Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

RRS 14 and the Lee Bow manouevre

Paul Hanly
Nationality: Australia
A recent protest which involved a consideration of RRS 14 led me to an issue not included in that protest.

The question is how does RRS14 affect a starboard tacker when a port tacker who if they continued would hit at the stays of the starboard tacker decides to lee bow the starboard tacker? in a practical sense when does the starboard tacker lose the protection of 14 a "However, a right-of-way boat or one entitled to room or mark-room (a) need not act to avoid contact until it is clear that the other boat is not keeping clear..."

Assume you are the protest committee with great video of the situation and witnesses that prove the scenario.

When is the first time S can tack away and successfully protest P for not keeping clear? (please answer in boat lengths)

When is the last time that S can hold course and, if a collision results, still have taken action when it first becomes clear that the other boat is not keeping clear? (please answer in boat lengths)

So how long is the distance in which S can tack away and protest successfully and avoid a collision?

Is the difference between P just keeping clear and causing contact which S failed to avoid so fine that it is a catch 22 situation where S cannot win a protest if they (S) tacks away tack away?

If P decides to establish a lee bow situation against S (given that the otherwise contact point is at, but not behind, the stays) will there be a time before P starts to turn and when S can tack away and successfully protest?

Are the answers different depending on the wind speed, boat speed and sea state?

Are the answers different if the boats are not on roughly perpendicular courses? Eg S boat heading 270 (W) with P boat heading 45 (NE)?
Created: 18-Apr-13 13:03

Comments

Jim Archer
Nationality: United States of America
0
What you're describing is not a lee bow situation. If two boats are converging while on a beat to windward, in order for one boat to successfully tack and end up ahead of and leeward to the other boat, than that boat must be sufficiently far ahead that she could have successfully crossed with no contact. In your description, if P is going to hit S then P at the shrouds (T bone!) then P could not have successfully put herself into a lee bow position.

That said, it's not relevant. The rules apply regardless. I doubt there is a clear answer. I recall that the give way boat much do so in a seaman like manner, not in a crash tack. If I were being protested for failing to keep clear pursuant to rule 10 I would argue that I can complete my tack in 3 boat lengths, depending upon the state on the wind and sea. If there is an actual collision than P has violated rule 10 and S rule 14. It also occurs to me that if S has time to tack away then so does P, so if they tack together rule 10 was not violated.
Created: 18-Apr-13 13:59
Ricardo Lobato
Nationality: Brazil
Certifications:
  • National Judge
0
Hi Paul,

Have a look on my article about rule 14. There are some thoughts that may help to answer your questions…

Created: 18-Apr-13 14:07
Phil Mostyn
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • International Umpire
0
Hi Paul,

For me, rule 14 doesn't provide any protection at all. Both boats have to avoid contact if reasonably possible. The only measure of when a right of way boat must "act' to avoid contact is when it becomes clear to her [or in my view, should have become clear to her] that the give-way boat is not keeping clear or giving room. There can be no other measure. Each incident has to be judged on its merits.

A right of way boat has to exercise judgement., just like she has to do in a host of situations that occur throughout a race. But a right of way boat shouldn't push its luck, because a PC will establish the facts & draw it's own conclusion as to when it became clear and whether the right of way boat acted promptly and adequately.


Created: 18-Apr-13 16:20
David Brunskill
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • International Judge
1
Hi Paul

I'm with Phil on this. And rule 14 as Phil says provides no protection at all.

Case 50 makes it very clear that "the starboard tack boat can tack away when there is a reasonable doubt that P could have crossed ahead if S had not changed course" . Its not a question of boat lengths. Wind and sea conditions and the relative manoeuvrability of port and starboard tack boats do have to be taken into account when the protest committee finds the facts.

Rule 10 protests involving no contact are very common. A purpose of the rules is to minimise risk to competitors. A port tack boat, endeavouring to gain, unreasonably, a lee bow advantage with a late tack is and should be, at high risk of being protested and disqualified unless some other penalty applies.

Different helmsman have different abilities. The starboard tack boat should tack when there is reasonable doubt that the port tack boat is keeping clear and the protest committee should support any "reasonable doubt".




Created: 18-Apr-13 17:22
Bill Handley
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • National Judge
0
It isn't possible to answer the specific questions here with the degree of precision requested as there are too many variables. How close P can go before tacking will depend on a number of things including wind, sea state, type of boat etc. This does of course raise an interesting subject well worthy of discussion regarding the conflicting rights and obligations of boats in any situation.

