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Old 06-11-2004
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Proper Course

Can someone clarify the meaning of proper course. One boat is trying to prevent another from passing, he starts to head up while on a close reach. At what point is he not sailing the proper course? There seems to be a tremendous amount of gray area, increasing exponentially the farthur from the mark to boats are.
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Old 06-11-2004
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dpboatnut is on a distinguished road
Proper Course

Proper Course: A course a boat would sail to finish as soon as possible in the absence
of the other boats referred to in the rule using the term. A boat has no proper course
before her starting signal.

That''s the RRS definition, but that shouldn''t be taken to mean that there is a proscription on a boat to sail that course. There are a few rules that use the definition, but generally, there isn''t a rule that says a boat must sail a proper course.

In your specific case, if a boat establishes an ovelap to leeward from behind, she can''t then luff the windward boat. But if a boat overtakes to windward, the leeward boat can luff her without limit, provided she gives the windward boat ''room'' to ''keep clear'' (which are two more defined terms in the rulebook).

As your note implies, there are more cases when proper course becomes relevant at mark roundings, as when otherwise burdened boats establish inside overlaps, and can not then use their rights to room at the mark to prevent outside boats from also rounding reasonably.

Crystal clear, right?
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Old 06-11-2004
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Proper Course

Not even as clear as that! If a boat comes up on a boat from behind (within two boatlengths of the windward boat) , the windward boat must still keep clear, and I believe the leeward boat can go up to close hauled IF THAT IS HER PROPER COURSE. This happened to us on a reaching leg where we were heading higher (and going faster) than a boat to windward of us. We became overlapped with us to leeward and we pinched him off despite his loud and repeated calls for us to "go to your proper course." The fact that we were passing the windward boat made it clear to the arbitrator (our club avoids protests by using an arbitrator) that the higher heading we were on WAS INDEED our proper course. Many people think "proper course" is the direct line, compass course to the next mark. This is NOT the case. Even these people would agree that if the current was carrying you to the side, you''d have to adjust your heading to compensate-- and thus your "proper course" could be different from another boat that has more leeway than yours. Add different factors for windward and reaching ability, and "proper course" becomes a very vague term.
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Old 06-14-2004
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Proper Course

Hmmmm... Different interpretation. "Proper Course" referes to the course you would have to travel to go directly to the next observed mark, regardless of weather or not you could actually sail to that course. A weather mark comes to mind, but it really comes into play down wind.

Off the wind, you will usually be taking down wind if the rum line is dead down wind. You will then come into overlap and luffing situations with other vessels. You can bring some one up, given the satisfaction of the ovelap rules, TO THE POINT YOU CAN GO DIRECTLY TO MARK... your "Proper Course" and no more.
In any situation where you are trying to head someone up... you can only force them up to YOUR "Proper Course", too bad if they do not perform as well as you.
When reaching with a chute to the next mark, they may not be able to carry and you can. You can have your way with the windward boat until you reach your "Proper Course" and not any further.
Or you may be under genoa or jib and you want to force the boat with the chute trying to roll you up to luff, but you can only go up to your "Proper Course"

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Old 06-14-2004
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Proper Course

Ooh, a rules question!

DPBoatnut is correct, it all depends on how the overlap is established. Whether you are sailing upwind to the windward mark or reaching/running to leeward mark, if you overtake a boat on the leeward side (leaving them to weather), you cannot sail above proper course once the overlap is established. If, however, you are "rolling" another boat by passing to weather, they can bring you up to head to wind. And DP has also given the correct definition of proper course, which as PaulK points out, might not be the course your competitor is sailing or expects you to sail.

Allen Flanigan
Alexandria, VA
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Old 06-14-2004
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Proper Course

Like the original question, perhaps someone can help me understand another issue related to proper course:

The Sailing Instructions for the Newport-Ensenada race contain the phrase "The jury will use 138 degrees magnetic for the purpose of determining proper course at the start". Background: 138 is the rumb-line course to finish, but everybody starts going much more close-hauled, say around 180, with the wind form somewhere in the southwest to west.

So, if the RRS says there is no proper course before the start, and afterward, a boat overtaking to leeward would want to sail much higher than 138 as her proper course, how is this Instruction justified or explained? Have they effectively amended the RRS to include a proper course at the start, where the RRS contains none?

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Old 06-14-2004
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Proper Course


''Proper Course'' is a Definition which according to RR 86.1b cannot be changed by the Sailing Instructions. At least that is the way I read it.

Regards, George
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