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Rule 41 - Outside help

The Publisher

Jan 4, 2012, 9:54 AM

Views: 40090
Rule 41 - Outside help

Shortly after jibing around a reaching mark, Boat Z's crew accidentally falls overboard. During the time it takes the helmsman to lower the spinnaker and turn back to recover his crew, Boat T picks the crew up and returns him to Z. The crew is not injured. With her crew back aboard she continues in the race and finishes, but is protested under rule 41, Outside Help, for receiving outside help. You are on the protest committee; how would you decide this? See answer below.

Boat Z is penalized for breaking rule 41, Outside help. Though rule 1.1 , Safety: Helping Those in Danger, requires that every boat give all possible help to any person or vessel in danger, rule 41 makes no specific exception for receiving outside help unless the crew is ill or injured.

Dave Perry, author of Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing 2009-2012, 100 Best Racing Rules Quizzes 2009-2012, and Winning in One-Designs offers US SAILING these racing tips... read on:

The Publisher

Jan 4, 2012, 9:55 AM

Views: 40088
Re: [The Publisher] Rule 41 - Outside help

From Edward Long:
I found the explanation of the rule quiz (the overboard man affair) lacking on two counts.

First, the explanation that the boat is out because of outside agency fails to explain how the 2 boats should have resolved the matter. The text implies but does not state that the boat in question returns to the scene of the accident thereby giving up any advantage gained. What should they have done?

Second, the notion that the boat is out because the man in the water was not hurt itself fails on 2 counts.

First, his physical condition cannot be determined by either boat prior to rescue. Is the rescue boat supposed to say, sorry old boy, you don't look so bad, swim around a bit? Mind that 50 footer bearing down on you.

Second, by definition, being a man in the water near boats large enough to fly spinnakers puts the man in grave peril thereby activating the onus of every boat in the vicinity to come to his aid. He could have got dead real quick.

For future such quizzes, please explain what should have been done.

From Karin J. Olsen Campia:
It seems to me that the crew member who fell overboard, after rounding a jibe (reaching) mark and assuming it was blowing hard, WAS in danger of being hit by other boats rounding the same mark and that Boat T saved the crew member from suffering any injury by picking him/her up.

Should he/she be left in the water to be hit by another boat before being rescued? How does Boat T determine whether or not the crew member was injured in falling off the boat (especially in windy conditions) unless the crew member is pulled aboard and examined? Upon making a determination that the crew member was not hurt, should the person be thrown back into the water to wait to be picked up by Boat Z?

Boat Z had no control over Boat T's good Samaritan rescue of their crew member so Boat Z did not willingly break Rule 41 and should not be penalized. Boat T did not pick up a piece of equipment but a person to return to Boat Z.

To me, this situation is more about commonsense in dealing with a human life and so the Man Overboard rule should supersede Rule 41. Also, Boat T's good sportsmanship should be rewarded by averaging all its finishes for taking the time to rescue a fellow competitor. This would be my decision.

The Publisher

Jan 4, 2012, 10:09 AM

Views: 40085
Re: [The Publisher] Rule 41 - Outside help

From David Shulman:
Are we to assess the situation from afar before committing to the rescue? I think not! Then what are we to do with the rescued crew whom we find is OK? Keep them (with many attendant issues) or return them if the opportunity occurs? Spurs some thought on at least two levels, doesn't it?

The Publisher

Jan 5, 2012, 7:18 AM

Views: 40070
Re: [The Publisher] Rule 41 - Outside help

From John Rousmaniere:
Concerning the curious Rule 41 (Outside Help) decision in Scuttlebutt 3497, an ISAF requirement for safety-at-sea seminars is the topic "Giving and Receiving Aid," covering the legal and ethical obligations of sailors to go to other sailors' assistance.

The clearest and most succinct rule I know is RRS 1.1: "A boat or competitor shall give all possible help to any person or vessel in danger." This admirable "shall" is crippled if a jury is empowered to second-guess sailors' safety decisions and even impose a penalty.

How is this a good thing?

From Richard Hinterhoeller:
Regarding Dave Perry's Racing Tips in Scuttlebutt 3497, I think the rule-makers should consider the unintended consequences of rule 41.

In an ideal world, boat Z would execute a quick-stop crew recovery and resume racing. The victim, if a knowledgeable sailor, would decline the offer of assistance from boat T so that boat Z would not break rule 41.

