Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

Interactions between yachts and dinghies while racing

Joe Walters
Nationality: Guernsey
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • Umpire In Training
  • Judge In Training
In our yacht club, we regularly sail with yachts and dinghies on similar courses, and it's common to have interactions between them. However, we were unsure as to the rules for keeping clear between yachts and dinghies, especially in relation to a yacht overtaking to windward.

Summary of the incident:
A 36-foot yacht was sailing on a run, on starboard gybe with the asymmetrical spinnaker hoisted. An RS500 dinghy was sailing on a beat on starboard tack, to leeward of the yacht and not on a collision course, the yacht would pass clear ahead. As the yacht passed to windward of the dinghy, they were blanketed and bore away to keep pressure in the sails, but onto a collision course. The yacht avoided the collision by heading up but was close to broaching. The dinghy passed clear astern of the yacht, and then promptly returned to their close-hauled course. The boats were not competing in the same race, or on the same course.

Question 1:
What would be the limitations on the dinghy bearing away to a collision course with the yacht?

Question 2:
Is a change of course measured from a change in compass heading or another factor?

Question 3:
If the yacht did broach due to suddenly heading up to avoid the dinghy, do you have any ideas how this would play out in a protest or a request for redress?
Would the outcome be changed if the RS had to avoid the collision?

Question 4:
Should it be assumed that a leeward boat will change course in response to being blanketed?

Question 5:
Is there (or should there be) a difference in the definition for keeping clear depending on the boats involved?

Question 6:
I think this has been asked here before, but are there any considerations as to whether boats can actually see each other? For example, the large asymmetrical spinnaker can block the view of boats to leeward. Has anyone encountered a protest where one boat just didn't see another? Is there actually anything the boat can do to maintain a good lookout if they have spinnakers (and sometimes jibs) blocking the view?

yacht blanketing dinghy.png 162 KB


I hope the diagram helps explain the situation.

Thank you for your views and answers.
Created: 19-Nov-19 12:37

Comments

P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Joe, can you sketch and upload a drawing of the scenario?  A lot of the answers do not need it, but still it might be helpful.  If you don’t have Boat Scenario software, just draw it by hand, take a pic and upload. - Ang 
Created: 19-Nov-19 12:56
David Lees
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • National Umpire
0
Joe
Perhaps I'm being stupid, but if the RS was to leeward of the yacht, which is what I think you're saying, and then bore away, I can't see how she got on to a collision course.  Can you clear things up for me?
David
Created: 19-Nov-19 12:59
Yves Leglise
Nationality: France
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • National Measurer
  • International Judge
  • Regional Umpire
  • National Race Officer
0
The incident, if any, is between two sailing boats while racing. Yacht (!!! a term which doesn't exist anymore in the rules since so many years) or dinghy, all the same.
Created: 19-Nov-19 13:08
Robert Thomas
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
0
Why wouldn't the larger boat have fallen off instead of heading up?  From the diagram there appears to have been plenty of room and probably would have had least detrimental effect to both boats.  Heading up appears to have been the wrong choice by the reaching boat.
Created: 19-Nov-19 14:03
Charles Darley
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • Regional Umpire
2
1.  See rule 16.1
2.  Almost always a change in compass heading.  Moving from ahead to astern by backing a sail is a change of course.
3. If a boat is forced to broach in order to keep clear, she was not given room to keep clear.
4. No, but that is not an issue when applying the RRS.
5. No
6. Boats are required to keep a good look out.  They should take special care if view to leeward is obscured by a sail.  
Created: 19-Nov-19 14:12
Dan Bowman
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
0
Y had additional options, such as bearing off or gybing between positions 1 & 2, to keep clear of B.

I'm not sure B is in error if they are reacting to wind.  How is boat B's change of course according to foul air any different from adjusting course to a wind shift?  Are they not the same?
Created: 19-Nov-19 15:48
David Lees
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • National Umpire
1
Joe
Thanks for the diagram.  I'm not sure if you sent it with the original, but I certainly didn't get it, but all is now clear!

