Bill Handley Rules OK

 

 Bill Handley

THIS SITE IS NOW FULLY UPDATED TO TAKE ACCOUNT OF THE CHANGES TO THE RACING RULES OF SAILING 2017-20. The World Sailing (previously ISAF) Case Book has not been published so case number have not been changed although it is unlikely they will be anyway - this will be checked as soon as the Case Book is published. The abbreviation of ISAF has been changed to WS where appropriate.

Hi - my name is Bill Handley a National Judge living in Cornwall UK. I spend my summers racing boats ranging from an RS 400 asymmetric dinghy to a Falmouth working boat called Florence, 28 ft long with an 18 ft bowsprit, gaff rigged, weighing 11 tons, no engine and built in 1895. I also race a variety of keel boats and sports boats.

When not racing I put my judging hat on and attend events in the UK and the rest of Europe as a judge (either on or off the water) and do a bit of partial fleet umpiring.

I have put together some interesting cases that I have come across in my judging roles which I hope will be useful to others. All the cases quoted have been confirmed by either WS or RYA appeals cases or have been the subject of WS Q&As so the results may be considered to be fairly authoritative. Some are written up in the form of a question and others just as a case study - no reason for this other than some situations lend themselves more to one approach than the other.

The diagrams for the cases have been constructed using the excellent Tactical Sailing Situations software and I do advise anyone wishing to become seriously involved with the rules to visit their website and down load this software for what is a very modest fee.

Finally if anyone wants to discuss further aspects of a case, would like me to create a case around their specific issue or would like some additional explanation I will be more than happy to enter in to direct correspondence by email on billandlyndahandley@gmail.com This is the same address to use if wanted to engage me for work in connection with judging events, publication of articles, vetting and production of race documents, rules talks and other related subjects.

INDEX

Case 1 - Start Line - the limitations on a right of way boat changing course at the start

Case 2- Windward Mark - the obligations on a leeward boat to bear away

Case 3 - Rules when tacking - considerations of the rules that apply when tacking from port to starboard

Case 4 - No luffing rights - the rights and obligations when a boat established a leeward overlap from astern

Case 5 - Clear ahead - a  case study of a leeward mark rounding showing how the rules apply regarding a boat sailing her proper course.

Case 6 - Hold your course - The rights of a starboard boat to change course, the effect of the hail "hold your course" and a discussion on hailing in general

Case 7 - Starboard boat as an obstruction - the rights of a port tack boat to bear away to avoid a starboard boat

Case 8 - Tacking clear ahead at a windward mark - looking at the limited rights of a clear ahead boat to tack at a windward mark

Case 9 -  Overlapped or clear ahead at the zone - examining when a boat might be overlapped or clear ahead at a leeward mark

Case10 - Four sub cases dealing with the rights and obligations of boats whan hailing for room to tack at an obstruction

10a - When the hailed boat refuses to respond

10b - When the hailing boat delays tacking

10c - When the hailed boat responds "you tack"

10d- At a finish line when one boat can fetch the Committee Boat

Case 11 - Fair sailing - Penalties when a boat deliberatly breaks a rule at the start to win a series

Case 12 - Sailing the course - Where a boat is forced the wrong side of a mark by another boat breaking a rule.

Case 13 - When a right of way boat is forced over the line on a Black Flag start.

Case 14 - Leeward mark out of control - the rights and obligations of an inside boat that loses control at the leeward mark

Case 15 - Sailing the Course - The course to sail when the SIs require a mark to be looped.

Case 16 - Shortened Course - When the Committee boat is stationed on the "wrong" side of a rounding mark.

Case 17 - Individual Recall Error - Redress when a RC makes an error in signaling an indiviadual recall

Case 18 - You can't "luff as you please" - A boat not flying a spinnaker luffing one that is

Case 19 - Dummy Tack - The risks involved in trying to escape cover using a dummy tack

Case 20 - Gybing at a leeward mark - a case study on the different rights of an inside boat depending on which side the mark has to be passed

Case 21 - Leeward gate Indecision - the rights of a boat at a leeward mark to change her mind as to which mark to go for.

Case 22 - Keep clear of boats that are racing - the rights and obligations whan a boat racing meets one that has not yet started racing

Case 23 - Damage after a general recall - a look at the penalties and rights of redress in these circumstances

Case 24 - An IDM at the start - Dangers of poorly drawn SIs when an IDM is laid

Case 25 - Propulsion Rules - when they no longer apply at the finish

Case 26 - An IDM at the finish - problems when an IDM at the finish is on the non course side of the line

Case 27 - Missing out the last mark - what the RC should do if it sees a boat sail the wrong course

Case 28 - Mark room at the finish.

Case 29 - Keep Clear - the obligations of a port boat to keep clear of a starboard boat in a multi boat situation.

Case 30 - The right to protest a boat that has retired or been disqualified and exemptions to normal protest requirements

Case 31 - the rights and obligations of boats where a boat establishes an overlap from clear astern between two other boats on the same tack

Case 1 Start Line - changing course

Situation

On a windward start line Blue is making a start on port tack. Yellow has arrived early and is reaching along the start line on starboard tack. In position 1 the start gun goes. Blue continues to sail on port tack without changing course. Yellow luffs onto a close hauled course and in position 3 comes into conflict with Blue.

Question

In a valid protest what would the decision be -

a) Disqualify blue

b) Disqualify yellow

c) Disqualify blue and yellow

d) Do not disqualify either boat.

Answer

b) Disqualify yellow

Explanation

Throughout the incident the boats are on opposite tacks so the right of way rule 10 applies and blue has to keep clear of yellow - defined in these circumstances as allowing yellow to sail her course (any course of her choosing) without yellow having to take avoiding action.

In position 1 blue is keeping clear of yellow as if both boats had continued on their courses blue would have passed ahead of yellow.

In position 2 the same is true even after yellow has started to change course. This can be demonstrated by creating an alternative position 3 for yellow directly ahead and on the same course as yellow's position 2 - again blue is passing ahead.

Between position 2 and position 3 yellow further changes course in such a way so that blue is no longer keeping clear of her.

Rule 16.1 places a general limitation on yellow as right of way boat so that if she changes course she must give blue room to keep clear. Yellow changes course so close to blue that between positions 2 and 3 blue has no opportunity to keep clear and yellow therefore breaks rule 16.1

As yellow has broken rule 16.1 she should be disqualified. Blue has broken rule 10 by failing to keep clear of yellow but as she has been compelled to break that rule by yellow breaking rule 16.1 blue is exonerated under rule 64.1(a)

It does not matter that yellow is sailing her proper course - there is no general right or requirement for a boat to sail her proper course. Nor does it matter that it was apparent to all that yellow would alter course in this way - blue only has to respond to what yellow is doing and not what she may do in the future.

If the boats were further apart and the Protest Committee found as a fact that after yellow had altered course blue had time to keep clear but failed to do so then the PC would disqualify blue under rule 10 and find that yellow had broken no rule - when she changed course she gave blue room (time and space) to keep clear.

Case 2 Windward mark - bear away

Situation

Blue and Yellow are approaching the windward mark on a close hauled course with yellow overlapped to windward. The proper course for both boats is to bear away to the next mark which is some way to leeward. In position 3 blue continues to sail on a close hauled course while yellow hails him to bear away.

Question

Does blue have to bear away ? 

Answer

This is a bit of a trick question as the answer is that from the facts provided you just can't tell. There is no doubt that the proper course ( the course they would sail to finish as quickly as possible) for both boats is to bear away however there is no general rule that requires a boat to sail her proper course.In certain circumstance ( rule 17) a boat may not sail above her proper course, in other circumstances ( rule 18.4) a boat my not sail beyond her proper course before gybing and if entitled to mark-room a boat may in certain circumstances sail her proper course  (rule 18.2(c)(2) but to repeat - there is no general rule that requires a boat to sail her proper course.

The answer in this cased will be determined on whether or not one of the specific circumstances requires blue to sail any particular course in relation to her proper course which is to bear away.

1) If the overlap was established by yellow from clear astern and to windward then none of the specific circumstances exist and blue may continue to sail close hauled with yellow required to keep clear under rule 11.

2) If on the other hand the overlap was established by blue from clear astern and to leeward within two of her hull lengths of yellow then blue is subject to rule 17 and for the duration of the overlap may not sail above her proper course unless in doing so she promptly sails astern of yellow which clearly isn't happening in this case. Blue must bear away and sail no higher than her proper course.

It must be clearly understood that at no time does the requirement of yellow to keep clear of blue under rule 11 change. Even if blue breaks rule 17 by sailing above her proper course after situation 2 above yellow must still keep clear and her only sanction against blue is to protest. If she fails to keep clear she breaks rule 11 and in a valid protest would also be disqualified.

Case 3 - Rules when tacking

Not a question but just an illustration of how the four basic right of way rules apply in a very common situation like tacking. This is why it is never enough having worked out which of the r-o-w rules apply in any situation ( bear in mind that one and only one will apply in any situation) but to keep your eye on the ball because the rule that applies and therefore the relevant rights and obligations will similarly change.

The manoeuvre in question is a tack from port to starboard by yellow and her rights and obligations in respect of blue who continues to sail close hauled on port. Given that this manoeuvre will only take about 5 seconds in a dinghy and not much longer even in a large keel boat it makes it clear just how quickly the rules can change.

Position 1 - Both boats are on port tack with yellow clear ahead of blue (see 90 degree stern line) so that blue has to keep clear of yellow under rule 12.

Position 2 - Yellow is starting to tack but has not yet gone beyond head to wind and is therefore still on the same tack as blue. Blue is now overlapped to windward of yellow (see 90 degree stern line) so that blue still has to keep clear of yellow but now under rule 11

Position 3 - Yellow has gone beyond head to wind but is not yet on her close hauled course and is therefore subject to rule 13. Crucially under rule 13 yellow now has to keep clear of blue.

Position 4 - Yellow is now in close hauled starboard and meets blue on close hauled port. The right of way switches again and blue must now keep clear of yellow under rule 10

Of course it isn't just the right of way rules that are in play. Because yellow acquired her right of way in position 4 through her own actions then under rule 15 she must initially give blue room to keep clear which as can be seen from the diagram she has not.

