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The PC derives its authority from the RRS. The OA may in some cases provide specific instructions extending the responsibilities and authority of the PC. The responsibility for conducting races rests with the RC. The PC and RC are expected to work together harmoniously to provide the best possible competition for the sailors.
· Rule 91(a) describes a committee appointed by the OA or the RC.
· Rule 91(b) describes an international jury appointed by the OA or as prescribed in the ISAF regulations and meeting the requirements of Appendix N.
The US SAILING Judges Committee has subdivided the above categories into Class A, Class B and Class C.
· CLASS A - A PC appointed by the RC and available for consultation at the request of the RC. This PC is normally limited to hearing protests and requests for redress.
· CLASS B – A PC appointed by the OA and separate from and independent of the RC. This committee, usually referred to as a jury, hears protests and requests for redress and has additional responsibilities as specified in the conditions or regulations governing the event or in the SIs.
· CLASS C – A properly constituted international jury appointed by the OA under Appendix N (International Juries). It hears protests and requests for redress and accepts other responsibilities as directed by the OA under rule N2. See rule 91(b).
Either a RC or an OA may appoint the PC, but neither has the right to direct the PC or change the PC’s decision.
The PC has the authority to interpret and apply the RRS, and government laws or regulations. This may include a U.S. Coast Guard regulation, when the sailing instructions state that those replace the rules of Part 2 (see the preamble to Part 2 of the RRS). SIs must be considered carefully and worded clearly when referring to government regulations because the PC will have to interpret the requirements. For example, boats arriving from outside the jurisdiction of a particular government regulation may find it difficult to comply with unique local laws regarding safety equipment.
The OA must decide who will appoint the PC for an event and whether it will have any responsibilities other than hearing protests and requests for redress. It is seldom wise to give the PC responsibility to supervise the RC. Unless the OA specifies otherwise in writing, all race management decisions are the responsibility of the RC.
The function of a PC is to ensure the fairness of the competition and in the administration of the rules. This duty is not the same as RC duty. The functions of the PC do not in any way replace the functions of the RC. The RC and PC should work together as a team. A good working relationship between the PC and RC will encourage the RC to seek desired input from the PC. The PC may also advise the RC if it sees or anticipates any situations that will impact the safety of the competitors or the fairness of the competition.
While a good relationship between the RC and the PC is of great importance, judges and race officers must take care to maintain a professional association with their counterparts in the view of the competitors. If the PC and RC are constantly seen to be close and casual, competitors may find it hard to believe that, in cases of requests for redress, the RC has not influenced the PC.
A PC usually consists of three to five members, but the rules do not prohibit a PC consisting of one judge. (see Appeal 42). A minimum of three qualified judges is recommended. An international jury is constituted of at least five members. The size and composition of an international jury is specified in Appendix N (International Juries).
Protest committees holding a hearing under rule 69 (Allegations of Gross Misconduct) must consist of at least three judges. Because of the sensitive nature of such a hearing, all the judges in a rule 69 hearing should, if possible, be highly experienced and be US SAILING Judges. Chapter 10 of this manual provides guidance for these hearings.
When more than one panel of judges is needed for an event, panels may be seated in groups of three or five. Although an odd number on the PC is desirable to avoid tied votes, the PC chair may be given a casting vote in the event of a tie vote in a panel with an even number of judges. A PC larger than five members tends to operate slowly.
At higher-level events, the PC chair should be a US SAILING Judge or Senior Judge whenever possible. Other members of the PC should be a mix of certified and non-certified judges. Even when there is an ample supply of certified judges, every PC should try to include at least one qualified but uncertified judge, if possible, so that the trainee will have the opportunity to gain experience toward eventual certification. Every PC member should be qualified as to rules knowledge, racing and race management experience and personal characteristics. Unqualified persons should not serve on a PC, but may be admitted to listen to the evidence phase of the hearing as observers.
An ideal PC will have one member who is particularly familiar with the type of boat being raced and another with good local knowledge of weather and geography. To the extent possible, a PC should represent a breadth of geographic diversity similar to that of the competitors. In a hearing, it is useful to assign one juror responsibility for maintaining procedural integrity and another juror (generally referred to as the ‘scribe’) the task of writing the facts, conclusions and decisions.
