Originally Posted by Jeff_H
This rule goes back to the days of square riggers who could barely make ground above a beam reach and which could not be tacked. The leeward boat has way fewer options than the windward boat which is assumed to have a much wider range of options from turning up parallel the course of the leeward boat to turning down and jibing and going the other way.
This is essentially it. A boat farther to windward is in a more advantageous position, from a maneuverability standpoint. Among warships, it was commonly referred to as "the weather gage" -- the preferred position when engaging another ship.
David, I think one of the reasons the rule does not make sense to you, is that you are only looking at what is probably the least common circumstance where it comes into play. You said :
Originally Posted by davidpm
The rules are well known and clear.
Sailboat on the same tack when there is no overtaking situation the windward boat stays clear of the leeward stand on boat.
My question is why is the rule written this way?
In a close hauled or nearly close hauled situation the windward boat seems to have fewer good options.
Tack, slow down some how and duck.
The leeward boat could just fall off a bit which seems easier.
You seem to assume two boats on parallel courses, both of them close hauled on same tack, with one to windward and one to leeward? The rule doesn't come in to play too often in that scenario, unless the leeward boat is markedly more weatherly than the windward boat.
The most common application of this rule is when two boats on the same tack meet, with the windward boat reaching downwind, while the leeward boat is close-hauled sailing upwind.
In other words, under this rule, the hard-pressed boat that is clawing to weather gets the advantage, and the windward boat that is sailing freely downwind with eased sheets gives way to them.