Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

hailing "room to tack" when you could duck

David Chudzicki
Nationality: United States of America
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?).
Created: 19-Sep-15 05:08

Comments

John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
David Chudzicki
said Created: Today 05:08

1. Am I correct?

Yes.  In the situation you describe, the conditions of rule 20.1 (approaching an obstruction, will soon need to make a substantial course change, and sailing close hauled or above) are met and the exception (is not a mark) is not met.

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.

The most likely reason is people just making stuff up instead of reading the rule carefully.

Going back to the 2001-04 version of the rules, the relevant rule set as a condition that the hailing boat 'intends to tack', but even then, tacking as the only possible course was not required.  This was made even clearer when rule 19 Room to Pass and Obstruction was split out of rule 18 in the 2009 rewrite, and rule 19.2a expressly said 'A right of way boat may choose to pass an obstruction on either side'.

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?

Rule 20.1a sets the condition as 'will soon need to make a substantial course change ...'.

A 'tiny' course change is not a substantial course change.

If only a 'tiny' course change is needed, and a boat hails for room to tack, she breaks rule 20.1a.

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?

If PL requires no course change to pass astern of S, then she has no entitlement to hail for room to tack under rule 20.1.  See Case 11 second last paragraph

Had PL hailed, PW would have been required by rules 20.2(b) and 20.2(c) to respond even though rule 20.1(a) prohibited PL from hailing because she did not have to make any change of course to avoid S.

If PL requires only a 'tiny' course change to pass astern of S, then she can avoid S (the obstruction) in safety without any need to make a substantial course change, and, again, the condition of rule 20.1a is not met and S has no entitlement to hail under rule 20.

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?).

Good get, but not quite.

If the condition in rule 20.1a referred to 'room' your argument would have a show, because room includes space to comply with other rules.

But the test in rule 20.1a refers only to 'avoid' the obstruction safely:  there's no consideration of giving space to comply with rule 19.

Hooooever, if PL luffed slightly when approaching S, then, miraculously, she might then find she needed to make a 'substantial' course change to pass astern of S.
Created: 19-Sep-15 07:08
Gordon Davies
Nationality: Ireland
Certifications:
  • International Judge
0
Tack or duck?
As boats are approaching the obstruction RRS 19.2(a) applies and the right of way boat can choose to pass the obstruction on either side. If RoW boat wants to tack and 20(a) applies then she must hail for room to tack.
If RoW boat choses to duck and the keep clear boat is overlapped inside the outside RoW must give room.
Gordon
Created: 19-Sep-15 09:02
Al Sargent
Nationality: United States of America
0
Thanks, David and John for both the detailed question and response. 

What constitutes "substantial" when we're talking about a substantial course change?

If PL and S are "bow-to-bow", meaning that their bows would collide if neither altered course, would PL ducking S entail a substantial course change?

What if PL and S are bow-to-midpoint, meaning PL would hit S halfway between its bow and stern -- would a duck, in that case, be considered substantial?

Lastly, what if PL and S are bow-to-3/4, meaning PL would hit S 75% of the way from bow to stern -- substantial or not?

Sorry to nitpick, but these situations come up all the time on the racecourse.
Created: 19-Sep-15 17:16
Kim Kymlicka
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • National Umpire
0
David,
Rule 20 has a lot of safety built into it.
The rules do not deal with percentages. There are plenty of Cases and Appeals that deal with both rule 19 and 20. Maybe the Case 3 will give you an idea about 'aiming'.
As the PL boat, you have options, but must exercise one of them timely.
For interesting instance about hailing, look at Case 125.

Kim

Created: 19-Sep-16 04:35
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Al Sargent
said Created: Yesterday 17:16

What constitutes "substantial" when we're talking about a substantial course change?
...
Sorry to nitpick, but these situations come up all the time on the racecourse.

'Substantial' is not in italics in the rules, so it is not a defined term.

'Substantial' is not among the definitions that are not definitions in Introduction, Terminology.

Therefore 'substantial' is used in the sense ordinarily understood in nautical or general use (Introduction, Terminology).
Created: 19-Sep-16 09:33
Gordon Davies
Nationality: Ireland
Certifications:
  • International Judge
0
According to the Cambridge Dictionary (on line) substantial means large in size, value or importance.
I would suggest the following working definition
A substantial change of course is one in which, in addition to steering with the rudder, a competent but not expert crew would also trim the sails for the new course.

If you can alter course with out having to trim the sails then a change of course is not large!
Gordon
Created: 19-Sep-16 10:13
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
My Shorter Oxford has '... of ample or considerable amount, quantity or dimensions ...'

I certainly prefer that to 'large in size'.

On boats I trim main on, I would expect to be going down trav for a course change of 3 to 5 degrees, which I would consider not substantial.

Same boats, and other heavy keelboats, in suitable conditions can, under strong helm, bear away and gybe without easing anything.

I'm uncomfortable with importing the 'competent but not expert' criterion from 'seamanlike'.
Created: 19-Sep-16 13:55
David Chudzicki
Nationality: United States of America
0
I suppose that most of the time when the course change would be borderline-"substantial", the question won't come up: It's generally not a good move anyway to tack onto someone's lee stern.

The exception would be the starboard layline -- it might matter a lot there whether you're allowed to ask for room to tack.
Created: 19-Sep-16 15:43
Al Sargent
Nationality: United States of America
0
Thanks everyone for weighing in. Overall, it seems like there really isn't clear guidance on what constitutes "substantial". If anyone on this thread is working on revisions to future editions of the rules, this ambiguity might be something to adjust.

Kim -- thanks for mentioning case 3 (https://www.racingrulesofsailing.org/cases/1014), but it's midpoint-to-bow (L's midpoint would make contact with S's bow) so it doesn't really apply here since it'd unquestionably be a substantial duck.

David -- agreed, it's rarely a good idea to tack into someone's lee stern (wind shadow), except when you're on layline, as you mention. This situation can easily come up in team racing (with port roundings) if PW is one team, and PL and S are on another. Especially if S is just above layline, such that PL could lay if they tacked to leeward of S, and PW couldn't lay.
Created: 19-Sep-17 04:42
Bruno Marques
Nationality: Brazil
Certifications:
  • International Judge
0
One point not mentioned above is that if PL asks for room way too early, that is much before "will soon need ...", the other boat still has to comply but may protest PL for violating the "soon" clause in rule 20.1 and maybe rule 2.
Created: 19-Sep-19 02:13
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