I believe that a major part of the dissatisfaction with the rules is not the occasional revisions to Part 2 (and to a lesser extent Part 3) as much as it is inconsistent, and I would argue premature, interventions of judges into the process. As evidence I would remind everyone that U S Sailing almost was de-certified as our National Governing Body by the USOC because of two arbitrations, Hall & Salk. Our judges are sorely lacking in judicial restraint. Which inclines them to try to find what they personally consider absolutely perfectly just decisions, notwithstanding the letter of the rules. In effect, they make it up as they see fit. These inclinations are particularly problematic in cases of requests for redress, the USOC’s major complaint.
I can offer a case study to illustrate the problem. In May 2009 I took the tests to be certified as an NRO in anticipation that the Chicago 2016 bid might succeed and it would be helpful if there was at least one NRO in the host city and state. I passed the objective test and took the subjective, essay test. By the time I was advised of my results, the Chicago2016 bid had failed. I was finally advised I had failed the essay test. The essay question was composed of two parts. Part one involved the RC witnessing a situation at the finish line where a boat touched the finish mark and failed to fully comply with rule 44.2 before crossing the finish line a second time. Having failed to comply with 44.2, the boat failed to finish per the definition of finish and therefore deserved to be scored DNF. So far so good.
Part two of the question was “What would you tell the jury?” My immediate reaction was give them Ann Landers most famous piece of advice “Mind Your Own Business” (MYOB), but I though better of that and simply wrote “DNF”. It seems my lack of deference to the jury caused the graders to fail me. Since I had lost my incentive to pursue the issue, I didn’t bother to argue the point as I am already a Senior Race Officer. But the proper rejoinder is “Exactly what part of shall don’t you understand? Specifically with regard to A5, “A boat that did not…finish…shall be scored accordingly by the race committee without a hearing”. Note that this has the major benefit of offering a competitor who might disagree the opportunity to file a request for redress and have a hearing as the plaintiff with me as the defendant before an impartial jury, satisfying the USOC’s demands. However, it does cut the jury totally out of the matter, absent a request for redress. These graders, without proper restraint, wanted there to be a hearing so the jury could be the ultimate arbiter in a situation where MYOB was the proper call. It’s called separation of powers and our judges (and the graders of race officer tests) would be well served to learn the concept.