As Yves said, it doesn't matter whether one of the boats is a big yacht and one an Optimist, the rules apply between them.   

My answers would be:
1.  Here the RS is the RoW boat and the keelboat is keep clear.  But the RS has obligations too and by bearing away broke rule 16 if she didn't give the keelboat room to keep clear.  Both might be DSQd.
2.  It's compass bearing.
3.  I don't think the boat broaching would change things.  She had to keep clear.
4.  No.
5.  No.
6.  There is no excuse not to keep a proper look-out.  If there's a sail in the way, someone has to look under it or around it.  
David
Created: 19-Nov-19 17:01
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
1
Charles D .. agree 100%.

Dan .. 

 I'm not sure B is in error if they are reacting to wind.  How is boat B's change of course according to foul air any different from adjusting course to a wind shift?  Are they not the same? 

RRS  16.1  is silent on  Proper Course  and proper course would be the only way that "adjusting course to a wind shift" would come in.  A ROW boat can not use adjusting to a wind-shift as a get-out-of-jail-free card relative to 16.1. It is only a question of whether or not the ROW boat changes course, for whatever reason, and then an analysis if that same ROW boat provided the keep-clear boat room to keep clear.

The other place that proper course can come up in this circumstance would be RRS 24.2 as they appear to be boats on different legs of the course (assuming they are sailing the same course, and not intersecting circles describing different courses).  Considering 24.2, one must look at a course change relative to their proper course since 24.2 doesn't apply when a boat is sailing her proper course.

Created: 19-Nov-19 17:12
Tim Hohmann
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
1
Dan Bowman, they are the same. In each case the ROW boat is entitled to change course in response to the change in wind (or for any other reason they choose), but the ROW boat is also constrained by her obligation to allow the other boat room to keep clear. The same thing applies in the classic upwind Rule 10 scenario when a lift for starboard and header for port turn a close cross by port into a collision course - starboard may only head up in response to the lift if in doing so she allows port room to keep clear.

In this incident it appears that the keelboat was able to keep clear by heading up (as evidenced by no contact). If she had been forced into a broach to avoid contact I'd say she was probably not given room to keep clear by maneuvering in a seamanlike way and the RS broke 16.1. But it might be for the protestor to argue and PC to decide if she could have kept clear in a seamanlike way by bearing away rather than heading up.

Case 107 discusses lookout requirements as they apply to Rule 14. The case is specifically about the starting area but I think the principle can be applied more broadly. Keeping a lookout is part of doing everything reasonably possible to avoid contact.
Created: 19-Nov-19 17:14
Jim Clark-Dawe
Nationality: United States of America
-1
Not only does one want to think about the rules when you have the very big boat near the tiny little dinghy, you want to remember what happened with this Melges 32 owner -- http://www.mysailing.com.au/news/melges-owner-posts-apology-and-explains (Sorry I don't know how to do links.)

Watch the video, as well as reading the apology. Imagine how the spectator's video of this incident will appear on Facebook. 

In this case, the big boat (yellow) could have sailed a little deeper and crossed the dinghy's stern with minimal loss of VMG and never block the dinghy's wind. Instead, the big boat loses several boat lengths and almost broaches (which would have lost even more boat lengths). 

Jim Clark-Dawe
Created: 19-Nov-19 17:45
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
0
David L .. " 3.  I don't think the boat broaching would change things.  She had to keep clear. "

What about concepts of "seamanlike way" in  16.1 's  Room  to keep-clear? 

PS .. IMO, I wouldn't consider being forced unexpectedly [“unexpectedly” added later] into a broach as "seamanlike" .. as crew can get tossed overboard and the broaching boat can uncontrollably turn up into other boats unexpectedly.
Created: 19-Nov-19 17:49
Joe Walters
Nationality: Guernsey
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • Umpire In Training
  • Judge In Training
0
Jim,

My understanding is that the yacht only has to keep clear, regardless of how they do it. 

