Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

What about this ?

Catalan Benaros
Nationality: Argentina
The Yellow Laser goes to the windward mark and the white comes from it to leeward mark.
Which is the RWB ?
There is contact but not damage.
Created: 18-Aug-24 11:38

Comments

John Christman
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • National Umpire
  • Regional Race Officer
3
You have to go back to the definitions. The boats are on the same tack (starboard) and overlapped (neither is clear astern of the other). From the definition for Windward and Leeward: "When two boats on the same tack overlap, the one on the leeward side of the other is the leeward boat. The other is the windward boat." From Yellow's perspective, it is on the leeward side of White, From White's perspective it is on the leeward side of Yellow. In this case neither boat is required to keep clear of the other. The only rule that can be applied here is RRS 14 and both boats can be faulted for not avoiding a collision.

Some might argue that White is on port tack, but the tack you are on is based on your windward side which is defined. I'll leave looking at that definition to the reader.
Created: 18-Aug-24 16:21
Mike Fering
Nationality: United States of America
0
Really? Why is white not the leeward boat?
Created: 18-Aug-24 17:35
Catalan Benaros
Nationality: Argentina
0
EXACTLY !!!
This case is so special !!!
In our study group we have a great debate with it !!
Thanks John !!!
Created: 18-Aug-24 17:54
John Christman
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
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  • National Umpire
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0
Mike -
If you are sitting on the White boat, ask yourself the question "Am I on the leeward side of the other boat?", If the answer is yes, then you are the leeward boat per the definitions. Now do the same thing sitting on the Yellow boat. You get the same answer. Both boats are leeward boats, hence the problem. if Yellow and White switch sides, then both boats are windward of the other boat. :-)
Created: 18-Aug-24 18:03
Mike Fering
Nationality: United States of America
0
Ah hah. So you're saying that white is sailing by the lee, therefore her port side is her leeward side. Correct? Very interesting.
Created: 18-Aug-24 18:17
Murray Cummings
Nationality: New Zealand
0
John,
You say that " the only rule that can be applied here is RRS 14 and both boats can be faulted for not avoiding a collision."
If both boats are leeward boats, then both boats must also be windward boats by definition. So, as both boats are windward, would rule 11 not dictate that both are required to keep clear of each other?

Murray
Created: 18-Aug-24 18:47
Means Davis
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
0
Suggestion: Move the boats back in time two or three boat lengths. At that point it is clear that Yellow is the Leeward boat and White is windward. At that point and until they are overlapped it is White's obligation to Keep Clear. In the position presented it is clear that White did not Keep Clear.

