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2017 Rules Discretionary and Flexible Penalties

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    Posted: 20 Jan 17 at 11:38pm



Traditionally the penalty for a boat breaking a rule has been to retire or be disqualified.  The 2017 Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) continue the trend away from Retirement or Disqualification as the only penalties, started with the optional introduction of Turns and Percentage penalties in the 1981 rules.


Changes to Rules


The 2017 rules provide a graduated range of penalties for breaches of some rules as follows:


Introduction, Terminology, Notation, formally introduce the concept of Discretionary Penalty and provides a standard method of notation to be used where Discretionary Penalties are prescribed in SI (which is not followed in the RRS themselves)


The rules provide for penalties less than disqualification to be awarded at the discretion of the protest committee for breaches of the following rules:


Rule 2 Sportsmanship:   penalty may now be disqualification that may be excluded from series score;


Rule 41 Outside Help for a crew member who is ill, injured, or in danger, resulting in the boat gaining a significant advantage in the race (introduced in 2013):  penalty may be less than disqualification;


Rule 55 Trash Disposal:  penalty may be less than disqualification;


New rule 64.4 Decisions Concerning Support Persons:


Support persons may be warned, denied privileges or excluded from the venue;


Boats may be penalised by changing the boat’s score in a single race, up to and including disqualification;


Rule 69 Misconduct:


Competitors may be warned, denied privileges or benefits, or excluded from the event or venue;  and


Boats may have their score changed in one or more races, including disqualification(s) that may or may not be excluded from their series score;


Rule T1 Post Race Penalty (to be optionally included by NOR or SI) provides for a boat to take a Post Race Penalty of 30% after the finish of a race, whether or not there has been a protest or any arbitration, under the same conditions as for taking a turns or scoring penalty on the water under rule 44.


The 2017 rules also expands conditions where boats may be penalised, where they were not previously.


Preamble to Part 2 now provides that a boat, subject to the rules, but not racing may be penalised, if she breaks rule 14 and the incident results in injury or serious damage;


Rule 36 Races Restarted or Resailed  provides that if a race is restarted or resailed, a boat that broke rule 14 and caused injury or serious damage may be penalised (disqualified) in the restarted or resailed race.


Rule 64.3( c ) Decisions on Protests Concerning Class Rules, provides that When a boat is penalized under a class rule and the protest committee decides that the boat also broke the same rule in earlier races in the same event, the penalty may be imposed for all such races. No further protest is necessary.



Guidance on Discretionary Penalties


WS has undertaken to publish guidance on the application of Discretionary Penalties.  This typically takes the form of matrices or tables classifying various types of breaches.


An example from the Rio Olympics is at http://www.sailing.o...016-[21019].pdf

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