Whether appointed by the OA or the RC, the PC chair should be appointed well in advance of the event so that there is plenty of time to perform preliminary duties. For a youth event or other special event, a PC chair with the relevant experience and ability should be appointed. Often the PC chair will be consulted about other qualified candidates. All should be qualified judges and the majority should be US SAILING Judges. The goal is to select judges who will get along well together and complement one another’s skills.
A PC or jury secretary can improve the efficiency of the PC greatly, reduce the time that competitors have to wait to have protests heard and improve communication with all parties. At a major regatta, in the absence of this secretary, these tasks will have to be assigned to various members of the PC. The functions of the secretary are described in detail in Section 5.2 (Jury Secretary) of this manual.
An excellent source of advice for selecting and organizing PCs is the US SAILING RAJ whose region includes the host club of an event. Names, addresses, phone, fax and e-mail addresses of RAJs are available on the US SAILING website and the US SAILING office. RAJs will provide lists of certified and prospective judges in their regions. Information about certified judges is shown by geographic area on the US SAILING website. (See www.ussailing.org/judges).
US SAILING is the OA and sponsor for a series of national championships. Most of these championships are sailed annually and are hosted by different clubs in different areas of the country each time. Many have a series of qualifying "ladder" events through which sailors qualify to enter the national finals.
To ensure consistent quality in judging and race management for these championships, US SAILING has minimum standards of certification for the appointment of the race officials. Since these standards may change over time, the latest version should be reviewed when preparing for a US SAILING championship. The current version is available on the US SAILING website (See www.ussailing.org/championships).
Additionally, US SAILING’s Prescription to Rule 70.5(a) requires its approval if the right of appeal is to be denied in cases where “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.” In the past, many US SAILING Championships used a non-appealable protest committee. With this new prescription, these events would need to apply for such a non-appealable role. Section 11.1.1 provides some additional guidance in such situations.
· No person may serve as a member of the PC at an event in which any competitor in the event is a close relative.
· Volunteers in any capacity are expected to subordinate their personal and individual interests to the interests of the event and the sport of sailing. See US SAILING Regulation 14.04 in section 2.4 of this manual.
· Except in illness or emergency, the PC shall consist of a minimum of three judges.
· Whenever possible, the OA shall use its best efforts to appoint a majority of US SAILING Judges to the PC at fleet racing events.
· Whenever possible, the OA shall use its best efforts to appoint a majority of US SAILING Umpires to umpired events.
· Recommend and encourage (but not require) the appointment of a US SAILING Judge (any level) as PC chair.
· At match or team racing events, require the appointment of a US SAILING Umpire for chief umpire.
· Recommend and encourage the appointment of a US SAILING Senior Judge for PC chair, but accept a US SAILING Judge.
· Require the appointment of a US SAILING Senior Judge as PC chair.
· Require a majority of the PC to be US SAILING Judges.
The only exception shall be a reduction in certification level.
If the requirements for an appointment cannot be met after allowing for exceptions, the Judges Committee shall make an appointment of certified judges.
At match or team racing events, require the appointment of a US SAILING Umpire for chief umpire. Require a minimum of one half of the umpire team to be US SAILING Umpires.
Setting up a PC for a US SAILING Championships involves coordination between several different people: the US SAILING championships director, the chair of the US SAILING committee responsible for the championship, the event chair of the host club, the RAJ in the host club’s area and, sometimes, the Umpires Committee and/or the Judges Committee.
In the qualifying levels, the host club will usually appoint the PC. For fleet racing events, the RAJ for the host club’s area should be consulted for recommendations on PC members. At national finals, the committee chair of the specific championship will execute the duties of the
OA on behalf of US SAILING. Consequently, the committee chair has the lead responsibility to appoint the PC. The committee chair should consult with the host club event chair on the choice of PC Chair. For national finals, the Judges Committee recommends that the PC Chair come from a different US SAILING Area than the host club.
Once the PC Chair is appointed, the committee chair and PC Chair should work as a team to appoint the remaining certified judges for the PC. At the finals, it is imperative for the reputation of the championship to have a top-flight PC that has geographic distribution and expertise in the style of boats being used.