Means Davis, USA National Judge
Created: 18-Aug-24 20:54
Mike Fering
Nationality: United States of America
0
Just when I thought I got this. So, Means, would you explain that further? Much further?
Created: 18-Aug-24 21:12
Means Davis
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
0
Mike,
When the two boats are approaching one another with both on starboard, one (White) on a down-wind leg and the other (Yellow) on a windward leg down-wind from White, she is the leeward boat. Leeward boats have right-of-way over windward boats, RRS 11. As they approach one another it is the responsibility of the windward boat, (White) to Keep Clear of the leeward boat, (Yellow). As Pointed out earlier in this thread, these boats are overlapped and have been prior to the contact shown. I do not think Yellow could have anticipated that White would pass so close with her boom fully extended to leeward in time to maneuver to avoid so I do not think she broke RRS 14. If one thinks Yellow could have avoided contact and thus broke RRS14, she would be exonerated under RRS 14(b).
Created: 18-Aug-24 21:26
John Christman
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • National Umpire
  • Regional Race Officer
2
Mke - yes - her port side is her 'leeward side' based on the definitions.
Means - I disagree based on the definitions - moving the boats back does not help as the boats are still overlapped and the side to which each boat is relative to their centerlines doesn't change as they approach each other.
Murray - You have to put yourself on each boat. In each case, the answer to the question "Am I the leeward boat?" is that "Yes, I am to leeward of the other boat" and, as such, do need to keep clear. When parsing the wording of the rule you never get to the next part because the first part is true. The way the rules are written you should never ask yourself "Am I windward?" but always "Am I leeward?".
Created: 18-Aug-24 21:34
Mike Fering
Nationality: United States of America
0
Too simple! Thanks, Means.
Created: 18-Aug-24 21:39
Claudio Uras
Nationality: Italy
Certifications:
  • National Judge
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  • Regional Race Officer
  • International Judge
3
I've always thought about this case, but never really discussed this with others.
So let me offer this perspective.
I think that the key starting point is this: RRS never establish rights. RRS always establish obligations.
And it can only be this way for rules that must have safety as top priority, even more than governing fair competition.
Rule 10 for example does not read that starboard is right-of-way. Rule 10 clearly states that a port-tack boat SHALL keep clear of a startboard-tack boat.
Similarly Rule 18.2(a) does not read that the inside overlapped boat is entitled to mark room, and rather it states that the outside overlapped boat SHALL give mark room to the inside overlapped boat.
As a side comment, wording "right-of-way" only comes in rule 14, and "entitled to mark room" only comes in rule 21.
Coming to rule 11, it does not read that the leeward boat is the right-of-way boat. It says that the windward boat boat SHALL keep clear of a leeward boat.
Fair enough to say - when we're looking at these boats from a drone, that there seems to be ambiguity on which boat is windward and which boat is leeward according to the definition in RRS.
However, the drone is not governed by RRS. It's competitors who are governed by the rules that they are expected to follow (basic principle).
So let's put ourselves in the shoes of yellow and apply definition of leeward. When two boats are on the same tack overlapped, the one on the leeward side of the other is the leeward boat. The other is the windward boat. From yellow we see white on our leeward side, so white is leeward to us and we're windward boat. So rule 11 requires us to keep clear of white to leeward.
Now let's put ourselves in the shoes of white and do the same. As we're sailing by the lee, our leeward side is where our boom is. We see yellow on our leeward side, so yellow is leeward boat to us and we're the windward boat. So rule 11 requires us to keep clear of yellow to leeward.
So both boats in this case broke rule 11, and - of course - rule 14.
Scenarios where boats are claimed to be in breach only of rule 14 make me nervous in terms of safety. What an unreasonable risk they've run!
Think for example what could happen if white's main sheet became entangled with yellow's bow...
This is why rule 14 should always come as a second level breach.
Created: 18-Aug-25 09:59
Murray Cummings
Nationality: New Zealand
1
Claudio,
The preamble to Section A, clearly states when a boat has right of way over another boat. "A boat has right of way over another boat when the other boat is required to keep clear of her."
So, rule 10 does in fact read that starboard has right of way, as it specifies that port is required to keep clear.
Rule 11 also gives leeward the right of way, as windward is required by the rule to keep clear.

I agree with John that, in moving the boats back 2 or 3 boat lengths, both boats remain on the leeward side of the other. If, when moving the boats back, you extend their respective centrelines forward, each boat will still be
on the port side (leeward) of the others centreline.
My interpretation of the definition was along the same side as yours, Claudio. When one boat is leeward, the other is windward. But John's comments have me thinking that, since both boats are leeward, there is no "other" boat that can be
windward. Therefore there would be no requirement for one boat to keep clear of the other and Rule 14 is the only rule that requires the boats to avoid one another. And, since neither boat is required to keep clear, neither boat has right of way,
and so neither boat can be exonerated for breaking rule 14.

