What is an Appeal?
The Racing Rules of Sailing provides for appeals as a mechanism to correct possible protest committee (PC) errors in interpreting the rules.
An “appeal” is when a party to a protest or redress request disagrees with the protest committee’s or association appeals committee’s decision or procedures. In the U.S. we have a two-tier system where typically an appeal of a protest committee decision goes to a regional appeals committee, called an “association appeals committee” (AAC); and an appeal of an AAC goes to the US Sailing Appeals Committee.
Appeals are filed directly with the Race Administration office of US Sailing which, in most cases, forwards them to the Association Appeals Committee from the area in which the event was held. Association Appeals Committee decisions may be appealed to the US Sailing Appeals Committee. Some decisions are appealed directly to the US Sailing Appeals Committee.
Note: only the protest committee’s decision or procedures may be appealed; its facts found may not be appealed (rule 70.1(a)). All appeals are filed directly with the Race Administration office of US Sailing which in turn sends the appeal to the appropriate appeals committee (rule R1). Decisions by an international jury may not be appealed.
With the permission of US Sailing, some events may deny the right of appeal if it is essential to determine promptly the result of a race that will qualify a boat to compete in a later stage of an event or a subsequent event.
The Appeals FAQ offers advice from the US Sailing Appeals Committee to competitors, race officials or clubs and organizations who are filing or contemplating filing an appeal of a protest committee or Association Appeals Committee decision, requesting confirmation or correction of a decision, or requesting a rule interpretation.
Below are some helpful excerpts from the Appeals FAQ (but please read the entire FAQ before submitting an appeal).
The information here is strictly advisory. For a full description of the appeals process, please read Appendix R in The Racing Rules of Sailing AND DOWNLOAD the Appeals FAQ.
Read the information carefully before submitting an appeal. If you need assistance, email the Race Administration Director or call US Sailing at 401-342-7900.
How To Submit An Appeal
Is There a Form to Fill Out?
Yes. You must send, with the appeal or as soon as possible thereafter, the US Sailing Appeals & Requests Information Form.
Is There a Time Limit for Submitting an Appeal?
Yes. The decision being appealed (the protest committee or association appeals committee decision) and a letter clearly stating why the decision is incorrect must be sent no later than 15 days after receiving the written decision being appealed (see rule R2.1(a)). An appeals committee cannot extend this time limit, so do not be late.
What Do I Include in My Appeal?
You are required to include three (3) items. Items 1 and 2 must be sent within the 15-day time limit (see rule R2.1(a)).
- The written decision that you are appealing. (Note that if you are appealing the decision of an association appeals committee, you are required to include the AAC decision.)
- A clear statement of why you think the decision you are appealing is incorrect.
(Note that if your appeal does not include these two items, the appeals committee cannot consider your appeal.)
- In addition to the two required items above, you also must send, with the appeal or as soon as possible thereafter, the US Sailing Appeals & Requests Information Form (rule R2.2).
To obtain the form, click on the link in the "Is There a Form to Fill Out?" section above, or go to appeals.ussailing.org and click on the US Sailing Appeals & Requests Information Form. The form will ask you for all the pertinent information required by rule R2.2.
Where Do I Find the Rules That Govern Appeals?
They are in Appendix R, Procedures for Appeals and Requests, in the US Sailing edition of The Racing Rules of Sailing. Rules 70 and 71 are also relevant.
How Do I Submit My Appeal?
You may submit your appeal or request by attaching it to the US Sailing Appeals & Requests Information Form and clicking the “Submit” button (the preferred method). Or you may email your appeal or request, the decision being appealed or inquired about and all other documents or links to documents (notice of race, sailing instructions, etc.) to email@example.com (NOTE: the email address for submitting the appeal in the printed rule book is incorrect; please use this email address for submitting your appeal). For more information about submitting appeal or request documents, please call US Sailing at 401-342-7900.
Is There a Fee for My Appeal?
There is no fee to send an appeal to US Sailing if the appeal will be considered by an association appeals committee (AAC). Appeals considered by an AAC are appeals from protest committee decisions, other than protests involving rule 69 (Misconduct) or made at a US Sailing Championship (which go directly to the US Sailing Appeals Committee).
After US Sailing sends the appeal to the AAC, the AAC will inform the appellant if it requires a fee. If the appeal will be considered by the US Sailing Appeals Committee, there is a fee of $25 for US Sailing members and $75 for non-members (rule R3).
The US Sailing Appeals Committee considers appeals from decisions of association appeals committees and the Intercollegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) / Interscholastic Sailing Association (ISSA) Appeals Committee, and appeals from protest committee decisions involving rule 69 (Misconduct) or from protest committee decisions made at US Sailing Championships.
When Required, How Do I Pay My Fee to US Sailing?
You may pay the fee online by purchasing the item on the National Appeal Fee page of the US Sailing Web Store. You may also send a check for the fee to US Sailing at 1 Roger Williams University Way, ATTN: Race Administration Director, Bristol, RI 02809.
