AMYA CLUB #207
A POINT OF VIEW ABOUT A WORKABLE APPROACH TO SAIL REGATTA "PROTEST":
In their invitation to attend the June 2005 Regional Championship, the Air Capitol Model Sailing club of Wichita, set forth their "Racing Philosophy:"
Our club plays the game “by the rules”. Although sea-lawyering is not encouraged, we don’t let our games become a game of “bumper boats”. However, we believe that RC sailboat racing should be fun and competitive, but it is NOT WAR! We expect everyone to show respect for their fellow competitors.
It is perhaps a fair statement to say that everyone who races sailboats, be they models or real, runs into this issue.
The crux of the problem is, I think, contained in the several "apparent diametrically opposed" concepts contained in the above; unless one really thinks about it.
Playing by the rules.....sea-lawyering is not encouraged......bumper boats not allowed......should be fun.......AND .....should be competitive. Without meaning to sound religious, which at this stage of my life I am not.....Perhaps it is very important to be able to understand all of these concepts in a way that reconciles them all into a harmoneous whole; in the same way, whether religious or not, it seems the natural characteristics of life, are such that to be truely workable and happy in this life one must be able to reconcile in a harmoneous way the "apparent diametrically opposed concept" recognized by the Christian Jesus among others: "HE WHO WOULD GAIN HIS LIFE MUST BE WILLING TO LOSE IT."; and the many other, superficially dichotomous concepts life deals to us.
Respect for one's competitors surely does not mean passively tolerating "bumper boats" be it at the start or around marks. On the other hand, "playing by the rules surely does not warrant nor justify THE ASSUMPTION OR ATTITUDE that my PERCEPTION OF THE RULES and/or APPLICATION IN A GIVEN SITUATION IS ALWAYS RIGHT.
SOME IDEAS TO RECONCILE THESE CONCEPTS:
A POINT OF VIEW ABOUT SAIL RACING PROTEST:
There is nothing either wrong or antagonistic about a "protest" if approached with the workable perspective.
In most situations, an error in following the sailing rules is obvious. Good sportsmanship REQUIRES, in fairness to all participants, that ALL VIOLATIONS OF THE SAILING RULES BE REMEDIED BY THE APPROPRIATE PENALITY. Why? because taking a penalty not only effects the boats in the vicinity that are involved, but also have their ramifications thereafter through out the race, and effect ALL BOATS IN THE RACE. potentially. Unless it is a match race just between two boats; if one picks and chooses "which" violations one shall protest and which they shall not, then the boat not penalized, may later on, have a better position that they should, relative to other boats in the race but not directly involved in the situation. No one has the right to selectively "waive" a penalty. Nor is it fair.
Indeed, to be selective then superimposes a "judgment" towards another. Rather than simply the very legitimate consistent decsion effecting others, that the rules require, and good skippers expect, that for obvious reasons, all violations be enforced. Anything else is unfair.
Good sportsmanship and the rules expect that with regard to those infractions we ourselves make that we are aware of, that we have the responsibility to take a penalty on our own. IT IS NOT EXPECTED OR IN THE RULES to have the idea that if "no one protest" one need not take a penalty.
However, beyond that there is a quite natural human problem. Even the best of skippers, on occaision "lose' the big picture and only focus on a part of the overall reality. Quite naturally, usually that "part" of a problem we only see, at such times, is that which minimizes or makes all right, a difficulty they have gotten into.
If one has the belief that they can ALWAYS RECOGNIZE correctly when they or indeed someone else has violated the rules; they are, quite frankly, arrogant in assuming a human power that we simply do not always have. Few if any skippers, "deliberately violate the rules.
Sometimes, therefore, experienced skippers know that tho we perceive we are sailing correctly, our perception, for any number of reasons, may narrowly focus on one aspect of the problem. Were we aware of the bigger picture, in that instance, we would come to a different conclusion. THERE IS NO WAY TO KNOW WHEN THIS GLITCH OCCURS. I have heard some of the best skippers in the country assert they were on "starboard" when in fact the opposite was true.
If one, therefore approaches a "protest" from the position of "knowing" they are right, a protest ALWAYS TURNS OUT TO BE A VERY DISAGREEABLE EXPERIENCE. For "KNOWING YOU ARE RIGHT", precludes any place for another's different point of view.
On the other hand, if one approaches a protest from the perspective of perceiving one is right, and therefore has no reason to simply bow to another who "perceives" one is wrong, [which is all they can really say, even if they "insist they are right"]; then the protest procedure takes on a relaxing, non-stressful way of sailing.
A true protest does two things.
1. Initially, it expresses one's perception that someone is violating the rules. Thus meeting the requirement and our part in having all rules be enforced. If we are one the receiving end, we can relax. We do not need to get all stressed out about "following the rules" which many a beginner tends to do. Do your best to keep the big picture and take your own penalties. But don't worry about it. Those that you miss, you will be reminded of, through the protest procedure, assuming "protest" has not taken on an completely unwarranted negative connotation as somehow being obnoxious or unfriendly. WHICH IT IS NOT. You will have notice when it is time to take a second look. Which is the first purpose of the protest.
