Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

Of course as we course through the possibilities, we understand "course", in due course ..

Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
I'm wondering if anyone else has experienced confusion in the minds of racers regarding the meaning/definition of the word "course" . We use the word in its noun-form to refer to at least 2 different things: (1) the current straight-path a boat makes through the water, (2) the path through the water around and between marks a boat must complete to race.
  • change of course (1)
  • close-hauled course (1)
  • differing, collision, converging courses (language used in cases) (1)
  • proper course (1,2?)
  • sailing the course (2)
  • shorten the course (2)
As a modifier it seems to be consistently applied as referring only to the second application
  • course side
  • course length
The reason I put (1,2?) next to "proper course" is that I think it is often thought-of and used in a way that bridges both noun uses. In the "Proper Course" definition, if refers to "a course", so is it a type 1 or type 2 course or a little of both?. One might hear someone say that in the presence of a strong current, a boat's proper course could be to head-up and sail toward shore and then along the shore once in the shallows, thus simultaneously describing a current direction though the water as well as a future nonlinear path.

We can look at use of "proper course" in US Appeal 4 "When a boat intervenes between two others on the same tack, her proper course is to keep clear of the leeward boat." which seems encompass the changing path through the water to keep clear.

We also have Case 75 which implies a ROW's boat's proper course could be to swing-wide and round close to a leeward mark in the absence of another give-way boat, "S's proper course might well have been to sail even farther from the mark and higher than she did ..", again describing a larger path through the water.

So, wondering if others have seen this multi-use of the word "course" cause confusion. I've tried to think of alternative wording which would be both concise and clearer for some applications, but haven't had much luck.

Ang
Created: 18-Nov-02 13:22

Comments

Daniel Dalgleish
Nationality: United States of America
0
I would suggest the following modifications. Mainly because close-hauled course is only defined by your angle to the wind.

(1) the relative angle of a boats heading relative to something else, (2) the path through which a boat is or will be traveling.
  • change of course (1)
  • close-hauled course (1)
  • differing, collision, converging courses (language used in cases) (2)
  • proper course (2)
  • sailing the course (2)
  • shorten the course (2)
Also, proper course does not exist unless there is a rule in question. In other words, for each rule there exists a proper course and each of those proper courses can be the same but do not have to be.

This means proper course could be a straight line through the water like you say but it could also be a chosen trajectory/path to round the marks as quick as possible.
Created: 18-Nov-02 14:58
Philip Hubbell
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • Judge In Training
-1
Short answer: No.
Created: 18-Nov-02 16:17
Tom Sollas
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
0
I've never run across this. For reference, Webster's has this to say, relevant bit included:

1 : the act or action of moving in a path from point to point

e.g. the planets in their courses

2 : the path over which something moves or extends: such as

a : racecourse

b(1) : the direction of travel of a vehicle (such as a ship or airplane) usually measured as a clockwise angle from north also : the projected path of travel

(2) : a point of the compass

Definition 1 implies "2", e.g. the path a boat takes around a race course, while definition 2 suggests "1", e.g. a bearing or heading. We can apply definition 1 to the path a boat must take to complete the race. However, both definitions have something in common, that being a direction or path, e.g. "I must go 1 mile on a bearing of 180 and round that mark to port". Therefore, "course", as defined by say "sailing the course" is really covered by both definition 1 AND definition 2 because of the last bit of b(1): "projected path of travel".

Point is, given all the examples you mention, course implies direction, and as such, given the definition, we're covered and there shouldn't be any confusion.

Now, if the RRS had done something silly like define a regatta as "a series of courses" (see definition 4), then we'd have an issue. :)
Created: 18-Nov-02 16:39
Graham Kelly
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
1
Good point.

As judges, we also should be mindful of the distinction between "Course(1)" and "heading."
Created: 18-Nov-02 21:05
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
0

Also, proper course does not exist unless there is a rule in question. In other words, for each rule there exists a proper course and each of those proper courses can be the same but do not have to be.


Daniel, I'd like to suggest a tweak to your understanding as stated above. Below is the PC definition

Proper Course: A course a boat would sail to finish as soon as possible in the absence of the other boats referred to in the rule using the term. A boat has no proper course before her starting signal.

So, last things first .. a boat has no proper course before her starting signal. So let's jump to after her starting signal.

Now I can see why you said what you said above, because the definition talks about a course a boat would sail in the absence of the other boats referred in rule. What that is saying is that when you consider proper course, you remove the other boats that are applying the term from the scenario and then ask yourself, 'without those other boats present, what course would the boat in question sail?'

When you remove those other boats, the rule which applied to those boats also goes away. A boat's proper course is in the absence of those boats .. and thus also absent is the rule which makes those boats pertinent. Therefore, a boat's proper course does not change based upon the rule which is being applied.

In my OP, you will see a US appeal and a Case. Read those 2 carefully and you will see what I'm talking about. In Appeal 4, the intervening boat's proper course is defined by her need to keep clear of a leeward boat (RRS 11), not RRS 17 in which proper course is used. Likewise in Case 75.

Created: 18-Nov-02 22:42
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