Preparing for the Hearing
Preparing for any hearing starts long before the actual protest hearing.
Did you remember the incident? How you got there? Who was around you? ( sail numbers, names, colors ).
When you are in a hearing, the more exact you are with regards to all of the above will go a long way to helping your case. Judges will be able to apply the right rule in the majority of cases but need Facts to determine their conclusions.
Add to the above
How fast where you going
Where was the wind
How far apart were the boats
Was there current- did have an effect on the incident
Was the red flag flown and exact how long after the incident.
Was the exact word “Protest” used. Any other word is not acceptable.
What leg of the course were you on
Were you on port or starboard
Were you changing course or tacking. Was the tack complete by the rule (RRS 13 ).
A skipper is responsible to be totally aware of what is taking place around them. Not knowing is a good way to lose the decision.
All of these reminders will offer the opportunity for you case to be properly evaluated by the protest committee ( also known as the jury ).
If the incident, including where and when it occurred is included when the written protest is filed in, part (a) identifying the protestor and protestee can be added to the protest, but it must be done anytime before the hearing. NOT during the hearing.
The other requirements can be met before or during a hearing.
But If the protestee is not identified in time then the protest will be ruled invalid.
Also remember that you may not protest a race committee or protest committee, but you can always seek redress.
No one can deny you the right to seek redress. The redress request must be heard by the PC ( protest committee ). The hearing will be opened and validity will be checked ( filed in a timely manor and if not is there “good” reason to extend the time limit ).
What do I do in the hearing? What am I allowed to do? How and when do I do it.
Appendix M is an advisory section at the back of the rule book which suggest how hearings should be conducted. In general the sequence should take place as follows.
The PC should introduce themselves to all parties to the protest.
They should ask you if you object to any member of the PC ( conflict of interest ). Please note that it is not a conflict of interest if a member of the PC has been on a committee that has ruled against you ).
They should ask you if you have seen the protest and if you have had time to prepare ( you have the right to ask for more time to prepare if there is proper reason, but this is not an automatic ).
The PC will check to see if the incident and the information on the protestee and protestor are on the form ( see RRS ).
The PC will see if the protest is valid, turned in on time, red flag flown at the first reasonable opportunity ( usually less than 10 seconds ) and was “ protest” hailed ( no other word or words ).
The PC may ask a few questions and then decide validity.
The protestor, then the protestee will present their description of the incident.
Each of the above will question each other ( the protestee should go first ). Remember to ask questions which will help establish facts for the PC.
The protest committee members will question the parties
Witnesses can be called by the parties, but remember witnesses who are not on either boat that is a party to the hearing will carry more weight than those from the boats involved. Witnesses should be very precise in their testimony and present clear facts or they may under mind your case ( this happens more than you think ).
The protestee questions the protestor’s witness and vice versa
A member of the Protest Committee who witnessed the incident may testify, but the details of their testimony must only be given before the parties and during the hearing, not during deliberations.
Each party will be asked to give a Short summary.
The protest committee with draw a diagram of the incident or endorse one provided, but note that it may be one that reflects facts found, not the one drawn by the parties.
The PC will find facts, decide what rules that apply, decide if a boat broke a rule, make a conclusion and make a decision.
If a party to the hearing wants a copy of the decision they my ask for it in writing, but many PCs will give on upon request if a copy can be easily obtained.