In a valid protest yellow would be disqualified under rule 15. Blue has broken rule 10 in position 4 by not keeping clear of yellow but as she was compelled to do so as a result of blue breaking a rule she is exonerated under rule 64.1(a). Blue does not have to anticipate that yellow will become r-o-w boat and does not have to start keeping clear until she actually becomes keep clear boat see WS Case 27. 

Case 4 No Luffing Rights 

Situation

Yellow and blue are sailing on a reach on their proper course to the next mark which is some way ahead of them. yellow establishes an overlap from clear astern and to leeward of blue about one hull length away. Yellow then luffs gently in a manner such that blue could keep clear. Blue hails " no luffing rights"and does not respond adequately to the luff. Yellow continues to luff and makes contact where there is no damage or injury.

Question

In a valid protest should the decision be -

a) Disqualify yellow

b) Disqualify blue

c) Disqualify both

d) Disqualify neither

Answer

c) Disqualify both

Explanation

In position 1 yellow is clear astern of blue and has to keep clear of her under rule 12 and this she does.

In position 2 blue is now required to keep clear of yellow under rule 11 which she does. Yellow has to initially give blue room to keep clear under rule 15 and must not sail above her proper course because she established the overlap from clear astern, to leeward and within two of her hull lengths - rule 17.

In position 3 yellow breaks rule 17 by sailing above her proper course - her only defence in a protest would be to argue that suddenly changing course was her proper course (the course she would sail to finish as quickly as possible if blue were not there) which as she has been sailing straight towards to next mark for some time would be hard to prove. Blue has to keep clear under rule 11 which she does but hails "no luffing rights".

In position 4 yellow continues to luff breaking rule 17. Blue refuses to respond to the luff and fails to keep clear breaking rule 11. Blue is not entitled to exoneration under rule 64.1(a) as she was not compelled to break rule 11 - she was given plenty of room (time and space to meet her obligations under rule 11) as windward boat to keep clear but chose not to, instead trying to enforce her imagined rights under rule 17.

Blue has also broken rule 14 by failing to avoid contact which was avoidable. Yellow has also broken rule 14 but because she is right of way boat and there has been no damage or injury she is exonerated - see rule 14.

Decision

Both boats have broken rules with no exoneration and therefore both boats should be disqualified. This clearly illustrates the point that just because rule 17 takes rights away from a leeward boat, at no time does it relieve the windward boat of it's obligations to keep clear under rule 11.

Had yellow changed course so suddenly that blue could not keep clear then yellow would have also broken rule 16.1. In those circumstance blue would be entitled to exoneration under rule 64.1(a) because her breach of rule 11 would have be compelled by yellow breaking a rule.

Case 5 Clear ahead

This case study has been inspired by a number of protests in which I was involved (as a PC member) under the 2009/12 rules. The decisions caused some surprise and in at least one case anger because there was a change in the rules from the 2005/8 position that was not fully understood by the sailing community at large. The 2013/6 rules to a very great extent reversed the changes so this study is intended to clear up the matter. There has to be at least a suspicion that what we have ended up with is what the rule makers intended al along.

The situation is two asymmetric dinghies approaching a port hand leeward mark on starboard tack. Blue enters the zone clear ahead of yellow and does not sail towards the mark but sails on her existing course to maintain best VMG. Blue gybes onto port to sail to the mark and encounters yellow who has been "comimg in hot" from clear astern on starboard. Blue bears away to avoid yellow. Yellow gybes on her proper course to sail to the mark. Blue hardens up towards the mark and follows yellow from clear astern.

Under both old and new rules as blue entered the zone clear ahead she is entitled to mark-room. Under the old rules as clarified by an appeal case that room was in effect a direct corridor from where she entered the zone to a position close alongside the mark. As blue sailed out of the corridor she was not taking mark room to which she was entitled and therefore not entitled to exoneration under rule 21 if she broke a part 2 Sect A rule. In position 3 blue on port avoids yellow on starboard so no rule was broken by either boat.

Since the 2013/6 rules blue is still entiled to mark room because she is clear ahead but additionally under rule 18.2(c)(2) she is entitled to room to sail her proper course when overlapped with yellow. Proper course is the course blue would sail to finish the race as soon as possible in the absence of the other boat and that is exactly what she is doing. Now when blue meets yellow in position 3 yellow has to give blue room to sail her proper course which she fails to do in this case and so breaks rules 18.2(b) and 18.2(c)(2).

Had blue not taken avoiding action in position 3 and forced yellow to gybe to avoid her she would have broken rule 10 but been exonerated under rule 21(a) which provides for exoneration for any boat entitled to room or mark-room that breaks a Sect A rule (rules 10-13) or rules 15 and 16.

So a complete reversal of the position under the previous rules and back to something which seems to make more sense in strengthening the rights of the boat clear ahead,

Case 6 Hold your course

Situation

Yellow and blue are approaching each other on opposite tacks on a beat, yellow on starboard blue on port. Yellow who is sailing a little free hails "starboard" and blue who estimates that yellow will pass astern of her hails "hold your course". Yellow hardens up and changes course so that after sailing for several boat lengths she comes into conflict with blue.

Question

In a valid protest would the decision be -

a) Disqualify blue

b) Disqualify yellow

c) Disqualify both

d) Disqualify neither

Answer

a) Disqualify blue

Explanation

Throughout the incident the boats are on opposite tacks with blue on port. It follows that blue at all times is keep clear boat and has to therefore keep clear of yellow - to allow yellow to sail her course (any course of her choosing) so that yellow does not have take any avoiding action - see definition of Keep Clear.

In position 1 if the boats continue on there courses blue will keep clear of yellow by passing ahead. This can be seen by projecting forward yellow's position square by square which passes astern of blue.

In position 2 yellow changes course and is subject to rule 16.1 which requires her to give blue room ( time and space) to keep clear when she (yellow) changes course. The change of course happens at such a distance from blue that blue has plenty of time to change course in order to keep clear either by bearing away and passing astern of yellow or by tacking off onto starboard.

In position 3 yellow has made no further change of course and blue has failed to respond to yellow's earlier change of course instead choosing to argue the rights of the situation. Blue has been given room to keep clear but failed to do so and should be disqualified under rule 10.

Hailing - The hail " hold your course" has absolutely no effect on the rights or obligations of the situation, see RYA Case 1967/5. Blue may be indicating by her hail that she thinks that if yellow holds her course then she (blue) will keep clear or that if yellow fails to hold her course then she (yellow) will be breaking a rule - most probably rule 16.1. A Protest Committee considering the situation will make it's decision based entirely on whether or not when the right of way boat changes course she gave the keep clear boat room to keep clear, it will not take into account what a boat did or did not hail.

On a more general point hailing is only mentioned in rules twice, Rule 20.1 when it is require for a boat to be able to have room to tack at an obstruction and rule 61 when it is a requirement for a valid protest. Other than that whilst hailing may be helpful in indicating intentions or beliefs as to what a boat considers her rights, hailing has no standing within the rules and the absence or presence of a hail will not feature in the decision making process of a PC.

Case 7 Starboard boat as an obstruction

Situation

Yellow on close hauled starboard is approached by green and blue overlapped on port. Blue can pass astern of yellow without altering course but green, to windward of blue will either have to tack off or bear away to avoid yellow.

Question

Can green bear away and pass astern of yellow requiring blue to alter course to avoid her even though she is windward boat and had both the time and space to tack off onto starboard had she wanted ?

Answer

Yes green can require blue to bear away and give her room to pass astern of yellow

Explanation

Yellow is a boat racing that both blue and green have to keep clear of and as such yellow is an obstruction to both boats - see definition of obstruction. Blue holds right of way in relation to green so under rule 19.2(a) she can chose which side of the obstruction to pass however rule 20.1(a) prevents her from hailing for room to tack as she does not have to make a substantial alteration of course to avoid yellow, the obstruction. It follows that blue has no choice but to sail astern of yellow.

Green has to keep clear of blue under rule 11 but as she approaches yellow rule 19.2(b) requires blue to give her room to pass between blue and the obstruction. If blue fails to do so she (blue) will have broken rule 19.2(b) and be disqualified in a valid protest. If as a result of not being given enough room green breaks rule 10 by hitting yellow she will be exonerated under rule 64.1(a) as she would have been compelled to break the rule by blue breaking a rule - 19.2(b) and if green hits blue she (green)  is exonerated under rule 21(a) from having broken rule 11

If blue was not passing astern of yellow but was on a collision course the situation would be different. Blue would have the option under rule 20 to hail for room to tack and green would have to respond by tacking. If however blue decided to bear away to pass astern of yellow then the situation would remain as above and she would have to bear away sufficient to not only clear yellow but to also allow green to do so.

Case 8 - Tacking clear ahead at a windward mark

Situation

Blue enters the zone of a starboard hand windward mark on starboard tack clear ahead of yellow who is clear astern and a little to windward. Blue sails close hauled to the port lay line and then tacks hailing yellow that she (yellow) has "no water". Yellow conflicts with blue just after blue has passed head to wind

Question

In a valid protest would the decision be -

a) Disqualify yellow

b) Disqualify blue

c) Disqualify both

d) Disqualify neither

Answer

b) Disqualify blue

Explanation

When blue enters the zone in position 1 she is clear ahead of yellow and therefore entitled to mark room under rule 18.2(b). Mark room is room for blue to leave the mark on the required side and to sail to the mark if her proper course is to sail close to it - see definition of mark room. Mark room only includes room to tack if the boat entitled to mark room is inside, overlapped and to windward and blue is none of these things

In positions 2 and 3 both boats sail there courses with yellow keeping clear of blue..

In position 4 blue tacks and hails yellow that because she (blue) is entitled to mark room then yellow is not entitled to room. Blue is wrong as rule 18.2(d) states that if a boat entitled to mark room passes head to wind then rule 18.2(b) ceases to apply. After blue passes head to wind 18.2(b) no longer applies and no other part of rule 18 is applicable as the boats are now on opposite tacks on a beat to windward and rule 18.1(a) disapplies the whole of rule 18 in those circumstances.

