Monday, September 2, 2013

A victim of the Weed

Had an interesting arbitration/protest experience at the weekend.

Was trying to arbitrate the thing which occurred at the leeward mark. Boats rounded the mark and ran ito weed. There was a windward/leeward contact, the leeward boat then gybed out and came across another boat close to the mark.

At arbitration it was not clear, in the first instance, who had stopped first, as they both said they were in the weed. The other thing that was not clear was how close to the mark the boats were at the other incident. So it was referred to a protest committee.

The interesting thing was that, at the protest hearing, the leeward boat made a clear statement about the first incident "The windward boat stopped because of the weed". I don't think he realised how significant this was. I felt silly, but during the arbitration the evidence had been that both boats were in the weed. I had been assuming that both boats had been slowed equally. Now there was no problem - in Match Racing we call it "The Bambi Defence". If the windward boat was stopped and the leeward boat says windward boat - and there is a collision the leeward boat must have infringed 16.1 and is disqualified - a stopped boat cannot get out of the way, so room has not been given.

One phrase had destroyed his case and all three members of the committee heard it.

It then became easier to disqualify him a second time, as he tacked within the zone he had to give room to the inside boat under 18.2(a). The inside boat may have taken too much room - though a witness said they hadn't. It was one of those cases where the precise positions were never going to be clearly established in the protest room and as a jury we took the easy way out - the prizegiving was pending.