When do coast guard regulations not apply? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 37 Old 04-18-2014 Thread Starter
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When do coast guard regulations not apply?

I have been sailing several years and I know the Coast Guard Navigation Rules well enough to fell comfortable cruising in our area of the Pamlico Sound North Carolina. I have recently joined in with a small racing club, of about 20 boats 25' to 35' (mine is 30'). The club follows US Sailing ISAF Rules of Racing 2013-2016.

So, I have a fundamental question and I am almost embarrased that I am asking, because I am so sure that I know the answer. But, my question is, is there any reason for me to believe that while racing, any of the Coast Guard Navigation Rules do not apply.

I have follow up questions depending on how the discussion goes.
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post #2 of 37 Old 04-18-2014
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Re: When do coast guard regulations not apply?

This is my understanding - and I am not a maritime lawyer, so... When you are racing, you and the other boats in the race agree to be governed by the Racing Rules of Sailing when it comes to encounters between the boats racing. If you encounter another boat not racing, then COLREGS apply. Many offshore races suspend the RRS and revert to COLREGS at night, for safety reasons. (No luffing after dark)
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post #3 of 37 Old 04-18-2014
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Re: When do coast guard regulations not apply?

Sandy has it right.

While racing under RRS or any other racing rule system, COLREGs do not apply to boats that are racing. But they do apply between boats that are racing and boats that are not racing.

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post #4 of 37 Old 04-19-2014
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Re: When do coast guard regulations not apply?

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Originally Posted by MoncSail View Post
So, I have a fundamental question and I am almost embarrased that I am asking, because I am so sure that I know the answer. But, my question is, is there any reason for me to believe that while racing, any of the Coast Guard Navigation Rules do not apply.
Read the racing rules carefully. The normal rules apply and the racing rules are a layer on top of them. It is a higher and more defined standard, not a different one.

Incidentally the COLREGS apply outside the demarkation line. Inside the US line the US Inland Rules apply. Not many differences but they are there.
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post #5 of 37 Old 04-19-2014
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Re: When do coast guard regulations not apply?

Just try to stay so far ahead, you don't have to remember any of them.
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post #6 of 37 Old 04-19-2014
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Re: When do coast guard regulations not apply?

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Just try to stay so far ahead, you don't have to remember any of them.

...or angrily yell "Starboard" or "Overlap" with a red face anytime any boat gets near yours to baffle your competitors...
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Re: When do coast guard regulations not apply?

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...or angrily yell "Starboard" or "Overlap" with a red face anytime any boat gets near yours to baffle your competitors...
Yelling "Port" baffles them even more.
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post #8 of 37 Old 04-19-2014
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Re: When do coast guard regulations not apply?

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...or angrily yell "Starboard" or "Overlap" with a red face anytime any boat gets near yours to baffle your competitors...
In a "rookie" regatta once going for the start line on a starboard tack the "rookie" helmsman looked over his left shoulder and hollered "STARBOARD!!!!" at the adjacent boat. They were so surprised they didn't say anything but they all had that "HUH???" look on their faces.

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post #9 of 37 Old 04-19-2014
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Re: When do coast guard regulations not apply?

"But, my question is, is there any reason for me to believe that while racing, any of the Coast Guard Navigation Rules do not apply. "
Nope. Racers get no special standing in the eyes of the law.

USCG regulations apply in all the navigable waters of the US, at all times. State laws additionally apply in all state waters at all times.

Racing rules are a third layer of rules that apply only to racers.

Yachtsmen, who are by definition gentlemen, will often cut racers some extra slack if they are observed to be racing, but that's by courtesy, not by law.
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post #10 of 37 Old 04-19-2014
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Re: When do coast guard regulations not apply?

Ok, I will say it again with more authority and cites. While racing the only rules that pally between racing boats are the Racing Rules of Sailing (or local rules). The colregs do not apply (at least in the US). Below are exerts from the only US Circuit Court to ever hear a case on point. Juno SRL v. Endeavor, Nos. 95-1426, 94-2193




The history of the COLREGS shows that they were enacted because of the need to establish a code of international rules of the road for maritime traffic throughout the world.   See H.R.Rep. No. 447, 95th Cong., 1st Sess. 1977, reprinted in 1977 U.S.C.C.A.N. 509.   However, nothing in their history, or in the public policy issues that led to their enactment, indicates that they were meant to regulate voluntary private sports activity in which the participants have waived their application and in which no interference with nonparticipating maritime traffic is implicated.   Therefore, by entering a regatta with sailing instructions which unambiguously set forth special, binding “rules of the road,” the participants waive conflicting COLREGS and must sail in accordance with the agreed-upon rules.   We base this conclusion not only on the nature and history of both the COLREGS and the private activity in question, but also because of the strong public policy in favor of the private settlement of disputes. - See more at: JUNO SRL v. ENDEAVOUR, Nos.?95-1426, 94-2193., June 09, 1995 - US 1st Circuit | FindLaw



Thus, the CHARLES JOURDAN and the ENDEAVOUR were contractually bound to race by the rules of the road contained in the IYRRs, and to resolve issues related to fault for any collisions according to those rules.   This is consistent with the long-established traditions and rules of conduct of this sport.   See generally J. Rousmaniere, The Golden Pasttime:  A New History of Yachting (1986).   Moreover, there is a well-established public policy encouraging the private resolution of disputes through arbitration and other non-judicial forums. - See more at: JUNO SRL v. ENDEAVOUR, Nos.?95-1426, 94-2193., June 09, 1995 - US 1st Circuit | FindLaw [citations removed]



Insistence on blind application of COLREGS to the facts of this case is not only unsupported by any historical imperative in this legislation and contrary to the weight of the sparse relevant authority, it is logically unsound.   Such application would turn on its head and render rife with uncertainty the thousands of private yacht races that take place throughout the United States and worldwide in which participants voluntarily agree to be bound by the IYRRs.   See De Sole, 947 F.2d at 1170.   The decision could even have a serious negative impact on such international races as the America's Cup or the yachting events of the forthcoming Olympic Games in Atlanta.   Under such logic, notwithstanding agreement by Olympic participants to abide by IYRRs and to have protests decided by international juries, they could thereafter relitigate any issues in the courts under the COLREGS.   Such absurdity is difficult to countenance, and cannot have been contemplated by Congress or the treaty negotiating authorities when the COLREGS were adopted.   Such legislation is simply not applicable to private yacht racing in which the participants have voluntarily adopted a different set of rules of the road for application among themselves.10 - See more at: JUNO SRL v. ENDEAVOUR, Nos.?95-1426, 94-2193., June 09, 1995 - US 1st Circuit | FindLaw



In sum, the International Jury found the ENDEAVOR solely responsible for the collision, and it was inappropriate for the district court to have gone beyond this decision in the assignment of fault.   We conclude that the findings of that forum were final and binding on the parties, and we therefore reverse the decision of the district court in that regard. - See more at: JUNO SRL v. ENDEAVOUR, Nos.?95-1426, 94-2193., June 09, 1995 - US 1st Circuit | FindLaw





There is similar case law at least from England and other commonwealth countries.
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