The only rules applicable in position 4 and thereafter are the right of way rules. If the boats conflict before blue is on a close hauled course she is breaking rule 13 and if after she is close hauled she is breaking rule 10 and in either case would be disqualified in a valid protest. 

If this were a mirror image at a port hand windward mark the situation would not be materially different. In position 4 blue would still break rule 13. Alternatively even if blue had established herself on close hauled starboard it would be so close to yellow that blue would have broken rule 15 by not giving yellow room to keep clear and yellow would be exonerated from breaking rule 10 under rule 64.1(a) as she had been compelled to do so by blue breaking rule 15. The only way it could be different would be if blue managed to establish herself close hauled on starboard far enough away from yellow for yellow on port to be able to keep clear of her in which case no rule would be broken.

Case 9 - Overlapped or clear ahead at the zone

Situation

Yellow and blue are approaching a leeward mark in light winds with a strong tide running from lookers left to right. Because yellow has been carried wide by the tide blue enters the zone first clear astern of yellow. Yellow then turns towards the mark and enters the zone overlapped with blue. The boats sail to the mark with yellow accelerating on the closer point of sailing arriving first and then slowing as she turns to round the mark and into the tide. Blue arrives at mark clear astern of yellow and whilst she could have born away and avoided yellow she hardens up and makes contact from clear astern with yellow with no damage or injury.

Question

In the subsequent protest yellow argues that she was clear ahead at the zone and entitled to mark room. Blue argues that she was inside and overlapped when yellow entered the zone and was therefore entitled to mark room. Should the protest committee -

a) accept yellow's argument and disqualify blue under rule 18.2(b)

b) accept blue's argument and disqualify yellow under rule 18.2(b)

c) come to some other conclusion

Answer

c) come to some other conclusion - in fact disqualify blue under rules 12 and 14.

Explanation

Neither yellow nor blue have carefully read the wording of rule 18.2(b). That rule states that an inside overlapped boat is only entitled to mark room if she is overlapped when the first boat reaches the zone. It goes on to say that the boat clear ahead is entitled to mark room only if she is clear ahead when she enters the zone - neither of these circumstances ever applied in this case.

In position 1 blue enters the zone an is not inside and overlapped so is not entitled to mark room under rule 18.2(b).

In position 2 yellow enters the zone but is not clear ahead when she does and so is not entitled to mark room under rule 18.2(b).

In position 3 it has been a established that no part of 18.2(b) applies. Blue is inside and overlapped so is entitled to mark room under rule 18.2(a).

In position 4 the boats are no longer overlapped so no part of rule 18 actually applies. Yellow has pulled clear ahead and become right of way boat under rule 12, she has also changed course and slowed almost to a stop in the tide. She has obligations under rule 15 ( acquiring a right of way) and rule 16.1 ( right of way boat changing course) but as blue has plenty of room (time and space) to keep clear of yellow by bearing away yellow has met her obligation to give room to keep clear under both rules.

Blue fails to keep clear while clear astern and fails to avoid contact when it was possible and therefore breaks both rules 12 and 14.

Had yellow not pulled clear ahead and the boats conflicted while blue was inside and overlapped the situation would be different in that rule 18.2(a) would still apply and yellow would have to give blue mark room under that rule. See WS Case 2 for further details and variations

 

10a - When the hailed boat refuses to respond

Situation

Yellow and Blue both on starboard tack are sailing towards a dockside where the water is known to be deep enough to float commercial shipping.The boats are overlapped with yellow approximately one boat length to windward of blue. At about 8 boat lengths from the dockside blue starts to hail for water to tack but yellow refuses and hails that there is plenty of room and water. They sail on for about 4 boat lengths arguing before yellow tacks off. Blue still well clear of the dock tacks immediately and protests yellow.

Question

In a valid protest would the decision be -

a) Disqualify blue

b) Disqualify yellow

c) Disqualify both

d) Disqualify neither

Answer

c) Disqualify both

Explanation

When a boat is sailing close hauled or above and approaching an obstruction rule 20.1 states that she may hail a boat on the same tack for room to tack. The requirement of rule 20.2 for the other boat to respond does not apply until the hail is made.

When a boat is hailed under this rule she must respond in one of two ways, either to tack off as soon as possible or respond "you tack" immediately and give the other boat room to avoid her - rule 20.2(c). If a boat responds in any other way she breaks this rule. Yellow did not respond in one of the approved ways but sailed on disputing the call. Rule 20.2(b) required yellow to respond even if the hail did not comply with rule 20.1 and by not responding as required yellow broke rule 20.2(c). If yellow thought that blue's hail was not correct her only course of action within the rules was to respond ( most likely tack off) and then protest blue for her wrongful hail under rule 20.1(a) -  see below.

Rule 20.1(a) states that a boat shall not hail for room to tack at an obstuction unless she will soon need to to make a substantial course change to avoid it safely. Soon in this context means the time for yellow to respond and blue to respond to the response. In this case blue hailed long before that time as was demonstrated by the fact that she sailed for some distance after her first hail with no problems in water she knew to be deep enough. In hailing too soon blue broke rule 20.1(a).

Both boats broke rules. Neither boat was compelled to break a rule (yellow could have tacked off when hailed and blue did not have to hail so soon) so neither boat is entitled to exoneration. Decision - disqualify both.

 10b - When the hailing boat delays tacking

Situation

Yellow and Blue both on starboard tack are sailing towards a shoreline.The boats are overlapped with yellow approximately one boat length to windward of blue. Blue hails for room to tack and yellow responds immediately by tacking. In order to keep her wind clear blue sails on for a couple of boat lengths the tacks. Yellow protests.

Question

In a valid protest would the decision be -

a) Disqualify blue

b) Disqualify yellow

c) Disqualify both

d) Disqualify neither

Answer

a) Disqualify blue

Explanation

When a boat is sailing close hauled or above and approaching an obstruction rule 20.1 states that she may hail a boat on the same tack for room to tack. The requirement of rule 20.2 for the other boat to respond does not apply until the hail is made.

When a boat is hailed under this rule she must respond in one of two ways, either to tack off as soon as possible or respond "you tack" immediately and give the other boat room to avoid her - rule 20.2(c). In this case yellow responds by tacking off immediately and therefore fully complies with the rule.

Rule 20.2(d) states that when the hailed boat responds, the hailing boat shall tack as soon as possible. By sailing on for tactical advantage blue breaks this rule. It can also be argued that as blue sailed on she had hailed before she soon had to make a substantial change of course to avoid the obstruction safely and also broke rule 20.1(a).

As soon as yellow has responded either by tacking or by hailing "you tack" blue must tack as soon as possible. In this case she did not. Disqualify blue.

10c - When the hailed boat responds "you tack"

Situation

Yellow and Blue both on starboard tack are sailing towards a shoreline.The boats are approximately two boat lengths apart with yellow to windward and slightly astern of blue. Blue hails for room to tack and yellow responds "you tack". Blue tacks and finds herself heading straight for yellow. Blue continues to bear away onto a beam reach and manages to narrowly pass astern of yellow. Blue protests.

Question

In a valid protest would the decision be -

a) Disqualify blue

b) Disqualify yellow

c) Disqualify both

d) Disqualify neither

Answer

d) Disqualify neither

Explanation

When a boat is sailing close hauled or above and approaching an obstruction rule 20.1 states that she may hail a boat on the same tack for room to tack. The requirement of rule 20.2 for the other boat to respond does not apply until the hail is made.

When a boat is hailed under this rule she must respond in one of two ways, either to tack off as soon as possible or respond "you tack" immediately and give the other boat room to avoid her - rule 20.2(c). In this case yellow responded with the hail "you tack".

It is very important to understand that at no time do the rights conferred on the hailing boat by rule 20 in any way switch the basic right of way rule applying which after blue tacks is rule 10 port and starboard. Contrary to popular belief when yellow hails "you tack" she does not then have to keep clear of blue but only to give blue room to keep clear of her under rule 10. In this context room is the time and space required when a boat is handled in a seaman like manner.

As blue was able to keep clear in a seaman like manner ( albeit not with much to spare) then yellow met the requirements of rule 20.2(c). By keeping clear blue met her obligations under rule 10 - no rule broken

Even if blue decided to tack back onto starboard to avoid yellow the situation would be no different. Blue would have been given room to keep clear in a seaman like manner and would have done so - WS Case 101. If blue had been unable to avoid yellow having tacked then yellow would not have given blue room to keep clear and yellow would be disqualified under rule 20.2(c). Blue would have broken rule 10 but would be exonerated under rule 64.1(a) as she had been compelled to do so by yellow breaking a rule.

10d- At a finish line when one boat can fetch the Committee Boat

Situation

Yellow and blue are approaching a windward finish line both on close hauled port with blue overlapped to windward of yellow. Yellow hails for room to tack at the committee boat and blue refuses as she (blue) is able to fetch the committee boat. Yellow protests.

Question

In a valid protest would the decision be -

a) Disqualify blue

b) Disqualify yellow

c) Disqualify both

d) Disqualify neither

Answer

c) Disqualify both

Explanation

When a boat is sailing close hauled or above and approaching an obstruction rule 20.1 states that she may hail a boat on the same tack for room to tack. The committee boat certainly ranks as an obstruction as the boats would have to make a substantial change of course if they were sailing towards it and only one of their hull lengths away - see definition of obstruction. The requirement of rule 20.2 for the other boat to respond does not apply until the hail is made.

When a boat is hailed under this rule she must respond in one of two ways, either to tack off as soon as possible or respond "you tack"immediately and give the other boat room to avoid her - rule 20.2(c). If a boat responds in any other way she breaks this rule. Blue does not respond as required but declines on the grounds that she is fetching (able to pass to windward without tacking) the committee boat and under rule 20.1 blue is not entitled to hail. This is irrelevant - blue failed to respond as required and  rule 20.2(b) makes it clear that blue must respond even when the hail breaks a part of rule 20.1.

