Rules Question: Safety Information or Outside Help?

Published on April 7th, 2015

This scenario involves Rule 41, Outside Help…

Three large boats were to round a mark near coastal rocks and then sail into a 6-knot current. The wind was light.

Boat A radioed to Boat B, whose skipper was more familiar with the area, asking whether it was safe to anchor in the vicinity of the mark. Boat B replied that it was not safe to anchor.

Boat C protested both boats under Rule 41 (Outside Help), for discussing what tactics were to be used for rounding the mark and sailing the next leg.

Protest Decision
The protest committee dismissed the protest against Boat B and disqualified Boat A for receiving outside help. It noted that she could have sailed or motored away from the mark in perfect safety at any time, and that the only reasons for anchoring at the mark were to overcome the adverse current and to win the race.

Boat A appealed, on the grounds that she did not believe she had received help, that she believed that advice given on a public radio channel was not outside help, and that a national authority should not condone disqualification for receiving safety information.

Appeal Decision
Boat A’s appeal is dismissed. Boat A asked for help for tactical racing reasons and received it. It is irrelevant that Boat A’s question wand the information she received in response were broadcast on a public radio channel. The help Boat A received did not come within the scope of the exceptions to Rule 41, especially not Rule 41(s) since she solicited the information. Therefore Boat A broke Rule 41.

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 vessel 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 penalized; any penalty may be less than disqualification.

Source: ISAF, Case 100

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