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As most people are aware I'm not that too go with rules. I was giving to different answer from two good skipper to the scenario below. Can I get other views on it.

In a A fleet race, heading towards the first mark, boat A was on starboard and B on port had a contact and end up tangled up. Both boats were ended up being free and was ended up finishing the race but by this time they were both a leg behind.

I know that both boats automatically gets demoted BUT can boat A request a redress?


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Slow answer is 'it depends'.

For example, the standard Appendix E6.6.f requires that a boat be disabled and retire to be able to request redress.

So for redress to be available for an entanglement that later becomes free, then there needs to be an override in the Regatta SI that modifies E.6.6.f to allow some combination of entangled and without retiring.


John Ball

IOM CAN 307 (V8)

In my private capacity

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I can add a bit more detail to the answers above. Given that this regatta was sailed in England, and that it was sailed under MYA standard Sailing Instructions (2014), they contain the following

2.13 Redress

RRS E6.6(f) is replaced by:

(f) an entanglement or grounding because of the action of a boat that was breaking a rule of Part 2 or of a vessel not racing that was required to keep clear.

This replaces the E6.6.f phrase about 'disabled and retire'.

So the answer to Sarah's question about 'entangled/became free' is that the conditions exist for redress to be available.


John Ball

IOM CAN 307 (V8)

In my private capacity

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However, in order to grant redress a series of conditions have to be met (see rule 62.1):

I think we can agree that Starboard's race score was made considerably worse.

The PC would then have to find that her score was made worse as a result of an entanglement because of the action of a boat that was breaking a rule of Part 2 (It should be that entanglement is no longer defined in the RRS). In other words did Port break rule 10, On opposite tacks.

The PC would then have to establish that Starboard became entangled through no fault of her own. This condition means that if it is established that Starboard broke;

rule 15, Acquiring Right of Way (having just tacked on to starboard) or

rule 16.1, Changing Course, (if for instance Port was crossing ahead and Starboard luffed on to a collision course leaving Port insufficient room to keep clear) or

16.2 (if Port was crossing astern and Starboard changed course so that Port immediately needed to change course to continue keeping clear

then Starboard would not be entitled to redress.

The other reason for not meeting the 'through no fault of her own' condition' would be if Starboard broke rule 14 Avoiding Contact. If, when it became clear that Port was not keeping clear it was reasonably possible for Starboard to avoid contact but she did not do so, or at the very least, took some action to avoid contact, then Starboard has broken rule 14. Whilst she may be exonerated if there was no damage or injury, Starboard no longer meets the 'through no fault of her own' condition, and would not be entitled to redress.

This demonstrates why redress hearings take so long, which goes a long way yo explaining why ISAF is attempting to reduce the number of incidents for which redress is available.

Note how in many instances rules problems can be resolved by using the exact wording of the rules to formulate questions 'Did Port, on port, keep clear of Starboard, on starboard?' Did Starboard change course? If she did change course did she give Port room to keep clear?'.....


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Thank you for that very clear, well-reasoned explanation of the circumstances in which Redress May be given.

It is nice to see the Plain Language of the Racing Rules of Sailing being interpreted as they should be in place of the gobble de **** so of often proliferated by the so called sages of the rules.

It has long been my opinion that elements of the Radio Sailing community pay far too much attention to this gobble de **** in place of simply reading the RRS and trying to gain some understanding or appreciation of how it neatly fits together. All too one witnesses Radio Sailors trying to take unreasonable advantage of these erroneous interpretations at the expense of sensible and enjoyable sailing. An often one looses sight of the objective - to race the boat and not the rule book.

Could you be persuaded to extend this into a more real scenario where more than one boat is directly or indirectly contributory to a collision incident?


Five or more boats on Port Tack , close together and more or less side by side sail towards a single Starboard Tack boat. The Starboard tack boat took up this course a short time before, quite with in the requirements of Rule 13 and perhaps 15 if it was a single port tack boat. Or conversely without any consideration of the number of boats that will be required to give way and their relative positions.

