Case 25
Definition, Mark-Room
Rule 11, On the Same Tack, Overlapped
Rule 14, Avoiding Contact
Rule 16.1, Changing Course
Rule 18.2(b), Mark-Room: Giving Mark-Room
Rule 18.2(d), Mark-Room: Giving Mark-Room
Rule 21(a), Exoneration
When an inside overlapped windward boat that is entitled to mark-room takes more space than she is entitled to, she must keep clear of the outside leeward boat, and the outside boat may luff provided that she gives the inside boat room to keep clear.
Facts
Two 15-foot (4.5 m) dinghies, IW and OL, were approaching a leeward port-hand mark. The next leg was a beat to windward. IW established an inside overlap on OL well before the boats reached the zone, and OL gave IW space to sail to the mark and to round the mark onto a close-hauled course. After IW passed the mark, OL began to luff to her course to the next mark. IW was slower in heading up, and her boom, still well out, touched OL's helmsman and shrouds. At the time of the contact IW was a hull length from the mark and over sailing below a close-hauled. No damage or injury occurred. IW protested OL under rule 18.2(b), and OL protested IW under rule 11.


The protest committee decided that, because IW did not promptly head up to a close-hauled course after sailing to the mark, she took more space than she was entitled to under rule 18.2(b). IW did not deny this but attributed it to her main sheet being led from the end of her boom, as compared to the centre-boom lead used by OL.

The protest committee dismissed IW's protest, upheld OL's, and disqualified IW for breaking rule 11. IW appealed.

Decision
IW's proper course was to sail close to the mark, and the course change necessary to sail the course was to round up to a close-hauled course. Therefore, rule 18.2(b) required OL to give IW room to sail to the mark and room to round it onto a close-hauled course, leaving it on the required side. Between positions 1 and 2 OL gave IW room to sail to the mark and between positions 2 and 3 room to round the mark onto a close-hauled course. Therefore, OL did not break rule 18.2(b).

About halfway between positions 2 and 3, IW had been given the space she needed to sail to and around the mark onto a close-hauled course, leaving it on the required side. She therefore had been given mark-room by OL, and at that moment rule 18.2(b) ceased to apply (see rule 18.2(d)).

Throughout the incident IW was required by rule 11 to keep clear of OL. IW sailed a hull length away from the mark on a course below closehauled, and shortly before the contact at position 3, IW broke rule 11 by failing to keep clear.

When OL luffed between positions 2 and 3, OL was required by rule 16.1 to give IW room to keep clear. OL luffed approximately 30 degrees while moving forward two hull lengths. Even with a boom-end main sheet rig, a boat sailed in a seamanlike way can turn through 30 degrees and trim her mainsail appropriately while moving forward two hull lengths. Therefore, OL gave IW room to keep clear and did not break rule 16.1.

IW is not exonerated under rule 21(a) for breaking rule 11 because, when she did so, she was no longer entitled to mark-room from OL, and she was sailing to leeward of, not within, the room to which she was entitled under rule 16.1.

OL could have avoided contact with IW, and so OL broke rule 14. She is exonerated for doing so because she was the right of way boat and the contact resulted in neither damage nor injury (see rule 14(b)).

It was possible for IW to have avoided the contact, and therefore IW also broke rule 14. However, because IW was entitled to room under rule 16.1 and the contact resulted in neither damage nor injury, she too is exonerated for breaking rule 14.

IW's appeal is dismissed. The protest committee's decision to disqualify IW under rule 11 is upheld.