There is always a conflict between the obligation of the keep clear boat to keep clear, the right of way boat not to alter course to prevent her doing so and the right of way boat having to avoid contact if necessary by altering course but not until it is apparent that the keep clear boat is not keeping clear.

In most cases where a r-o-w boat alters course to avoid contact the keep clear boat will argue that it was not necessary as she would have kept clear with a later manoeuvre. Unfortunately this argument is frequently accepted by PCs (particularly at club level) as it allows them to decide that no boat will be penalised. The long term effect of this is that boats will always hold their course and make contact to "prove" that the other boat was in the wrong. This is a most undesirable state of affairs.

I think all the guidance necessary is there in Case 50 and if S takes avoiding action and convinces the PC that she had a genuine apprehension of contact then P should be penalised. For the reasons already stated this can't be boiled down to a hard and fast rule expressed in boat lengths.
Created: 18-Apr-13 18:51
Ricardo Lobato
Nationality: Brazil
Certifications:
  • National Judge
0

Hi Bill, the dilemma for the sailors is exetally that. If they take avoiding action too early, the umpires will green flag the incident. If they leave it too late, there may be contact with damage, or they may themselves be locked into a very bad position (in addition to potentially breaking rule 14)

Created: 18-Apr-13 21:26
Paul Hanly
Nationality: Australia
0
To try to get an answer that is not just it depends how about I give the most common situation where I sail.
Breeze is 12 knots with gusts to 16, gusts can cause velocity lifts as well a come from up to 20 degrees each side of the median wind
Water is without swell but a wind driven chop of 20cm exists. there are occasional waves from wakes of power boats and ferries.
The yachts are 30ft, 10 years old, reasonably maintained for racing and are cruiser/racer keelboats of similar performance. Assume they are both near the maximum speed of such boats in a beat in the hands of an amateur crew of weekly sailors.
The skippers involved are experienced over more than 3 seasons of racing these boats.
At what distance in 30ft boatlengths does it become clear to S that P is not keeping clear as defined (assuming no action from P)?
At what distance does S become guilty of not taking action to avoid contact?
At what distance does P lose the ability to claim she was intending to try to lee bow S and would have ended up overlapped and enough to leeward that she had kept clear so as to defeat a protest by S? (Which of course raises the meaning of immediately in the definition of keep clear!)?

If you are on the protest committee having found the facts I have given how do you apply rule 14 versus rule 10? The protest commitee has to come to a conclusion on balance of probabilites or with reasonable comfort at to probability. It cant just say it depends. Feel free to answer two scenarios, one where S can see crew movement on P indicating readying for a tack and one where none of the crew on P can be seen doing anything.
Created: 18-Apr-13 22:06
Paul Hanly
Nationality: Australia
0
Jim, from your answer I assume that when P's bow is 3 boatlengths from where S's stays will be (the likely contact point in my example) at the likely contact time, S is entitled to tack away (with urgency compared to a normal tack) and protest P with an expectation of success Do you add a margin of safety to the 3 boatlengths if S can't see P keeping a look out? Does the 3 boatlengths apply even if P seems to be ready to tack eg crew have taken headsail sheets out of selftailers or cleats and are standing by or do you shorten the distance at all?.

David, now that I have given the additional information you discussed I hope you can tell me when S can first reasonably say it is clear that P is not keeping clear and when it is so late that S failed to take the opportunity to avoid contact while ti was still reasonably possible.

David I'll read case 50.

Bill, the nub of what I'm trying to find out is a guide to how many boat lengths away from the likely collision point will S have a real likelihood of convincing " the PC that she had a genuine apprehension of contact". 10 boat lengths is clearly too early, 0.5 is absolute certainty that the T-bone will occur. At what distance (using my expanded scenario with more details of boats, skippers, wind and sea) would you switch mindset from "S should still think P has time" to "S should take avoiding action and can expect to win a protest" Is 4 boat lengths prima facie too early? At 3 boat lengths should S be crash tacking and likely winning the protest?

Jim, I understood from reading about the establishment of a lee bow that the it could not be established with any effect at all unless the lines of intersection were at the mast or further forward and that it was most effective if you could otherwise pass ahead. I chose to provide the most marginal situation where P could still cali with some credibility that she was about to tack to lee bow S but still keep clear as she obtained right of way.