Murray

Created: 18-Aug-25 14:02
John Sweeney
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Race Officer
1
Knowing the circumstances leading up to the point of contact is essential.
If one or both recently altered course, that would have direct bearing on the decision of which has right of way.
On one hand, if Yellow tacked and put herself in the position indicated, she is at fault.
On the other hand, if Yellow held her close hauled starboard tack course for multiple boat lengths while White gybed (pulled the boom to the port side) OR had just rounded the mark and continued an anti-clockwise turn, then Yellow is at fault.
If Yellow had been reaching, and in effort to avoid White, headed up to close haul, while White changed course or gybed, again White would be at fault.
In either scenario the boat who maintains course or alters course to avoid contact has a right to expect that the other shall also hold course to avoid conflict.
If both boats were on their respective course for significant distance, a jury would reasonably find that both failed to take action to avoid contact.
Created: 18-Aug-25 15:06
Means Davis
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
2
All, I believe you are over-thinking this situation. The White boat was to windward of the Yellow boat before they got close to each other, and as they are on the same tack they were overlapped. Rule 11 clearly states that the windward boat must Keep Clear. The fact that as they pass they are passing each other's leeward side does not change the fact that the boat that was to windward of the other must KeepClear.

Means
Created: 18-Aug-25 21:33
Will Moore
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
1
Means, that's also my first instinct. It's "clear" which boat is to windward of the other. But that only holds until you look closely at rule 11:

When boats are on the same tack and overlapped, a windward boat shall keep clear of a leeward boat.

Because the word windward is italicized (bolded in the quote), one is required to go by the definition as given in the RRS, not colloquial or everyday usage. And that definition gives very specific words for when a boat is considered windward or leeward:

A boat’s leeward side is the side that is or, when she is head to wind, was away from the wind. However, when sailing by the lee or directly downwind, her leeward side is the side on which her mainsail lies. The other side is her windward side. When two boats on the same tack overlap, the one on the leeward side of the other is the leeward boat. The other is the windward boat.

With those words in mind, each boat then has a boat that is to leeward of themselves. If I'm yellow, then white is on the leeward side of my boat. If I'm white, then yellow is on the leeward side of my boat. So in a weird way, both boats are both windward and leeward at the same time.

And it doesn't matter :)

Going back to rule 11:

When boats are on the same tack and overlapped, a windward boat shall keep clear of a leeward boat.

All it says is that a windward boat shall keep clear of a leeward boat. Since both boats are windward boats, they BOTH must stay clear of each other.

If both boats are required to keep clear of each other, how do you decide if only one of them hasn't done that? It seems a bit excessive if one boat can "drive" the other boat around playing a game of chicken to see which bails out of their course first. I'd probably have to fall back to which boat was the most recent to change course which resulted in this collision course? Until the last course change was completed and they were now on a collision course with each other, both were keeping clear. The actions of the last course changer are what now prevent them from keeping clear of each other and I'd probably want to hold that party responsible, subject to rule 14 also.

With all that being said ... since they're both ROW boats also, I could even see an argument that even though there was contact, as long as no damage or injury occurred, neither could be penalized under Rule 14. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Will

Created: 18-Aug-25 22:51
Claudio Uras
Nationality: Italy
Certifications:
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  • Regional Umpire
  • Regional Race Officer
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0

Murray, you are so right about preamble of section A.

And John's point that the situation would be reversed when you swap the positions of white and yellow is also right. But let's consider the original case first. Maybe we can talk about the case with “swapped position” in a later post.


Also, you are also soooo right in considering situation when the boats are still 2-3 boat lenghts apart: this is the time when a keep clear boat has to start thinking about the actions to be taken, and that is what is really taken in consideration in a jury room. Let me say that quite hardly the two routes are parallel and opposite, with yellow at about 45 degrees from true wind, so at some point in time before the contact (which may very well be the last point of certainty) there must be a situation where there is no ambiguity on who is windward and who is leeward. Others have properly raised this point while I was preparing this reply.

Anyway, I like to still stretch this case to the limit, by only looking at the situation when contact occurs, which is NOT what we would do in a Jury room, for an exercise which is more "logics" than sailing. So the premise is that no sailor would make any reasoning on the rules like the one that I am attempting here while hiking hard or while sailing by the lee in wavy seas.