The collision is inevitable given the not one of the Port Tack boats will initially give an inch to each other or MAY not have had time to digest the situation. Similarly the very outside boats of the group will most likely adopt the conventional approach of ‘I am all right Jack’ - 'let see what happens - the Starboard boat is going to be collect by another boat' and not allow any one of them to tack or duck the approaching starboard boat. .. not quite realising or appreciating that Rule 19 applies because the Starboard Tack boat is clearly defined as an OBSTRUCTION in this situation.

Yes - we all know the obvious – the most weather boat should tack away, followed by the next and the most leeward boat should alter course to duck allowing space for the next and so on...but the reality differs somewhat in practice in 5 seconds.

What should Starboard do , suck it to the stick or give up and tack away.

Again Thank You

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May I suggest that you procure 6 matchsticks, or tack out some small models) to help follow the following:

We will call the starboard boat S. Then set up the port tack boats. We will call the leeward boat P1, and the most to windward P5, with 2,3 and 4 between.

Question 1

On a beat to windward:

P3 on port has P1 and P2 overlapped to leeward, and P4 and P5 overlapped to windward.

S tacks onto starboard onto a collision course with P3.

What are the rights and obligations of S?

Answer 1

Until S reaches a close hauled course she must keep clear of all the boats on port (rule 13, While Tacking)

When S reaches a close hauled course on starboard she acquires right of way (subject to the limitations of rule 15, Acquiring Right of Way) and all boats on port must, from this moment on, but not before, keep clear.

However, having acquired right of way S must initially give all the port tack boats room to keep clear (rule 15). Room includes space to comply with their obligations under the rules of part 2 (see Definition).

Question 2

P3 chooses to tack to avoid S. What are the rights and obligations of all boats Involved?

Answer 2

S is an obstruction for all the boats on port (see Definitions), even if P1 could pass astern without changing course, or P5 cross ahead. The Definition of an obstruction depends on a hypothetical test - an object that a boat could not pass without changing course IF she were sailing directly towards it and one of her hull lengths from it.

If P3 chooses to tack she must hail the boats to windward for room to tack (rule 20.1). The boats to windward must either tack immediately, or hail 'You tack', in which case they must give P3 room to tack and keep clear.

S must give P3 room to hail, room to P4 and P5 to tack and then room to P3 to tack.

If there is contact before all port tack boats are on a close-hauled course on starboard, or if any boat is required to make an unseamanlike manoeuvre, then S has broken rule 15 and should take a penalty.

Question 3

P3 decides to pass astern on S. What are the rights and obligations of the boats involved?

Answer 3

P3 cannot 'choose' to pass astern. P3 does not have right of way over P1 and P2 therefore rule 19.2(a) does not allow her to choose.

If P1 chooses to pass astern of S then she must give room to all the boats overlapped to windward of her room to pass S inside her (rule 19.2(b).

S must give room to all port tack boats to keep clear.

Once any port tack boat is keeping clear by sailing to pass astern of S rule 16.2 applies. S, on starboard, must not change course if as a result any of the boats sailing to pass astern would immediately need to change course to continue keeping clear.

Question 4

Immediately after completing her tack S realises that she cannot give all port tack boats room to keep clear. What can she do?

Answer 4

S must initially give room to keep clear- she can do so by tacking, bearing away below P1, stopping. Because she is not entitled to room, and S created the situation herself, there will be no penalty if S must manoeuvre in an unseamanlike way to fulfill her obligations.

In answer to your question and in light of the above, S:

- should not have tacked in the first place

- bail out immediately by tacking, bearing away hard or, possibly, stopping by not sheeting in her sails after the tack.

If any boat is seriously damaged or disabled, and as a result retires, in a pile up the penalty for S will be to retire (rule 44.1(b) as mdified by E4.3©.

A question for you:

Imagine you are an umpire following this incident. Talking the race with your observer the most likely discourse would be :

'S...tacking....done...oh ****!' (Not an official call but frequently used). There is a pile up. What do you do?

Looking forward to the answer.


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Agreed. Case 125 deals with the situation in which the outside boat chooses to duck the starboard boat. If she does she must give room to all the inside boats, including room to meet all their Part 2 obligations. This corresponds to part of the answer to Question 3


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The problem that a Protest Committee faces is that invariably the observer will not have seen or digested the events leading up to the collision and would only ,with any certainty, be able to state that there was indeed a CONTACT.

