Protest Activity Summary from 2015 Gold Cup

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Geoff Sobering asked me if I might be "willing to publish the details of the  three protests (at the 2015 Gold Cup/NAs) and the committee's analysis."  Following is a short summary.  It is not a record of our analysis, since that is normally held 'within the room'.

We had two protests in the Gold cup and one in the (cancelled) NAs, all in Gold Fleet.  John Atkins, the PRO, had a good system in place to receive intents to protest on the ice, and protests ashore.  When we had ‘intent’, I collected my committee and we held the hearings at the regatta shore site (Kingston Yacht Club) before the parties returned to the hotel. I don’t recall all times, but I believe the latest hearing completed before 6:30 PM.   I chaired all hearings since I consistently managed to sail terribly in the mini-qualifiers, so protecting my tenure in the silver fleet.

The first protest was against the race committee, after three boats’ starts were delayed by the ‘sticker-checker’ in the first race of the Gold Cup.  We decided that the three parties did have a ‘chance to win a prize’ based on their rankings and their finishes in that race after their delayed start.  (While soft water rules consider redress when a boat's position in a race or series has or may be made significantly worse, NIA rules limit such considerations to when 'chances to win a prize' are prejudiced)  The protestors did not wish the race to be resailed, and the sailing instructions had included an alternative measure in the SIs (“SI 11.3: In accordance with NIA Rules V.B.3 and Appendix V.B.5, the Judges may award a prejudiced yacht scoring points in a race rather than ordering a resail”) so we awarded points equal to points scored in race 2 (the only other race that day) as long as the points were not worse than the points in Race 1.  We did this so that the other competitors would not be faced with ever-changing points for these three boats had we used an average of all races.  The IDNIYRA scoring program choked on our decision:  Loretta had to re-enter the redress awards after every new race was entered.
The second protest was a result of a collision at the leeward mark, where ‘a faster moving yacht approaching another from the rear’ collided with the other.  Both had a broken or damaged runner and both retired from the race.  The faster moving yacht was disqualified under Rule 8, second part.
The third protest was a result of a collision near the windward mark in the first race of the (cancelled) NAs.  A port tack yacht attempted a close crossing of a starboard tack yacht, and both then altered course to windward to minimize the impact when it was apparent that port could not clear.  There was a collision and S’s port-side runner was broken in half ahead of the chock.  S also had minor hull damage.  P was disqualified under Rule 3.

 I need to acknowledge Peter Hale and Peter Truesdell who sat with me on the redress hearing, and Bob Schumacher, event chair Eben Whitcomb III (twice) and Paul Goodwin who sat with me on the sailing rules protests.  The whole protest management system went reasonably well, although I will admit preference for being a judge OR a competitor, rather than both.   Non-competing judges are the norm in major soft water events (I judged at a number of soft water world championships last year on that basis), but I would be hard-pressed to give up an opportunity to sail my DN.   :)

FYI, the video posted at shows the collision in the second protest described above.

Geoff Sobering:
Thanks very much Warren!

My hope is this will help with general awareness of the rules and problematic situations that are occurring in our races.


Geoff S. - US-5156

Bob Rast DN1313:
Sounds like the first protest favored 3 sailors to the detriment of the rest of the fleet seems unfair
To majority of sailors and race should have been re sailed or finishes for other yachts should have been adjusted the same as the three protesting
My 2 cents


Decisions on protests against the race committee are never easy, nor would two panels of judges necessarily come to the same conclusion.  There could be agreement that 'tough luck' might not be a good decision, but on the other hand, re-sailing a race when only 3 of 50 starters were prejudiced might be unduly harsh for the other 47 (except, of course, the guy who sailed his discard and would love a second kick at the can).  So there is a certain attraction for the NIA option of awarding points to prejudiced yachts, although you still have to generate the strategy for award of points.  That strategy can be problematic when the prejudice occurs very early in the series, for reasons noted earlier.

In time, most judges come to accept that their role is one where over the long run, 50 percent of their 'clients' are unhappy.  Unhappily, with redress decisions (to use the soft-water terminology) the satisfaction level doesn't always even make the average.



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