Case 107
Rule 14, Avoiding Contact
Rule 44.1, Penalties at the Time of an Incident: Taking a Penalty
Rule 64.2(a), Decisions: Penalties
During the starting sequence, a boat that is not keeping a lookout may thereby fail to do everything reasonably possible to avoid contact. Hailing is one way that a boat may “act to avoid contact”. When a boat's breach of a rule of Part 2 causes serious damage and she then retires, she has taken the applicable penalty and is not to be disqualified for that breach.
Between the preparatory and starting signals, Ephesian on starboard tack and Jupa on port tack approached each other head-to-head. Both boats were heavy keelboats, 33 feet (10 m) long. Neither boat was aware of the other. The bowmen on both boats, who normally would have been stationed by the forestay, were handling their genoas, and no other crew members were keeping a lookout. Ephesian was moving slowly with limited manoeuvrability. They collided, causing serious damage to Jupa, who therefore retired. In the resulting protest, Jupa was disqualified under rule 10, and Ephesian was disqualified under rule 14. Ephesian appealed, claiming that she could not have avoided Jupa by changing course or speed.

Rule 14 begins “A boat shall avoid contact with another boat if reasonably possible.” This requirement means a boat must do everything that can reasonably be expected of her in the prevailing conditions to avoid contact. This includes keeping a good lookout while sailing in the starting area during the starting sequence, a time when boats are often close to one another and frequently change course.

The protest committee concluded that if either boat had seen the other a collision could have been avoided, even at the last minute, particularly if Ephesian had hailed Jupa when it was clear that Jupa was not changing course to keep clear. Until that moment, rule 14(a) allows a right-of-way boat to delay acting to avoid contact. It follows that at that moment she must begin to act in an effort to avoid contact. The word “act” is not restricted to changing course or speed. Hailing was an action that Ephesian could and should have taken. Ephesian broke rule 14. Because the collision resulted in damage, Ephesian was not exonerated by rule 43.1(c) and the protest committee's decision to disqualify her was correct. Her appeal is therefore dismissed.

Clearly, Jupa broke rule 10. As a result of the serious damage she suffered in the collision, she retired from the race and thus took the applicable penalty (see rule 44.1(b)). Rule 64.2(a) prohibits penalizing her further. The disqualification of Jupa is reversed and she is to be scored RET.

GBR 2004/6
Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn more