In example a Yellow had enough space to pass between the mark and Blue (scenario description) It was her first choice to go there. Then she changed her decision and therefore was caused by her own decision(!) to sail above clause hauled. Blue followed her obligation under RRS 15. No contact, no rule broken!!!
Example b is without discussion, but if you look carefully it is in principle the same as example a.
Example c is a little bit difficult. Following the description, there was enough space for Yellow between Blue and the mark. But unlike in example a Yellow may not have reailized this. It was half a hull length between Blue and Yellow when Blue finished her tack. Not much time to decide for Yellow, the faster boat. (It is not very good to present always principles from other cases, however here I´d like to draw your attention to WS Case 50 –“reasonable doubt”) In other words, we need more information in a hearing to decide this case.
In my humble opinion: This Q&A is not a highlight in the history of the Q&A panel, should be changed or deleted! The good thing is, we are not bound by recommendation of the panel.
The problem is the word “cause”, which is imprecise.
On one hand, it is permissible to say that Blue “caused” Yellow to sail above close hauled in the sense that if not for Blue’s tack, Yellow would not have sailed above close hauled. Blue’s tack was part of the chain of causation. This is the meaning favoured by Heiko and the Q & A Panel.
On the other hand, the word can have a stronger meaning, as Willii has identified, of making or compelling something to happen. We can say that Blue’s tack did not “cause” Yellow to sail above head to wind because Yellow did not have to do so. Yellow could have sailed below Blue but choose to sail above for tactical reasons.
We have to ask what meaning of “cause” applies to Rule 18.3? To me, it’s clear that the latter meaning applies. The Rule is all about what boats tacking within the zone are required to do. Such a boat is not required to second guess and facilitate the tactics of competitors, as the Q & A Panel’s decision requires. I note the following.
1. Regarding the context of Rule 18.3, Pt 2 of the Rules only requires boats with obligations to only do the minimum necessary to comply with those obligations. As long as a keep clear boat avoids a right of way boat, she has done enough. She doesn’t have cater for the right of way boat’s tactics.
2. The purpose of the Rules in Pt 2 is not to create a series of traps to allow boats to catch each other out to protest them out of the race. That is what has happened in scenarios (a) and (c) according to the Panel.
3. When approaching marks, boats have enough to think about without having to second guess what their competitor’s tactics may be.
4. If one interprets “cause” to be part of the chain of causation, that will substantially complicate inquiries into Rule 18.3 because that raises the issue how far down the chain does one go? What if Blue tacked to leeward of Yellow, but Yellow sailed above close hauled to slow down to pass astern of Blue to take the inside position? What about intervening causes?
5. For the reasons given in my earlier post, the Q & A Panel’s interpretation effectively made yellow a right of way boat, even though she is clear astern. If that is what the drafters of the Rule intended they surely would have just written that.
John Christman. You are getting yourself into trouble when you interpret rules as you have done in your post – ie making a broad speculation about what a rule is intended to do and then interpreting the rule in accordance with your speculation. A sailing rule is intended to do what it says. There is nothing in the Racing Rules of Sailing to say that the desired outcome of Rule 18.3 is that boats don't tack from port onto starboard in the zone.
The closest we can come to finding the intention is the submission from the Chairman of the Racing Rules Committee that preceded the drafting of the rule in its current form. In his submission, he described the purpose of the Rule as “to help an orderly rounding of port-hand windward marks by limiting the rights of boats that approach on port and tack onto starboard in the zone”. That is a completely different thing.
However, we don’t know the intentions of the people who actually voted on the change or whether they all had the same intention. We also don’t know the intentions of those who voted on the original version of rule 18.3. Even if we could find out these intentions, it is unreasonable to expect sailors to go behind what is written in the RRS.
Having said that, there are obviously accepted means of interpreting the RRS which are manifest in the Rules themselves and the casebook. However, if you intend to rely on a principle of interpretation on a contentious issue in a Jury, you need to be able to back it up.