For the Protest Committee
How to Complete a Protest Form
How to Avoid an Appeal
US Sailing has gone to great lengths to include on its protest form everything that is needed to tell the complete story. This is to give you insight into the reasons that the different sections of the protest form should be carefully completed.
First, please remember that the protest does not have to be on an official US Sailing form, but the protest committee (PC) should fill out an US Sailing protest form and attach the received original protest to it.
The Front Page:
The top right little box is a must. When the PC or its representative receives a protest, immediately fill in the date and time received and by whom. This relates to the validity of the protest.
It may be obvious to fill in the event, type of hearing (most protestors get this confused about redress and protest – explain this to them and correct it if necessary), boat protesting, or boat protested. But often the blanks are not filled in. US Sailing has failed in the boat protested section – the form only asks for the class, sail number and boat name. Make sure that the PC gets and records the protestee’s representative’s name, phone number and email.
#5. Incident is the one item that is required to be identified in writing by the protestor before the hearing along with #7. Description of Incident to comply with the requirements for a valid protest. Everything else can be completed during the hearing.
#6. Informing Protestee is obviously key to the validity of the protest so make sure you have it filled out as per what the protester says, in case he/she forget to complete it before it is turned in.
Diagram – This is so important. If you look on the second page in the FACTS FOUND section, you will see the question about the diagram – does the PC endorse the protester’s diagram or has the PC attached its own? There is a reason for that question. The diagram should match the PCs facts found. As an example, protester’s diagram has her boat on starboard within the two-boat zone and the protested boat on port tack four boat lengths from the mark. However the PC finds, after hearing all the testimony, that the protested boat was in starboard with an inside overlap at the two boat zone, it is obligated to draw a new diagram and include it with the protest (even if the parties to the hearing do not agree with the PC diagram ).
The Back Page:
The statement “THIS SIDE FOR PROTEST COMMITTEE USE Fill in and check as appropriate” means just that – fill in every box, blank and section. You need to ask all the questions even though the answers seem obvious. This is the first thing you do after all the introductions. If the PC finds the protest or request invalid, put the facts found that lead to that conclusion in the FACTS FOUND section and fill out the Protest Committee section at the bottom.
If the hearing continues, the meat of the protest is in the FACTS FOUND. The facts cannot be appealed, only the procedure or decisions of the PC are appealable. Do not overlook such facts as wind direction and speed, current direction and speed, wave conditions, etc. Use actual numbers – instead of “slightly overlapped”, “overlapped by 6 inches” or instead of “she was sailing faster”, “6 knots versus 4 knots”. The more facts the merrier, but save the conclusions for the next section. Repeat – at the bottom of this section is that statement about the diagram - fill it out. Do not wait a week to put the facts found on the form, you will forget an important fact. Keep the notes/list of facts found and complete the form and draw a new diagram, if necessary, when the hearing is done.
The remaining sections are straight forward, but do not neglect the Written decision requested section if it applies, a party to the hearing has seven days to request a copy. This will come into play if the decision is appealed.
The Completed Form:
The hearing is over. Now what? What do you do with the form? The chief judge/PC chairman should keep the originals and all the notes that each member of the PC has taken. He/she will be the one that most likely the Appeals Committee will contact. If the PC has the luxury of a copier, make a copy for the organizing authority. How long to keep the forms? Well, a party to the hearing has seven days to ask for a written copy and then 15 days after receiving the copy to get the appeal to US Sailing, so I recommend keeping the forms, all the notes, the NOR and Sis for a year (I bet there are some out there that still have the first protest form that they ever heard…).
To get more detailed information on filling out the form, get a copy of the new US Sailing Judges’ Manual 2017-2020. Also reading some decisions in the Appeals Manual 2017-2020 and the ISAF Case Book will give some insight into the logic of finding facts and demonstrations of good diagramming.