Boats L and W were dinghies, 15 feet (5 m) in length. About 200 yards (200 m) from the mark, L became overlapped to leeward of W from clear astern. L was less than two of her hull lengths from W. The two boats then sailed alongside each other, about one-and-a-half hull lengths apart, until they were 80 yards (80 m) from the mark. At this point, L luffed slightly to sail directly to the mark, a luff that did not affect W. W maintained a steady course. L never became clear ahead. W's boom touched L's shroud, without damage or injury, and L protested under rule 11
. L's protest was dismissed, and she was disqualified on the grounds that she had not allowed W enough room to fulfill her obligation to keep clear as required by rule 15
. L appealed.
L's appeal is upheld. When L became overlapped to leeward of W, W became bound by rule 11
to keep clear of L. At the same time, L was bound by rule 15
to allow W room to keep clear, but that obligation is not a continuing one, and in this case the overlap had been in existence for a considerable period during which W certainly had room to keep clear.
applied to L because, as the diagram shows, she had been clear astern before the boats became overlapped and was within two of her hull lengths of W when the overlap began. L was justified in changing course to sail directly to the mark, provided that she did not sail above her proper course; it is L's proper course that is the criterion for deciding whether she broke rule 17
. According to the agreed diagram, L at no time sailed above her proper course. Therefore L did not break rule 17
. Just after position 3 L luffed slightly. Clearly there was room for W to keep clear, and so L did not break rule 16.1
. L broke rule 14
because she could have avoided contact with W, but she is exonerated under rule 14
(b) because there was no damage or injury. W is disqualified under rule 11
, and L is reinstated.