One of the best and worst things about sailing is that it is a self governing sport in that there are no umpires on the water (at least for most of the racing we all do). The competitors keep each other honest and sailing in a Corinthian manner. It is great because it tends to keep it more fun and relaxed, the calls on the water typically stay on the water and there are fewer hard feelings. The downside to this, is that if you don’t know the rules or as the rules change (they change every 4 years following the Olympics) it is hard to manage because you have boats sailing under different understanding of the rules and with few calls or discussions an understanding of the rules is hard to spread across the entire fleet.
One way to help all sailors grow, get a better understanding of the rules and also keep sailing fun is called 5 Minutes of Justice (In the Laser fleet we say 3 minutes but it always goes long). If you are fouled, you protest your opponent and display a red flag. At the end of the race, you can decide whether to go to the protest room (official protest) or ask for 5 minutes of justice (this can even be done if the other boat does their turns but there is a question on the rules). In the 5 minute of justice each side gets 5 minutes to state their case in front of a judge, and then the judge discusses the case and rules. This is done in an open forum so that everyone in the club learns. And the results are not binding; the results of the hearing do not effect the scores, they are just done for learning purposes. In this way everyone learns, scores are not effected, and people stay friends after the protest.
For our series races, we might want to put this in as a way to keep it fun and educational. Would love to hear what everyone thinks.