Rule 20.1 states that a boat shall not hail for room if the obstruction is also a mark that the hailed boat is fetching. This was the case with blue and yellow should not have hailed. In doing so she broke rule 20.1.

Both boats broke rules. Neither boat was compelled to break a rule (blue could have tacked off when hailed and yellow could have either born away and tacked behind blue or passed the wrong side of the committee boat) so neither boat is entitled to exoneration. Decision - disqualify both.

 Case 11 - Fair sailing


 

Background

At the start of the last race of a series yellow and blue are tied on points for the lead well ahead of all other boats.  Yellow has consistent top 3 positions and is discarding a 3rd. Blue also has consistent top 3 positions but had gear failure in one race and is discarding a DNF. It follows that if Yellow is able to cover blue and sail her down the fleet yellow will win the series.

Situation

At position 1 the starting signal is made. Blue makes a perfect start on close hauled starboard. Yellow is well over the line at the start. An individual recall is correctly signaled by the CB. The CB also hails yellow that she is over the line and receives an acknowledgement from her. Yellow makes no attempt to start correctly but uses her position to sail onto the wind of blue and cover her out to the left of the course, taking her way beyond the windward mark lay line before tacking off. The boats arrive at the windward mark last and second to last. Yellow retires and blue only gains a few places before the end of the race so yellow wins the series. Blue protests.

Question

In a valid protest should the decision be -

a) yellow has not broken any rule protest dismissed

b) yellow broke a rule but retired, no further penalty.

c) yellow broke a rule and is disqualified. Blue is not entitled to redress.

d) yellow broke a rule and is disqualified. Blue is entitled to redress.

Answer

d) yellow broke a rule and is disqualified. Blue is entitled to redress

Explanation

At the starting signal yellow is on the course side of the start line and knows it. She makes no attempt to start in accordance with the definition or sail the course in accordance with rule 28.1 and is therefore attempting to win ( the series) by unfair means. This is a clear breach of rule 2 (Fair Sailing) which requires a boat to "compete in compliance with the recognized principles of sportsmanship and fair play." The penalty for breaking rule 2 is a disqualification which at the discretion of the protest committee can be made non excluable DNE - See WS Case 34. For such a serious and obvious breach the PC would undoubtablr elect to impose a DNE.

Yellow did retire which normally would mean that she could not be penalized further however rule 64.1(b) provides that if the penalty was DNE then this may be imposed even if the boat has retired.

Blue has suffered a worsening of her result (in the series) through no fault of her own as a direct result of yellow breaking rule 2. Under  rule 62.1(d) she is entitled to redress.

The outcome would be that yellow would have to count her disqualification which would probably rule her out of any prizes. The PC may well want to consider calling a hearing under rule 69.2(a) ( gross misconduct) and could impose a further penalty such as disqualifying yellow from all races in the series - see rule 69.2(h)(2). The most equitable redress for blue would be to award average points of the races that blue actually completed being the best estimate if where blue might have finished had she not been infringed. This would be good enough for blue to win the series.

Had yellow started legitimately or returned from position 1 to correct her starting error things would have been very different. If yellow achieved the controlling position 4 without breaking a rule (28.1) then she is perfectly entitled to sail blue down the fleet. Although the actions would not benefit yellow in the race, they would benefit her in the series and are therefore in accordance with the principle of sportsman ship and fair play, although blue might not see it that way. The answer then would be a) no rules broken protest dismissed. See WS Case 78

Case 12 - Sailing the course - being forced the wrong side of a mark

Situation

Blue and yellow are approaching a leeward mark. When blue enters the zone yellow is overlapped inside and to windward. Blue does not think yellow has an overlap and refuses to give yellow mark room forcing her the wrong side of the mark. Yellow passes the mark the wrong side and races on protesting blue. The Protest Committee (PC) finds that yellow did have an overlap but disqualifies both boats, blue under rule 18.2(b) for not giving mark room and yellow under rule 28.1 for not sailing the course.

Question

Yellow seeks a reopening of the protest under rule 66 claiming that the PC made an error in disqualifying her as she was either entitled to redress under rule 62 or exoneration under rule 64.1(a) for blue's breach of the rule. Should the PC -

a) Reopen the hearing and give yellow redress under rule 62

b) Reopen the hearing and exonerate yellow under rule 64.1(a)

c) Refuse the request and let the original decision stand.

Answer

c) Refuse the request and let the original decision stand.

Explanation.

A PC may reopen a hearing if it decides that it has made a significant error but in this case there has been no such error.

Rule 62 states that a boat may be given redress if her result has been made significantly worse through no fault of her own as a direct result of one of four things. Those things are, an improper action by the race management, damage or injury caused by the action of a boat breaking a part 2 rule, giving help under rule 1.1 or by the action of a boat breaking rule 2. In this case none of those conditions have been met so there can be no redress. Furthermore in choosing to sailing the wrong side of the mark and not correcting this yellow fails the "through no fault of her own" test.

Turning to rule 64.1(a) yellow may only be exonerated if she was compelled to break a rule by blue breaking a rule. In sailing the wrong side of the mark yellow broke rule 28.1 - Sailing the Course. Rule 28.2 states that a boat may correct an error in her course any time before she finishes,  in this case by returning and passing the mark on the correct side. Whilst yellow was undoubtedly compelled to sail the wrong side of the mark nothing compelled her not to return and correct her error and thus she was not compelled to break rule 28.1.

The PC decision was correct, no error was made and the reopening of the hearing should be refused.

 Case 13 - When a right of way boat is forced over the line on a Black Flag start.

Situation

At a windward start line which is subject to rule 30.4 (Black Flag) yellow is waiting to start with her sails eased. Blue accelerates from behind towards the start line intending to sail to windward of yellow but mis judges the situation and hits yellow from astern with no damage or injury. The force of the impact pushes yellow over the line a few seconds before the starting signal and yellow protests blue.

When the results are published yellow is disqualified and scored BFD for breaking rule 30.4. The Protest Committee (PC) disqualifies blue for breaking rules 12 and 14. Yellow requests the PC to either give her redress under rule 62 or exonerate her under rule 64.1(a).

Question

Should the PC -

a) Give yellow redress under rule 62

b) Exonerate yellow under rule 64.1(a)

c) Let yellow's disqualification under rule 30.4 stand.

Answer

 c) Let yellow's disqualification under rule 30.4 stand.

Explanation

Rule 62 states that a boat may be given redress if her result has been made significantly worse through no fault of her own as a direct result of one of four things. Those things are, an improper action by the race management, damage or injury caused by the action of a boat breaking a part 2 rule, giving help under rule 1.1 or by the action of a boat breaking rule 2. In this case none of those conditions have been met, the RC acted properly in disqualifying yellow BFD ( it would have been improper not to have done so) as she did break rule 30.4. Furthermore whilst the PC decided that blue broke rules 12 and 14,  it did not find that she had done so deliberately and thus also broken rule 2 (Fair Sailing) - for that reason that aspect of rule 62 can not apply. There are no grounds for redress so none can be given.

Rule 64.1(a) initially looks a better bet but is not. That rule states that a boat may be exonerated if she is compelled to break a rule as a result of another boat breaking a rule - yellow is compelled to break rule 30.4 by blue breaking rules 12 and 14. The problem is that rule 64.1(a) only provides exoneration from a penalty imposed by a PC under rule 64.1 following a protest hearing. In this case the penalty was imposed by the Race Committee under rule 30.4 and not the Protest Committee under rule 64.1 so the exoneration under 64.1(a) is not applicable.

Had the start not been subject to rule 30.4 (Black Flag) the result would have been the same. In that case yellow would have broken rule 28.1 and been scored OCS and not BFD by the Race Committee. For the same reasons as described above yellow would not be able to get redress or exoneration. If yellow had returned to start correctly she would not be scored OCS but accorded a finishing position, however even if that position has been worsened she could not get redress as none of the four conditions for redress would have been met.

Harsh though it seems the correct decision is to let the BFD disqualification stand.

Case 14 - Leeward mark out of control

Situation

Yellow and blue are approaching a leeward port hand mark both flying their spinnakers on port tack. At the zone yellow is overlapped inside to windward and blue is overlapped outside to leeward. At the mark yellow is hit by a gust and has trouble dropping her spinnaker so she hails "out of control". Blue bears away and the boats sail some distance past the mark before yellow gets back under control, drops her spinnaker and immediately hardens up onto a close hauled course.

Question

In a valid protest should the Protest Committee -

a) Disqualify blue

b) Disqualify yellow

c) Disqualify both

d) Disqualify neither

Answer

b) Disqualify yellow

Explanation

In all positions yellow as overlapped windward boat has to keep clear of blue under rule 11. In position 1 yellow is entitled to mark room (room to leave the mark on the required side, sail to it if that is her proper course and round it to sail the course) and blue is obliged to give her that room. Between positions 1 and 2 both boats obey that rule.

In position 2 yellow is at the mark and entitled to room to round it to sail the course (in this case to harden up onto a close hauled course) and blue is giving her room to do so. Yellow's hail indicates that she is going to need more room.

In position 3 yellow is taking more room than is required to sail the course and therefore is taking more than the mark room to which she is entitled. While she is doing this she breaks rule 11 as blue overlapped to leeward has to take avoiding action to meet her obligations under rule 14 (avoiding contact). A boat that breaks a part 2 rule while taking mark room or room to which she is entitled would be exonerated under rule 21(a) but as yellow is taking much more than her entitlement no exoneration is available for her breaking of rule 11.

In position 4 the boats are on the same tack close hauled and overlapped with yellow having to keep clear of blue under rule 11 which by that time she is doing.

Yellow's hail that she is out of control in no way affects her obligations under the rules - being out of control does not excuse a boat that as a result breaks a rule See WS Case 99. The hail does act as an early indication to blue that she is going to have to take some action to meet her obligation under rule 14 to avoid contact and blue responds by doing so. Disqualify yellow.