The statement where I am not with you is that when we should accept that both boats are leeward boats, then there is no windward boat that has to keep clear.

Relativity has a key role in the definition of leeward and windward.“…When two boats on the same tack overlap, the one on the leeward side of the other is the leeward boat. The other is the windward boat.” Is there a priviledged observer here in applying rules? Is a drone a priviledged observer? My take is no, and each competitor is observing the situation from his/her own boat, and each has to follow the rules.
So, stating that there is no windward boat that has to keep clear because both are leeward is mixing the points of view of the two boats by looking at the situation from a drone.

One might think that – when it’s about rules - considering the concept of leeward and windward a relative and not an absolute concept is dangerous. I might share such concern, yet it is what it is in the definition.Again, this is a case stretching the limit, and in most cases there would be no ambiguity, but isn’t the statement that there is no windward boat hence no keep clear boat even more concerning and dangerous?


This is why the other point that I am making is that by looking at rule 11, each competitor should ask the question: is there an obligation on me to keep clear? That is where both competitors would say “yes”. The question in rule 11 is NOT "am I the right-of-way boat?".

According to preamble of section A, which is a rule but not a definition, they are both right-of-way boats. This clearly could lead to a paradox and is certainly in contrast with common sense. But accepting that the definition of keep clear does not explicitely exclude that they can be both right-of-way, what are consequences on the rules here? Does it have a consequence on the application of rule 11 in this case? My answer is no, because the question to be asked is “am I keep clear boat?” and not “am I right-of-way boat?”.

Does it have consequences on rule 14? Yes, as you stated, they would both be exonerated in case of no damage or no injuries as you very well pointed out.

Now, having played this logics excercise, let's bring our feets back to the ground and think about real jury room cases, where we would consider the whole evolution of the situation and not just a snapshot.

Created: 18-Aug-26 08:36
Thorsten Doebbeler
Nationality: Germany
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • International Umpire
0
I think the situation can be solved by just adding water. ;)

However, for the academic discussion, lets put ourselves in both boats' shoes again..

Both boats see the other boat on the side of her boom -> OTHER is leeward, row, SELF is windward, give.
Also, both sees themselves on the others boom side -> OTHER is windward, give, SELF is leeward, right

That would be the complete 'putting on their shoes' perspective mentioned above.

Both boats would have to conclude that they are both row and give way to the other boat under RRS 11 at the same time - and why not?
That means both have the obligation to keep clear from the other boat under RRS 11 and the obligation to avoid contact under RRS 14.
Created: 18-Aug-27 09:35
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
0
(Warning .. the following post contains a suggestion that maybe a consideration of a change to the RRS might be appropriate.)

IMHO, this is an example of when the rules are so counter intuitive that they no longer serve their primary function .. to keep boats from running into each other.

Common sense and experience tells you that a boat downwind of you is leeward of you and a boat upwind is to windward of you. But we have a definition of a boat by the lee such that leeward side is the side on which her main resides.

What comes to my mind is some of the wording in the "Clear Ahead and Clear Astern; Overlap" definition

Clear Astern and Clear Ahead; Overlap
...... These terms always apply to boats on the same tack. They apply to boats on opposite tacks only when rule 18 applies between them or when both boats are sailing more than ninety degrees from the true wind.


I'm wondering if there isn't a clever way to use that same concept ... "both boats are sailing more than ninety degrees from the true wind." .. to likewise limit the "by-the-lee condition" to only apply between boats when both are more than 90 deg to the true wind (where the application seems to make more intuitive sense)?

If that worked, White would be on port relative to Yellow and White obligated to keep clear .. but her STB-by-the-lee status still preserved for other boats working their way downwind. - Ang

PS .. just caught myself looking forward to Bill Handley's reply spelling-out why that won't work ... gonna miss that guy ..
Created: 18-Aug-27 15:39
Thorsten Doebbeler
Nationality: Germany
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • International Umpire
0
Hi Ang,

I believe the situation at hand will resolve itself easiest when we just add water - meaning this situation will probably remain academic.
However, I would imagine that with a couple boat lengths between both boats in the depicted situation, yellow would have a hard time establishing whether white is sailing by the lee or not.
So, in practice, a change like that would be difficult to apply on the water.

