US Sailing introduce new protest procedure

Following the controversial decision not to send RS:X sailor Farrah Hall to the Beijing Games

Saturday April 17th 2010, Author: Jake Fish, Location: United States

US Sailing President Gary Jobson and US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics member Farrah Hall today announced that the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has agreed to Hall’s request to dismiss her February 2008 complaint that The Racing Rules of Sailing do not comply with the Ted Stevens Act, a federal law, and USOC’s Bylaws. Hall’s request followed US Sailings adoption of three prescriptions regarding the conduct of protest and redress hearings.

The prescriptions will become official for certain events on July 1, 2010 (see below).

When the prescriptions apply at an event, these new protest and redress hearing practices will be in effect. The new protest and redress hearing procedures are:

Notification of redress hearings: Protest committees must make a reasonable attempt to notify all boats in a race when redress is to be considered for another boat. This notice, which will likely be posted on the official notice boards commonly used at events, must allow reasonable time for the other boats to make written requests to participate in the redress hearing.

Participation in redress hearings: Boats that request to participate in a redress hearing must be allowed to do so, and may present evidence, call witnesses, and fully participate. The request must be made in writing before the redress hearing begins.

Evidence from Protest Committee members: A protest committee member who brings an incident to the attention of the protest committee, or gives evidence at a protest or redress hearing, will not serve on the protest committee for that hearing if that is practical.

Redress based on protest committee decisions: If a boat requests redress based on a protest committee decision, the request must be heard by a different protest committee if that is practical.

In addition to these prescriptions, US Sailing will encourage all event organizers to appoint protest committees that are comprised of at least 20% racing sailors. Finally, US Saling will follow additional procedures at events conducted in the United States that are designated by US Sailing as a direct qualifier for funding or one of its international teams. Sailors competing in these qualifiers will be advised of the additional procedures.

“These new prescriptions establish practices that are good for the sport, racing sailors, event organizers and race officials,” said Jobson. “Many event organizers, from local to the highest level, have been following these practices for years. For those events that may not presently follow these practices, US SAILING is confident that they will be able to do so comfortably.”

Jobson stressed the importance of racing sailors participating on protest committees. “US Sailing hopes that this common practice will become universal. Racing sailors add a valuable perspective to protest committees, and should be encouraged to volunteer in support of this great sport. The basic principle underlying the racing rules states that competitors are expected to follow and enforce those rules. Serving on a protest committee is one important way in which racing sailors can uphold that principle.”

“Farrah Hall has been resolute in her quest to resolve an issue in the racing rules,” said Jobson. “Although she lost the opportunity to compete in the 2008 Olympics, her efforts have culminated in a positive outcome for all sailors.”

The changes result from a redress hearing decision in October 2007 at the US Olympic Trials for sailing in the RS:X Windsurfing class, which took place at the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club in Long Beach, CA. After the 16th and final race, Hall led the regatta. She was dropped to second place after the redress decision about a collision, neither of which she was involved. As a result of the decision, Hall was not named to the 2008 US Olympic Team.

“The new prescriptions and the procedures that will apply at US SAILING’s qualifying events resulted from a lot of hard work to find common ground. I’m pleased with the result,” said Hall.

Hall, from Annapolis, Md, is a member of the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics and the highest ranked American women’s windsurfer on the ISAF World Sailing Rankings. She has her sights set on representing the United States at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.


Prescription to rule 60:
US SAILING prescribes that when redress has been requested or is to be considered, any boat may participate in the hearing provided she makes a written request before the hearing begins. When she does so, the protest committee shall act under rule 60.3(b) to consider redress for her at that hearing.

Prescription to rule 63.2:
US SAILING prescribes that when redress has been requested or is to be considered, the protest committee shall make a reasonable attempt to notify all boats of the time and place of the hearing and the nature of the request or the grounds for considering redress. Before holding the hearing, the committee shall allow reasonable time for boats to make written requests to participate.

Prescription to rule 63.4:
US SAILING prescribes that when practicable:

(a) no person who brings an incident to the attention of the protest committee or who will give evidence at the hearing shall be a member of the protest committee; and

(b) if a boat files a request for redress based on a protest committee decision, her request for redress shall be heard by a new committee that contains no members of the original committee.

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