Case 15 - Sailing the Course

Situation

The Sailing Instructions (SIs) for a race describe the course as - Mark 1 S - Mark 2 P - Mark 3 P - Finish with no further reference to the course. Blue sails the course as shown in the diagram and is accorded a finishing place. The Race Committee protests blue for not having sailed the course as intended by the RC which was to loop mark 1 to starboard.

In a valid protest should the decision be -

a) Score blue DNF ( Did Not Finish)

b) Disqualify blue for sailing the wrong course.

c) Disqualify blue but give her redress because of the unclear SI

d) Allow blue's result to stand

Answer

d) Allow blue's result to stand

Explanation

Blue crossed the finish line from the course side and therefore finished according to the definition of finishing. It follows that she may not be scored DNF.

For a boat to sail the course rule 28.1 requires a boat to sail the course described in the sailing instructions. Rule 28.2 requires a string representing aboat's wake when drawn tight from when she begins to approach the starting line to start to  leave each mark on the required side in the correct order and touch each rounding mark. Blue's course meets these requirements ( albeit passing mark 1 on the required side at some distance) and she has therefore sailed the course according to the SIs an therefore rule 28.

For a mark to be a rounding mark it must be designated as such or there should be a general designation that all marks are rounding marks in the SIs. The absence of such a designation a mark is a passing mark and there is no obligation for the string when drawn tight to touch it.

It does not matter what the intentions of the RC were, a competitor is entitled to look exclusively at the written sailing instructions and sail the course accordingly which blue does. If any boats sailed the course intended by the RC their results should also stand (presumably some distance behind blue) as their course would also comply with rule 28. Had the SIs designated mark 1 as a rounding mark then blue's course would not have complied with rule 28.2 and she could be disqualified after protest under that rule.

WARNING - It is tempting for a RC just to designate all marks as rounding marks to solve the problem. Whilst this usually works it does mean that if a mark is only intended as a passing mark it would have to be looped to comply with the SIs - see below. 

Case 16 - Shortened Course

Situation

Blue and yellow are approaching a windward mark that is to be left to port. The Committee Boat takes up station to the port side of the mark and displays flag S with two sound signals (Shortened Course) as shown in the diagram. Blue sails through the finish line from the direction of the last mark. Yellow rounds the mark to port as stated in the SIs and crosses the line in the opposite direction to that of blue.

Question

Should the Race Committee (RC) -

a) Score yellow with her finishing position and score blue Did Not Finish (DNF)

b) Score blue with her finishing position and score yellow Did Not Finish (DNF)

c) Score both boats in their finishing positions as they cross the line from either direction

d) Do either a or b but give the other boat redress for the error by the RC.

Answer 

b) Score blue with her finishing position and score yellow Did Not Finish (DNF)

Explanation

Rule 32 states that a RC may shorten a race by flying flag S with two sound signals at a rounding mark. If this is done the finish line is between the staff displaying flag S and the mark. If a course is shortened at a mark the mark ceases to become a mark of the course with a required side and becomes a finishing mark. It follows that it is quite in order for an RC to station the finishing boat on either side of the mark when shortening.

The definition of finishing states that a boat finishes when any part of her hull, or crew, or equipment in it's normal position crosses the line from the course side. Blue's finish meets this definition and she should be scored in position, yellows does not and she should be scored DNF.

Even if the RC admits that it made a mistake and intended to station the CB on the other side of the mark yellow cannot get redress. Rule 62 states that for a boat to get redress there must be an improper action by the RC. The positioning of the CB may well be an error but it was not improper as it provided a perfectly acceptable finish line in accordance with the rules. See WS Case 129

If this were not a shortened course but a normal finish and the SIs provided for a hook round finish ( as sailed by yellow) the situation would be different. Blue would still be correct in finishing according to the definition and yellow would be scored DNF. In that case as yellow's incorrect course would be as a result of the SI which because it specifies a finish that contravenes the rules would be an improper action by the RC. Yellow could seek redress under rule 62 and get it. Most likely redress would be to finish boats in the order in which they crossed the line from either direction. WS Case 45 refers

Case 17 - Individual Recall Error 

Situation

Red is starting on a windward start line in a bunch of other boats. Red is slightly over the line at the starting signal. The Race Committee (RC) correctly fly the individual recall flag ( flag X ) but fails to make any sound signal. Red completes the race and is scored OCS and requests redress.

Question

Should the Protest Committee -

a) Refuse redress on the grounds that there was no need to make a sound signal so there was no improper action in not making it.

b) Refuse redress on the grounds that it was red's fault she was over the line and she therefore fails the "through no fault of her own test"

c) Give redress and let red's result stand

d) Give redress and adjust red's finishing position.

Answer

d) Give redress and adjust red's finishing position.

Explanation

It is a commonly held mis-belief that at a recall sound signals do not matter. Rule 26 which deals with starts states that absence of sound signals shall be disregarded but rule 29.1 dealing with individual recalls makes it clear that the recall signal comprises both a visual signal (flag X) and one sound signal. Failure to make either is an improper action by the RC and therefore is grounds for redress.

Red's contention is that if the signal had been made correctly she would have been aware that at least one boat was OCS and had the possibility of deciding if it was her and correcting it. Whilst it was certainly red's own fault that she was over the line it was not her fault that the recall was not signaled correctly when she could have corrected her starting error. It follows that her worsened result was caused by the improper action and was through no fault of her own.

Redress should be given but it is not appropriate to let red's result stand. The purpose of redress is to restore the situation as near as possible to what would have happened had the improper action not taken place. If the result stood red would actually gain an advantage from the improper action by being over the line at the start and not returning. The PC should take red's result and adjust it to reflect the number of places that they think red would have lost had she returned and started correctly i.e. if she had done what she would have done had the recall been signaled correctly. By definition this is a subjective judgement but none the less meets the requirement of rule 64.2 of "making as fair an arrangement as possible for all boats affected".

It should be noted that this decision depends on red's result being worsened by the lack of a sound signal. Red's claim would fail in this respect if any of the following applied -

1) Red was well over the line near a start mark and was aware that she was over with or without a sound signal.

2) Red was aware that a flag X had been flown from her own observation.

3) Conditions were such that had the sound signal been made red would not have heard it any way.

4) Red was aware by any other means that she was OCS but continued racing.

See WS Case 31 and RYA 1998/3

Case 18 - A boat may not "luff as as she pleases" -  boat not flying a spinnaker luffing one that is

Situation

Yellow flying a spinnaker approaches blue not flying a spinnaker from clear astern on the same tack and attempts to pass her to windward. Blue luffs quickly and continuously until she is head to wind to prevent yellow passing her. Yellow has to luff until she is nearly head to wind to keep clear of blue. Yellow's spinnaker becomes wrapped round her standing rigging. Blue decides that she has slowed yellow enough and bears away onto her previous course. Yellow bears away to sort out her spinnaker and protests.

Question

Should the protest committee's decision in a valid protest be -

a) Disqualify yellow

b) Disqualify blue

c) Disqualify both yellow and blue

d) Disqualify neither

Answer

b) Disqualify blue

Explanation

Yellow has to keep clear of blue throughout the incident, initially under rule 12 as same tack clear astern boat and after that under rule 11 same tack overlapped to windward. Yellow keeps clear according to the definition - blue is able to sail her course without taking avoiding action and when she changes course there is no immediate contact and the change of course was not caused by blue having to avoid yellow therefore yellow has broken no rule.

When blue changed course she was bound by rule 16.1 to give yellow room to keep clear. It is tempting to conclude that as yellow did not make contact she must have been given room to keep clear and therefore blue did not break this rule. This, however,  fails to take account of the fact that "room" is a defined term with a specific meaning within the rules.

Room is defined as the space that a boat needs to promptly manoeuvre in a seamanlike manner. The only way that yellow was able to keep clear was by luffing head to wind and collapsing her spinnaker into her rigging with the potential for damage which could not be considered as seamanlike. It follows that she was not given room (as defined) to keep clear and blue therefore broke rule 16.1

Blue's correct action would have been to luff to the point where yellow could no longer hold her spinnaker then indicate by hail that she wanted luff higher. Yellow's seamanlike response to that would have been to drop her spinnaker and continue to respond to the luff. Under rule 16.1 blue would have had to have given yellow room to do this bearing away if necessary if that was what yellow needed to do to be able to drop the spinnaker.

This clearly indicate the error made by many competitors who think that a leeward boat may "luff as she pleases" and the problems all rest with the windward boat.

Case 19 - Dummy Tack

Situation

Blue and yellow are on the final beat of a race and blue is determined to cover yellow. Both boats are on port tack with yellow to leeward and clear astern of blue. Blue slows to tighten up the cover and yellow becomes overlapped from clear astern about 1 and a half boat lengths to leeward of blue. To break cover yellow puts in a dummy tack - luffing head to wind and then bearing back onto port. Blue falls for the dummy and tacks off onto starboard, at no time does either boat have to take avoiding action in respect of the other. Blue protests.

Question

In a valid protest would the decision be -

a) Disqualify blue

b) Disqualify yellow

c) Disqualify both blue and yellow

d) Disqualify neither

Answer

b) Disqualify yellow

Explanation.

When yellow becomes overlapped from clear astern on blue within two of her hull lengths she becomes subject to rule 17 which requires her not to sail above her proper course unless in doing so she promptly sails astern of blue. When yellow luffs head to wind she breaks this rule as she would not have done so to finish as quickly as possible in the absence of blue - see definition of Proper Course.

It does not matter that yellow became overlapped because of blue's action in slowing down. Whilst yellow does pass astern of blue this is because of blue's tack so the manoeuvre of luffing is not "in doing so promptly sailing astern" as required by the rule. 

Nor does it matter that yellow at no time interferes with blue or causes her to take avoiding action. Rule 17 is quite clear in that yellow breaks the rule when she sails above her proper course and has nothing to do with the other boat.

Had yellow simply tacked there would have been no problem. In that case luffing as part of the tack is a perfectly normal manoeuvre and the tack itself would be a proper course for a boat on a beat. 

