Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

Closed LIne and Rules 18 and 19

John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer

Sailing instructions prescribe:

  • a Start/Finish Line between two marks,
  • a mark W to be laid to windward of the Start/Finish Liine,
  • a mark L to be laid to leeward of the Start Finish Line,
  • a Course: Start/Finish Line – W – L – Start Finish Line; and
  • “The Start/Finish Line is closed to boats sailing on the downwind leg, boats violating this SI will be scored DSQ by the race committee without a hearing. This changes rules 63.1 and A5”.

Two boats sailing on the leg W – L are approaching one end of the Start/Finish Line, where the mark is a small inflatable buoy.

Supposing that it is agreed that the SI above mean that boats on the leg W - L shall not sail through the Start/Finish Line:

  • In the absence of any other relevant words in the SI, is the Start/Finish LIne an obstruction?
  • Will rule 18 apply between the boats when one of them reaches the zone around the mark?
  • Will rule 19 apply between the boats at the mark or at the Start/Finish Line?
Created: 18-Apr-09 22:37

Comments

Phil Mostyn
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • International Umpire
0
Answers: Yes; No & Yes.

The definition Obstruction provides inter alia '......an area so designated by the sailing instructions are also obstructions'. Seems to me that the SIs, in declaring that the line is "closed" to boats sailing on legs of the course between marks W & L, effectively designate the start/finishing line as an obstruction to boats on those legs.

Neither of the starting/finishing marks have a required side when boats are sailing between marks W & L, so rule 18 will not apply when boats are passing them on those legs of the course.

Rule 19.2 "Giving Room at an Obstruction" will apply.
Created: 18-Apr-10 03:47
Philip Hubbell
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • Judge In Training
0
If you are heading for the middle of the Start/Finish line downwind and are within one boat length of it, would you need to make a significant alteration of course to avoid it?
Created: 18-Apr-10 04:21
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
1
Philip Hubbell
said

If you are heading for the middle of the Start/Finish line downwind and are within one boat length of it, would you need to make a significant alteration of course to avoid it?

I would say no. You have no need to avoid it at all.

And the definition of obstruction says nothing about 'avoid it'.
  • Obstruction An object that a boat could not pass without changing course substantially, if she were sailing directly towards it and one of her hull lengths from it. An object that can be safely passed on only one side and an area so designated by the sailing instructions are also obstructions. ...
There is nothing to prevent a boat sailing towards the line from passing, or passing through it without changing course at all.

I don't believe that the Start/Finish Line satisfies either of the first or second (object that can be safely passed ...) limbs of the definition.

Nothing in the SI designates anything as an obstruction..
Created: 18-Apr-10 05:57
Graham Louth
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • Umpire In Training
  • National Race Officer
0
I'm with Philip on this one. For the line to be an "obstruction" it must, in my view, be explicitly designated as such in the SIs.
Created: 18-Apr-10 08:17
Hans Vengberg
Nationality: Denmark
Certifications:
  • International Judge
0

Does rule 18 apply?

I am sure the SI define the marks when they are part of either the starting line or the finishing line.

The description of the course do NOT include the start-/finishing marks on the downwind leg (W -L), and therefore rule 18 cannot not apply on this leg.

Does rule 19 apply?

The definition ”obstruction” give the possibility to designate an area as ”obstruction” in the SI.

For me there is a distinct difference between restricted areas where you should not sail (shooting areas – fishing areas – deep water routes etc. - a line behind the starting line that boats in later starts should not cross to disturb the boats starting etc.), and an ”obstruction”.

Sometime you see the wording “The starting line close X minutes after the starting signal for each start” – does this make it an an obstruction!

All of the exampels above are exampels of restricted areas, but not “obstruction”s.

If the word ”obstruction” is not specifically used, these areas are not an ”obstruction” and you are not entitled to room according to RRS 19.

So for me In the present scenario to make the Start-/finishing line an ”obstruction” the SI should say;

The Start/Finish Line is closed and an obstruction to boats sailing on the downwind leg ….”. (and then perhaps leave out the word “closed”), then RRS 19 would apply.

As the SI are written RRS 19 does not apply – and the downwind boats have an obligation not to violate the “closed” line, but they do not get help from RRS 18 or 19.

But if in doubt always ask the protest committee at the event of their opinion and get it posted – the above would be my opinion.

Created: 18-Apr-10 08:39
Bill Handley
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • National Judge
0
To answer the three initial questions -

The S/F line is an obstruction because it is "so designated by the SIs" see definition of obstruction.

Rule 18 does not apply at the marks because they do not have to be left on a "specified side" see definition of Mark

Rule 19 applies to the line because it is an obstruction, see above.
Created: 18-Apr-10 13:57
Theodor Beier
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
0
The first error is that the SIs are not explicit, and the term "closed" is not sufficiently defined. I have seen this scheme used successfully in many multi-start regattas. The SIs should state, "Yachts shall not cross the starting line in either direction after starting properly during the start sequences of subsequent divisions. Yachts shall not cross the finish line in either direction once the blue "on station" signal is flying except when attempting to finish. During these periods the line and its bounding marks shall be considered an obstruction under RRS 19". By removing the ambiguity thus, the concept works quite well.
Created: 18-Apr-10 15:07
Graham Kelly
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
0
Sounds like an ideal question for the Q&As.

Meanwhile, I am with Bill on this one, IMO, if the SI's restrict an area "on pain of DSQ," that area ranks as an obstruction, whether or not the SIs specifically provide that, and as a sailor, I would be reluctant to violate the SI, and count on a PC to reverse a DSQ.

However, I think Ted has it right that the RC can and should avoid any ambiguity on the matter.
Created: 18-Apr-10 17:28
John Thorne
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
No doubt the SIs could have used better words than "closed" but the primary issue is whether the line was an obstruction. In my opinion, the line can be an obstruction in this case only if the SIs so state, using the word specifically. The line is not an "object" and it could be passed on either side. If the SIs defined the line as an obstruction then Rule 19 would apply.
Created: 18-Apr-11 21:58
Bill Handley
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • National Judge
0
John Thorne -I don't think that the Sis have to use the word "obstruction" for an area to be considered so. For example if SIs were to say that boats may not sail in the moorings (clearly defining what this area is, such as say that the moorings are an area to one side on a line linking the outer most mooring buoys) then that area is an obstruction beyond any question whether or not the word "obstruction" is used.
Created: 18-Apr-12 01:01
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