Ricardo, I'll read your article.
Created: 18-Apr-13 22:20
Bill Handley
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • National Judge
0
Ok, I'll stick my neck out on this one if only to provide target practice for everyone else. In the circumstances described P must execute her tack even if S is taking avoiding action. If P simply sails on without tacking claiming that she would have tacked if S had not taken avoiding action then the call would be a straight forward rule 10 penalisation of P.
When P tacks you have two certainties (well as certain as anything is from evidence in a protest) the course taken by P as she tacked and the course of S before she took any avoiding action. By looking at the two courses you will be able to conclude how close the boats would have come to each other had S not taken avoiding action. As a rule of thumb anything less than half a boat length would certainly be grounds for S having a reason apprehension of contact (see case 50) and anything over a boat length would not. The grey area in between would be determined by the variable factors of wind, waves, how fast the boats can turn, was P aware of S etc.

At least that is how I would approach it if I were sitting on the PC. I realise that the questions relate to when things should start to happen but I feel that the right approach is to look at the end result and not the point of initiation. It is up to each skipper to judge when s/he initiates the action of tacking to achieve the desired end result and that may be different for different boats for a whole host of reasons.
Created: 18-Apr-13 22:52
Paul Hanly
Nationality: Australia
0
Ricardo, I read the "Crossing section of your article" and appreciate the reference.
In your diagram, in position 1 Blue's (Port) bow is approx 1.5 boat lengths clear of the point on Yellow's side where she will "T-Bone" Yellow (Starboard) if neither changes course.
If I was Yellow I would be crash tacking out of there and should be protesting and expecting to win. Personally I think Yellow is entitled to tack away and successfully protest when she reasonably believes there are only 3 boat lengths between Blue's bow and the likely point of impact, and 4 boat lengths if there is no visible preparation by Blue's crew for a tack and there has been no response (by action or return hail) to a hail of "Starboard').
In your diagram I would argue that if Blue in fact fails to keep clear and there is contact and damage, that Yellow failed to take action when she could reasonably have thought that Blue would not keep clear.
To some in our club the argument is that they can tack their boat in a single boat length because it rotates around the keel, pushing the stern around to roughly where the bow was at the commencement of what I would argue is a "crash tack". They would argue that Yellow can wait till maybe only the 1.5 boat lengths in your diagram, but to my mind that leaves norequired margin of safety if the purpose of the rule is to require right of way boats to avoid contact.
To me the wording in 14 would be better if it said "need not act to avoid contact until it is reasonable to expect that the other boat may not take timely action to keep clear" instead of "need not act to avoid contact until it is clear that the other boat is not keeping clear".
Given the intention of the rule is to have boats avoid contact, that is how I would interpret it in a protest and why I would choose 4 boat lengths if no sign of action and 3 boat lengths even if there was preparatory crew action as the distances where, at first glance and without clear contrary factors, I would find that Yellow can tack away protest and win.
I believe my interpretation is supported by the terms of Fundamental Rules 1 Helping those in Danger and 2 Fair Sailing. It can't be fair to put another vessel in a situation where a reasonable competent skipper would believe there is a real risk that the Port tacker is putting Starboard vessel and perhaps her crew in danger of a Port /Starboard collision.
I believe that an absolutely strict interpretation of the rule 14 means that the starboard tacker can rarely if ever win a protest against a port tacker if the starboard tacker successfully tacks away, because the port tacker will always say that they were only 1 second from taking away themselves.
Created: 18-Apr-14 00:00
Paul Hanly
Nationality: Australia
0
Thanks Bill. I appreciate you sticking your neck out. My difficulty is that the particpants can't rely on the outcome to determine their action in advance. In club twilights the skipper of S has no idea of what impediments P may face in tacking or bearing away at the particular time as it is likely a different hull design and sail plan and there are frequently changes in crew or crew roles during a season. I believe that the PC member needs to put themselves in the mind of S at the time S decides to take action, or rather to determine the window during which a reasonably competent and experienced skipper of S was first entitled to take action and win a protest until the point where S breached Rule 14 and is not protected by 14a. I would appreciate your comments on my reply to Ricardo if you have time (and inclination!). That reply ought be just above this.
Created: 18-Apr-14 00:12
Paul Hanly
Nationality: Australia
0
David, a problem with case 50 is that it gives no guidance as to how early S can tack away and still win a RRS 10 protest. It may be obvious 10 boatlengths out that P will likely hit S if neither changes course, but that is far too early for S to tack away, protest breach of RRS 10 by P and succeed. At what distance (considering the details I provided about boats, skippers, breeze and sea state) can S first tack away and likely win a protest against P for breach of RRS 10? How many boat lengths does S have to use as its estimate of P tacking and still keeping clear? Do they have to assume the distance of a latish very hard turn of say 1.5 boat lengths, or can they assume (in my given detailed scenario of 30 foot cruiser/racer keel boats of similar overall performance) a slower but seamanlike tack which reduces the distance between the courses of the two boats by 3 boatlengths, but does not unduly slow P because of rudder drag? What sort of tack is S entitled to do to avoid contact? Can they do the slower tack, or do they have to be in a position where they have to do a successful crash tack?
Created: 18-Apr-14 00:29
Bill Handley
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • National Judge
0
Paul - I think we are in danger of furiously agreeing with each other having read your reply to Ricardo. Your 3 boat length point of initiation of the tack would (in the case of most boats) correspond to the one/half boat length area of uncertainty I referred to in my earlier reply at the completion of the tack.

