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Safety SIs in Conflict with Rule 4 - No hearing

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Brass View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Brass Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Jun 15 at 11:55pm
Originally posted by andymck

What about Club rules and bye laws.
Most notices of race make you a member of the organising club for the duration of the event.

Must be an odd pommy thing.  Never seen it, and it shouldn't be in the NOR:  administrative information may be distributed with the NOR, but should not be included in the notice (Appendix K, preamble, last paragraph).

At our club we have to obey the instructions of the warden who has the right to close the water for safety reasons.

That would be a legal obligation, independent of both the RRS and the club rules and by-laws.

Disobeying such a legal direction, to the embarrassment of the club might well be a significant rule 69 misconduct.

If you break the club rules you can be asked to leave.

Once a boat's entry has been accepted, after the start of the first race, you can't eject or exclude a competitor in a series from using the club facilities if that would, in effect, exclude them from the races in the competition (rule 76.1).  Once racing starts the only path to excluding a competitor is rule 69.

Interestingly we do not have a rule regarding the safety boat cover, apart from that they are not rescue boats.

Andy
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Brass Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 15 at 12:00am
Originally posted by Rupert

We certainly have a rule where we can abandon racing and call every one in off the water, which is what I assume is what a warden can do, but as far as I know, all we can do is advise individuals. At some point, though, especially in winter, I would expect to be able to over rule someone who I suspected was too cold to make rational decisions.

I've heard a story that when Race Signals AP/N over H was being introduced in the 1995 rewrite, it was originally proposed to mean 'Race postponed/abandoned:  Return to Harbour', but it was considered that the Race Committee did not have the power to give such a direction to competitors.


Edited by Brass - 04 Jun 15 at 12:01am
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sargesail View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote sargesail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 15 at 12:23am
Originally posted by Brass

Originally posted by piglet

Brass, given the plain wording of R4, under what rule can a patrol boat give an instruction to cease racing if nothing in SI's?

If I found myself in the same situation again, I would be less inclined to comply and more inclined to take my chances in the beaks office after.

As I said in my first post in this thread

I think it would also be pretty difficult for a race committee to 'break' rule 4.

Even though some instruction or direction of a race committee might nibble away at the boat's responsibility, I would expect it would be held that the fundamental responsiblity assigned by rule 4 would not be taken away.

A Sailing Instruction is a rule (Definitions:  Rule).

Boats by participating in a race agree to be bound by the rules (rule 3)

If a protest committee concludes that a boat has broken a rule she shall be penalised (rule 64.1).

If you want the rationale or basis, I suggest you read the RYA Misconduct Guidance.

As I also said before, I would expect a protest committee to be inferring a requirement of reasonableness in the direction, so if the reason you advanced for disobeying was that the instruction was unreasonable, and you convinced the protest committee, you might be off the hook.

On the other hand you might strike a protest committee with the same authoritarian attitude as the race committee that wrote the SI.



Thanks again Brass.  I'm going to the event with those SIs.....thankfully not with my young crews!  So this has a practical purpose and its that last sentence that worries me.....especially as the sort of club member that drafts SIs is often the sort that sits on the PC.

But forgive me this little niggle and put me right as required:

It appears instructive to see what preceded the current rules

'Old rule 1.3 originally said that 'All yachts entered or racing shall be subject to the direction and control of the race committee'

I can see the logic of how the SIs can take affect, and I can also see that it's perhaps not necessary given Brass' citation of  'the RYA Misconduct Reference Guide for Officials identifies 'Deliberately disobeying the reasonable instructions of officials' as misconduct subject to Level 0 to 5 penalisation (after a rule 69 hearing).'

But when I go back and re-read the RRS I still struggle with Rule 4 and directing a boat to stop racing.  Surely in placing the responsibility on the boat:

4 DECISION TO RACE The responsibility for a boat’s decision to participate in a race or to continue racing is hers alone. 

the RRS also confer a freedom on the boat (intentionally or not).  The flip side of RRS4 is that the only way to stop a boat racing other than its own decision to retire is to finish it, have a general recall, postpone or abandon:

Racing A boat is racing from her preparatory signal until she finishes and clears the finishing line and marks or retires, or until the race committee signals a general recall, postponement or abandonment.

Now I agree that the RC ought to have the power to make a 'reasonable instruction to retire', but I can't see how that is actually possible given that RRS 4 is unmodifiable.  Unless the reasonable instruction is to 'decide to retire.' 
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Brass Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 15 at 4:51am
Sailing is a game we play for fun isn't it?

