Two boats on port (a windward boat PW and a leeward boat PL) are approaching a starboard tack boat (S) on a collision course, with everyone sailing close-hauled. PL could duck S, but it would be a substantial course change.
I keep hearing people say that PL may only hail for "room to tack" if ducking is not an option for some reason (e.g. too close, or too many other boats there).
However, that seems wrong to me. 20.1
only requires that PL "is approaching an obstruction and will soon need to make a substantial course change to avoid it safely" and PL "is sailing close-hauled or above".
Those conditions seem satisfied even if ducking (a substantial course change) is an option. PL is allowed to choose between ducking or hailing for room to tack (and then tacking).
Several questions about this:
1. Am I correct?
2. Assuming I'm correct, is there some reason I keep hearing people say that not being able to duck is a requirement for hailing "room to tack"? (An older rule that was different?) This is coming from experienced racers who generally know the rules much better than I do.
3. It sounds like if it would only be a tiny course change for PL to duck S, then PL may not hail for room to tack. Is that right?
4. How about if PL and PW are overlapped, and it's only a tiny course change (not "substantial") or no course change for PL to duck (avoid) S, but giving room (as is required by 19.2
(b)) for PW between S and PL would be a substantial course change. May PL then hail for room to tack?
In (4), I'm asking whether PL's substantial course change to give room to PW (between PL and the obstruction S) is considered "a substantial course change to avoid [the obstruction]", satisfying the conditions for 20.1
, even though just avoiding S (but not giving room) wouldn't be a substantial course change (I would guess yes, you can hail for "room to tack" in that case?).