What Happens Next?
What Happens After I Send My Appeal to US Sailing?
The Race Administration Director promptly sends it to the appropriate appeals committee. The appellant will receive an acknowledgement from the Director that the appeal has been received, and indicating the appeals committee to which the appeal has been sent. When the appeals committee receives the appeal, it too will send the appellant an acknowledgement letter with further information about the processing of the appeal. In addition, the appeals committee will send the appeal, all relevant documents it has received with the appeal, and a copy of the acknowledgement letter to all the parties and committees involved in the appeal.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Decision on an Appeal?
The time will vary, depending on many factors. If the appeal includes all the required material, and if the appeals committee does not need to request additional material from the protest committee, then the decision will come sooner. If the appeals committee is able to begin consideration on the appeal soon after it is received, the usual time frame for a decision is three months or less. Keep in mind that the deliberation by an appeals committee is done primarily via email and conference calls, not by face-to-face meetings.
What Is the Status of US Sailing Appeals and World Sailing Cases in Deciding Appeals?
A protest committee in the United States whose decision is subject to appeal and is deciding a protest or request for redress that involves a situation and facts similar to those in a US Sailing Appeal is well advised to base its decision on the rules interpretations in the US Sailing Appeal (see Appeal 99).
The World Sailing Cases do not have the status of rules but are “authoritative interpretations and explanations of the rules.” Therefore, when the relevant facts from a protest are essentially similar to the facts of a Case, the interpretations in the Case should be accepted by the protest committee as correct interpretations of the racing rules for that protest.
If an appeal decision changes the scores of a race, is the race committee required to change the scores of the race and, when appropriate, a series? What if the prizes have been awarded? When the decision of a protest committee is changed or reversed upon appeal, the final standings and the awards must be adjusted accordingly (see Case 61).
Who is Involved in the Appeals Process?
Ombudsman for Filing a Grievance or Appealing a Rule 69 Decision
Do you have questions about the process for filing a grievance under Regulation 15 or an appeal of a rule 69 decision? An ombudsman is available to help racing sailors understand what procedures to follow when filing a grievance or an appeal of a rule 69 decision. This position was created by the US Sailing Board of Directors to provide sailors with quick answers to their questions and to help them avoid the pitfalls associated with these processes. Any sailor or official who has questions or needs direction about the filing process may email Robert Lane.
Association Appeals Committees
Each Regional Sailing Association (RSA) has an Appeals Committee, whose function is to decide appeals of local protest and redress decisions from within the RSA’s area. Which Association’s Appeals Committee will hear the appeal is determined by the location in which the event was sailed.
The US Sailing Appeals Committee
The US Sailing Appeals Committee considers and decides appeals; answers questions from US Sailing member organizations regarding interpretations of the racing rules; reviews decisions of Association Appeals Committees when requested; publishes selected decisions of the Appeals Committee; recommends changes in the racing rules to the Racing Rules Committee; and proposes, for approval by the Board, US Sailing appeals for adoption by World Sailing as Cases.
For further assistance, contact the US Sailing Race Administration Director at:
1 Roger Williams University Way
Bristol, RI 02809
US Sailing’s Prescription to rule 70.5(a) requires approval if the right of appeal is to be denied when “it is essential to determine promptly the result of a race that will qualify a boat to compete in a later stage of an event or a subsequent event.”
To learn about the process by which US Sailing’s permission may be granted and other relevant documents, please click the button below.
For more information, please contact the Race Administration Director by email or by phone at 401-342-7900.
Expedited Appeals are available only for US Sailing Protected Competitions (see US Sailing Regulation 12.03).
A Protected Competition is “…a competition held in the United States without an International Jury that US Sailing uses to select U.S. sailors to represent the United States in international competitions, qualify U.S. sailors to be a member of the US Sailing Team, or determine sailors who will receive funding from or through US Sailing. Specifically, an event that:
• Selects U.S. sailors for the Olympics, Paralympics or Pan Am Games
• Selects U.S. sailors for the Youth Olympics
• Selects U.S. sailors for the World Sailing World Championships for Youth, Team Racing and Match Racing (Women and Open), Offshore Sailing or the Nations Cup
• Selects sailors for the US Sailing Team; or determines funding given or directed by US Sailing
For more information, download the Expedited Appeals document below and see the US Sailing Regulations.
Resources Pertaining to the Appeals Process
The Racing Rules of Sailing for 2021-2024 Including US Sailing Prescriptions provides the appeals process from decisions of protest committees (see Appendix R).
Judges who serve on Association Appeals Committees or the US Sailing Appeals Committee can receive Continuing Education credit (20 units per appeal) for appeals they participate in deciding. Please read about recording SOARS credit for AAC or AC service.
A printed copy of The Appeals Book for 2021-2024, Including the World Sailing Case Book for 2021-2024 will be available for pre-order in March 2021 from the US Sailing store.