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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.

I suspect it has to do with the idea that the windward boat has clean air and the leeward boat may have less control because of dirty air but I'm wondering if any of you historians have the real answer.

But frankly if I'm not racing and I can simply bear off a few degrees to allow a fellow sailor to maintain course I usually do so rather than insisting on my leeward "rights".
 

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The yacht to windward has clear air and greater maneuverability in comparison to a yacht to leeward who's air may be blocked or disturbed by the sails of the yacht to windward. "Covering" a yacht to leeward--i.e. holding it in one's own windshadow makes it difficult or impossible for the leeward yacht to pass a windward yacht.
 

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Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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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.

Jeff
 

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I don't know why the rule is the way it is but here is why it makes sense to me.

When sailing solo in a small sailboat you are sitting on the weather rail with the tiller in one hand and sheet in the other. Your field of vision is generally to leeward.

In many cases on even a multi crew boat the natural field of vision is more to leeward than windward especially if you are in a situation where the boat must be worked continuously.

This means the windward boat can see and react to the leeward boat much easier and faster than can the leeward to the windward
 

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When sailing solo in a small sailboat you are sitting on the weather rail with the tiller in one hand and sheet in the other. Your field of vision is generally to leeward.

In many cases on even a multi crew boat the natural field of vision is more to leeward than windward
It is? Really?
I must be missing something.
 

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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.

Jeff
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 :

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.
 

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In the 36 mile distance race we just did with a Spinaker start i had a 37' boat below me screaming leeward boat 30 seconds into the race before he even had overlap

I just gave him a WTF do you want me to do look its blowing 20 knots were going 18 miles EAST and i really cant sail and higher without going into the boats above ME


It was a wild day as 10R and SC52 also felt the need to get real close to me and then round up in a puff :( BUT i must have been going the right way for them to feel the need to sail that close :)
 

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It is? Really?
I must be missing something.
Anytime you are looking at the sails you are looking to leeward. Most of the work trimming the sails is looking to leeward. When you work the boat you generally work on the winwdward side looking inboard, which is to leeward.

Even at the wheel, I have a tendency to be on the windward side of the wheel, looking generally leeward.

I am not saying this is why the rule is that way, just why it makes sense to me. On a sailboat there is, generally, a better watch to leeward.
 

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The Leeward vessel has the right of way because if the windward vessel causes a wind shadow it reduces the Leeward vessel ability to maneuver to Naught.
Then you get into the Starboard & Port tacks for right of way also. Read your Rules of the Road. If you don't have a copy then download it from the USCG.
 

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Anytime you are looking at the sails you are looking to leeward.
Gumbeau,
My point is that to windward I have a completely unobstructed view.

But to see anybody to my leeward, I have to look under or behind sails; my view to leeward is completely blocked.
 

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Gumbeau,
My point is that to windward I have a completely unobstructed view.

But to see anybody to my leeward, I have to look under or behind sails; my view to leeward is completely blocked.
I don't disagree that the view to windward is unobstructed.

But it usually requires turning around, especially in a small sailboat with a tiller.

A sailor hiked out with a tiller in one hand and sheet in the other has a hard seeing behind him.

On a cruiser with an autohelm, not so much.
 
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