Regatta Operations: Protest Committee Organization

The US Sailing Judges Manual is updated every four years in conjunction with each revision of the Racing Rules of Sailing. This information is a part of Regatta Operations and organizing a Protest Committee.

Each Protest Committee (PC) must have a chair to act as presiding officer and spokesperson. When it is necessary for the PC to speak to the Race Committee (RC), competitors, the Organizing Authority (OA), the press, or others, the chair should be the spokesperson for the PC. The chair derives its authority from the PC as a whole and has only one vote. The chair should be certain that the opinions of each judge are heard and considered by the entire PC and be willing to act as directed by the consensus in spite of personal desires. Whenever possible, the chair should be a US Sailing Certified Judge. When a prospective judge is serving as chair to gain experience, the panel should contain a least one US Sailing Certified Judge to provide guidance and advice as necessary.

When the PC divides into more than one panel to hear and decide protests, the chair of each panel should, if possible, be a US Sailing Certified Judge (or international equivalent). For consistency, the chair may decide to have all requests for redress on the same subject heard by the same panel.

A jury that is on the water will monitor race procedures to note errors. In these cases, judges assist and advise the RC. They do not supervise or direct the RC. A good jury will note signals made on the water and their timing and tactfully alert the Principal Race Officer (PRO) if something does not comply with the racing rules. The jury chair (or an appointee) should only communicate to the RC through its PRO (or to a person delegated by the PRO). Communication with the PRO, particularly when there are rules or procedural issues, is best done in person rather than over the radio.

When the jury is on the water and all racing is conducted on a single course, the jury will normally operate as a single unit. This permits the jury to work together and make decisions that require input by the full jury to be decided on the spot. When the racing is being conducted on more than one course, there are benefits in splitting the jury to have a presence on each course. When the jury has on-the-water responsibility for enforcing rule 42 (Propulsion), the jury will usually be divided into pairs of judges in separate boats.

In addition to general judging responsibilities, members of the jury may be asked by the chair to assume some specific responsibilities. These duties may include recorder or secretary, observer assigned to a particular area of the racecourse or pilot to direct the operator of the jury boat especially when maneuvering close to competitors.

For more information on Race Management, purchase the US Sailing Judges Manual for 2013 – 2016 through our website.