Cheers
Thorsten
Created: 18-Aug-27 15:52
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Thorsten,

So, in practice, a change like that would be difficult to apply on the water.

That's why I thought using a determination already being used (evaluating if both boats being more than 90 deg from TW) would be "clever" .. it's something racers are already doing.

.. sound like Bill Handley won't be posting any more ..

We learned on another thread of Bill's passing. I've been attempting to find a public obituary to post here but have not had any luck so far.

Created: 18-Aug-27 16:12
Thorsten Doebbeler
Nationality: Germany
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • International Umpire
0
Ang,
yes, found the post about Bill after submitting my post, hence the edit-out - but thanks for the info anyway. His posts were always pretty well thought, without knowing him I believe he will be missed.

About the more than 90°:
I believe it comes down to practicability on the water. In the overlap case, both boats can easily see that the other boat is below 90, so no questions here.
But in the situation above, the beating boat will have to determine whether the downwinder coming at him in lets say 10 boat lengths distance is sailing by the lee or not.
This is, from the beating boats perspective, not necessarily an easy task - especially in cases where the downwinder is only a little off dead down wind.
In addition, the downwinder (eg a Laser) will turn up and down with the waves, often crossing dead down wind in both directions.
All these crosses would be a change of rights then?

I believe on the water the depicted situation will not really be a problem - thats why I said 'just add water'.

Under the current rules, this is a special constellation, true - but it still is resolvable in the room, should it ever come to a protest hearing.
With the proposed rules change we might technically eliminate this constellation, but would also make application of the rule on the water more complicated.
Created: 18-Aug-28 07:39
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Thorsten .. thanks for thinking and playing along ...

But in the situation above, the beating boat will have to determine whether the downwinder coming at him in lets say 10 boat lengths distance is sailing by the lee or not.
This is, from the beating boats perspective, not necessarily an easy task - especially in cases where the downwinder is only a little off dead down wind.

Agree .. it would be slightly more difficult .. but it's the boat sailing downwind and by-the-lee that is always the keep-clear boat using this change .. and they know if they are sailing by-the-lee or not. The leeward/STB boat sees a boat coming downwind toward them .. Leeward/STB understands they are ROW regardless of the bobbing and weaving in the waves of the boat coming towards them.


In addition, the downwinder (eg a Laser) will turn up and down with the waves, often crossing dead down wind in both directions.
All these crosses would be a change of rights then?

Hmm .. that's an interesting question. Here is what both my answers would look like (if the by-the-lee/mainsail determination is turned off between 2 boats when only 1 is >90 deg TW)

Created: 18-Aug-28 15:29
John Sweeney
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Relative location of boats on the course doesn't appear in and therefore cannot apply to windward/leeward definition.
But, we know from the definition that if you are a starboard tack boat a leeward boat will be on your port side.
In this scenario, it happens to be true for both boats.
Being leeward gives rights, but rights come with obligations.
Neither boat can alter course in such a way that the other is forced to continually alter course to avoid contact.
At and From position #4, Yellow has no obligation to assume that Green will bear away, and since both are by definition leeward of the other, Green has no right to do so.
Hence, in a protest, Green would (or should) be found at fault.
Created: 18-Aug-28 15:53
Thorsten Doebbeler
Nationality: Germany
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • International Umpire
0
Ang,

what if yellow is on port?
Created: 18-Aug-28 19:52
John Sweeney
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
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Yellow on Port while Green remains on starboard?
Then RRS 10 applies, 11 & 12 do not.
Created: 18-Aug-28 20:37
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
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0
Thorsten ..

what if yellow is on port?


Is this what you were asking?

