Alternative penalty for an OCS boat

Published on May 24th, 2021

The Racing Rules of Sailing Questions and Answers are published on the World Sailing website as a joint responsibility of the Racing Rules Committee and the Race Officials Committee. This Q&A from the 2021-2024 rules concerns the option of an alternative penalty for a boat that was OCS:

May the notice of race or the sailing instructions include a penalty other than disqualification for a boat that was OCS?

The Racing Rules of Sailing do not permit the Notice of Race or the Sailing Instructions to change the definition Start. However, World Sailing has approved, under regulation 28.1.5(b), a development rule, DR21-01 Alternative Starting Penalty, which includes a change to the definition Start and some examples for penalties that can be used. This development rule has the status of a test rule and it includes instructions on how to use it.

Disclaimer: Q&As reflect the opinion of experienced race officials; they are not authoritative interpretations of the rules. Q&As only address the specific question and not all of the factors a protest committee will need to consider in a hearing.

Here is the background on DR21-01 Alternative Starting Penalty:

In a race with large boats, high speed boats, or a race with a large fleet, the organizing authority may want an OCS boat to NOT return to correct her starting error. This may also be a desired outcome for races with handicap starts (staggered starts) or long-distance races where the wish is to be able to record a boat as a finisher (adjusted for a suitable penalty) if it was OCS.

Under the 2021-2024 RRS, it is no longer possible for the Notice of Race or the Sailing Instructions to make the necessary rule changes to allow for this scenario. The reason for this is that there is a new definition Start, a new definition Finish, and a new definition Sail the Course.

Definitions cannot be changed, and therefore World Sailing is making this test rule to allow an alternative penalty for OCS boats. Penalties may be changed under the racing rules. This test rule allows organizing authorities to create a suitable penalty for OCS boats, that is appropriate for the circumstances of the event.

Some events may want to impose a penalty to the elapsed time/score, other events may want to impose an action / requirement on the boat while it is racing.

For complete details on DR21-01, click here.

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