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Racing Rules Challenge


January     February     March     April     May     June     July     August    September    October     November     December



January

Situation:

PW (port windward), PL (port leeward) and S (starboard) are sailing a beat on an upwind leg to the windward mark. S is on the starboard layline and will lay the mark. At eight boat lenghts from the mark S hails PW and PL that she has right of way on starboard tack. PL ducks behind S but PW tacks ahead of S. As S approaches the slowing PW, S turns into the wind to avoid contact. S yells "Protest." PW yells "I'm clear ahead". S protests. What rule(s) have been broken, if any? Can the rule breaker(s) exhonerate themselves? If PW wanted to duck S, would PL have to give room? Why?

Discussion

All boats are more than 2 boat lenghts from the mark, therefore Rule 18 does not apply. During the time PW is ahead of S, they are on opposite tacks, so Rule 12 doesn't apply. Since PW tacks, no one can be sure if PW would have crossed ahead of S, therefore PW may not have broken Rule 10. Rule 13, While Tacking, states that after a boat passes head to wind she shall keep clear of other boats. LW completes the tack when head to wind, but Rule 13 defines a transition period that a tacking boat must keep clear until on a close hauled course. If S had to luff up, PW wasn't keeping clear. Rule 44 allows PW to exhonerate herself with a Two-Turns-Penalty. When either PW or PL is two boatlenghts from S, Rule 18.2a applies (S with right of way is an obstruction). If PW hails for room, PL must give room. As soon as they are passed S, PL's leeward rights resume.

Steve Sarsfield



February

Situation:

It's another fine racing day on Tomales Bay. The course is marked by a start line, with port and starboard bouys; and a windward mark and a leeward mark. The course for the first race is once around, marks to port with the start-finish line restricted. After rounding the leeward mark, Juliet and Bravo are a boatlength apart. Juliet elects to tack to starboard and go out for the wind, while Bravo stays on port for the current relief. Both later tack on what they think is the layline to the favored port end of the finish line. Juliet nears the finish at the port bouy layline on port tack, on a collision course with Bravo on starboard, and hails for room at the mark. Bravo yells "Starboard" and holds course. Juliet ducks Bravo and protests. Is the protest valid? What if the same situation occured downwind at the restricted start finish line?

Discussion

Back on the beach, Juliet cites Rule 18.2(a), 'Overlapped - Basic Rule' saying that as the inside boat at a mark, he had right of way and that Bravo as the outside boat should have kept clear. The skipper of Bravo goes running to her car to get a copy of the Rule book. Returning to the assembled sailors, she first reads the Definition of Overlap. The Clear Astern and Clear Ahead; Overlap definition ends by stating 'These terms do not apply to boats on opposite tacks unless rule 18 applies.' Juliets skipper says, "that settles it, because we were passing a mark, Rule 18 applies." "Not so fast," says Bravo's skipper, "Rule 18.1 talks about when Rule 18 applies and when it doesn't, and at 18.1(b) it says that it doesn't apply while boats are on opposite tacks on a beat to windward. That means Rule 10 was still in effect and as Starboard boat, I had right of way." Bravo's skipper reads the Rule book for himself for a minute and then retracts his protest. Another sailor in the group says not only was that the right call, but while sailing downwind at the restricted start-finish line earlier, he as Starboard boat did keep clear of a Port Jibe boat. Rule 18 did apply because they were not on a beat to windward.

Steve Sarsfield





March

Situation:

Its a Tomales Fall Series Sunday race day, and the Laser fleet has shown up in force. On the first start, Luke and Leo hit the line moving fast and are quickly sailing towards the first mark. Luke is leeward and overlapped at the two-length zone, and hails Leo, who keeps clear around the mark. Both sailors round the mark and jibe to port hoping to get the left side shore breeze. Later down the run, Leo is leeward and overlapped and starts to come up towards Luke, who keeps clear until he sees weeds under the surface. He then tells Leo not to come up any more because he needs room. Leo hesitates but keeps coming up. Luke leans inboard and grabs the sheet and pulls the boom over to port side. He calls "Starboard" and starts heading towards Leo, who is still on port. Just then a gust his them both. Leo lets go the sheet and leans outboard maintaining course, but as the gust catches Luke it propels him right into Leo's stern quarter. Luke drives astern of Leo and stays in the breeze and soon leaves Leo astern yelling protest. How many rules have been broken? Can either sailor exhonerate themselves with a Two-Turns-Penalty?