Case 50 supports S if she tacks away as it does rather say that if there is reasonable doubt in the mind of S that P will keep clear then S must take avoiding action and P has broken rule 10. At least that is my interpretation of the bit of the case that says that P is in the wrong if she delays tacking - "to create a reasonable apprehension of contact on S’s part and that it was unlikely that S would have ‘no need to take avoiding action".
Created: 18-Apr-14 01:44
Jim Archer
Nationality: United States of America
0
Depending upon the wind and sea state, if I'm S and P is barreling down on me, I'm tacking out well before 3 boat lengths is all that's left before collision. I sail a 36 foot racer cruiser. Years ago, when I sailed a Laser, well that would be different. If I were on the jury I would not be impressed by an argument that a 30 foot keelboat can tack away in 1.5 boat lengths unless we're in extremely light wind and the boats are not moving much anyhow.

To address what you said about lee bow, well, no. An effective lee bow requires that boat A can cross boat B in order to tack and end up ahead and to leeward. And still there may be some overlap, which is fine. If boat A can't cross she is going to end up directly leeward or, worse, leeward and aft. Now, one more thing to consider. In a scenario where P intends to leebow S, if the tactician on S is worth his salt, he is calling for a tack the instant P either telegraphes her tack or begins it (the crew always has a tack set up, right?). She is doing this to avoid being leebowed of course, but could always argue that it was to avoid contact. And as someone else said, P should always complete her tack. Again, if I were on the jury, and P tacked out, S would have to convince me that there was a reasonable belief that P had not planned to tack.
Created: 18-Apr-14 03:39
Paul Hanly
Nationality: Australia
0
Jim, thanks for taking the time to reply. Your reply shows up a large part of the point I am trying to make about RRS 14 from the point of view of a close hauled starboard boat wanting to win the RRS 10 protest but not infringe RRS14.

If S tacks away and P tacks immediately thereafter, S has been bluffed to tack onto port and has less rights and maybe has been bluffed to tack to the less favourable side of the course. P meanwhile has become a starboard tack boat, has the rights at the next crossing and might now heading to the more favoured side of the course. And your view is that the onus is now on S to prove the situation. This is why in my more detailed scenario I am asking, when can S tack away and still expect to win a protest but not have a real risk of infringing 14. Is it, in my example, when P's bow is 2, 3, 4 or 5 boatlengths from where P's bow would be when contact would occur if there were no changes to course.

I have taken on board what you said about lee bowing and that it is not a credible excuse for a delayed tack if there would likely be any collision at all as (picking up on what you said) a lee bow can't be established by P unless she can pass in front of S.

