RYA Case RYA2002-03
Rule 14, Avoiding Contact
When there is contact that causes damage, a right-of-way boat does not break rule 14 if it was not reasonably possible for her to avoid contact.
In the J/24 National Championships, A and B were close-hauled on starboard tack. A was some distance ahead and to leeward of B. P was close-hauled on port tack on a collision course with A. P did not keep clear of A and, to avoid her, A was compelled to crash-tack on to port, and that tack put her directly ahead of B. B then tried to avoid contact, but there was a collision resulting in damage. B protested A. The protest committee found that the tack was so close to B that contact was inevitable. It disqualified both boats —A under rule 10, and B under rule 14 for failing to anticipate a problem between A and P and so take earlier action to avoid the collision. B appealed.
B’s appeal is upheld. Both A and B are reinstated.
While B tried to avoid A, she was unable to do so. A broke Rule 13 but was compelled to do so by the action of P. A is therefore exonerated in accordance with Rule 64.1(a).
Rule 14 requires a boat to avoid contact with another boat only if it is reasonably possible to do so. When a boat on starboard tack is confronted with a keep-clear boat that has taken violent evasive action immediately ahead of her, the reaction time required to take steps to avoid contact can be too long to permit such action to be taken successfully. In those circumstances it is not reasonably possible to avoid contact and the boat concerned does not break Rule 14 if contact occurs. B is also reinstated.
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