Forum: Rule 18 and Room at the Mark

Definition Mark Room - "necessary to sail the course"

Blake Redding
Nationality: United Arab Emirates
  • National Judge

At our club we had an incident which involved the meaning of “Mark Room” (b) which is “room to round the mark as necessary to sail the course.”

Boats Inside Windward and Outside Leeward were approaching a leeward mark to be left to port and they were both on port tack, overlapped at the zone and at the mark, with OL having luffing rights (Rule 17 did not apply). The next mark was a gybe mark and to head to it, the proper course for both boats was a beam reach on port tack.

Assuming OL must give IW Mark Room, when can OL luff IW? Does Mark Room (“round the mark as necessary to sail the course”) mean that IW has the right to round the mark (transom perpendicular has cleared the mark) and she is on a beam reach pointed at the gybe mark ? Or could OL luff her up to close hauled as she rounded the mark, so that she clears the mark pointed higher than her proper course?

Paul Zupan has said in another post that his reading is that Mark Room means to
leave the mark on the required side by sailing on a heading necessary to sail the course, but does "necessary to sail the course" mean proper course ? The word "necessary" seems to imply that, but I can find no definitive authority for this.

Any thoughts?

Created: 18-Feb-13 05:13


Paul Hanly
Nationality: Australia
If they meant that the inside boat had to be allowed room to adopt her proper course until the rounding was finished they could have used the word "proper". As they didn't then I tend to believe course simply means leaving marks on the required side, not rounding them and going on to the most direct or proper course. Then I think of the extreme case of being forced head to wind as you round the mark and it seems a bit tough, but then I remember that absent the mark and zone the inside boat could have been forced head to wind anyway, so I am sticking with necessary to sail the course not preventing luffingher up as the inside boat rounds the mark, so long as a seaman like rounding is allowed and the mark is able to be passed (ie stern extention lines get past the mark).
Created: 18-Feb-14 03:10
Matt Bounds
Nationality: United States of America
  • National Judge
  • National Race Officer
Case 25 provides some guidance in this. But basically, room is room. If IW can head up sharply to comply with their obligation under RRS 11 and not touch the mark, then room has been given and RRS 18.2(b) and (c) cease to apply (per RRS 18.2(d)).
Created: 18-Feb-14 03:37
Ric Morris
Nationality: Ireland
This wording is all about providing mark-room when boat needs to round a mark that must be left on a required side.

In the attached image there are anchored boats and in order to prevent boats from racing through them the course is defined as follows:

1 round to starboard
2 leave to port
3 leave to port
4 round to starboard

At mark 2 it is necessary for yellow to sail her heading in order to *leave* mark 2 to port. She is on a mark-room course.

How ever as they pass through the zone for mark 3 she it is not necessary for her to continue on her current heading in order to leave mark 3 to port. Should blue choose to luff, yellow may respond and still leave mark 3 on the required side. Yellow is not on a mark-room course.

Where blue to luff yellow to the point that yellow was sailing to the mark, it would now be necessary for her to sail her heading to leave the mark on the required side and she would now be on a mark-room course and entitled to exoneration if she failed to keep clear as windward boat.

Created: 18-Feb-14 09:18
Ken Hardy
Nationality: United States of America
At position 5, B must not luff since doing so would deny Y mark room. However, as soon as Y's transom clears mark 2 she can luff to the point where Y is sailing Y's proper course to round mark 3. And once Y's transom clears mark 3 then blue can luff yellow as she pleases subject to rules 14 & 16.
Created: 18-Feb-14 13:45
Ric Morris
Nationality: Ireland
Not quite:

Blue can luff yellow unit yellow reaches a point where yellows proper course will take her near the mark. Then blue must give yellow room to sail to the mark.

Blue must give yellow room to leave mark 3 to port at all times.
Created: 18-Feb-14 14:41
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