APPEAL 109: When the Race Committee Shortens the Course

Published on October 7th, 2013

The US Sailing Appeals Committee recently published Appeal 109 which answers the question “how do I finish when the race committee shortens the course at a mark such that I have to pass the mark on its ‘wrong side’?”

Facts and Decision of the Protest Committee
During a race with rounding marks to be left to port, the race committee decided to shorten the course to finish at the windward mark. It established the finishing line between the windward mark and the race committee boat by positioning the race committee boat to be the port end of the finishing line.

Early Bird sailed so that she left the starboard-end mark of the finishing line to port, bore off and sailed between that mark and the race committee boat, and then left the racing area. She was scored Did Not Finish (DNF) and subsequently requested redress. She argued that it was an improper action for the race committee to anchor the race committee boat on the “non-rounding” side of the windward mark.

The protest committee agreed with Early Bird and gave her redress by directing that she be scored as having finished. The race committee appealed, arguing that scoring Early Bird DNF was correct because she had not crossed the finishing line established as provided in rule 32.2, and by crossing the line as she did, she had not finished as described in the definition Finish.

Decision of the Appeals Committee
The racing rules allow positioning a race committee boat used as a starting or a finishing mark at either end of the line, without regard to how boats are required to leave the rounding marks. When the course is shortened at a rounding mark, that mark becomes a finishing mark, and is no longer a rounding mark. In order to finish, boats are required to cross the finishing line from the course side (see the definition Finish). Concerning the meaning of the term “from the course side” in the definition Finish, it means from the side of the line where the boats sail from the mark that begins the last leg of the course to the finishing line.

The race committee’s appeal is upheld, and Early Bird is to be scored DNF.

This decision, along with the entire US Sailing Appeals Book, can be read in its entirety at

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