Case 23
Definitions, Clear Astern and Clear Ahead; Overlap
Definitions, Obstruction
Rule 10, On Opposite Tacks
Rule 14, Avoiding Contact
Rule 19, Room to Pass an Obstruction
On a run, rule 19 does not apply to a starboard-tack boat that passes between two port-tack boats ahead of her. Rule 10 requires both port-tack boats to keep clear.
Facts
Three boats, one on starboard tack and two on port, were running. S overtook PL and PW and passed between them as shown in the diagram. The three boats continued on slightly converging courses, as shown, until S touched first PW and then PL. PW protested S, alleging that she had broken rule 19.2(c) because PL as leeward boat constituted an obstruction to PW as windward boat, and S had no right to come between them. The protest committee disqualified both PL and PW under rule 10, and PW appealed.

Decision
While the boats sailed from position 1 to position 4, rule 10 required both PW and PL to keep clear of S. Because all three boats were sailing more than 90 degrees from the true wind, S and PL were overlapped from position 1 to position 4, and S and PW were overlapped from shortly after position 2 to position 4 (see the definition Clear Astern and Clear Ahead; Overlap). Rule 19 did not apply because during that time there was no obstruction that any two of the boats passed on the same side. The penultimate sentence of the definition Obstruction means that PW was not an obstruction to either S or PL because neither of them was required to keep clear of PW. Similarly, PL was not an obstruction to either S or PW because S was not required to keep clear of PL. Because both PL and PW were required by rule 10 to keep clear of S, the penultimate sentence of the definition means that S was an obstruction to both PL and PW. However, rule 19 did not apply because at no time did both PL and PW pass S on the same side. Also, rule 19.2(c), which was cited by PW in her protest, applies only while boats are passing a continuing obstruction, and, as the last sentence of the definition Obstruction states, a boat racing that is under way is never a continuing obstruction.


There was contact between S and PW and between S and PL. However, because S became trapped between PW and PL as their courses converged, it was not "reasonably possible" for S to avoid contact after it became clear that PW and PL were not keeping clear. Therefore, S did not break rule 14.

Under rule 10, S held right of way over both port-tack boats, PL and PW, neither of which kept clear of her. Therefore, both PL and PW broke rule 10. Both PL and PW could easily have avoided contact with S, so both of them also broke rule 14. The protest committee's decision to disqualify both boats is upheld and PW's appeal is dismissed.