USA Appeal US13
Definitions, Proper Course
Rule 11, On the Same Tack, Overlapped
Rule 15, Acquiring Right of Way
Rule 17, On the Same Tack; Proper Course
L vs. W

Different boats may have different proper courses at any given moment. When those proper courses conflict, the right-of-way boat is entitled to sail her proper course.

Facts and Decision of the Protest Committee
About 1.2 miles from the leeward mark, L and W were broad-reaching on starboard tack, W using only her main and jib and L carrying a spinnaker. L established a leeward overlap from astern, which continued for at least eight to ten hull lengths when L bore away to try to avoid contact. W was not heading below the leeward mark.

When the overlap was first established, L was between one and two of her lengths to leeward. She did not change course until just before the collision. W hailed L twice before the collision L did not hear the hails and was unaware that a collision was imminent. No damage or injury resulted from the collision. The protest committee disqualified W under rule 11 for failing to keep clear and under rule 14 for failing to avoid contact. It also decided that L broke rule 14, but could not be penalized for that breach because the contact did not cause damage or injury. W appealed.

Decision of the Appeals Committee
The protest committee found that when L first established her overlap she was at least a hull length to leeward of W. That being so, there can be no question that L “initially” gave W room to keep clear as required by rule 15. W was required to keep clear under rule 11. Conversely, L, having been clear astern before the overlap began, was required by rule 17 not to sail above her proper course while the boats remained on the same tack and overlapped within two lengths.

Different boats may have different proper courses at any moment depending on the circumstances. However, when those proper courses put the boats on converging courses, the windward boat must keep clear of the leeward boat.

L’s proper course was the course that she would sail, in the absence of W (the other boat referred to in rule 17), to finish as quickly as possible. The mark was a considerable distance away. There is no evidence that L was sailing above her proper course. Thus, she was fulfilling her requirement with respect to rule 17. W was required by rule 11 to keep clear of L, and she failed to do so.

W’s appeal is denied, the decision of the protest committee is upheld, and W remains disqualified.

February 1959
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