Summary of the Facts
After rounding the windward mark in light wind the fleet divided, some boats sailing towards shore to get out of the tide and others remaining offshore in hopes of a better wind. L had established an overlap to leeward of W from clear astern while within two of her hull lengths of W, and they rounded the mark overlapped. W chose to remain offshore, while L began to luff slowly and informed W of her intention to go inshore. W replied "You have no right to luff" L replied that she was sailing her proper course and W was required to keep clear. The discussion took some time. L continued to gradually change course, and at no time did W state that she was unable to keep clear. The boats touched and both protested. The protest committee disqualified L under rule 17
for sailing above her proper course, and she appealed.
When, owing to a difference of opinion on the proper course to be sailed, two boats on the same tack converge, W is bound by rule 11
to keep clear and by rule 14
to avoid contact.
This case illustrates the fact that two boats on the same leg sailing very near to one another can have different proper courses. Which of two different courses is the faster one to the next mark can not be determined in advance and is not necessarily proven by one boat or the other reaching the next mark ahead.
The basis for W's protest was that L sailed above her proper course while subject to rule 17
. L's defence and counter-protest were that she had decided that the inshore course out of the tide would result in her finishing sooner and that, therefore, the course she was sailing was her proper course. In addition, L argued that W had broken rules 11
The facts found do not show that L sailed above her proper course; therefore she did not break rule 17
. When L luffed slowly between positions 1 and 2, W had room to keep clear, so L did not break rule 16.1
. L could have avoided contact with W. By not doing so, she broke rule 14
, but is exonerated for breaking it because she was the right-of-way boat and the contact caused no damage or injury.
By failing to keep clear of L, W broke rule 11
. W could have avoided the contact, and by not doing so she too broke rule 14
, but she is not exonerated.
L's appeal is upheld. L is reinstated, and W is disqualified for breaking rules 11