Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

R34 Mark Missing/Out of Position

Mike Forbes
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • National Judge
Rule 34 says the RC shall "IF POSSIBLE" replace or substitute a missing/out of place mark.  

If it was NOT POSSIBLE to replace/substitute a mark once the problem was realised and before the boats rounded the mark is that grounds for Redress under 62.1(a) (improper action or omission the RC)? 
R34 puts the onus on the RC to replace the mark only IF POSSIBLE, so if it was NOT possible (due to distance/weather) the RC has no obligation and so no grounds for Redress under 62.1? 

I'm recalling an offshore race a few years ago, where a mark was well out of sight of the RC, and it dragged into dangerously shallow water.  When the boats approached the mark some rounded it and some did not on safety grounds.  I honestly can't remember the outcome of the results.  
Created: 22-May-02 15:10

Comments

P
John Mooney
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Umpire
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Hi Mike -

For what it's worth, I would say that the RC has an obligation to place marks (even fixed marks) securely and accurately enough that they stay where they are described to be, and that failing to do so is "an improper action or omission" on the RC's part that is redressable, even if the mark doesn't move into a position that might make it dangerous (and therefore un-seamanlike) to round it. It's true that there isn't a rule that says the RC must place a mark where it says it has, or that the mark must stay there, but there are two reasons why I'd say the obligation exists:

First, RRS 27.1 indicates that "No later than the warning signal, the race committee shall signal or otherwise designate the course to be sailed if the sailing instructions have not designated the course,...". Also, having a mark missing or out of place is one of the reasons an RC may abandon a race after the start (RRS 32.1(c)), which indicates to me that the rules writers were clear that something has gone wrong if a mark is missing or out of position, and the RC has an obligation to act to fix it..

Second, there's an RYA Appeal (2002/10) that speaks to this issue, though somewhat indirectly. That appeal actually affirms the denial of redress to a boat that is the victim of a misplaced mark, but it says the boat navigated exclusively with a GPS, and that it failed to keep a good lookout to reveal the problem (which other boats discovered by doing so), and so made the problem partly their own fault. The précis at the beginning of the Case text is, I think, instructive:

"When a race committee learns before a race that a fixed mark is out of place, it must advise competitors. If it learns of this during a race, it must, if possible, act under rule 34. If it could do either, but does not, this can give rise to the possibility of redress, which is not to be refused to a boat affected and without fault because of a clause in the sailing instructions denying liability for the accuracy of the position given for the mark. However, a boat that relies solely on GPS for navigation is not without fault if she herself could have earlier detected the error visually.

A race committee is not under a duty to check the positions it receives for all the fixed marks it may use."

So, even in the case of a fixed mark that is out of place, RYA says the RC has no duty to check the positions for fixed marks, but it does have obligations to a) advise the competitors if it knows before the start, and b) act under RRS 34 to solve the problem if it can. If it can't, the out of place mark "...can give rise to the  possibility of redress...", and that redress shouldn't be denied even if the SIs say explicitly that the RC doesn't promise that the marks will be where they say they are. If the mark makes sailing the course under RRS 28.1 dangerous and un-seamanlike, I'd say that's improper as well.

Hope this helps,
- John
Created: 22-May-02 17:18
Mike Forbes
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • National Judge
0
Thanks for your considered opinion John.  I take all that on board.
I hope you are well, and got some nice plans afloat this summer.  
Cheers, Mike 

Created: 22-May-02 18:03
Aldo Balelli
Nationality: Italy
Certifications:
  • National Race Officer
  • National Judge
0
32.1 c
possibly..
Created: 22-May-02 21:10
Matt Bounds
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • National Race Officer
0
There is no rule that requires the rounding marks be in place at the start of a race - only the starting marks.  As Luigi taught us, "The mark only has to be in place when they (the competitors) need it."  On an upwind leg, they need it when they get to a layline, although the prudent RO will have it in place well before that.  At SWC Miami, we often did not set the weather mark until just after the start in order to tweak the distance to hit a target time.

Knots come untied, anchor lines get fouled on propellers, competitors snag marks with keels and rudders.  As race committees, we do the best we can with the resources at hand - which include volunteers whose practical knowledge of the B.I.M.B.O. trade may be minimal. Ideally, you would like to replace the mark in its proper location, but might be prevented by boat traffic.

In 15+ years of being a certified race officer, I've been able to successfully utilize RRS 34(b) (the Mike flag) exactly twice. Once, it was deployed properly, but the competitors were confused so the race had to be abandoned. I consider that a fail.

Robotic marks have their own problems - and yes, I have used them at several events.

