SL and SW were approaching the starting line to start, with SL sailing high of the beam reach course to the first mark. SW was to windward of SL and converging with her. SL crossed the starting line just after the starting signal, one boat length to leeward of the starting mark, with SW overlapping her to windward and with SW’s bow overlapping the mark. SL then luffed above the course to the first mark. The bow of SW contacted SL about amidships and almost at right angles. SW was forced by the contact into the starting mark. Both boats protested. SW was disqualified under rule 11
. SW appealed.
Under the preamble to Section C, SL was under no obligation to give SW, a windward boat, mark-room
to pass to leeward of the starting mark. However, rule 16.1
required SL to give SW room to keep clear when SL changed course just prior to position 2. SL broke rule 16.1
, by changing course when SW could no longer alter course without contacting the mark. Rule 16.1
required SL to give SW room
to keep clear. Room
is defined as “The space a boat needs in the existing conditions, including space to comply with her obligations under the rules of Part 2 and rule 31
, while manoeuvring promptly in a seamanlike way.” It is not seamanlike to be forced to contact objects such as, in this case, a mark or its ground tackle, or both. SW protested SL for being wrongfully compelled to touch the mark and to break rule 31
. SL is disqualified and SW is exonerated under rule 21
(b) for touching a mark. The appeal is upheld. SW is to be reinstated in her finishing position.