There were a few questions about rule 69 on the weekend, so here is the rule and below that an Authoritative interpretation in World Sailing Case 138.

69.1 Obligation not to Commit Misconduct; Resolution
(a) A competitor, boat owner or support person shall not commit an act of misconduct.
(b) Misconduct is:
(1) conduct that is a breach of good manners, a breach of good sportsmanship, or unethical behaviour; or
(2) conduct that may bring, or has brought, the sport into disrepute.

The definition of misconduct is pretty broad – it covers a wide scale and is no longer restricted to “Gross Misconduct” as the rule used to be.

This means that the range of penalties for committing misconduct are quite broad, from a warning to Do not Exclude scores in multiple races and with an ability to refer a matter for further action.

To provide more detail on what actions would be considered misconduct, World Sailing has published an authoritative case on misconduct.

CASE 138

Rule 2, Fair Sailing
Rule 69, Misconduct

Generally, an action by a competitor that directly affects the fairness of the competition or failing to take an appropriate penalty when the competitor is aware of breaking a rule, should be considered under rule 2. Any action, including a serious breach of rule 2 or any other rule, that the committee considers may be an act of misconduct should be considered under rule 69.

Question 1 When there has been an action by a person that might be considered to be bad sportsmanship or misconduct, what actions might constitute misconduct?

Answer 1 Rule 69 covers all acts of misconduct, and may range from a very minor misdemeanour to a very significant act of bad sportsmanship or bringing the sport into disrepute. The following actions should be considered as examples of acts of misconduct, but they are not exclusive examples and this is not a definitive list:

1. Engaging in any unlawful activity (for example, theft, assault, criminal damage)
2. Engaging in any activity which may bring the sport into disrepute
3. Bullying, discriminatory behaviour and intimidation
4. Physical or threatened violence
5. Acting recklessly or in manner that does, or is likely to, cause damage or injury
6. Disobeying the reasonable instructions of event officials
7. Intentionally breaking a rule or inciting others to break a rule
8. Interference with another competitor’s equipment
9. Repeated breaches of a rule
10. Failing to act to prevent your boat or team breaking a rule when you are aware of that breach
11. Not telling the truth or the whole truth in a hearing
12. Other forms of cheating such as falsifying personal, class or measurement documents, entering a boat known not to measure, missing out a mark to gain places, etc.
13. Foul or abusive language that causes or may cause offence
14. Making abusive or disrespectful comments concerning race officials or their decisions (including via electronic means such as social media)

Question 2 When should a protest committee proceed under rule 2 and when should it proceed under rule 69?

Answer 2 A boat may be protested for a breach of rule 2 and the protest committee is required to hear and decide the protest. To uphold a protest for an alleged breach of rule 2, the protest committee is required to clearly establish that a boat has not competed in compliance with recognized principles of sportsmanship and fair play. It follows that the action must directly involve the competition for a breach of rule 2 to be established.

A protest committee may protest a boat for a breach of rule 2, but it may decide that action under rule 69 is more appropriate, or in some circumstances action under both. Generally, an allegation of an action that directly affects the competition should be subject to protest under rule 2.

An action that is considered to be an act of misconduct and that does not directly affect the competition should be subject to action under rule 69.

A protest and the subsequent hearing under any rule, including rule 2, may reveal conduct that the protest committee considers to be an act of misconduct. In that case it may be appropriate for the protest committee to take separate action under rule 69.

Facts for Question 3 A boat is sailing upwind on port tack and attempts to cross ahead of a boat on starboard tack. The port-tack boat misjudges the cross and fails to keep clear. Question 3 Has the port-tack boat intentionally broken a rule?

Answer 3 No. A misjudgment such as this is common during a race and is not unfair sailing or an act of misconduct. In order for it to be unfair sailing or an act of misconduct, there must be evidence that the boat knew or should have known that she would not make the cross and attempted to do so anyway.

However, when the port-tack boat realizes that she has failed to keep clear, she has knowingly broken a rule and must take the appropriate penalty. Otherwise she has broken a recognized principle of sportsmanship (see the first Basic Principle, Sportsmanship and the Rules).