If on-the-water rule 42 enforcement is planned, all the members of the PC should have experience in enforcing rule 42 and be knowledgeable on the latest interpretations for judging rule 42. Since these championships are also excellent experience for a promising potential judge, the Judges Committee encourages PC Chairs to save a place on the PC for a non-certified judge. Any non-certified judges should have the personal recommendation of either the PC Chair or the RAJ of the host club, and prior approval of the Judges Committee.
Similarly, for match and team racing championships, the Umpires Committee should be proactively involved well in advance to ensure a quality umpiring team. At the qualifying events, the Umpires Committee and the RAJ are excellent sources of recommendations for umpires, both certified and non-certified. At the national finals, the Umpires Committee should approve all non-certified umpires prior to invitations being made.
The appointing authority and individual judges have a joint responsibility to scrupulously avoid not only conflict of interest, but also the appearance of conflict of interest. As required by rule 63.4 (Interested Party) judges may not be on the PC if they may gain or lose as a result of the decision or are seen to have a close personal interest in the decision; and they must declare any possible self-interest as soon as they are aware of it.
Rule 63.4 prohibits a judge from sitting on a PC when a family member is competing in any way against the parties of the hearing. It is not sufficient for the judge to step down for only those hearings where the family member is a party to the hearing. A judge should never be appointed when there is a potential for a conflict of interest. A judge must decline an invitation if being an interested party is a possibility. If a conflict of interest is discovered at the time of the event, the judge must step down.
If a judge finds himself in a situation in which there is a potential for conflict of interest, the judge must recuse himself. For example, a judge who heard a protest would recuse himself from sitting on any appeal committee deliberation of that protest.
Conflict of interest exists if a judge has a close personal, business, or family tie to a contestant; if there has been a significant adversarial relationship with a contestant; or if a judge has an interest in a competing boat. This would include contributions to a syndicate or campaign. No individual may ever judge and compete in the same race. When a PC cannot be formed without using an interested party, it is preferable to defer the hearing until constituting a properly constituted PC.
The citizenship of a judge or a judge’s membership in an OA or particular club is not by itself a conflict of interest. However, a party to a hearing may perceive it to be so. For perhaps this reason, some larger championships are following an approach used by International Juries and selecting the PC Chair from another club than the host.
The giving of testimony by a judge in a hearing is not a conflict of interest. However, as will be described in later Chapters, the judge must be treated as a witness, including being questioned by parties and PC members.
The primary function of the PC is to resolve disputes so that the competitors feel they have had a hearing that was fair and that the PC acted in strict compliance with the rules. The hearing should be conducted in a formal but friendly way. Each party to the hearing should feel his evidence has been considered seriously. It is extremely important to avoid situations where one party to a hearing is in the protest room while another is not. Do not invite parties into the protest room until all parties are present or it is certain that a party will not attend the hearing.
The PC chair is responsible for the PC as a whole, but the chair need not conduct every hearing. Conducting a hearing requires special administrative and interpersonal skills, which take time to develop. Rotating responsibility for conducting hearings is an excellent way for other PC members to develop the skills required to chair a hearing. No PC member should be forced to conduct a hearing if they are not comfortable in that role. In general, a PC member should be willing to conduct a hearing when invited to do so if they understand that they can recess the hearing at any time and request the guidance of others who are more experienced.
A PC should arrive at all protest decisions through consensus and should hear from each judge before making a difficult decision. The PC should try to construct a decision that is acceptable to every judge. Honest differences of opinion should be considered carefully. Each PC member should approach decision-making in a spirit of respect for other members of the PC and be willing to compromise.
A PC can expect questions about their decision. Defer to the chair for that explanation. The hearing chair should explain the facts found in a non-confrontational manner. The facts as found may not be what really happened, but they represent what the PC thinks happened based on all the evidence brought to it.
A judge should not discuss or reveal the internal debates, disputes, or deliberations to anyone outside the PC. Some deliberations result in a split decision, even after an extended period. Unanimity is desirable but not always possible. A judge with a minority view must never publicly criticize the majority decision.