Created: 18-Aug-28 21:54
John Sweeney
Nationality: United States of America
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One must rely on the definitions in the book.
I am confident that, contrary to your notes, at no time is Green on a Port Tack. Positions 2-3 are clear, 4-5 must be interpreted so:
Tack is determined by Windward/Leeward Definition - the W/L definition states that 'when sailing by the lee' leeward is determined by 'the side on which her mainsail lies'.
I believe that, the RRS lacking any reference to relative position on the course, one cannot declare that Green is Windward to Yellow's Leeward.

Looking again at the diagram,
I am confident that Rules 11 & 12 do not come into consideration because these two are not on the same tack.
Also, Overlap Rules apply to boats on opposite tack only when both boats are >90 degree off of the wind.

I believe that if a hearing established that the diagram were factual representation of the event, even though Green is starboard, as a result of continually altering course and easing her main, would be a fault for breach of 16.2
But a reasonable person might believe that time between positions 4-5 was sufficient for Yellow to bear away. The wind & boat speeds would surely be a factor.
Created: 18-Aug-28 23:54
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
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  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
0
John S .. you have to go back to my "(Warning .. the following post contains a suggestion that maybe a consideration of a change to the RRS might be appropriate.) .. where I outline an idea for a change .. that's what you are seeing in my drawings .. not an analysis of the RRS as they are currently constituted.

These drawings are 'trying it on for size' so to speak .. looking at different scenarios .. and seeing if we can break it and show why it's a dumb idea that just makes things worse (trying to prove myself wrong .. with the help of my friends .. is a favorite pass-time).

Ang
Created: 18-Aug-29 00:44
Thorsten Doebbeler
Nationality: Germany
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • International Umpire
0
Ang,

yes, that is what I meant.
Now yellow has to spot pretty precisely what geen is doing - from a distance and a bad angle, because all those crosses would be changes in rights..

I believe the current rules cover the situation well enough to not end up with our paradoxon on real water (just walk through the diagrams applying the current rules) - and even if, it would still be resolvable..

Cheers
Thorsten
Created: 18-Aug-29 01:42
Geoff Becker
Nationality: United States of America
0
Rule 14...simple.
Created: 18-Aug-29 10:48
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Thorsten,

believe the current rules cover the situation well enough to not end up with our paradoxon on real water (just walk through the diagrams applying the current rules) - and even if, it would still be resolvable..

I agree that it is resolvable in the jury room, but that wasn't my concern or the genesis of why I tried to think outside the box on the issue. My concern is on the water and the RRS's going against common-sense (in that a boat upwind of you is not to windward of you).

Maybe over the weekend if I get a chance on a rainy day, I'll do a side-by-side comparison in drawing form comparing the different scenarios to really beat on it good.

Green Main on STB vs Yellow On STB
Green Main on STB vs Yellow on Port
Green Main on Port vs Yellow on STB
Green Main on Port vs Yellow on Port

Thanks for the dialog! - Ang

Created: 18-Aug-31 15:28
Stasi Burzycki
Nationality: United States of America
0

This is how I’d go about it.

Facts Found:

1. Yellow and White are on the same tack (starboard).

A boat’s tack is defined in the definition of tack:

"A boat is on the tack, starboard or port, corresponding to her windward side."

A boat’s windward side is defined in the definition of leeward and windward:

"A boat’s leeward side is the side that is or, when she is head to wind, was away from the wind. However, when sailing by the lee or directly downwind, her leeward side is the side on which her mainsail lies. The other side is her windward side. When two boats on the same tack overlap, the one on the leeward side of the other is the leeward boat. The other is the windward boat."

Yellow is not sailing by the lee or directly downwind and her port side is away from the wind. The other side (starboard side) is her windward side. Yellow's starboard side is her windward side, so Yellow is on starboard-tack.

White is sailing by the lee or directly downwind, so her leeward side is the side on which her mainsail lies. White’s mainsail lies on her port side. Her starboard side is her windward side, so White is on starboard-tack.

