Jan 7, 2013, 7:23 AM
Post #4 of 6
From Arthur Engel, US Sailing RRS committee:
Re: [The Publisher] Controversy at Sydney Hobart Race 2012
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Regarding the Sydney-Hobart OCS boat that was given redress, we don't have the Facts Found by the Jury but it is easy to imagine a set of facts that would entitle a boat to redress.
The boat is close to the line but doesn't think it was over early (there are other boats that might be over and the RC makes the visual and sound signals correctly). The boat turns on the radio four and a half minutes after their start to listen for OCS boats, hears nothing and turns it off six minutes after their start. Had the RC made the correct radio announcement they would have heard it and gone back.
Since SI 20.3 clearly states that the radio announcement will be made at the 5-minute mark, making it earlier is probably an "improper action" by the RC. However, that wouldn't result in redress here since no one seems to have been prejudiced. [Had the OCS boat heard the earlier hails and gone back then other boats presumably would have been entitled to redress for an "improper" early radio announcement by the RC.]
This situation is exactly why long-distance races commonly impose a time penalty (say 5, 10 or 15 minutes) to boats that are OCS but fail to return. It isn't very competitor-friendly to be DSQed from a 2-day+ race for an infraction that even in theory would gain you less than 1 minute or so of advantage.
From Bill Doyle, Newport RI:
Maybe we have just found exactly what is wrong with our sport. In my opinion, the skipper / owner challenging the Sydney Hobart race committee to exonerate themselves from a clear and unquestioned foul is the lowest form of unsportsmanlike conduct. Period. When Ragamuffin-Loyal learned they were positively OCS, regardless of what the RC did, they should have withdrawn. Period.
We are a self-policing sport, much like Golf, and if we can't do that our future is bleak. We were involved in two similar situations that made us question the honor of our fellow competitors.
In one race the RC appropriately posted an amendment that instituted a mid-course gate. About 15 boats missed the gate, including us. All other competitors came to protest the RC over a minimal procedural error to get their DSQ exonerated. We refused to go along them. End results: 14 boats were re-instituted and we were disqualified (appropriately.) In another incident, we were involved in a significant accident and the at-fault boat refused to accept the decisions by the protest committee, and two appeals, and it ended up in the courts. (They lost).
If winning is so important that you are willing to trade your honor for it, have you really won anything?
From George Sechrist:
The incident at the Sydney Hobart Race is a great lesson to all organizing authorities or anyone that writes NOR's or SI's. If you write it, be absolutely sure that it is reasonable and that you can enforce it! In this case, no problem if the words "approximately five minutes" were deleted. The use of the word 'approximate' will always cause controversy, as 10 different protest committees can and will make their own interpretation of what is 'approximate', a slightly different twist on this case. However, the RC somehow determined that their attempted hails on VHF were not approximately 5 minutes, but were they 4 minutes, 4.5 minutes, 5.5 minutes, 6 minutes, or what? It can be argued that these are all approximate, and all are not approximate. Keep it clear and simple!
From Shawn Millar:
What kind of silly rule is it for the Sydney Hobart race where they call the OCS boat approximately five minutes after the start? When was the last time you restarted after sailing a race for five minutes?
From Andrew McIrvine, Admiral, Royal Ocean Racing Club:
Rules are rules... except they are not. This is amply demonstrated by two recent incidents. Bernard Stamm's disqualification in the Vendee Globe Race is supported by virtually no one, while Ragamuffin's lack of disqualification in the Sydney Hobart is supported by even fewer. Go figure!