I think the writers of the RRS realize that race committees are not Superman and can't just fly in at light speed to replace a mark - there are practical considerations.  Thus the phrase, "if possible."
Created: 22-May-04 15:31
Mike Forbes
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • National Judge
0
….. but u didn’t answer the fundamental question …. In ur opinion, is it “an act or omission of the RC “if replacing the mark was not possible …. 
Created: 22-May-04 16:17
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Mike, I think that because the rule says .. "shall, if possible" ..  if 34(a) or (b) are not possible, then "shall, if possible" has been satisfied and failure to do 34(a)/(b) when not possible is not an RC act or omission.

A boat filing a R4R might challenge the RC's determination of whether or not it was possible and based on that whether the "shall" is enforced.  I think a valid R4R can be made for a missing mark not replaced and a PC might then determine the facts surrounding what was and was not possible at the time.

Also of note, 32.1(c) & (d) are RC "may" items.  So, an RC is not required to abandon the race due to fairness or a missing mark.

Assume that the mark was missing for all boats ...  then no boat sailed the course.   RRS 35 states that at least one boat must start, sail the course and finish (all 3) within the TL, otherwise the RC "shall" abandon .. and since no boat rounded the missing mark, the RC "shall" abandon in that case.

However, if the mark went missing after some boats in the fleet rounded it, then the race goes back to "may" be abandoned.

Ang
Created: 22-May-04 18:03
Matt Bounds
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • National Race Officer
0
….. but u didn’t answer the fundamental question …. In ur opinion, is it “an act or omission of the RC “if replacing the mark was not possible …. 

That would require a determination of what was possible - a highly subjective judgement.  

If a competitor snags the mark and drags it 200 m, was that an improper act or omission of the RC? Of course not.  Would replacing it with a boat displaying flag M and making multiple sound signals be an improper action or omission of the RC? Again, no - the RC has done exactly what the rules say they should do.  But do you think competitors would be confused, seeing a mark that is 200 m away from a boat displaying a flag (which they probably haven't seen before) and making sound signals?  Absolutely.  In that case, it's better to leave the situation alone and wait for the paperwork before you abandon the race.  (Of course this depends on the event level - you certainly wouldn't let this happen at a world championship.)

There isn't a cut and dried answer to your question.  Like many things in life, "it depends."
Created: 22-May-04 18:11
Aldo Balelli
Nationality: Italy
Certifications:
  • National Race Officer
  • National Judge
0
i would, yes.
As PC I would consider redress.
Created: 22-May-04 18:21
Mike Forbes
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • National Judge
0
Angelo, I think you’ve got the best all round explanation yet ….. 
Created: 22-May-04 18:29
Tim Hohmann
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
0
Angelo, I think I might look at it a little differently.

RRS 35 includes the requirement to sail the course only in an "if" statement in the first sentence. The final sentence of 35 only requires that if no boat finishes within the time limit the race must be abandoned. So I could interpret 35 as saying that if any boat finishes in time, even if she didn't sail the course, the RC would have the option of preserving the race. I feel like the intent of 35 is to address time limit, not a case where a boat or boats didn't sail the course (there's rule 28 for that). Specifically I don't think the idea of 35 is to force abandonment of a race based on a missing mark.

However - the course layout and marks are described in the SIs which are rules. If the RC hasn't provided a course in that configuration, even if unforeseen circumstances make it impossible to do so, then the RC has committed an omission and redress may be warranted.

If all boats treated the missing mark the same way (for example rounding the GPS coordinates) then I'd say that redress of awarding finishing places is fairest for all boats. If some boats did one thing and others did another then the PC would have to sort out the appropriate redress or recommend abandonment if they can't reach any other fair solution. 

Thoughts?
Created: 22-May-04 21:19
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Tim, good catch, my mistake there. RRS 35 does indeed restate the criteria in the 2nd sentence to only “finish” as a requirement.  

Not sure why that is the case though. If the RC is to keep tabs on the 3 criteria for the 1st sentence, it’s no added burden on the RC to use the same 3 for the 2nd, as the RC must evaluate both sentences in RRS 35. 
Created: 22-May-05 11:16
Tim Hohmann
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
0
I suspect that when they were writing 35 they just weren't focused on missing marks or boats failing to sail the course because of missing marks.

I prefer an answer that allows the RC to preserve the race if they think it can be done fairly.
Created: 22-May-05 17:12
Aldo Balelli
Nationality: Italy
Certifications:
  • National Race Officer
  • National Judge
0
well,  the RC should  preserve the race if they think it can be done fairly. 

Created: 22-May-06 16:41
Steve Pocock
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • Regional Race Officer
0
I remember  a  race  in the  English  Channel  when  the buoy was  on  the  deck  of  the Trinity  house  ship  being  maintained. An  interesting  mark  rounding!
Created: 22-May-08 12:25
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