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  #1  
Old 06-13-2009
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Racing Rules Question

Two boats are heading to windward, Boat A is starboard and Boat B is Port. Boat A clearly has the right of way (ROW). Boat B has to tack on to a starboard tack same tack as boat A, boat B tacks short, which know is the leeward, Boat has is on the layline, not close hauled, boat A has about 10 degrees before close hauled. Boat A carries more speed and is passing boat B, however boat B decides to sail close hauled to initiate a penalty situation, however boat A responds by sailing away which pushes her stern within five feet of Boat B. Boat B reacts and alters coarse, creating the penalty situation. Boat B claims it is fouled and had to alter coarse. The chances of a collison are little because both boats are sailing about the same coarse now. Within seconds boat A will be clear ahead, because it has more sppeed.

The Questions
At what distance between boast is altering coarse justified?
Are there any rules to protect the Boat A when the Boat B tacked on top of Boat A.
Questions needed, has boat B completed its tack and at what point does it gain the ROW?
Is this a foul?

Help greatly appriciated
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Old 06-13-2009
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The description of the situation may bear clarification, but it sounds like boat A overstood the mark and is footing off towards it, and that boat B tacked on the layline to leeward of boat A. Boat A, moving faster, is passing boat B when boat B luffs up. You appear to say that boat A responded to B's luff by turning away (heading up, as would be expected) which brought her stern within 5 feet of boat B.

Boat B should have expected boat A to head up as a result of its action, and therefore to have boat A's stern swing closer. Though it depends on a number of variables, like wind and sea conditons, if boat A's stern was 5' awar from boat B at the closest point, it sounds like boat B overreacted in calling it a foul. If boat A moved clear ahead of boat B within a few seconds of boat B's luff, and the closest the two boats got was 5', then it would seem that appear that there was no foul. Boat B simply got passed, and didn't like it.

The distance at which one must begin altering course to avoid contact depends on many things. The speed of the boats. The wind direction and speed. The point of sail of the boats. The sea state. The caliber of the skippers and crews... and probably twenty other things you could think of. Catamarans reaching at 25 knots might have to begin reacting to a competitor's moves a quarter mile away in order to avoid a foul. J/24's in light air might get down to a couple of feet. Dinghies at mark roundings work in inches. The rules also mention manoeuvering in a "seamanlike" manner in several places, and this may be one of them. Check the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) on the ISAF website: ISAF : Home page

According to your description, boat B tacked below boat A. If boat B had tacked on top of boat A, boat A would be to leeward, and boat A would have had ROW. There are rules about how this applies wtih boats on the same tack passing one another within 3 boatlengths of each other, and how quickly the leeward boat can luff up. Check the RRS on this too.

A tack is considered completed, and the vessel gains ROW once the bow passes head-to-wind, IIRC. (Look in the RRS again.) There are limitations on the ROW vessel's actions which require them to provide time and sometimes room for the burdened vessel to respond. You can't slide up to leeward of someone, throw your tiller over to leeward, and then claim they didn't respond: you have to give them time to respond in a seamanlike manner. If they don't, THEN you have grounds for a protest.

It looks like no foul to me, but then, I wasn't there, and the description of the events seems a bit fuzzy in a couple of places.
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Old 06-14-2009
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If boat B was on her layline and not close-hauled (correct me if I misinterpret), then by luffing up to "create a penalty situation", she is sailing above her proper course. A does the right thing by altering course, but has grounds to protest B's luff. At that point B should sail clear and do her penalty turns, so the fact that she had to alter course is irrelevant.

That's how I see it.

Btw, more experienced racers tell me that skippers rarely win when they protest sailing above the proper course, because it's so hard to prove. Still, between that and Paul's well-made points, sounds like A did everything right. There's no rule I know of that says you can't get close to somebody (and if there is, it's the bit about permitting the other boat to avoid you in a seamanlike way, which B does not do).
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Old 06-14-2009
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You have a very peculiar way of expressing yourself to whit "boat B decides to sail close hauled to initiate a penalty situation". I think this would be more clearly expressed " the leeward boat heads up to close hauled knowing the the windward boay must stay clear". Nothing in your description of the leeward boat's actions indicates intention "initiate a penalty situation". Unless you were the leeward boat or otherwise know the leeward boat's intent, attribution of an intent to force a foul is strange indeed.
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More Clarification

Thanks for the responses. But I need to clarify a few things.

Boat A is fetching the mark, however is not within the three boat length distance to the mark. Boat B cannot pass clear ahead of Boat A bow and has to tack. The tack is short and just below Boat A, but within three boat lengths of Boat A, probably closer to one to two boat lengths. Boat B does not want to under shoot the mark and has to sail high a close hauled coarse. Boat A is carrying more speed and will over take Boat B within seconds. Since Boat B needs to sail close hauled, she sails a higher coarse.

My take is Boat B needs to give room to Boat A or a least time to alter coarse to steer around Boat B because he tacked on a Starboard boat, however my take is Boat B wants to drive Boat A of his line to the mark, which would allow Boat B to round ahead of Boat A or create a penalty situation if Boat A does not respond.

Am I off base on thinking Boat B tacking on Boat A has to stay clear since Boat A had the ROW. It really depends on whether Boat B has finished its tack, if Boat A has to steer around Boat B isn't that a penalty since the Boat A has to alter coarse and was the starboard boat.

This happened really fast when boats are moving at 5-6 knots. There is a lot going on in a few seconds to create the situation.
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Old 06-14-2009
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In order to avoid a penalty, boat B has to complete its tack BEFORE boat A has to alter course to avoid contact. If boat B is a boatlength or more to leeward of boat A, it would seem that boat B completed its tack and that boat A has plenty of time (and room) to avoid boat B, which in tacking gained rights as leeward boat. Boat B seems to have tacked to leeward of boat A, completed its tack, and then headed upwind on its proper course. Boat A seems to have been proceeding to the mark, found a competitor to leeward, headed up in response to their luff, and continued past them. Just because boats get close together and interact doesn't mean there's a penalty. If boat A had to alter course to avoid boat B BEFORE boat B had completed tacking, then boat B should have done some turns. Otherwise, no foul.
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Old 06-14-2009
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Thanks for the response, its nice to have third party interpretations of the situation even though no one was present.

Much Appreciated.
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Old 06-15-2009
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I highly commend The Rules in Practice 2009 - 2012 by Bryan Willis which clearly illustrates the rules in actions and organizes the rules in the contest of how they come into play on the race course.
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