Case 20 - Gybing at a leeward mark

 Not a question but a case study of the different courses that an inside overlapped boat may be entitled to sail at a leeward mark where she has to gybe to round the mark.

Background

The two diagrams ( Fig 1 and Fig 2) show similar positions in that they involve boats that are inside, overlapped and have to gybe at a leeward mark coming into conflict with an outside boat on the opposite tack. Where they differ is that in Fig 1 green is keep clear boat whilst in Fig 2 yellow is right of way boat. This case study looks at the different courses that the boats are entitled to sail as a result.

Summary

Green has to sail a course that takes here close to the mark before rounding and gybing whilst yellow is able to sail the tactically desirable wide then close rounding - why is this ?

Explanation

Fig 1 - When green enters the zone she is inside overlapped boat and therefore entitled to mark room under rule 18.2.(b). Under the same rule grey has to give green mark room.

Mark room is defined as room to leave the mark on the required side, sail to it if the proper course is to sail close to it and round it to sail the course- see definition of mark room. Significantly mark room only allows green to sail a straight course to a position alongside the mark and that only because her proper course would take her somewhere close to it. At no time does the definition say that green can sail her proper courseon the way to the mark.

As long as the boats remain on opposite tacks green (on port) has to keep clear of grey ( on starboard) under rule 10.

The apparent conflict between rule 10 and rule 18.2(b) is resolved by rule 21(a) which states that as long as a boat is taking mark room to which she is entitled if she breaks a section A rule (rules 10,11,12 and 13) in an incident with the boat required to give her mark room then she will be exonerated. The other boat would of course be disqualified for breaking rule 18.2(b).

It follows from this that if green is to be exonerated for breaking rule 10 ( which she does around position 3) she must be taking mark room to which she is entitled as is the case in the diagram. If green was attempting the wide and then close rounding at the time she encountered grey she would not be taking mark room to which she was entitled - she would be taking more.It would be irrelevant that was her proper course.  As a result green would not be entitled to exoneration under rule 21(a) but would be disqualified under rule 10.

For these reasons green must sail a straight course to the mark and then gybe.

Fig 2 - Here the difference is that yellow is not only entitled to mark room but is also right of way under rule 10 so in addition to giving yellow mark room, blue must also keep clear.

When yellow changes course in position 2 to make the wide and near rounding rule 16.1 required her to give blue room to keep clear which obviously she does. In position 3 yellow is taking much more than mark room and therefore is not entitled to exoneration under rule 21(a) however she does not need it as far from breaking a section A rule she is enforcing her rights as starboard boat under one ( rule 10).

The only rule that restricts yellow is rule 18.4 which states that if an inside overlapped right of way boat has to gybe to round a mark ( the exact condition of yellow) then she must sail no further from the mark than her proper course before gybing. Yellow complies with this rule, indeed in the absence of blue she may well have wanted to sail further before gybing.

In position 3 yellow starts to round the mark to sail the course as her next action is a continuous change of course to round the mark - see Answer 2 (c) of Rapid Response Match Racing Call 2010/001. It follows that under the definition of mark room she is entitled to room to sail this course including room to gybe.

Conclusion

This case study shows the very different rights that an inside overlapped boat on an opposite tack might have depending on which way the leeward mark is to be passed.

 Case 21 - Leeward gate Indecision

Situation

At a leeward gate the marks are off set so that the starboard hand (SH) mark is nearer to the windward mark than the port hand (PH) mark. Yellow and blue enter the PH mark zone on starboard tack with blue overlapped to windward and outside yellow. Yellow decides that because of the position of the marks she wants to round the SH mark while blue wants to round the PH mark. Yellow forces blue away from the PH mark but when they enter the zone for the SH mark yellow realises that both green and grey have an inside overlap and she will have to give mark room to three boats. Yellow changes her mind and gybes back to the PH mark. Blue sails on a rounds outside on the SH mark and protests yellow for having forced her away from the PH mark that she (blue) wanted to round in the first place.

Question

Has yellow broken a rule -

a) yes

b) no

Answer

b) no

Explanation

When blue and yellow enter the PH zone blue must give mark room to yellow under rule 18.2(b) and to keep clear under rule 11. When yellow changes course towards the SH mark she has to give blue room to keep clear under rule 16.1 which she does. Whilst yellow at this stage is taking more than just mark room blue's obligation under rule 11 continues.

In position 3 whilst blue remains keep clear boat under rule 11 she gains rights as inside boat at the SH mark under rule 18.2(b) her obligations under that rule at the PH mark having lapsed when yellow left the PH zone - see rule 18.2(c). Yellow's obligation at this point is to give blue mark room (  room to leave the mark on the required side, sail to it if  her proper course is close to it and round it to sail the course- see definition of mark room, this includers room that blue will have to give to green and grey see definition of room) and by gybing away she does this.

If this were not a gate but just a leeward mark yellow would have broken rule 18.4 which would require her to sail no further from the PH mark than her proper course before gybing - between positions 3 and 4 yellow is certainly much further than her proper course from the mark. However the final sentence of 18.4 dis-applies that rule at gate marks. It follows that yellow can sail any course of her choosing before gybing as long as she complies with the Sect B General Limitation rules ( Rules 14-17) which she does.

Yellow breaks no rule, neither does blue so in a valid protest neither would be disqualified.

Case 22 - Keep clear of boats that are racing

Situation

At the start of a multi class regatta blue and yellow are approaching the start line on opposite tacks. Yellow is on starboard tack but her preparatory signal has not yet been made, she is just testing the start line, she hails starboard. Blue is on port, her preparatory signal has been made and she is approaching the line to make her start, she hails "keep clear of boats that are racing". Both boats have to luff head to wind to avoid each other and then head off on opposite tacks. Blue protests yellow.

Question

In a valid protest should the decision be -

a) Disqualify blue

b) Disqualify yellow

c) Disqualify both

d) Disqualify neither

Answer

c) Disqualify both

Explanation

The preamble to Part 2 of the rules states that these rules apply to boats that are in or near the racing area and intend to race, are racing or have been racing. However a boat not racing shall not be penalized for breaking one of these rules except rule 24.1 or rule 14 if there is injury or serious damage.

Rule 24.1 states that if reasonably possible a boat not racing shall not interfere with a boat that is racing.

Both boats were subject to the Part 2 rules. Blue broke rule 10 as a port tack boat failing to keep clear of a starboard tack boat. As blue's preparatory signal had been made she was racing (see definition of racing) and therefore according to the preamble should be penalized for breaking that rule.

Yellow was not racing but broke rule 24.1 by interfering with blue when it was quite possible for her to avoid doing so. The preamble states that even not racing she can be penalized for breaking that rule.

Nothing compelled either boat to break a rule as they both had ample opportunity to comply with their obligations. It follows that there are no grounds to exonerate either boat so both should be disqualified.

This is a clear illustration of the common misunderstanding that the rules require a boat not racing to "keep clear" of boats that are. Rule 24.1 is very clear in that it requires a boat not racing not to interfere with one that is which may involve much more than just keeping clear. However the rule never switches the keep clear obligations under the right of way rules or relieves the racing boat of it's obligation to keep clear.

Case 23 - Damage after a general recall

Situation

At the windward start of the race blue is attempting a port tack start at port end. Yellow is starting on starboard in a bunch of starboard tack boats in the middle of the line. Many boats are over the line at the start signal and the Race Committee signals a general recall. Because of the number of boats most of the competitors are unaware of the recall and race on. Shortly after the start the boat to leeward of yellow bears away sharply to reveal blue on port about to make contact with yellow who is unable to do anything. Blue hits yellow damaging her so badly that yellow returns to shore to repair the damage and is unable to start the recalled race. Yellow protests and seeks redress.

Question 1

In a valid protest would the decision be -

a) Disqualify blue

b) Disqualify yellow

c) Disqualify both

d) Disqualify neither

Answer

d) Disqualify blue

Explanation

The rules for 2017-20 have now changed the preamble to Part 2 of the rules so it states that these rules apply to boats that are racing, intend to race or have been racing and are in the race area however a boat cannot be penalized under these rules ( except 24.1 or rule 14 if there is injury or serious damage) unless she is racing.

A boat is racing from her preparatory signal until she finishes and clears the finish line or until the RC signals a general recall, postponement or abandonment - see definition of Racing. So at the time of the incident the boats were not racing according to the definition.

It follows that even though blue clearly broke part 2 rules ( rule 10 port and starboard and rule 14 avoiding contact) she may only be penalized under the new wording to the preamble if one of the boats involved in the incident suffered injury to a crew member or serious damage. In this case yellow had to return ashore for repairs and was unable to race so the damage she suffered was unquestionably serious. Blue broke rule 14 and should be disqualified.

Rule 62 states ( among other things) that a boat may be granted redress if her position has been significantly worsened through no fault of her own as a result of physical damage caused by the action of a boat breaking a part 2 rule. Yellows score of (DNS) is a worsened result, blue was breaking rules 10 and 14 and there was nothing yellow could have done. The conditions for redress are met and it should be granted.

Case 24 - An IDM at the start

 

 

 

 A Sailing Instruction (SI) for a race states -

Start - If an inner distance mark is laid then it shall rank as a starting mark and boats must not sail between that mark and the committee boat (CB) at any time.

Situation

At the start blue is approaching the line on starboard close haul to make a start close to the IDM leaving it on the required side. Yellow is reaching towards the IDM from just behind the CB. Yellow is hailing for room and blue is hailing no room. Yellow hardens up round the IDM, blue, mindful of the requirements of rule 14 (avoiding contact) bears away to let yellow in and hails "protest".

Question

In a valid protest should the decision be -

a) Disqualify yellow

b) Disqualify blue

c) Disqualify both

d) Disqualify neither

Answer

d) Disqualify neither

Explanation

The preamble to Sect C Part 2 (Marks and Obstructions) states that Sect C rules do not apply at a starting mark surrounded by navigable water when boats are approaching it to start. These rules include rule 18 (Mark Room) and rule 19 (Room to Pass and Obstruction). It follows that yellow may not hail for room on the IDM or the CB either as a mark or an obstruction.

