Case 13
Definitions,Proper Course
Rule 11, On the Same Tack, Overlapped
Rule 14, Avoiding Contact
Rule 15, Acquiring Right of Way
Rule 16.1, Changing Course
Rule 17, On the Same Tack; Proper Course
Before her starting signal, a leeward boat does not break a rule by sailing a course higher than the windward boat's course.
As the two 14-foot (4 m) dinghies manoeuvred before the starting signal, they crossed the starting line. While bearing away to return to the pre-start side, L, initially the windward boat, assumed a leeward position by sailing under W’s stern. Immediately after position 4, L luffed to close-hauled and sailed straight for the port end of the line. W meanwhile, with sheets eased, sailed along the line more slowly. At position 5, there was contact, W’s boom touching L’s windward shroud. L protested W under rule 11; W counter-protested under rules 12 and 15.

The protest committee found that L had right of way under rule 11 from the time she assumed a steady course until contact. W had room to keep clear, although she would have had to cross the starting line prematurely to do so. Therefore, it dismissed W's protest and upheld the protest by L. W appealed, this time citing rule 16.1.

W's appeal is dismissed. Between positions 2 and 3 L became overlapped to leeward of W, acquiring right of way under rule 11 but limited by rule 15's requirement to initially give room to W to keep clear. L met that requirement because L gave W room to keep clear. Just after position 4, when L luffed to a close-hauled course, she was required by rule 16.1 to give W room to keep clear, and she did so.

L had been clear astern of W and was within two of her hull lengths of W when she became overlapped to leeward of W. Therefore, she was required by rule 17 to sail no higher than her proper course. However, she had no proper course before the starting signal (see the definition Proper Course) and the starting signal was not made until after the incident. Therefore, L,s luff did not break rule 17 and she was in fact entitled to luff higher than she did, even as high as head to wind, as long as while so doing she complied with rule 16.1.

After L became overlapped to leeward of W, W was required by rule 11 to keep clear of L. She did not do so and accordingly her disqualification under rule 11 is upheld. In addition, W broke rule 14 because she could have avoided the contact with L.

L also broke rule 14 because it would have been easy for her to bear off slightly and avoid the contact. However, she is exonerated because she was the right-of-way boat and there was no damage or injury.
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