In the real world boat Z is now down two crew, the victim and someone watching him. The now stressed short-handed crew have to execute a complex sequence of manoeuvres. Chances are that something will go wrong, potentially causing a fatal delay.

The latter is certainly how it played out one race when we were boat T in a similar scenario. Within 45 seconds of slipping overboard the victim had declined our offer of rescue. Having, in an unrelated incident, been the crew overboard I too would have declined assistance. At 45 seconds wet you don't recognize how quickly your situation is deteriorating. You're mad at yourself for causing your boat to lose positions recovering you so you are not going to cause your boat to be disqualified as a result of accepting outside help.

When every second counts, you're not going to think things through, you're going to react based upon your training. Rule 41 inadvertently trains the victim to decline rescue from another boat.

Before someone causes himself to drown I think rule 41 should be altered to permit boat T to rescue the victim without disqualifying boat Z.

The Publisher

Jan 8, 2012, 7:27 AM

Views: 40030
Re: [The Publisher] Rule 41 - Outside help

From Jim Champ:
There are some interesting nuances in what John Rousmaniere said in Scuttlebutt 3499:
"The clearest and most succinct rule I know is RRS 1.1: 'A boat or competitor shall give all possible help to any person or vessel in danger.' This admirable 'shall' is crippled if a jury is empowered to second-guess sailors' safety decisions and even impose a penalty."

It's very foolish of me to cross horns with Mr Rousmaniere, who knows far more about the rules than I, but "shall" is surely mandatory, and I don't believe there's an exception for "unless the person or vessel in danger says they don't want help because of rule 41"... Does that mean if you don't give aid when asked not to you are liable for DSQ under the fundamental rule? There are obvious problems of course if a boat is required to drag someone out of the water against their will!

On Rule 41 itself, I'm not sure it's a good thing for a boat not to be disadvantaged if they drop a crew member overboard and they are recovered by someone else: they are at a considerable advantage to a boat that recovers the crew member themselves. Maybe the normal part 2 alternative penalties should apply if a person in danger is rescued by outside assistance?

The Publisher

Jan 8, 2012, 1:51 PM

Views: 40025
Re: [The Publisher] Rule 41 - Outside help

From Ken Legler:
I had to laugh when I saw Dave Perry's rules question about a man overboard (in Scuttlebutt 3497). I wondered what made him think of this case (Rule 41 - Outside Help). Was it the time he slowed his Soling at Kiel to assist a Swedish sailor who had fallen off his boat while he (we) dragged the poor fellow gibbering in Swedish until a coach boat came to assist? Or was it the time Dave was lecturing in Japan and a guy asked, in his best choppy English, "5-0-5 dinghy sailing into gybe mark, crew falls off, skipper rounds mark, then picks up crew. Can boat continue racing?"

From Steve Schupak:
On the thread started by Dave Perry's rule discussion in Scuttlebutt 3497, maybe I’m just naive and becoming apathetic towards racing, but can someone please tell me what the big deficiency in our life would be if we dropped out of a race to help someone on the racecourse without a complete guarantee of immunity and compensation for our actions?

I know from personal experience in “the room”, and anytime someone has come in to my hearing looking for redress for giving aid they were first treated as hero’s, then given the most equitable outcome available, as well as being thanked by the jury for their actions.

As a sport we need to encourage and reward doing the right thing, and if at the end of the day you give up a race and there’s no way to get credit on the podium then so be it. There will always be another race, unless in pursuit of a “pickle dish” you pass up the opportunity to lend aid, is that dish worth the lifetime of anguish from losing a competitor forever you could have helped?

Let’s try and keep sailing in perspective.

From John McNeill:
With all respect, I believe that it is VERY important that Scuttlebutt revisit this issue to prevent the possibility of daunting the primary rule, of saving a life. It would actually be even better if ISAF or another such body would comment to the same intent. The law of unintended consequences, eh?

From John Evans:
According to the Royal Yachting Association, Rule 41 (Outside Help) will be changed in January 2013 so that the situation envisaged by Dave Perry (in Scuttlebutt 3497) will not result in a DSQ. The rule has already been changed by the RYA Prescriptions.

The Publisher

Jan 8, 2012, 1:57 PM

Views: 40024
Re: [The Publisher] Rule 41 - Outside help

It is interesting to note that Rule 41 was changed at the 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championship due to shark concerns on the waters off Fremantle, Australia. Getting people out of the water was deemed vital for safety.

- Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt

The Publisher

Jan 9, 2012, 10:14 AM

Views: 39957
Re: [The Publisher] Rule 41 - Outside help

From Jim Champ:
The RYA prescriptions are here and the part in question (which only became part of the prescriptions on January 1st 2012) is as follows...

41 Outside Help
Rule 41 is changed to
A boat shall not receive help from any outside source, except
(a) help for a crew member who is ill, injured or in danger;
(b) after a collision, help from the crew of the other boat to get clear;
(c) help in the form of information freely available to all boats;
(d) unsolicited information from a disinterested source, which may be another boat in the same race.
However, a boat that gains a significant advantage in the race from help received under rule 41(a) may be protested and penalised; any penalty may be less than disqualification.

The Publisher

Jan 9, 2012, 10:30 AM

Views: 39954
Re: [The Publisher] Rule 41 - Outside help

From Brad Read:
We actually had this exact scenario unfold directly in front of us in a race in 2010. While heavy air downwind sailing in a 6 metre, the 12 Metre Valient tacked nearby and we watched one of the sailors get launched overboard. We did a fairly decent quick stop and got to the sailor within 40 seconds of him hitting the water. As we came up to the swimmer, he and many of the sailors from the nearby 12 Metre begged us to let the them come back and get him. It was REALLY hard to get to him and not pick him out of the water.

We, as a team, evaluated him and made sure he was uninjured. David Moffet threw him a life jacket, literally off of his back, and we stood by close enough to grab him if the 12 Metre had any difficulty at all getting back to him. The team on Valiant did a GREAT job of getting back and we watched them pluck him from the water on the first attempt.

We logged our time and were successful in getting our time that we spent stopping, standing by and resetting our sails taken off of our elapsed time in the race. It was hard though. I felt VERY reluctant to abide by the wishes of the swimmer and Valiant. I knew how good a sailing team that Valiant had and that knowledge allowed us to even consider it I suppose. Still not sure we did the right thing, but happy in the knowledge that we were there in case the swimmer needed us and that we could give him a PFD.

The Publisher

Jan 15, 2012, 8:47 AM

Views: 39754
Re: [The Publisher] Rule 41 - Outside help

From Glenn McCarthy:
RRS 1.1 Helping Those In Danger – A boat or competitor shall give all possible help to any person or vessel in danger.
IRPCAS 2304 – A master or individual in charge of a vessel shall render assistance to any individual found at sea in danger of being lost, so far as the master or individual in charge can do so without serious danger to the master’s or individual’s vessel or individuals on board.

Comparing the RRS and the International and Inland Navigation Rules we all operate our vessels under, it appears that the RRS require “a boat or competitor to give all possible help” whereas the IRPCAS says that you are required to give help up to the point where you may put your vessel or crew in serious danger if proceeding any further and allows you to walk away (logic being, they got themselves into trouble, you have operated safely up to this point, there is no need to have 2 vessels lost or any more crew lost). I asked the US SAILING Appeals Committee to review this comparison about 5 years ago, they wrote that the RRS do mirror the IRPCAS and it allow racers to abandon an attempt if serious damage to your vessel or crew need to be placed in serious danger by proceeding with a rescue. They decided not to publish this decision, however you all now know!


May 5, 2016, 4:56 AM

Views: 33060
Re: [The Publisher] Rule 41 - Outside help

I have a question on this. Taking part in a 400 nm offshore race on a 45ft keelboat the following happened, 3 hours after the start our mainsail de-laminated on one of the seams. We turned back and sailed back to port, only using the motor to back up into the dock. The sail was collected by a local loft and repaired within 40 min. We rejoined the race and after 9 hours were back at the co-ords where the problem occurred. 3 days later arrived at the finish line. We were informed that we had been protested by the RO for receiving outside assistance. The jury heard the protest and we were DSQ under rule 41. Was this right?


Aug 27, 2019, 11:36 PM

Views: 3708
Re: [neilhamilton] Rule 41 - Outside help

It seems to me that the crew member who fell overboard, after rounding a jibe (reaching) mark and assuming it was blowing hard, WAS in danger of being hit by other boats rounding the same mark and that Boat T saved the crew member from suffering any injury by picking him/her up.
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