests". All that does is discourage someone from using the rules to correct a situation which can lead to safety issues because people get lazy with the rules.

I've seen it, you've seen it and protests should be more widely used to rectify it.

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Hi Tornadosport,

So you want your first place, through a race committee (the same guys/girls that probably have the ISAF case book in their other jeans pocket, And are weekend sailors also).

Who have thought that under rule 28.1 that they have done the correct thing, You have got them on a typo, Which is fine. If we where racing for giant sheep stations.

i'm assuming that you lost the regatta by this one race???

I agree with you on the when we should protest, Guys/girls push the rules all the time, Some will actually stand up pre-race and say that we don't want any rules broken, Then proceed to break them_themselves,(we have probably both seen that happen also)

I'm not suggesting that we don't protest, But maybe we should select better targets.

If you know and have admitted that you sailed the wrong course, Through whatever reason, Why should you get a win, through a slip up/typo, And get redress through a rule that possible 90+% of people wouldn't know existed. Thats where the protest of the rules get people mad.

And upset the same people that have given up their time So we possible we mightn't have them for the next regatta. Eventually we will get to the stage, Where there will be no-body to run events. That's why i'm suggesting to choose your targets


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I refer you both back to Case 80 of the ISAF Case book.

I didn't write the rules nor did I write the case book.

By the letter of the rules I had every right to be scored as a 1st. I believe at the time I had sailed the correct course. I didnt note the change of course because I was rendering assistance under Rule 1.1.

Like it, hate it or couldn't care less. The precedence was set by ISAF not me.

Go present it to an juror and see what they say.

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thanks for presenting this interesting case. It's an unusual incident that we can all learn from.

I tried doing a keyword search at: http://www.sailing.org/documents.php Not that helpful.

How did you find the relevant precedent?

Handling committee errors can be difficult too. As the committees are volunteers who may be very proud of their work, they might not take so well to criticism.

In a regatta race my Paper Tiger was 2nd over the line behind an A-class, followed by Hobie 17, Nacra14sq, with Maricats & others some minutes behind. The 4th place I was awarded on corrected time cost me the regatta. Complaining about it cost the club our Race Officer.

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I'm a bit confused by the definition of 'the course'. In the SI, you must attach the courses to be sailed. Such as 1- AC-AC-AC-Finish or 2. AC-AC-Finish etc. It is my understanding that these are 'the courses'. So to complete course 2 you must pass all marks (not both marks) mark A twice and mark C in the order outlined in the SI. Ditto for course 1. These are 'the courses'. If you don't sail the course- you don't complete the race.

In case 80 the boat has sailed around the last mark (ie mark C for the final time as in the second or third time as per the course in the SI) and then crossed the line.


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on p.162 of the ISAF Case book, it makes clear that the boat finished; so scoring a DNF is inappropriate.

If a boat fails to sail the proper course, the correct action is for the Committee to protest (Rule 60.2) and may DSQ for failing to sail the course (Rule 28.1).

The boat may apply for redress (Rule 60.1), as she was giving help (Rule 62.1C). The appropriate redress is to "make as fair an arrangement as possible for all

boats affected" (Rule 64.2), which may be to score the finish place for the position the boat was in when it thought it finished (eg, 3rd place).

Sorted. Now I just need the Legal Profession Admission Board to approve my application. Yes, really!

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Yep gettit. The committee should protest the boat's rule break. That is if a boat 'finishes' from the last mark to the finish.

So I get case 80.

Is it that TorndaoSport infringe- 28.1.

Appeal for redress 1.1


In addition

I was hoping this little space would generate some constructive discussion around understanding rules and this would assist and engage some newer sailors and punters and generate further CONSTRUCTIVE conversations around the rules.

If there is an appeal and redress process- I'd hope the people around me understand it!

We're not racing for any fly blown sheep station but-insurance companies expect you to know the rules of sailing if you're racing.

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