It's hardly a good venue to be pontificating about the rights of the subject.

As I've said, it's my opinion that the SI you have quoted doesn't amount to contradicting rule 4.  In this litigious age you can hardly expect the RYA to tell organising authorities that they are not allowed to supervise and direct event participants.

How likely is it that this SI will cause you and your sailors problems?
  • what's the chance there will be an opportunity for a patrol boat to give a direction to you or your sailors at all?
    • what's the chance that, if that happens, the direction will be unreasonable and you will think it appropriate not to comply?
      • what's the chance that, if that happens, you will actually be penalised?
        • what's the chance that, if that happens, and you request redress, you will not be given it?
          • what's the chance that, if that happens, you will lose your appeal?
To put the issue another way, surely you're not going off to a regatta with the specific intention of disobeying some instruction by a race official?

Sure, it's worth thinking about for a few minutes, but surely it's not going to keep you away from the regatta?

So this is all an empty issue unless and until you or your sailors are penalised.

You are concerned that despite the SI not expressly saying so, the race committee might implement the SI by imposing a penalty without a hearing.

So you have some grounds to argue that penalisation without a hearing was an improper action.

I would quite like this approach.  Protest Committees tend to be a bit jealous of their powers, particularly if you could raise doubt of the reasonableness of the instruction.

I also note that the SI deals differently with:
  • all instruction given by the patrol boats [which] shall be obeyed at all times.and
  • Failure to obey safety instructions [which] will be grounds for disqualification from the Championships. 
So if there was penalisation without a hearing, then you might question whether the instruction was a 'safety instruction':  if it was not, there's no basis for penalisation without a hearing.

Further, (contrary to my view) you have decided that the SI is invalid because it changes rule 4
  • rule 4 can't be changed in SI (rule 86.1)
  • the SI doesn't say 'this changes rule 4' (rule 86.1 (b ))
I'll bet that the NOR doesn't say rule 4 will be changed either (rule J1.2(1))

Given that 'disqualification from the Championships' implies the exclusion of a competitor and the cancellation of an entry after the start of the first race, the SI appears to contradict rule 76.1, which it does not identify as being changed, and therefore does not validly change.

So you have some grounds to argue in a redress hearing that the SI is wholly invalid.

Thirdly, you could argue that the direction given was unreasonable and therefore should not have been obeyed in any case.

The success of this ground would depend on the circumstances.

If you really wanted to concentrate the mind of the Race Committee on the issue, you could submit some written questions to the race committee and the protest committee, asking the following:
  • Under what circumstances is it expected that it would be deemed necessary for a competitor tp be ordered to abandon a boat and board a patrol vessel?
  • Who specifically will be the person, committee or other entity that makes this deeming decision?
  • How will this deeming decision, when made be communicated to competitors?
  • What control measures will be in place to ensure that no order or instructions will be given by a patrol boat unless it is properly authorised by the race committee?
  • Given that the only offence that can get a boat disqualified from more than one race is gross misconduct under rule 69, is it really the intention of the race committee that failure to obey an instruction should attract such a penalty pf disqualification from more than one race?
  • Why were the provisions of RYA Misconduct Reference Guide for Officials which identifies 'Deliberately disobeying the reasonable instructions of officials' as misconduct subject to Level 0 to 5 penalisation (after a rule 69 hearing) considered inadequate? 

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Post Options Post Options   Quote piglet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 15 at 12:24pm
I'm with Sargesail on this, though Brass is spot-on in his break down.
It doesn't happen often but happen it does and if the only justification lies in 1 line of the R69 guidance notes,,,,,,,,,,
 
Fine at big regattas where all the sailors can sail and all the officials know their stuff.
But at club & small open AND club hosting small open level, we all rely on volunteers who have varied experience and rules knowledge. The thought of a small club running a R69 hearing when possibly some socially unskilled youth has p!$$ed them off doesn't inspire.
 
My thanks to Brass though for taking the time, I would never have worked it out.
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JimC View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote JimC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 15 at 12:57pm
Originally posted by piglet

The thought of a small club running a R69 hearing when possibly some socially unskilled youth has p!$$ed them off doesn't inspire.

I've run an R69 hearing at a smallish club. Its not that big a deal. And you have far more backstop than for any other hearing so in many ways it's the lowest risk. As a PC if you have any doubts at all you can just refer your decision to the RYA, and tell the competitors that, and in any case if you issue any penalty other than a finger wagging its going to go to the RYA anyway. The only thing the PC *has* to get right is to get all the facts as fairly as possible, which isn't that hard.

