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Thought for the Day - So you think you know the rules 3

There are situations at the windward mark where the port tack boat tries it on by tacking inside the zone and close to the mark. If the line of starboard boats are just laying the mark, this is a flawed approach because if you tack underneath them and are forced to luff for the mark, you are disqualified under the first scenario previously posted . However the Port tack approach can be successful if the line of starboard tack boats have overstood the mark.

How often do you hear on the shoreside that you cannot tack onto port inside the zone. The fact is you can but you need to understand rule 18.3 carefully so you do not get tripped up on the race course


Blue approaches on port and thinking there is a gap, tacks onto starboard close hauled inside the zone and overlaps with yellow, who has overstood the mark and is sailing well below close hauled. At position 2 yellow warns “Don’t go in there”. After blue completes her tack and is close hauled, yellow bears away to round the mark closely and hits blue causing blue to hit the mark. Yellow protest claiming that Blue had no rights.

Is there a penalty? What do you think? The relevant rules are listed at the end.


1. At first view this looks very similar to the 2nd scenario last week but look closer and it is a very different problem.

2. The biggest change is that yellow is not close hauled. She is sailing free and from the plan it looks as if her course to the next mark takes her well to windward of the buoy shown on the plan. She is sailing free while blue is beating so she has probably overstood and her helm is probably unhappy with himself and may well be annoyed that blue, which had been well astern, is now much closer to him.

3. While this is not a fact the protest committee would find, it is relevant in considering the background to the case, although not too much weight should be put to it because it may be something that is entirely unjustified.

4. The facts are clear. Blue entered the zone on port and is sailing close hauled; yellow entered the zone on starboard and is not close hauled apparently sailing a course which is approximately one length to windward of the mark. After blue has completed her tack or is very close to doing so, when yellow is between two and three lengths from the mark, she bears away to a course to pass very close to the mark. This means that. by the time the two boats are in contention, say at point 3 on the plan, both boats are on starboard, and blue is leeward and overlapped.

5. The protest committee needs to consider what rules apply, at that point. Clearly Rule 11 does, but the boats are well within the zone, so Rule 18 also applies and nothing in 18 (a) to (d) excludes it. If Rule 18 applies, the protest committee must look at 18.2. and 18.3 and see if any part of those. rules apply. (Clearly 18,4 which covers the situation where boats have to gybe at the mark, is not relevant.)

6. Rule 18.3 can be taken out of the issue quickly. Blue has not caused. yellow to sail above close hauled so the rule cannot apply.

7. 18.2 is also not really relevant. The question before the protest committee has nothing to do with mark room although the way the diagram is drawn at first view it looks as if it has. The fact that the mark is there is little more than a coincidence, although yellow is using its presence to try to cause blue a problem. The important fact is that yellow, the give way boat is altering her course to leeward, sailing below her proper course, and as a result has contact with blue, who can only avoid contact by having contact with the mark.

8. Whichever happens, blue will be exonerated under rule 21.

9. Disqualify yellow for breach of rules 11 and 14. If the protest committee decides that yellow altered course with the intention of having contact with blue and for no good reason, it should consider whether a more serious penalty should be imposed on yellow or her helmsman.

The applicable rules

Here are the relevant rules to save you having to look them up:

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 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.


18.1 When Rule 18 Applies

Rule 18 applies between boats when they are required to leave a mark on the same side and at least one of them is in the zone. However, it does not apply

(a) between boats on opposite tacks on a beat to windward,

(b) between boats on opposite tacks when the proper course at the mark for one but not both of them is to tack,

(c) between a boat approaching a mark and one leaving it, or

(d) if the mark is a continuing obstruction, in which case rule 19 applies.

18.2 Giving Mark-Room

(a) When boats are overlapped the outside boat shall give the inside boat mark-room, unless rule 18.2(b) applies.

(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.

(c) When a boat is required to give mark-room by rule 18.2(b),

(1) she shall continue to do so even if later an overlap is broken or a new overlap begins;

(2) if she becomes overlapped inside the boat entitled to mark-room, she shall also give that boat room to sail her proper course while they remain overlapped.

(d) Rules 18.2(b) and (c) cease to apply when the boat entitled to mark-room has been given that mark-room, or if she passes head to wind or leaves the zone.

(e) If there is reasonable doubt that a boat obtained or broke an

overlap in time, it shall be presumed that she did not.

(f) If a boat obtained an inside overlap from clear astern or by tacking to windward of the other boat and, from the time the overlap began, the outside boat has been unable to give mark- room, she is not required to give it.

18.3 Tacking in the Zone

If a boat in the zone of a mark to be left to port passes head to wind from port to starboard tack and is then fetching the mark, she shall not cause a boat that has been on starboard tack since entering the zone to sail above close-hauled to avoid contact and she shall give mark-room if that boat becomes overlapped inside her. When this rule applies between boats, rule 18.2 does not apply between them.

18.4 Gybing

When an inside overlapped right-of-way boat must gybe at a mark to sail her proper course, until she gybes she shall sail no farther from the mark than needed to sail that course. Rule 18.4 does not apply at a gate mark.


When a boat is sailing within the room or mark-room to which she is entitled, she shall be exonerated if, in an incident with a boat required to give her that room or mark-room,

(a) she breaks a rule of Section A, rule 15 or rule 16, or

(b) she is compelled to break rule 31.


When a boat acquires right of way, she shall initially give the other boat room to keep clear, unless she acquires right of way because of the other boat’s actions.


16.1 When a right-of-way boat changes course, she shall give the other boat room to keep clear.

16.2 In addition, when after the starting signal a port-tack boat is keeping clear by sailing to pass astern of a starboard-tack boat, the star- board-tack boat shall not change course if as a result the port-tack boat would immediately need to change course to continue keeping clear.


While racing, a boat shall not touch a starting mark before starting, a mark that begins, bounds or ends the leg of the course on which she is sailing, or a finishing mark after finishing.

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