2. A protest, ie: announcing your sail number + "PROTEST", + their sail number. The rules require it be said TWICE, WHICH MANY REPEAT IMMEDIATELY AS A KNEE JERK REACTION TO THE RULES. But, in fact says to others, "I don't care what anyone elses perception of the situation is. When in fact, if you think about it: perhaps there should be a pause between your first suggestion that a rule has been violated and its repetition to allow for interaction with your fellow competitor. Presumably most of the time, the other could and should respond to your initial suggestion with "Penalty accepted." assuming a rule has been violated. Of course better yet, the one violating a rule could have have announced they were taking a penalty, making a protest unnecessary. But, in any event the initial protest takes care of the question: "Are you not taking a penalty turn because you have evaluated the situation and perceive you have not violated a rule, OR are you unaware of the possibility that you violated a rule?
On the other hand, if the penalty is not accepted then perhaps it is a reason for you to take a moment to REEVALUATE YOUR PERCEPTION. Perhaps this is why the rules require a complete protest to be repeated a second time. If you do not repeat it then it is a way to communicate that you are abandoning your protest; after getting the other's "input" ONLY OF EITHER ACCEPTING OR NOT ACCEPTING YOUR PERCEPTION. [[Adding that information, only will resolve 90% of the situations......NOTE::::DISCUSSION AND RESOLUTION OF A DIFFERENCE IN PERCEPTION [of the remaining 10% IS NEITHER NECESSARY OR APPROPRIATE, AT THIS TIME....leave it for the protest hearing provisions of the rules. If upon adding that information your perception remains the same, then one should complete the initial formal protest by repeating the phrase a second time, as simply a way of resolving a difference in perspective that otherwise is just left hanging. [NOTE, YOU MUST ALSO NOTIFY THE RACE COMMITTEE IMEDIATELY AFTER THE RACE, assuming the other person involved has not conceded by doing a penalty turn. The rules say, "in writing"; but that is usually waived as a practical matter, among r/c sailors. A formal Protest, simply says, I've reevaluated and I still perceive I am right in my perception of the application of the rules. I am not insisting that I am right. I am only saying that I have enough respect for myself, that in such a case, I have no reason to just "cater" to your perception of the application of the rules. Therefore all I ask is that a "third entity" make the final decision. I am not insisting that I am right. Only that I have no reason to simply accept what you say; that is unacceptable to anyone who respects themselves. On the other hand, for the reasons stated above, if one also respect others, then one realizes that we might be wrong. Certainly if not this time, one knows one will be wrong down the road, sometime. That's just being human.
Its not that important which way the ruling goes. ITS JUST A SAILBOAT RACE. What is important is that no one feel that they must "bow" to the opinion of another single skipper who they are racing with. Take a second look, and if you still perceive you are right, there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG WITH ASKING THAT A THIRD GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO FORM THE PROTEST COMMITTEE "WHO ARE NOT INVOLVED IN THE INCIDENT" MAKE THE DECISION. IF YOU RESPECT YOUR SELF AND YOUR RESPECT OTHERS AND YOU RESPECT THE RULES, you have no choice but to do so. Ignoring, following the rules, OR what you perceive to be a violation of them, is not an option, it makes sailing meaningless and an unskilled endeavor. INSISTING THAT YOU ARE RIGHT, is also not an option; as that defies human nature. We have no way of knowing, when we have arrived at the true picture, given the speed and wide variety of circumstances which may be involved in sail racing. Nor does anyone else HAVE THE RIGHT TO "INSIST THEY ARE RIGHT".
A protest based on an arrogant insistance that you are right is unacceptable, mean spirited and down right obnoxious.
A formal protest based on one's best perception after reevaluation if the original protest mention is not accepted, on the other hand, is a sign only that you RESPECT YOURSELF, while at the same time, RESPECTING OTHERS AND RESPECTING THE RULES, ALL OF WHICH ARE REQUIRED to make sail racing meaningful by those who really appreciate the sport. Those who depreciate an appropriate attitude toward the protest procedure and do not use it or look negatively toward those who do, simply do not really appreciate what sail racing is all about, that makes it a worthwhile endeavor to devote a lot of time and effort to become good at it.
The KEY TO A WORKABLE PROTEST IS TO SEE IT AS YOUR BEST PERCEPTION, NOT THAT YOU "KNOW THAT YOU ARE RIGHT. AND THE PROTEST COMMITTEE SHOULD REALIZE, THAT WHAT IS REALLY WANTED IS BASICALLY A THIRD PARTY VIEW, that solves the REAL INHERENT PROBLEM, that one neither is or should be required to "bow" to another point of view, simply because they do not agree; NOR that the rules be ignored, as an alternative. That being the case, DO YOUR JOB QUICKLY. Try to be right, of course, but it is the decision, which ever way it goes, that is wanted. It's not a captial punishment case!!! Indeed, although contrary to the opinion of some, MOST OF THE RULES, if you take just a little time to diagram them out, are really rather simple and not that many that are crticial. On the other hand, there are rare occasions, when even the best rules experts, disagree. So...just make the best decision you can, efficently, so we can get back to sailing, even tho some delay for a protest is absolutely esential to meaningful sailing. And for those involved: Remember that what you really wanted was an efficient third party resolution, only. Presumably, as between two good sailors, you should lose a protest 50% of the time, should you not?
With this philosophy, skilled sailing can be a lot of fun, as we get better and better at it, which makes it all the more fun. Something that simply does not happen if one is required to ignore the rules, because some unthinking people are unaware of the critical role following the rules makes toward really having fun. Making a protest with an APPROPRIATE perspective and attitude is not something to be avoided and negative; WHICH IT ABSOLUTELY IS NOT.
I will be happy to add anyone's opposing view! In my perception and several years of experience, I do believe this philosopy is workable. But in accordance with the philosopy, can I be absolutely sure it is, certainly not. If adopted, the workableness of the results will be the final determining factor.