When you say you would tack away well before 3 boat lengths, do you mean 4 or 5 or more in my more detailed scenario? Could S do that and still have a reasonable expectation of wining a protest against P if all the evidence supported the finding of the facts in my scenario, or would S be found to have tacked away before it became clear that P was not keeping clear. What would a PC find under the rule 14? At how many boat lengths in my detailed scenario would they switch from "not clear yet" " that the other boat is not keeping clear" to "yes now clear" that P is not keeping clear.?
Created: 18-Apr-14 08:26
Jim Archer
Nationality: United States of America
0
Paul I just don't see that you're going to be able to establish a hard and fast rule about how many boat lengths if x boat is going y fast in z sea state. If S were protesting P for failing to keep clear under rule 10 then she would have to convince the jury that there was a reasonable expectation P failed to keep clear. If I were S I wouldn't actually wait until we're as close as three boat lengths, I would probably bail at five but again, there is no hard and fast rule. When I'm at the helm it's a whole different view then when I'm on my couch typing into my laptop. The three boat lengths number I picked because that's about what I need to tack my 36 foot boat. If I were roll tacking a Laser that would be a whole different story.

You said you're talking about 30 foot keel boats, so any collision is likely to result in damage at least. Rule 14 is not broken unless there is actual contact and this should be avoided, of course. If S tacks away, and there is no contact, rule 14 is not triggered. It's a rule 10 issue. It does not matter anyhow, S does not need to win rule 10 and 14. A rule 10 protest will suffice. If someone is deliberatly violating rule 14 to make a point, in 30 foot keel boats, well everyone else needs to consider if they want that skipper on their playing field.
Created: 18-Apr-14 14:40
John Mooney
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Umpire
  • Regional Race Officer
0

Paul, as Jim has observed, this situation will inevitably be a judgement call on the part of the PC, and so immune to solid answers about numbers of boat lengths. The PC has to determine what was a “reasonable apprehension of contact” in the specific circumstances - before that point, S’s alteration is a “Hollywood” maneuver, and after that, there’s contact. Please note that the test of “reasonable” isn’t dependent on the skills of the individuals involved, but on the perceptions of an average competent sailor with a moderately well-prepared boat and crew in the existing conditions. If we had some boat speed data, we could all tell you our assessments of what distances would be reasonable in the conditions you provide, but that wouldn’t get you hard and fast answers either - a different PC might come up with a different “reasonable”.

FWIW, I respectfully disagree with Jim that the port tacker always has to be able to cross clear ahead of the starboard tacker in order to successfully lee bow her, but she does have to be considerably father ahead than she is if her bow will hit starboard’s chainplates. In most modern race boats, if S’s bow would hit P’s chainplates, P’s pretty close to being able to pull off a successful lee bow with a well-executed tack, in my view, but a little farther ahead would be better.

In any event, P must keep clear first under 10 and then under 13, and must give S room to keep clear of her under 15 after P(/L) assumes her close-hauled course on starboard to leeward. If at any point before P is on starboard tack, S reasonably believes she must make a seamanlike course change to avoid contact, she should do so and protest, taking careful note of the distance between the boats when she alters, as well as the closest point of approach between them and how much of an alteration she makes. The PC can then make a judgement as to what was “reasonable” and what was “seamanlike”.

In my view, if S sees P beginning to avoid her, 14a protects S from breaking 14 if she continues without altering her course until she knows P’s change isn’t enough. If S waits too long and there is contact, she may still be protected by 14a (if she can convince the PC it was reasonable to believe she wouldn’t have to alter), and if the contact occurs before P’s tack is complete, S won’t be penalized unless there’s damage (14b). After P(/L) is on starboard, S(/W) must do everything she can to avoid P(/L), but P(/L) has to initially give her room to do so (15), so S(/W) still has some protection.

In my experience, most PCs are inclined to give the starboard tacker the benefit of any doubt in these cases, since RRS 10 and 13 are pretty basic and avoiding P/S t-bone crashes is a priority (witness for example the WOXI/Comanche incident at the beginning of this year’s Sydney/Hobart race). Conversely, if it is found as a fact that S did nothing to avoid contact (or waited way too long), she’s probably going to be in 14 trouble if there’s any damage or injury.

So, if S wants a prescription for how far she should hold her course, I would say she should hold it as far as she thinks she can, until shortly before contact becomes inevitable in the absence of a seamanlike course change. I don’t know how to pin it down any farther than that.

Created: 18-Apr-15 01:44
Paul Hanly
Nationality: Australia
0
Thank you all for your consideration of what the issues and approach would be.

I realise now that my first post was too imprecise and asked too many questions. I have posted a very specific set of findings of fact which you with others unanimously found to the relevant standard and hope that that is now sufficient for making an application of the rules.
Created: 18-Apr-15 03:00
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