A Competitor’s Bill of Rights
A Competitor’s Bill of Rights
When it comes to dealing with protest and race committees, your rights are clearly defined. "Rules" from our September 2010 issue.
When you enter a race, you essentially enter into a contract with the race officials. Under the racing rules, you have specified responsibilities and obligations (see the Basic Principle: Sportsmanship and Rule 3), but you also enjoy an extensive list of rights. I have found that frequently competitors are unaware of many of their rights. Let’s start with what I consider to be the top 10 rights you are most likely to need over the course of a sailing season. (Applicable rules are listed in parentheses.)
1. If you start and fInIsh a race, after any scoring penalties (Rules 30.2, 30.3, 44.3, 67 and, if it applies, P2) are given, your score cannot be made worse for any reason unless a hearing is held by the protest committee (Rules 63.1 and A5).
2. If you protest or are protested, or, if redress is requested by any competitor or race official, you have the right to be a party to the hearing and to be present during the hearing while evidence is being collected (Rule 63.3(a) and the new prescriptions to Rules 60 and 63.2).
3. You have the right to be notified of the time and place of the protest hearing, to have the information in the protest or redress request made available to you before the hearing, and to be given “reasonable time” to prepare your defense and line up witnesses (Rule 63.2 and its new prescription).
4. You have the right to object to any member of the protest committee that you believe is an interested party (provided you do so as soon as possible), and the right to ask for the removal of a member of the committee who brought the incident to the committee or who will give evidence, provided removal is practicable (Rule 63.4 and its new prescription).
5. You have the right to present all your evidence, to call all your witnesses to testify, to question each person who gives evidence, and, in a redress hearing, to ask the protest committee to take evidence from “appropriate sources” before making its decision (Rules 63.6 and 64.2).
6. You have the right not to be penalIzed, if you took the appropriate penalty or if you are exonerated for breaking a rule (Rules 64.1(a), 64.1(b), 18.5, 20.2 and 64.1(c)).
7. At the end of a hearing, you have the rIght to be informed of the facts found, the applicable rules, the protest committee’s decision, and any penalties or redress given. If you ask in writing within seven days afer you are informed of the decision, you have the right to receive all that information promptly from the protest committee in writing (Rules 65.1 and 65.2).
8. If you are unavoidably absent from a hearing, you have the right to ask the protest committee to reopen the hearing (Rule 63.3(b)).
9. You have the right, within 24 hours of being informed of the decision, to ask the protest committee to reopen the hearing if you believe that the committee made a “significant error” or that “significant new evidence” has become available (Rule 66). This is the only way that you can convince the committee to change any of the facts found in the original hearing.
10. Within 15 days of receiving the written decision of the protest committee, you have the right to appeal a protest committee’s decision or its procedures, but not the facts it found (Rules 70.1 and F2.1). However, if Rule 70.5 applies, the right of appeal is not available to you.