Seldom would an observer make notes at the time of the incident on the pad he is equipped with for this purpose.

The competitors, being engrossed in their own problems, would seldom note or remember an hour later who was precisely where leading up to the inevitable collision, possibly the exception of the boat adjacent to him.

This is not intended as a criticism but a simple observation of human behaviour for I am indeed worse than most in this regard. In some, if not most instances, the sail numbers are obscured by angle or hidden by another boat. How often do we hear the call ‘on the mark Red Boat ‘ or similar imprecise calls.

Whilst your analysis, as before, is indeed accurate, clear, well-reasoned and presented it actually crosses about 5 or 6 rules, some of which are remote to Part2 and may or are modified to some extent by local SSI’s.

It is then unreasonable to expect the average/ general radio sailing population to be able to recite these rules and one can only agree with some that it is simply far too complicated for most who only want to have a sail. It should also be recognised that, for most part, Protest Committees and Observers are drawn from this same pool of competitors.

The point that one is trying to make, albeit badly I am sure, is that Radio Sailing is meant to be just that – Sailing. The application of rules is meant to bring order to this. This may indeed be contrary to the beliefs of some with a puritanical outlook that the Sailing is secondary and that the Exploitation of the rules is the primary objective.

The clear difference between Real sailing and Radio sailing is that of the Responsibilities of Command of the Skipper. And by this I mean the Responsibility for the safety of primarily the crew and secondly the vessel and Liability for injury or damage to other vessels.

In Radio Sailing there is no such inherent responsibility or risk and clearly this has a profound effect upon rule usage and the sensibility of their application.

Would you not agree that it might be a good idea to divorce Radio Sailing Rules entirely from the RRS and to condense Radio Sailing Rules into 15 or so clear rules structured around the clear realisation that the Responsibility of Command is totally different and similarly condense the Administrative Rules into a set of say 30 rules.

Whilst we consider these rules and incident in the comfort of our armchairs we tend to forget that a Skipper has to make decisions in Real Time, perhaps 30 milliseconds.


As to your question as what I might rule in the circumstance outlined. Well – unless Human Behaviour changes –

• No redress ever

• Disqualify all boats involved for each and every one broke a rule in some way

• Exclude the observer from this next heat

• Consider Rule 985.1 - Hanging, as a reasonable

I mentioned Exploitation earlier, By way of an example of this:-

Last year I was witness to an incident at a National Event in which REDRESS was given to an Experienced Skipper who is regularly called upon to do Protest Duty who, whilst being probably in his rights, sucked it to the stick in high wind, and became entangled with another boat. If he had the full RESPONSIBILITY of COMMAND his approach might have been totally different.

The point here is that the Skipper should have understood that he was not entitled to REDRESS and should not have lodged the application in the first place. The issue one has is NOT that an inexperienced possibly partisan Protest Committee gave the REDRESS.

I recall ever an incident many years ago where a Hobie 16 came flying through the port side of my 505 injuring my crew and sinking my beloved boat in 15 meters of water when racing offshore when I was rounding a mark. What do you think happened next.

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Your post raises many fascinating issues:

- the nature of the protest process itself with its limitations

- the apparent 'complexity' of the rules,

- the absence of experienced judges at events (this may be a local UK issue - it would not be the case in France for instance);

- the standards of rules knowledge and observance expected at different levels of our sport

- redress, and in particular when should redress be considered

I would like to come back to these points later (I am preparing for a busy month or two).

I would however take issue with you on the point you make about responsibility and liability. Whilst the safety of crew and other competitors is rarely an issue in radio sailing, the responsibility of competitors in regard to their own and other boats is exactly the same in radio sailing as in any other form of sailing. Sailing in a manner that causes, or is likely to cause, damage to other boats is reckless sailing which is a breach of sportsmanship and fair play (rule 2). A boat has an overriding obligation to avoid contact (rule 14). Several rules (14 and 44 for instance) impose greater penalties for breaches of a rule that cause damage. As far as the rules are concerned T-boning a Footy or a TP52 are treated in exactly the same way.

I would argue that in ALL forms of sailing, including radio sailing, whilst contact with some minor damage may be inevitable, sailing in such a way that serious damage to boats is unacceptable and should not be tolerated.


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