2. Yellow and White are overlapped.

The definition of overlapped is found in the definition of clear ahead and clear astern:

"One boat is clear astern of another when her hull and equipment in normal position are behind a line abeam from the aftermost point of the other boat's hull and equipment in normal position. The other boat is clear ahead. They overlap when neither is clear astern. However, they also overlap when a boat between them overlaps both. These terms always apply to boats on the same tack. They apply to boats on opposite tacks only when rule 18 applies between them or when both boats are sailing more than ninety degrees from the true wind."

Neither boat's hull and equipment in normal position are behind a line abeam from the aftermost point of the other boat's hull and equipment in normal position, so neither is clear astern. If neither boat is clear astern, the boats are overlapped.

3. Contact occurred between the boom of white and the mast of yellow.

Discussion:
Rule 11 should apply because Yellow and White are on the same tack and overlapped.

Rule 11: "When boats are on the same tack and overlapped, a windward boat shall keep clear of a leeward boat."

Question: Who is the leeward boat?
Definition: Leeward and Windward:

"A boat’s leeward side is the side that is or, when she is head to wind, was away from the wind. However, when sailing by the lee or directly downwind, her leeward side is the side on which her mainsail lies. The other side is her windward side. When two boats on the same tack overlap, the one on the leeward side of the other is the leeward boat. The other is the windward boat."

From the Facts Found, we know that the windward side of both boats is their starboard-side. Yellow and White are two boats on the same tack and they overlap, so, from the definition, “… the one on the leeward side of the other is the leeward boat. The other is the windward boat.” Both boats are overlapped with each other on their leeward sides.

The application of the definition of leeward and windward from the perspective of each boat yields both boats as windward and both boats as leeward. Or, another interpretation could be that a boat in a pair of boats cannot be a windward boat and a leeward boat simultaneously. Either way, neither boat is more of a leeward boat or more of a windward boat than the other, and a right of way boat cannot be determined. It's not in the nature of Part 2, Section A for both boats in a pair to have right-of-way. Also, nothing useful comes from applying Rule 11 to two right-of-way boats or two give-way boats. Rule 11 cannot be applied.

The Application of Rule 14:

Rule 14: "A boat shall avoid contact with another boat if reasonably possible. However, a right-of-way boat or one entitled to room or mark-room..." Only the first sentence of rule 14 applies here because a right-of-way boat cannot be determined and neither boat is entitled to room or mark-room.

Is it reasonably possible to avoid contact in this situation? We can’t tell by looking at a single point in time. Let's move the boats back and look at a couple scenarios.

Case 1: In medium breeze, the White and Yellow are separated by two boat lengths. The boats are on a course for White’s boom to collide with Yellow’s mast. Neither boat alters course. Contact is made between White’s boom and Yellow’s mast. There is no damage or serious injury.

Decision: It is reasonably possible for both boats to avoid contact. Neither boat does. Both boats break Rule 14. Disqualify both boats.

Case 2: In medium breeze, White and Yellow are separated by three boat lengths. The boats are on a course for White’s boom to collide with Yellow’s mast. When the boats are separated by two boat lengths, Yellow luffs to avoid contact with White’s boom. White turns farther by the lee, and her boom contacts Yellow’s mast. There is no damage or serious injury.

Decision: It was reasonably possible for white to avoid contact. White did not avoid contact. Disqualify White. It was not reasonably possible for Yellow to avoid contact, do not disqualify Yellow.

In the end, Rule 14 does its job, but the situation would be fairer if Yellow had right of way.

Interestingly, this situation almost happened at the Sailing World Championships in Aarhus during the medal race for the Laser Radials. Watch at 25:10. Alison Young heads up to avoid Paige Railey.

Laser Radial Medal Race | Aarhus 2018


Another rabbit hole to go down: What if yellow tacked to avoid White, and contact was made between the boom of White and the mast of Yellow while Yellow was tacking?

Created: 18-Aug-31 16:12
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