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Sailing down the line


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I can't find any mention of a Sailing Down The Line rule in the sailing rules. This has been used by observers when I was on starboard and all the other boats were starting on port and I was not sailing down the line but behind it by a couple of boat lengths.

The line as I understand it is across the course side front edge of the start buoys and is infinately thin.

This "rule" seems to be used ad-hoc any time a boat sails parallel to the line within the pre start area even if the boat is many boat lengths inside the line and there are no boats around.

As far as I can see it is a fictitious made up rule.

Can anyone explain this?

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I am not sure what you are trying to get at. As you say, there is no such rule. From what you describe, you are in the 1 minute prestart period, after the prep signal but before the start signal, so you are racing - so the rules apply. You are sailing along on stbd, so the port tack boats must stay clear of you (R 10). That is all there is.

Another possibility is that they are trying to say something like - R30.1 ( The I flag -Round the end rule) is in effect and as you reach along the line, if you cross the line inadvertently in the last minute, then you have to go around one of the ends in order to start correctly. They may be saying 'dip starts are not permitted' - but that would only be correct if R31.1 is in effect. Or more seriously, if 30.3 U flag, or 30.4 Black flag is in effect, then you must retire.

You are correct that the line is infinitely thin - you are either below the line or part of your hull/rig has crossed the line.


John Ball

IOM CAN 307 (V8)

In my private capacity

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I have heard this rule mentioned at two clubs on in Europe and one in the UK.

It is used by observers to stop boats sailing parallel to the line anywhere in the pre start area. I stopped real racing sailing more than 10 years ago so am catching up and this was the first 'rule' that I was amazed at. Me on starboard and all the other starters on port.

Another guest did the same as me and was flagged up for the same infringement. However there was a heated argument and since then all the boats now start on starboard.

I think it is like the Gimme rule in golf. Almost all amateur golfers use the gimme rule in normal stroke play when in fact gimmes are not allowed in stroke play.

A made up rule caused by missunderstanding the rules which is so widespread that people beleive it to be true.

Even a UK area sailing judge mentioned this ficticious sailing down the line rule to me.

Which is worrying.

It would be helpful if all the world sailing rules guys could point out to everyone that this rule does not exist and must not be used.

I don't want to hear it again.

Let's just stick to the real rules guys.

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