In this case, the big boat (yellow) could have sailed a little deeper and crossed the dinghy's stern with minimal loss of VMG and never block the dinghy's wind. Instead, the big boat loses several boat lengths and almost broaches (which would have lost even more boat lengths). 

In this example, the yacht would have had to gybe to pass astern and have made that decision prior to the dinghy changing course. The boats were not on a collision course and the yacht would pass clear ahead until the dinghy bore away. I understand that the yacht does not have to assume or expect the dinghy to change course, and can only react to it. In this case, the dinghy bore away and forced the yacht to head up. If the dinghy didn't give the yacht room to maneuver in a seamanlike way then they break RRS 16.1.
Created: 19-Nov-19 18:10
Jim Clark-Dawe
Nationality: United States of America
0
Joe --

I agree. This is a simple Rule 11 versus Rule 16.1.

I don't believe that Flippo Pacinotti broke any rules with the Optis. But when the big boat gets too close to the little boat, it doesn't look good. In this case the dinghy skipper is not going to be happy to lose his wind and will logically change course to keep his boat moving. Assuming he complies with Rule 16.1, the dinghy skipper can change course and is very unlikely to sail into a big hole like the larger boat's wind shadow. Smart skippers anticipate how things are setting up and work to avoid them. 

In your drawing, you indicate the larger boat sailing on a broad reach with a course from the true wind of about 220 degrees. In that case, the larger boat had some room to go deeper. But if the larger boat was on a course close to its gybing point, then its skipper might need to think of a different solution. The drawing indicates two boats that had been on their course for quite a few boat lengths, so some advance planning looks like it might be possible.

Jim




Created: 19-Nov-19 22:14
Paul Hanly
Nationality: Australia
0
Rule 17 in RRS Rules is missing a rule number near the end of the rule. " This rule does not apply if the overlap begins while the windward boat is required by rule ?????? keep clear. "

Re Charles Darley's post above: Is a broach always an indication that a ROW boat did not allow room to keep clear? I would have thought not. Maybe the give way boat did not act in a timely manner, maybe they could have avoided a broach by releasing the main and assy sheets and simply steered up in a controlled manner. 

It seems the proper course limitation under RRS 17 on the leeward boat does not apply as either a) the overlap was established more than two boat lengths away, b) the overlap was established by the windward boat or c) the leeward boat never sailed above her proper course.

In the diagram it seems from the distances between 1 and 2 positions of each boat that the RS was travelling faster than the yacht but this may not have been an intended inference. If the RS was travelling faster they may have been concerned about crossing in front of an oncoming boat flying an assy where the RS could not be confident that the crew of the yacht could actually see the RS. As a dinghy sailor I would not lightly put myself in a position where a yacht maintaining course would run me over, no matter how certain I was of my rights

Created: 19-Nov-20 02:06
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Judge In Training
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Thanks Paul for the heads up. The missing rule 13 ref in RRS 17 is fixed on RRoS.org.  - Ang
Created: 19-Nov-20 03:35
Tim Hohmann
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
0
David L .. " 3.  I don't think the boat broaching would change things.  She had to keep clear. "

What about concepts of "seamanlike way" in  16.1 's  Room  to keep-clear?

PS .. IMO, I wouldn't consider being forced unexpectedly [“unexpectedly” added later] into a broach as "seamanlike" .. as crew can get tossed overboard and the broaching boat can uncontrollably turn up into other boats unexpectedly.

I'm also concerned that it appears the RS altered course after she disappeared under the keelboat's spinnaker. So (Case 107 notwithstanding) the keelboat had reason to expect that the RS would maintain course and that the keelboat would keep clear by maintaining course herself. Seems like a dangerous move by the RS and I'm guessing there were some really big eyes on the keelboat when the RS popped into view on a collision course.
Created: 19-Nov-21 00:22
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