Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

“Restricted” Start/Finish Line: Mark-room?

Mays Dickey
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
In a multi-fleet dinghy regatta, the SIs state that “after the first warning of the day the Start/Finish lines are restricted unless preparing to start, starting or finishing.” No mention is made of any areas designated as obstructions.

After starting but before finishing, Boat A and Boat B are sailing downwind towards the start/finish pin, an inflatable tetrahedron. As the boats approach the pin, both boats are on port tack with Boat A overlapped to leeward of Boat B. 

Boat B, the windward boat, is on a collision course with the pin. When they are two boatlengths away, B hails for mark-room. Boat A luffs slowly in response. As a result of her luff, Boat B is forced to sail to windward of the pin and over the line in order to avoid a collision.

Part 1. Is Boat B entitled to mark-room?

Part 2. If your answer to Part 1 is yes, is Boat B exonerated for sailing through the start/finish line?





Created: 21-Sep-25 14:41

Comments

P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Mays, there are 2-3 other threads talking about this question (how to declare it and not to declare it and the implications when it is done incompletely).  I think 2 were the start line and there was a 3rd where a “do not cross” line was defined in a channel.  

Maybe other forum members can find them and post the links as a comment (I would normally, but can’t right now). 
Created: 21-Sep-25 14:50
Tim Hohmann
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
0
Re question 2 (and assuming an entitlement to room, as yet not established), B may have been compelled to sail to weather of the pin but A did not compel her to cross the line. B could have remained to weather of the line and sailed around the other end without crossing. So no 43.1(a) exoneration. 
Created: 21-Sep-25 15:40
Phil Mostyn
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Umpire
  • International Judge
0
The pin was not a mark of the course for A & B after starting and sailing on the downwind leg of the course. Hence no mark-room.

The ‘restricted’ start/finish line, however, was an obstruction.

Given the said scenario, as inside overlapped on A, B was entitled to room to avoid the pin end of the obstruction under rule 19.2(b).

By sailing through the obstruction B broke the relative SI. Unfortunately a PC might find B was not “compelled” to break a rule if she could have avoided the obstruction by sailing around the other end of the obstruction. Alternatively, B might instead have avoided the obstruction by luffing hard and tacking around the stern of A and around the pin end of the start/finish line. Hence there might be no exoneration under rule 43.1(a).

It’s always prudent to make your intentions very clear by hailing early, loudly and often.





Created: 21-Sep-25 16:38
Tim Hohmann
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
0
I'm not sure that declaring the start/finish line "restricted" makes it an obstruction under the current definition - "an object, area or line so designated by the sailing instructions."

"So designated", to me, would mean specifically named as an obstruction. "Restricted" isn't defined in RRS so we're left to Mr. Webster. I think the most fitting definition in this instance would be "available to the use of particular groups or specifically excluding others." The line is available to starters and finishers and all other boats are excluded.

Whether that makes the line an obstruction or not is at best ambiguous. It would be better if the SI stated that the line was both restricted and an obstruction. Otherwise, unless the pin itself (an object) met the definition of obstruction I'd lean toward B not being entitled to room. She's obligated to keep clear of A to leeward and to avoid crossing the start/finish line any way she can.
Created: 21-Sep-25 16:58
Paul Miller
Nationality: Sint Maarten (Dutch part)
0
The word ‘restricted’ is not defined in the RRS. It’s common usage does not make mention of anything that relates to a side it must be left on, nor does any definition of the word imply a general prohibition to cross such a thing. Therefore a line described as ‘restricted’ has no meaning, let alone one that could require room.
If an SI uses phrases like ‘…line is restricted…’ it requires rewriting so that it forms a rule.
Created: 21-Sep-25 18:52
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
I don't agree that, on the present state of the SI the line is an obstruction.

There's nothing about an imaginary line on the water that means that a boat could not pass it without changing course substantially.

To prevent just this scenario happening, the race committee needs to expressly designate the line as an obstruction.

Depending on the size of the inflatable tet and the size of the boat, the buoy might be an obstruction.
Created: 21-Sep-25 22:58
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Here is 2nd one I remembered:

https://www.racingrulesofsailing.org/posts/145-closed-line-and-rules-18-and-19

I can’t seem to put my finger on the post about a mid-channel traffic-separation line that boats were not supposed to cross.  That thread had a lot of good ideas and observations in it. 
Created: 21-Sep-26 18:37
Tim Hohmann
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
1
Created: 21-Sep-26 19:13
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