Discussion

Part 5, of the Racing Rules covers Protests, Hearings, etc. Any of the rules in Sections A or B can be altered by specific statements in the "Sailing Instructions". The handling of protests by informal gathering on the beach at Tomales still must take evidence and find facts. While it is uncommon after an rules incident for interested parties to agree, Luke and Leo agree to the facts (as presented in the Rules Situation). Leo cites Rule 14 - Avoiding Contact, Rule 15 - Aquiring Right of Way, and Rule 16 - Changing Course and wants Luke disqualified. While Luke and Leo help each other put their boats away, the protest committee settles into arguing, drinking, pulling the one copy of the rule book out of each others hand and having a good time. The decision is: Luke is found to have broken Rule 14 by causing contact with Leo's boat. However, since Luke had the right of way as Starboard boat and because there was no damage, Luke will not be penalized. Luke is found not to have broken Rule 15, by admission both parties agree that initially Luke was keeping clear. Luke is found not to have broken Rule 16, by admission Leo made no attempt to keep clear of a right of way boat. In addition, Rule 64.1(a) allows a protest committee to disqualify a party to a protest if a rule was broken even if it was not mentioned in the protest. Leo is disqualified for breaking Rule 18.2(a) by not giving Luke room to pass the weeds (an obstruction).

Steve Sarsfield



April

Situation:

Randy and Corey are each sailing their Bodega 21's at the 2005 Annual Labor Day Regatta on Tomales Bay. Going into the fifth race on Sunday they are tied for first place and emotions are running high. Both get a good start and round the windward and wing marks together. Later, Randy is two boat lenghts ahead on port jibe heading to the leeward mark. Approaching the boats is a non-racing boat on a starboard beat. Randy calls out that he is racing, and tells the cruiser to bear away. As they converge, neither changes course. At a few boat lenghts, the cruiser bears away and passes Randy to leeward, and is now on a collision course with Corey . Corey heads up and passes the cruiser to windward, and now, four boat lenghts back, calls to Randy that Corey will protest. After a minute, they are nearing the leeward mark and as Randy starts to round, he hits the mark. Corey yells "You hit the mark, do a 360." Randy jibes to Starboard then immediately heads up, tacks and passes the mark just ahead of Corey . Corey calls out to Randy that he did not complete a 360 and will be disqualified. Will Randy be disqualified? Would Randy be disqualified if this happned in 2004?

Discussion

Randy will not be disqualified in 2005; but would have been in 2004. Changes in the Part 2 Preamble and Rule 31.2 for the Racing Rules of Sailing 2005-2008 make the difference. Randy does break government right-of-way rules by not giving way to a starboard tack boat. He is also being rude and is a bad sportsman; but, that won't get him penalized under the Racing Rules. Part 2 Preamble states the protest must be "by the race committee or the protest committee." The updated Rule 31.2 Touching a Mark, eliminates the words "complete 360" from the instructions for a penalty turn. Randy completes one tack and one jibe, thereby exonerating himself. Along those same lines, Rule 44, Penalties for Breaking Rules of Part 2, has been changed from 720 Turns Penalty to a Two-Turns Penalty. The 720 requirement is eliminated. "Two turns in the same direction including two tacks and two jibes..." remains. Of course, there's no such thing as a Bodega 21. So put your checkbook away.

Steve Sarsfield



May

Situation:

Racing in shifty winds at the Spring Lake Summer Series can be challenging. Heading to mark number 1, the wind direction changes and sometimes there can be a big gust. Sam is on starboard, and staying a litle high (to the right) of the mark in light winds heading to mark number 1. Two other starboard tackers are below him going for speed, they will have to tack twice to make the rounding. Sure enough, before they get to the layline both tack over to port. Sam is on a converging course and calls 'Starboard.' Then the first boat tacks to starboard inside the two length zone and the second right behind him. Sam is a boatlength to windward, sailing lower than a close hauled course. Both tackers have an overlap on Sam. The second boat, in clean air is catching up to the first boat and wants to sail higher to avoid a collision and calls to Sam to keep clear. At the same time Sam is telling the first boat he has no rights and should bear away so Sam can head to the mark. What rules govern this situation? Should Sam keep clear of the second tacker? Does the first tacker have any rights?

Discussion

There are a number of rules that govern this situation as it progresses. When the two boats are on port, Rule 10 - Opposite Tacks, applies. Rule 18 does not yet apply because of the exception in Rule 18.1(b). When the first boat, P1 completes her tack in the two-length zone, she now is governed by Rule 18.3 - Tacking at a Mark. She must not prevent Sam from passing the mark nor cause Sam to sail above close hauled to avoid her. If Sam, in this situation can keep clear of the inside boat, P1, by heading up to close hauled no rules have been broken. Moreover, even though P1 is the inside boat, Rule 18.3 shuts off her overlap rights granted by 18.2. P2 is governed by a different set of rules because she completes her tack outside the two-length zone. Rule 13 - While Tacking, limits her rights until she is on a close hauled course. Rule 15 - Acquring Right of Way, says she must initially give Sam room to keep clear. Rule 16 - Changing course, says she must give Sam room to keep clear if she changes course (wants to sail higher). Sam is also governed by some rules. As soon as P2 is close hauled and overlapped, Sam is now governed by Rule 11 - Same Tack Overlapped, and must keep clear. As one of them reaches the two-length zone, Rule 18.2(a) takes over and Sam must now give P2 room to round the mark and keep clear of P2, who now has right of way.

Steve Sarsfield






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Last Revised: May 10, 2005
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