How many times on the shoreline have you heard someone say, if you tack from port to starboard inside the zone at a port hand windward mark you have no rights at all over boats that entered the zone on starboard. That is not necessarily true and I will explain why this is not the case and cover other common scenarios we encounter in later articles.
If you have studied the rules and the resources on the MYA and other web sites then you will know all of this but if you need to brush up your knowledge, these articles might be a big help and make you a better tactical sailor.
The first three articles examine situations from the point of view of a protest committee and so contain a lot of detail. Later we will look at the same situations and think about how we can position our boat so we take advantage of the rules but not have to worry about the detail. When racing we do not want to think about every rule that applies but at least know how to put our boat into a position so that we have right of way.
We will start with the windward mark and consider three situations that are regularly encountered and limit action to two boats initially to keep things simple.
In the first scenario two boats approach the windward mark from outside the zone on starboard. The second scenario covers two boats entering the zone on opposite tacks and the port tack boat is able to tack inside the starboard and the third scenario is the same as two but there is no room for the port boat.
My thanks to David Lees of the London Round Pond for the interpretations of the rules in each scenario.
Let’s start with an easy one.
Blue and purple enter the zone on starboard with the boats overlapped. Purple shouts you have no rights but Blue luffs head to wind to round the mark and hits purple who forces blue into the mark.
Both shout protest. How would you decide who takes a penalty?
The relevant rules are shown in full at the bottom of the article t save you looking them up.
HOW DO THE RULES APPLY
At the start of the situation in position 1, Rule 11 applies (ON SAME TACK OVERLAPPED), and purple must keep clear of blue as the windward boat. Blue will only lose right of way if she manoeuvres beyond head to wind as in rule 13 (WHILE TACKING). As blue approaches the mark, she has mark room as the inside boat in Rule 18.2 (Giving Mark room) and starts to luff smoothly to head to wind to round the mark giving Purple ample opportunity to keep clear and thus avoid breaching rule 16 (CHANGING COURSE). Purple shouts you have no rights to luff head to wind, holds course and hits blue pushing her into the mark making purple in breach of rule 14 (AVOIDING CONTACT).
At all stages, blue is the right of way boat being leeward boat and requiring mark room from purple. The act of blue luffing head to wind changes nothing as she is at all times the overlapped leeward boat but if she passed through head to wind, she would lose all rights. Purple forces a collision and as windward boat will receive the penalty. Blue being forced onto the mark is exonerated as per 43.1 (a) (EXONERATION) and receives no penalty.
When we are sailing you cannot think of the rules in this way as there is no time, however when it comes to a protest this is the level of detail the protest committee will go into. What is important, is to work out in advance for as many situations you can think of, whether you hold right of way and if not, what are your obligations to keep clear.
The best sailors avoid conflict at all costs but you can be sure in a tight situation, they know the rules inside out. Do You?
Rule 11 ON SAME TACK OVERLAPPED When boats are on the same tack and overlapped, a windward boat shall keep clear of a leeward boat.
Rule 13 WHILE TACKING
After a boat passes head to wind, she shall keep clear of other boats until she is on a close-hauled course. During that time rules 10, 11 and 12 do not apply. If two boats are subject to this rule at the same time, the one on the other’s port side or the one astern shall keep clear.
Rule 14 AVOIDING CONTACT A boat shall avoid contact with another boat if reasonably possible. However, a right-of-way boat, or one sailing within the room or mark-room to which she is entitled, need not act to avoid contact until it is clear that the other boat is not keeping clear or giving room or mark-room.
Rule 16 CHANGING COURSE When a right-of-way boat changes course, she shall give the other boat room to keep clear.
Rule 18.2 Giving Mark-Room
1. (a) When boats are overlapped the outside boat shall give the inside boat mark-room, unless rule 18.2(b) applies.
2. (b) If boats are overlapped when the first of them reaches the zone, the outside boat at that moment shall thereafter give the inside boat mark-room. If a boat is clear ahead when she reaches the zone, the boat clear astern at that moment shall thereafter give her mark-room.
Rule 43 EXONERATION
(a) When as a consequence of breaking a rule a boat has compelled another boat to break a rule, the other boat is exonerated for her breach.
(b) When a boat is sailing within the room or mark-room to which she is entitled and, as a consequence of an incident with a boat required to give her that room or mark-room, she breaks a rule of Section A of Part 2, rule 15, 16, or 31, she is exonerated for her breach.
Next week scenario 2, boats approaching the windward mark on opposite tacks.
MYA Racing Officer