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Join Date: Sep 2005
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There's a big difference, IMO of the definition of "enough clearance" in a racing situation vs daysailing around the bay or cruising.
When you're in a crossing situation in a race, you KNOW (most of the time) the other guy is going to stay hard on the wind, or hold his course, or, if he maneuvers it will happen with your intentions in mind. A non racer often steers an erratic course, making judging a collision course more difficult.
We've always had a nimble enough boat to be confident of executing a close cross and keeping clear - but always assuming the other boat will behave logically and/or according to the rules. Occasionally while cruising and on a beat, we're loathe to give up some hard-fought height because a cruiser is crossing with rights... so the racer in me wants course before ducking to clear. We won't press a cross ahead, but also won't feel the need to clear by a huge margin.
What happens, of course, esp if the crosser has never raced, is they 'panic' and tack away or otherwise maneuver in a way that foils our plan to safely clear and now we'll have to react to the new situation.
It's hard to blame the other boat for taking those measures, after all they don't know what we intended and may not know that a)we see them, and b) can easily get round them. Some peoples' 'comfort zones' extend 1/4 mile and no closer.
How close is too close is a hugely variable parameter... Either way it's critical to be aware of traffic, and with a big genoa this means plenty of trips across the cockpit to have a look around in your blind spot. (Especially on a sunny, crowded bay full of people out for a daysail, sailing school fleets, etc.)
1984 Fast/Nicholson 345 "FastForward"
".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)