USA Appeal US108
Rule 11, On the Same Tack, Overlapped
Rule 15, Acquiring Right of Way
Rule 16.1, Changing Course
NA 25 vs. NA 32

When a leeward boat is changing course toward a windward boat, she may need to change course away from the windward boat when the boats get near each other in order to continue to give the windward boat room to keep clear.

Facts and Decision of the Protest Committee
In 6-8 knots of wind, two Naval Academy 44s (44-foot sloops, 29,000 lbs. displacement, fin keel, spade rudder) were approaching the starting line on starboard tack. At about one minute before the start (position 1), NA 32 (W) was clear ahead and her speed was about 2.5 knots (10.5 seconds per boat length). Shortly before position 2, NA 25 (L), whose speed was about 3 knots (8.5 seconds per boat length) established an overlap from clear astern. Between positions 2 and 4, L was changing her course, first by luffing and then by bearing away, and W was changing her course to keep clear. No contact occurred. L protested W for breaking rule 11. Neither boat was penalized by the protest committee. L appealed.

Decision of the Appeals Committee
When L established her leeward overlap from clear astern, she initially gave W room to keep clear, as required by rule 15. Between positions 2 and 3, W was promptly luffing away from L. Between positions 2 and 4, while L, the right-of-way boat, was changing her course, she was required by rule 16.1 to give W room to keep clear. At position 3, L could sail her course with no need to take avoiding action because the difference in speeds between the boats and the closing angle were so slight. Furthermore, L would not have made immediate contact with W if she had luffed or borne away. However, if L had held her course W very soon would have been unable to keep clear. L then promptly bore away to meet her obligation under rule 16.1. Therefore, after the overlap began, W kept clear and L gave her room to do so. No rule was broken.

The appeal is denied and neither boat is to be penalized.

April 2012
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