A mark has to be an object ( see definition of mark) whilst an obstruction can, among other things, be either an object or an area so designated by the SIs ( see definition of obstruction). In this case because the SIs prohibit sailing between the CB and the IDM they set up an area which is an obstruction - roughly the area between the two red lines in the diagram.

Because the area that is an obstruction cannot be a mark ( it is not an object) it cannot be a starting mark. It follows that the disapplication of Sect C contained in the preamble cannot apply to the area of obstruction and therefore yellow is entitled to room at the obstruction under 19.2(b) and blue is required to give it under the same rule. Blue bears away giving room albeit under the incorrect impression that she is in the right and just meeting her obligations to avoiding contact under rule 14. Both boats meet their obligations and no rule is broken.

WARNING

This SI is often included under the wrong belief that it helps to protect the CB, this is not the case. In the case in question if blue had not born away but pressed what she believed to be her rights the most likely outcome would have been contact with at least one, and possibly both boats falling off onto port tack and making contact with the CB - the very thing which is trying to be avoided. 

Organisers should use the SI that reads -

If an inner distance mark is laid it shall rank as a starting mark and must be passed on the same side as the committee boat.

With no exclusion zone there is no obstruction and yellow cannot "barge" at the IDM. Blue may close the gap and force yellow the wrong side of the IDM. Yellow is quite entitled to pass between the IDM and the CB it's just that she hasn't started when she does and will have to restart according to the definition.

Case 25 - Propulsion Rules

Situation

Yellow is approaching a windward finish line in very light winds and an adverse tide. Her bow crosses the line and she receives a finishing gun as the wind dies. For the next 10 minutes she sits on the finish line, never quite clearing it. Finally deciding that she has finished the crew get out the paddles and head for the shore. The Race Committee protests yellow.

Question

In a valid protest should the decision be -

a) Disqualify yellow for illegal propulsion

b) Do not disqualify yellow as she had finished when she used the paddles

Answer

a) Disqualify yellow for illegal propulsion

Explanation

Yellow finished when the first part of her equipment in it's normal position crossed the finish line - see definition of Finish. However she is still racing until she finishes and clears the finish line and marks - see definition of Racing.

Rule 42 (Propulsions) forbids a number of actions, certainly among them is the use of paddles. Rule 42 is a Part 4 rule and the preamble to Part 4 states that those rules apply to boats that are racing. As yellow was still racing according to the definition when she used the paddles she broke rule 42 and should be disqualified.

It is ironic that yellow should be disqualified in this way as she could have easily avoided it. Rule 28.1 states that after finishing a boat need not cross the finish line completely. All yellow had to do was after finishing bear away and reach beyond the finish mark not having fully crossed the finish line. At that point she would have "cleared the finish line and marks" and would therefore no longer be racing according to the definition and could then use any means of propulsion she chose to get to the shore. 

Case 26 - An IDM at the finish

The sailing instructions (SIs) for a race stated -

Finish - The finish line will be between a mast on the committee boat flying a blue flag and an outer distance mark also flying a blue flag. There will be an inner distance mark which may or may not be on the finish line and must be left to port when finishing.

Situation

On the down wind finish blue and yellow are on port tack overlapped with yellow to windward and ahead. As they approach the finish yellow hails for room to pass the IDM ( which is on the non course side of the line) on the required side. Blue responds by saying that you can't hail for room on a finish mark. Yellow crosses the finish line ahead of blue but is forced to sail the "wrong" side of the IDM by blue. Yellow rounds the committee boat and re-crosses the finish line passing between the IDM and the ODM shortly after position 5.

The Race Committee (RC) finishes blue in her position when she crosses the finish line for the first time and yellow in her position when she crosses it just after position 5. Yellow protests blue and seeks redress.

Question

Should the protest committee

a) Disqualify blue for failing to give mark room and give yellow redress

b) Disqualify blue for failing to give mark room and refuse redress to yellow as she was neither damaged nor injured.

c) Not disqualify blue but give yellow redress

d) Not disqualify blue and refuse redress to yellow

Answer

c) Not disqualify blue but give yellow redress

Explanation

This case illustrates a number of common misunderstandings regarding finishing marks.

Rule 18 applies equally to finishing marks as it does to any mark. If the IDM had been a finishing mark then yellow would have been entitled to mark room and blue would have broken rule 18.2(b) by not giving it however the IDM was not a finishing mark - see below.

Rule 28.1 requires a boat to start, sail the course described in the SIs and finish in order to have sailed the course. When yellow crossed the finish line for the first time she had met these requirements and should have been accorded a finishing position at that time. As the final leg of the course ended when yellow finished, yellow had completed the course according to rule 28.1 and any marks after that could not be marks of the course - see WS Case 58.

There is sometimes confusuion because the definition of racing states that a boat is still racing until she has cleared the finish line and marks. The marks in this context mean finish marks which would have to be on the finish line or the course side if they were to govern the finish and qualify as finish marks. Here because the IDM is on the non course side it does not govern the finish and qualify as a finish mark and so can be ignored.

Blue did not have to give mark room to yellow at the IDM because the IDM was not a mark of the course - see above. The only relevant mark was the CB on which yellow was entitled to mark room. Although blue thought she was denying mark room to yellow on the IDM she did in fact give mark room on the CB albeit unwittingly and therefore broke no rule and should be finished in her recorded position.

Yellow is entitled to redress not because of anything that blue did but because of the improper action of the RC in failing to give her a finishing position when she crossed the line and finished according to the definition. The fact that she failed to pass the IDM on what the RC thought to be the required side is irrelevant as the events proved she could pass it on the side of her choosing having already finished. Rule 28.1 states that a boat may leave on either side a mark that does not begin, bound or end the leg of the course she is on. Redress would be to give yellow her position the first time she crossed the line.

 Case 27 - Missing out the last mark

Situation

The sailing instructions require the last mark of the course to be left to port. Yellow leaves it to starboard in error and then crosses the finish line. Yellow is observed sailing the wrong course by the Race Committee on the Committee Boat.

Question

At the finish should the Race Committee -

a) Score yellow Did Not Finish as she had not completed the course

b) Disqualify yellow for sailing the wrong course

c) Score yellow in her finishing position and protest her.

Answer

c) Score yellow in her finishing position and protest her.

Explanation

Yellow has crossed the finish line from the course side ( even though she didn't round the last mark) and has therefore finished according to the definition. She therefore may not be scored DNF

Rule 63.1 states that a boat may not be penalized without a protest hearing. It follows that yellow may only be scored DSQ as a result of a protest hearing.

The proper action for the RC is to score yellow in her finishing position as she did finish according to the definition and then protest her under rule 28.1 for failing to sail the course set out in the SIs.

Whilst the other actions may in the short term seem attractive because of their simplicity they are fraught with dangers. Either of the actions break the rules and therefore would be an improper action by the RC and yellow could claim redress under rule 62. A PC considering the redress would not consider whether or not yellow had sailed the course but only whether or not the RC had acted improperly. By failing to give a finish to a boat that had finished or by disqualifying a boat without a hearing the RC would have acted improperly and redress in the form of reinstatement would be given.

Yellow would satisfy the "through no fault of her own" test even though she had sailed the wrong course as it is not her fault that the RC acted improperly. Furthermore if the RC sought to correct it's error after yellow had been reinstated after redress by protesting her the protest would be invalid because it was out of time and would be rejected. Yellow would get a result even though she sailed the wrong course, however the PC could consider possible action under rule 69 if the boat deliberately broke the rule to gain an advantage.

 Case 28 - Mark room at the finish - a change from the 2009/12 rules

Background

Three boats are approaching the finish of the final race of a series. Yellow is covering blue and green is some way behind both of them. The probable finishing order is yellow, blue, green. Yellow has worked out that if the finishing order stands blue wins the series however if she (yellow) wins and blue finishes third or worse then yellow wins the series.

Situation

Blue and yellow are both able to fetch the port finish mark, blue only just and yellow by a couple of boat lengths. Green can lay the finish line near the starboard end. In position 1 yellow enters the zone for the port hand finish mark clear ahead of blue. Yellow then bears away creating a leeward overlap with blue and sails to a position close to the finish mark preventing blue from passing the mark on the correct side. Blue bears away and hails "protest" before gybing round and finishing behind green giving yellow first place in the series.

Rule Change

There is no doubt that in position 1 yellow is entitled to mark-room from blue because she is clear ahead (rule 18.2(b). Under the 2009/12 rules mark room was defined as room to sail to the mark and her proper course while at the mark. Under the 2013/6 and sunsequent rules the definition changes to room to leave the mark on the required side, sail to it if  her proper course is close to it and round it to sail the course. This makes a significant difference.

The old situation was that because of yellow's absolute right to sail to a position close along side the mark she could do that whether or not it was her proper course. In position 3 she was taking mark room to which she was entitled and blue had to give it. Yellow broke rule 11 but was exonerated under old rule 18.5 as she was taking mark room to which she was entitled. Decision - no rule broken.

The new situation is that yellow's right to sail to a position along side the mark has been restricted so that she may only do that if  her proper course is to sail close to it. If it isn't (as in this case) then her right and blue's obligation is no more than to give yellow room to leave the mark on the required side see definition of mark-room. Now when yellow breaks rule 11 she is not exonerated (now under rule 21(a)) as she is not taking mark room to which she is entitled and as such should be disqualified under rule 11.

A complete reversal of the previous situation. 

Case 29 - Keep Clear - the obligations of a port boat to keep clear of a starboard boat in a multi boat situation.

Situation

Blue and green overlapped on a beat on port tack approached yellow on startboard tack. Yellow had to bear away behind them and protests. The protest committee finds as facts - yellow had to avoid blue - after yellow passed blue's stern she did not have to alter course further to avoid green - if blue had not been there yellow would have had to have changed course to avoid green - blue and green did not alter course during the incident and blue did not hail for room to tack.