Smart money is that for most R69 hearings the end result is going to be that the PC says "don't be such a silly *** and don't do it again." If they do anything stupid the RYA will reverse it and sort things out. The main thing is to ensure that your PC is at a distance from your race team, which isn't that hard to manage.

The PC should be able to tell quite easily whether its something minor or potentially major, and if its potentially major, like, I dunno, a fist fight on the launch ramp or something then consider not holding it on the day if you're not happy about the PC quality. There's excellent guidance from the RYA here.

http://www.rya.org.uk/SiteCollectionDocuments/Racing/RacingInformation/RaceOfficials/Resource%20Centre/Best%20Practice%20Guidelines%20Policies/Rule%2069%20Guidance%20for%20Race%20Officials.pdf

These paras, from the youth appendix for instance, make it clear that there it is possible to deal with things a little less formally than a full hearing:-



16.4 However, neither a hearing under rule 69 nor a protest under rule
2 (see below) may be the best way to deal with every problem,
particularly for:
16.4.1 non malicious excess aggression arising from youth or
inexperience of the sport (see Appendix K); or
16.4.2 an isolated instance of knowingly having broken a rule
without intent to do so, but not then taking a penalty.
16.5 A protest committee can ask a competitor to appear before it, to
make it clear to the competitor that his/her unacceptable
behaviour, noting the Basic Principle, Sportsmanship and the Rules
and rule 2, Fair Sailing. This is not a hearing under rule 69.1, even
though the effect may be to give an informal warning as to future
conduct that, if repeated, might give rise to a hearing under rule
69. For youth and juniors, see Appendix K.

And from Appendix K

K.5 For event related behaviour which is questionable or at the lower
end of the range of misconduct, then it would be appropriate for a
race official (normally a judge or umpire) to speak to the
competitor with his or her parents, guardian or coach, making
clear what has happened, why it is wrong and what the
consequences of repetition will be.

K.6 For more serious misconduct, then this process should be
conducted before the protest committee by way of a formal
interview.

K.7 For severe misconduct that must be addressed with a penalty, then
a rule 69 hearing or a protest under rule 2 must be held.


The one I was involved with was an allegation of bad language after a collision at a youth event. In the end we were not comfortably satisfied about what words had been used and took no action.

The amusing followup was that the competitor's mother told me afterwards that she thought it highly unlikely the competitor would have used the words in question, but would have been unsurprised if the language used had been much worse than alleged!

Edited by JimC - 04 Jun 15 at 1:15pm
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Brass Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Jun 15 at 3:07pm
I agree with Jim's views that a small club running a rule 69 hearing is probably going to get a better result than a small club doing arbitrary disqualifications without a hearing by the race committee.  People shouldn't be scared of using rule 69 at club level:  its a very flexible rule, starting with the pre-hearing decision by the protest committee whether to hold a hearing at all, and going through to the wide range of sanctions ranging from warning to exclusion.

Sargesail has pointed ou a real potential problem.  There are people who just like to boss other people around and who sometimes seem hungry for written authority to do so.  Sadly, some of these people seem to have an uncanny knack of making unwise decisions which they then impose on others.

As I said in a previous post it is not reasonable, in this litigious era, to advise clubs and organising authorities that they should not attempt to supervise and direct competitors at their events.

If a club or organising authority feels the need, I don't think there is much harm in a SI saying aht boats are required to comply with [reasonable] instructions by race officials.  This means that any breach can be dealt with as a simple protest hearing.  It would be nice if there was also provision for the protest committee to give a discretionary penalty, or even a warning instead of a penalty, for breach of this SI.

This may be more convenient than relying on the RYA Misconduct Guidance and the rule 69 process.

I would certainly NOT, however, agree with penalisation by the race committee without a hearing.  Investigating an alleged breach of this nature will often involve non-straightforward fact finding, which race committees are not organised or qualified to undertake, and judgement of reasonableness and severity which race committee members may well be partial or biased in making.  Such matters are best dealt with by a protest committee, independent of the race committee, and following the protest processes contained in the RRS.  If this involves the race committee in requirements for informing the protestee and preparing and presenting a case in a protest hearing, then this is probably a good thing.

I have to say that I don't favour 'less formal' processes.

In particular, I don't like the idea of a protest committee or its members taking competitors aside and having 'little chats' with them.  The RRS give protest committees and judges no such powers.  Such 'little chats' may involve reprimands or threats as to future actions which the RRS do not countenance in any way.  The proper protection of fairness to competitors depends on following the proper processes laid down in the RRS.
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