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Penalty Turn do we have to complete a full 360 deg?


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Upon having a go at a sailing rules Quiz


It states that it is only required to do a turn including a tack and a gybe and not a full 360 deg, which could result in just a 270 deg turn and leaving the turn in a different direction tack/gybe to the entry direction /tack/gybe.

Can this be clarified?

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Here is a diagram showing a close hauled boat hitting the weather mark. He luffs up, tacks, gybes and sails towards the offset mark.

His penalty turn begins between P2 and P3 as he luffs up to tack and passes HTW.

The penalty is complete as soon as he gybes between P4 and P5.



John Ball

IOM CAN 307 (V8)

In my private capacity

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A rather thought provoking question and not quite as it would seem.

It reminded me of an incident some years ago whilst I was on the downwind leg of a race.

There were a number of boat on by leeward side and one astern and to my weather side intent upon preventing me from taking the penalty.

I gently eased out but sadly slightly collided with that boat.

I then jybed, then tacked and bore away to the original course.

Clearly there was an ensuing protest

What do you think the outcome of that protest was ?

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Cannot guess aboout how the protest turned out - insufficient info.

Here is a diagram that may not exactly resemble David's scenario, but should be sufficient to discuss the rules involved. For this discussion, David is Blue and having committed a foul needs to take a penalty, but the boats around him prevent him from taking the penalty.



R 44 says to take the penalty as soon as possible.

While Blue is continuing to sail the course, she is entitled to all the benefits and obligations of the rules. So Blue, on port, has to stay clear of Yellow on stbd.

Green to windward has to stay clear of Blue R 11.

Red, clear astern has to stay clear of Blue R 12.

There is no rule that requires a boat to give to you room to start to take your penalty.

There is a rule to stay clear of a boat that is taking a penalty R 24.2.

There is a rule to stay clear of other boats while taking a penalty R 22.2.

Going down wind, the best way to get clear of this group would be to try to slow down, and Red, astern would have to keep clear. Once clear, Blue can begin to take the penalty either by gybing then luffing to tack, or buy luffing up to tack thenbear away and gybe.

If Blue tries to luff towards Green to make room, then as she alters course, she has to give room for Green to keep clear R 16.1

If Blue gybes, she could be starting to take the penalty and must stay clear of Red and Yellow.

If Blue fouls another boat while trying to get clear, she has to take a second penalty.

If Blue fouls another boat while taking the penalty, she has to start that penalty over again (failed to get clear) and then a second penalty.


John Ball

IOM CAN 307 (V8)

In my private capacity

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Well you came to the correct conclusion apart from the Gybe bit at the end.

You had ALL the information that the Protest Committee had and there was no dispute regarding the sequence of events to complicate things. I should have given what tack that the boat were on but you got it correct anyway. It would have made no difference if it was mirrored, it works both ways.

It make no difference which Gybe YELLOW is on in your diagram, he would have Right of Way either way. RED is really out of it being Astern but being a real nuisance sailing in my wind.

If BLUE Gybes first in order to move GREEN out a bit on STARBOARD then he could NOT count that Gybe as a PENALTY manoeuvre because he was not WELL CLEAR when commencing the PENALTY. BLUE would have to GYBE back ending up going around the wrong way, heading toward the other boats, and possibly in the path of RED.

Also GREEN would Gybe as well in defence. The objective is to get him to move over a little without Gybing and to force the penalty on him. Not NICE but he/she caused me the Penalty in the first place as was incessantly screaming at me .

In more simplistic terms:-

The Protest

At PROTEST BLUE, me in this case, stated in his evidence that:-

a/ BLUE is only required to keep clear WHEN taking the PENALTY. (Stressing ‘WHEN’ as the operative word)

b/ In terms of the definition of a PENALTY, the PENALTY only commences at the commencement of first manoeuvre, in this case a Gybe, and is completed one the last manoeuvre is complete in this case a Tack.

This is why it was posed as a question in the Quiz – Is a Penalty 360 Degree ( NO )

c/ Until then BLUE, in your diagram, has every right to move to his weather, and did so gently INITIALLY allowing Room for GREEN to KEEP CLEAR.

d/ GREEN must KEEP CLEAR but did NOT.

e/ Collision took place before BLUE Gybed


In this case GREEN was disqualified on Protest after a 5 minute deliberation.

This rather surprized GREEN who kept rabbiting on about PROPER COURSE etc. But..

It restored my faith in the Protest System and also reinforced the point that simply giving an account of the incident is not sufficient, one must also state why you believe you had not violated a rule.

I have a bucket of them in my diary.

You have the luxury of time to think about it but I had but a split second to decide.


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