Protest arbitration provides an intermediate method of protest resolution before the protest is heard by the protest committee. Arbitration gives sailors a chance to take a less severe penalty than disqualification when they realize that they have broken a rule. Arbitration does not solve all protests, but for most situations involving the rules of Part 2 and rule 31, arbitration is seen by competitors to be fast, informal and much less intimidating than attending a protest hearing.
Here is how arbitration works at J World Annapolis.
The sailors tell the arbitrator(s) what happened on the water and the arbitrator(s) makes a decision about which boat, if any, broke a rule.
Here at J World we make this short and sweet handling arbitration by conference call and limiting sailors to two minutes of testimony each. The party that broke a rule may take a reduced penalty which is specified in the Sailing Instructions. If the arbitrator’s decision is accepted, the protestor withdraws the protest and the dispute is resolved without a hearing by the protest committee.
The primary purpose of arbitration is to simplify and speed up the protest process for incidents that do not require the full protest hearing process.
Arbitration can only work if the boat that the arbitrator says broke a rule receives a penalty that is less than the disqualification she may receive in any subsequent protest hearing. The penalty is stated in the sailing instructions and, if accepted by a boat as a result of arbitration, holds the same status under rule 64.1(b) as the penalty she could have taken on the water. The penalty for arbitration should be more severe than any penalty that is available to the boat on the water at the time of the incident, but significantly less severe than a DSQ. In the case of the J World Annapolis Thursday Night Racing series, the penalty is 40% scoring penalty.
Principles of Arbitration
Arbitration is consistent with the 2013-2016 Racing Rules of Sailing. None of the rules in Part 5 (Protests, Redress, Hearings, Misconduct and Appeals) that protect the interests of the competitors are compromised by arbitration. All of the safeguards built into Part 5 Section A (Protests and Redress) and Part 5 Section B (Hearings and Decisions) remain in place. If the decision of the arbitrator is accepted by the protestor, the protest is withdrawn. If not, the protest remains and must be heard under the rules of Part 5 Section B by the protest committee. See rule 63.1 (Requirement for a Hearing). Rule 44.1 is changed to permit a boat that has broken a rule of Part 2 or rule 31 to take a penalty after racing but prior to any protest hearing. Her penalty shall be a scoring penalty as calculated in rule 44.3(c) equal to 40% of the number of entries. Arbitration takes place after a written protest has been lodged, but prior to the protest hearing.
For Thursday Night Racing, the arbitration hearing is held via conference call. Testimony given during arbitration should not be overheard by any potential witnesses of a subsequent protest hearing. Only the arbitration judge(s), the protestor and the protestee are permitted to attend. No witnesses are allowed.
If a competitor believes the case requires a witness, the protest will go to a protest hearing.
Arbitration will only be used for protests where:
- the incident only involves two boats. A protest involving three or more boats is usually too complex for a single or two judges to handle in less than 10 minutes.
- the incident is limited to the rules of Part 2 or rule 31. If it becomes clear that other rules are applicable, or another boat may be involved, the arbitration hearing will be closed and the protest forwarded to the protest committee.
- there was no contact that could have caused serious damage.