Question

Should the PC

a) Disqualify Blue

b) Disqualify Green

c) Disqualify both

Answer

a) Disqualify Blue

Explanation

Yellow is on starboard and green and blue are on port which means that they both have to keep clear of yellow under rule 10. Keeping Clear means allowing yellow to sail her course (that is any particular course she chooses to sail) without yellow having to take avoiding action. Yellow has to take action to avoid blue and so blue breaks rule 10 and should be disqualified.

Yellow is an obstruction to both blue and green (see definition of obstruction) so all the conditions exist for blue to hail for room to tack under rule 20.1. However the requirement for green to respond either by tacking or hailing "you tack" and giving blue room to avoid her only starts when blue hails - rule 20.2(a) & (c). If blue does not hail, as in this case, then green has no obligation to tack off no matter how obvious it may be that blue would want her to do so.

When yellow bears away to avoid blue she is making a decision to change course to meet her (yellow's) obligation under rule 14 - avoiding contact. Her new course is to pass astern of blue and then harden up onto a close hauled course. This change of course has been caused by blue. As yellow sails this course she is able to harden up as she desires without having to take further avoiding action in respect of green. It follows that her avoiding action was in respect of blue and blue alone and as yellow did not have to avoid green then green broke no rule.

It is irrelevant that had blue not been there yellow would have had to have avoided green. Blue was there and the PC must judge the facts as they are. If you removed green from the incident yellow would still have sailed exactly the course that she did so it is not possible to say that any part of yellow's course was to avoid green.

Had blue hailed for room to tack and green refused to respond the situation would be very different. Green would have broken rule 20.2(c) and should be disqualified. Blue would still have broken rule 10 but because she was compelled to do so by green breaking a rule she would be exonerated under rule 64.1(a).

Case 30 - The right to protest a boat that has retired or been disqualified and exemptions to normal protest requirements

 This is not a case that requires a diagram and is a consideration of the issues involved when a boat that has been damaged wishes to protest another boat that has retired as a result of the incident.

Situation - Two boats A and B  are involved in a serious collision while racing. Both retire because of damage and A protests B. A number of questions arise from the incident -

1.Can a boat protest a boat that has already retired and must such a protest heard ?

2.If a boat retired just because she was damaged can she be penalized further ?

3.If a boat can't be penalized further what is the point of protesting ?

4.What leeway may be given to a boat that has been damaged in respect of her obligations to fly a protest flag, hail "protest" and lodge her protest within the time limit ?

1. Rule 60.1(a) allows a boat to protest another boat and places no restriction on this right. It follows that a boat may protest a boat that has retired for any reason. A boat may protest a boat that has been disqualified in an earlier protest hearing and may even protest a boat if she herself has been disqualified in an earlier protest - see WS Case 1. Rule 63.1 requires a protest committee "to hear all protests and requests for redress that have been delivered to the race office,,," The PC has no discretion, it must hear any protest that has been lodged if only to declare it invalid and dismiss the protest.

2. Rule 44.1(b) states that if a boat causes injury or serious damage her penalty shall be to retire. Rule 64.1(b) states that if a boat takes the appropriate penalty then she shall not be further penalized. The PC is not required to investigate the reasons behind the retirement (which may simply be because she was damaged), the fact that a boat has taken the appropriate penalty for any reason is enough to exclude further penalization. The exception to this is that if the boat broke rule 2 (fair sailing) and as a result could be penalized with a disqualification that cannot be excluded from her results (DNE), in this case the greater penalty may apply. To make it absolutely clear, even if a boat has retired the PC may well find that she has broken a rule, but if she has been scored RET and that is the appropriate penalty then the boat cannot be scored DSQ.

3. This is not really a question for the PC. The boat has a right to protest and the PC has an obligation to hear it. It may be no more than the boat in question wants the protest results published to show that she was not to blame. There are however three more practical reasons for going through with a protest -

a) To establish the facts for an insurance claim. This is not as important as as most boats think as insurance companies tend to follow PC decisions when it suits them and ignore them when they don't.

b)To seek redress under rule 62.1(b). To do this a boat has to prove that her position has been worsened as a result of damage sustained in an incident involving another boat breaking a part 2 rule (rules 10 - 24 when boats meet). The fact that a boat was breaking a rule of part 2 can only be safely established in a protest hearing.

c) If a boat thinks that the other boat has deliberately broken a rule to gain advantage and should be disqualified under rule 2 (note that is rule 2 fair sailing and not a part 2 rule). In the above example if it was the last race of a series and B had worked out if she and A got bad results then she (B) would win the series. B then deliberately broke a rule with A which resulted in damage. If these were found as facts by the PC then B would be scored DNE and A would be entitled to redress under rules 62.1(b)&(d). In such a rare case the PC would certainly also call a hearing under rule 69 against B for gross misconduct.

4. In normal circumstances a boat must always hail "protest" and display a protest flag (if her hull length is 6 metres or more) at the first reasonable opportunity if she wishes to protest. The 2017-20 rules have changed Rule 61.1(a)(4) so it allows these requirements to be waived if a member of either crew is in danger or if there is injury or serious damage that is obvious to the boat intending to protest.  It is worth noting that this rule does not provide any relief to lodging the protest within the time limit.

The protest must be lodged at the race office within the time limit although the PC may extend the time limit if there is good reason to do so. If a crew were late coming ashore due to recovering a damaged boat this would count as a good reason but the dispensation is not open ended. The protest must be lodged at the earliest opportunity after the expiry of the time limit and if lodging is delayed due to reasons not connected with the incident then it should be declared invalid irrespective of the merits of the case.

Case 31 - The rights and obligations of boats when a boat establishes an overlap from clear astern between two other boats on the same tack.

 Situation
Three boats are reaching on starboard tack on a free leg of the course with the next mark some distance away. In position 1 blue is overlapped to windward of yellow and green is clear astern of both blue and yellow but sailing faster. In position 2 green has become overlapped between blue and yellow, and blue has hailed that there is no room for green to pass between them. At this point both blue and yellow could easily alter course to make room for green to pass between them. In position 3 neither blue nor yellow has altered course and green makes contact with blue, sustaining considerable damage to her hull as a result of the contact.

Question
In a valid protest involving all the boats should the PC –
a) Disqualify Yellow
b) Disqualify Green
c) Disqualify Blue
d) Disqualify Green and Blue
Answer
c) Disqualify Blue

Explanation
Looking first at yellow. She holds right of way (r-o-w) over blue throughout the incident under rule 11. She holds r-o-w over green throughout the incident first under rule 12 while green is clear astern and then under rule 11 when green becomes overlapped to windward. The only possible limitation on yellow is rule 16.1 which states that if as a r-o-w boat she changes course she must give the other boats room to Keep Clear. She does not alter course and therefore does not break this rule.

At the start of the incident green has to Keep Clear of both yellow and blue as long as she remains clear astern under rule 12 but when, in position 2 she gains an overlap between them things change. She still has to Keep Clear of yellow under rule 11 but now blue has to Keep Clear of green under the same rule as blue is now overlapped to windward of green. Having gained a r-o-w through her own actions green is obliged to initially give blue room to Keep Clear under rule 15 and as blue could have luffed to Keep Clear then green did not break this rule. Keep Clear means that green can sail her course (that is any course of her choosing and not her Proper Course) without having to take avoiding action – see definition of Keep Clear.

In position 3 blue has failed to Keep Clear of green as required by rule 11 and has therefore broken that rule. Furthermore as both green and blue had to Keep Clear of yellow at all times yellow was an obstruction to both boats – see definition of obstruction. Under rule 19.2(b) when green became overlapped with blue then blue was obliged to give green room to pass between her and the obstruction (yellow) if she was able to do so. Blue could easily have luffed to give green room but did not do so and therefore broke rule 19.2(b).

Rule 14 requires boat to avoid contact if possible. It was possible for blue to avoid contact but she didn’t so she also broke that rule. Even though she broke three rules (11, 19.2 b and 14) blue can only be disqualified once. Under rule 14 green, as r-o-w boat is exonerated if she breaks this rule and there is no damage. In this case there is damage but green has not broken the rule and therefore does not require exoneration. Rule 14 states that a r-o-w boat only has to start to take avoiding action when it becomes clear that the other boat is not Keeping Clear. Green had every right to expect that blue would obey the rules when she got her overlap. By the time that it became apparent that blue was not going to Keep Clear it was impossible for green to avoid contact so she did not break rule 14.

A few other points of interest emerge from this case. Because green established her overlap on blue from clear astern on the same tack and within two of her hull lengths rule 17 applied which is often reflected in the hail “you have no luffing rights”. All the rule actually says is that for the duration of the overlap green may not sail above her Proper Course. At no time does green sail above her Proper Course (the course she would sail to finish as quickly as possible in the absence of blue – see definition of Proper Course)and even if she did blue would still have to Keep Clear under rule 11. If green did sail above her Proper Course and Blue refused to respond then both boats would be disqualified, green under rule 11 and blue under rule 17. If yellow were to luff and green responded she would not be sailing above her proper course as that is the course she would sail in the absence of blue. There is a common misunderstanding that when rule 17 applies it somehow switches off rule 11 between the boats involved and this just is not the case.

Blue’s hail that there is no room for green to pass between her and yellow is a simple statement of fact and has no bearing on the incident. Blue may have been under the impression that as it was going to take some time to pass yellow that yellow was a continuing obstruction and rule 19.2(c) applied. Had yellow been a continuing obstruction and had that rule applied then green would have been in the wrong as there was not room for her to pass between blue and the obstruction at the time the overlap started. Unfortunately for blue yellow was not a continuing obstruction as a vessel underway can never be a continuing obstruction – see definition of Obstruction.

Green is “overtaking boat” in the sense that she approaches the other two boats from clear astern and going faster. This has no bearing on the situation other than those relating to the racing rules mentioned above. The reason for this is that there is no rule, I repeat no rule that requires a boat to keep clear of other boats simply because she is overtaking them –see RYA Case 1984/3. The often heard hail of “overtaking boat keep clear” is nonsense and has no basis in the racing rules of sailing.

In summary if a boat gains an overlap between two other boats then the boat that has become Keep Clear is obliged to start Keeping Clear straight away and if she fails to do so she will be penalized.

 

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