Case 87
Definitions, Keep Clear
Rule 10, On Opposite Tacks
Rule 14(a), Avoiding Contact
A right-of-way boat need not act to avoid contact until it is clear that the other boat is not keeping clear.
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The angle of the starting line made it only just possible for a close-hauled boat on starboard tack to cross the line, and most boats approached on port tack. However, S approached on starboard tack from the right-hand end, continually hailing "Starboard" to port-tack boats as they approached.

P1 and P2 bore off below S. P3, however, made no attempt to avoid S and struck her amidships at right angles, causing considerable damage. The protest committee disqualified both boats, P3 under rule 10 and S under rule 14. S appealed.

Rule 10 required P3 to keep clear of S. Rule 14 required each boat to avoid contact with the other boat if reasonably possible. In P3's case, rule 14's requirement to avoid contact with S was consistent with the broader requirement of rule 10 that she allow S to "sail her course with no need to take avoiding action" (see the definition Keep Clear). P3 broke both rule 10 and rule 14.

In S's case, while rule 10 required P3 to keep clear of her, at the same time S was required by rule 14 to avoid contact if it was "reasonably possible" to do so. However, rule 14(a) allowed S to sail her course in the expectation that P3 would keep clear as required, until such time as it became clear that P3 would not do so. In this case, the diagram shows that P3 could readily have borne off and avoided S from a position very close to S. For that reason, the time between the moment it became clear that P3 would not keep clear and the time of the collision was a very brief interval, so brief that it was impossible for S to avoid contact. Therefore, S did not break rule 14. S's appeal is upheld, and she is to be reinstated.

CAN 1994/105
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