Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

Room to Tack when 3 boats hailed

Bob Lewis
Nationality: Canada

The following scenario is from a recent club radio sailing race with the boats as pictured below, a short time after the start.  An unusual feature of radio sailing compared to full size boat sailing is that due to the need to be near the boats, often the start line is near a shore or a dock with all boats needing to tack off in a relatively short time.  We need to understand better how the room to tack rule works in such cases.  Diagram at the time of hail is below.

Diagram 1
 

Roughly, this is how it unfolded:

Diagram 2
 

1.       The first picture is at about 7 seconds after the start.  
2.       Due to the recent start, all sailors are standing relatively near each other on the dock. 
3.       The boats are approaching a dock that runs at a small angle to the wind.  
4.       The boats are moving at about one boat length per second.  
5.       The lead boat L has about 6 seconds before it would hit the dock.  
6.       Leeward satisfies the criteria to hail for room to tack listed in rule 20.1 – approaching an obstruction and will soon need to make a substantial course change to avoid it safely and is sailing close hauled.
7.       At the time of the picture, L hails “L room to tack on ML, MW and W” (sail numbers used in the real incident).  The hail met the requirements of Appendix E2.1 – was made loud enough such that those hailed could be expected to have heard it and the sail number digits were used in the hail.  L used the form of hail required for Umpired Events in Addendum Q of IRSA, International Radio Sailing Association (“sail number Room to Tack”) but added the numbers of the hailed boats at the end to indicate who was being hailed.
8.       At the time of hail, it is likely that a tack by L would result in a collision with ML if ML holds her course.  It is likely that if W did not tack then ML would need to pass on the hail to W before she could tack and possibly to MW.
9.       If ML is removed from the situation, it is likely that L would have been able to tack and avoid W and MW.
10.     L states that they made the hail at this time, to give time for all the boats to respond to or pass on the hail if they felt they needed to, all of which might take some time.
11.     L states that they thought all 3 hailed boats would need to avoid either L or each other and so a hail to all would be the easiest way to get all boats to tack away in an orderly manner.
12.    None of the three hailed boats responded either by tacking as soon as possible or by immediately replying “you tack” or by passing on the hail.
13.    L continued on course, waiting for a response and after sailing about 5 boat lengths, to about 1 boat length from the dock, did a crash tack and bear away.
14.    About a second later ML and W tacked and L headed up sharply to close hauled to avoid ML.
15.    About two seconds later MW tacked.

L did not protest as they thought it would be better to just discuss it after the race. L considered protesting ML, MW and W for failing to respond to the hails as required by rule 20.2.  All the hailed boats claimed that they did not have to respond as they thought L could tack and avoid them in the space available. MW and W further stated that they have no obligation to respond to a hail from a boat that is two  or three boats away in the line and that they are entitled to wait for a “passed on” hail from the nearest boat as provided in rule 20.3. L thought that whether a hailing boat can or cannot avoid the hailed boats without their action is not relevant to responding to a rule 20 hail and that they should just hail back “you tack” and then give room to tack and avoid, if they want to continue on their course.

Should all the hailed boats be disqualified if protested?

WS Case 54 discusses the basics of rule 20. 

WS Case 113 discusses who is a hailed boat and seems to stand for the proposition that a single hail can be made to more than one boat.  In that case the windward boat of 3 is a hailed boat because it heard the hail (odd as it wasn’t in the facts found and hails don’t normally need to be heard in the rules) and will have to respond before the hailer can tack. The situation at hand is different in that all the hailed boats know they are being hailed as their numbers are called.  Also, there is more space in our situation in that removing the first hailed boat would allow the hailer to tack but not so in Case 113

In WS Cases 10 and 33  hailed boats were still required to respond to a room to tack hail even though the hail was not allowed under rule 20.1.  This suggests that hailed boats should respond as in rule 20.2 in all cases.

The incident was captured at the start of this video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gQQwCtD4IC8 – Video by Scratchy_101

Created: 19-Dec-28 00:46

Comments

Philip Hubbell
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • Judge In Training
0
L made a proper hail, early enough for intervening boats to pass along the hail. ML failed to pass along the hail to MW. Did he need to do so if L already hailed? Did he need to if he thought he had enough room to tack?  If he thought he had that room, must he tack immediately, or when L should have expected a delayed process of hails?

By the video, ML should have hailed "You tack," as L proved to have room to tack and keep clear of ML on starboard tack, - not prettily, perhaps, but by rudder action slowing and luffing in a seamanlike way.  

This being the case, L had no right to hail MW or W for room. This is a normal situation in my RC fleet, as well. We do not follow the criteria of sail number hails. Things go too fast for that. And there is so little risk of injury!
Created: 19-Dec-28 01:58
Tim Hohmann
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
0
It seems to me that if Y hailed all boats, all boats were obligated to respond even if they thought the hail was invalid.

B & R were probably not entitled to room to tack unless they were passing on Y's hail, or until they were approaching the obstruction themselves. 
Created: 19-Dec-28 02:22
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Bob Lewis
Said Created: Today 00:46


The following scenario is from a recent club radio sailing race with the boats as pictured below, a short time after the start.  An unusual feature of radio sailing compared to full size boat sailing is that due to the need to be near the boats, often the start line is near a shore or a dock with all boats needing to tack off in a relatively short time.  We need to understand better how the room to tack rule works in such cases.  Diagram at the time of hail is below.
 
Roughly, this is how it unfolded:
 

1.         The first picture is at about 7 seconds after the start.  
Irrelevant
2.         Due to the recent start, all sailors are standing relatively near each other on the dock. 
Rules out any claim that W did not hear the hail, although actually hearing the hail, as discussed at the foot and in Case 54, is irrelevant.
3.         The boats are approaching a dock that runs at a small angle to the wind. 
 
4.         The boats are moving at about one boat length per second.  
Irrelevant, but if it had mattered, we would have needed to know How long/how far does it take them to tack?
 
5.         The lead boat L has about 6 seconds before it would hit the dock. 
 
6.         Leeward (Yellow) satisfies the criteria to hail for room to tack listed in rule 20.1 – approaching an obstruction and will soon need to make a substantial course change to avoid it safely and is sailing close hauled.
Interim conclusion, but OK.

7.         At the time of the picture, L hails “L room to tack on ML, MW and W” (sail numbers used in the real incident) (Blue, Green, and Red).  The hail met the requirements of Appendix E2.1 – was made loud enough such that those hailed could be expected to have heard it and the sail number digits were used in the hail.  L used the form of hail required for Umpired Events in Addendum Q of IRSA, International Radio Sailing Association (“sail number Room to Tack”) but added the numbers of the hailed boats at the end to indicate who was being hailed.
Is anyone saying that the hail, in some way broke a rule?  Yes, see below:  W claimed that she was not a 'hailed boat'.
8.         At the time of hail, it is likely that a tack by L would result in a collision with ML if ML holds her course.
So what?
It is likely that if W did not tack then ML would need to pass on the hail to W before she could tack and possibly to MW.
Irrelevant.  Rule 20.3 permits a hailed boat to pass on a hail without any regard to whether she ‘needs’’ to or not, all that is necessary is that she has been hailed and intends to tack.
9.         If ML is removed from the situation, it is likely that L would have been able to tack and avoid W and MW.
Irrelevant:  Leeward is not required to ‘need’ room to tack and avoid to be entitled to hail, only that she will soon need to make a substantial change in course.
10.       L states that they made the hail at this time, to give time for all the boats to respond to or pass on the hail if they felt they needed to, all of which might take some time.
Irrelevant: you have already concluded at 6 above that L complied with rule 20.1.
11.       L states that they thought all 3 hailed boats would need to avoid either L or each other and so a hail to all would be the easiest way to get all boats to tack away in an orderly manner.
Reasons irrelevant.  L was entitled to hail.  Full stop.
12.       None of the three hailed boats responded either by tacking as soon as possible or by immediately replying “you tack”
ML broke rule 20.2.
MW broke rule 20.2
W broke rule 20.2
 or by passing on the hail.
Irrelevant:  rule 20.3 does not oblige a boat to pass on a hail.
13.       L continued on course, waiting for a response and after sailing about 5 boat lengths, to about 1 boat length from the dock, did a crash tack and bear away.
Is there any doubt that L gave the all the hailed boats time to respond?
14.       About a second later ML and W tacked and L headed up sharply to close hauled to avoid ML.
Does L complain that ML broke rule 16 or rule 13?
15.    About two seconds later MW tacked.
 
L did not protest as they thought it would be better to just discuss it after the race. L considered protesting ML, MW and W for failing to respond to the hails as required by rule 20.2.
Unless another boat protests, L has no recourse, and deserves none.
  All the hailed boats claimed that they did not have to respond as they thought L could tack and avoid them in the space available.
Then all the hailed boats were wrong.  Once a rule 20 hail is given, hailed boats MUST respond in accordance with rule 20.2.
 
 MW and W further stated that they have no obligation to respond to a hail from a boat that is two  or three boats away in the line
Then they are wrong.  A hailed boat must respond.
Case 113 Answer 1, as you have rightly picked up below, leaves the door open for a boat that is not specifically hailed and is not adjacent to the hailing boat and will not have to respond before the hailing boat is able to tack, to claim that she is not a ‘hailed boat’ and is not obliged to respond in accordance with rule 20.2, unless and until the intervening boat passes on the hail.
 
In this case, your special rules require, and L actually did, specifically hail W by sail number.  W is a hailed boat and is required to respond to the hail in accordance with rule 20.2.
 
 and that they are entitled to wait for a “passed on” hail from the nearest boat as provided in rule 20.3.
Disagree.  See above.
 L thought that whether a hailing boat can or cannot avoid the hailed boats without their action is not relevant to responding to a rule 20 hail and that they should just hail back “you tack” and then give room to tack and avoid, if they want to continue on their course.
Absolutely right.
 
 Should all the hailed boats be disqualified if protested?
Yes.  At 12 above you say that hailed boats did absolutely nothing to respond to L’s hail.
 
If a boat is hailed, it must respond in accordance with rule 20.2.
WS Case 54 discusses the basics of rule 20.

WS Case 113 discusses who is a hailed boat and seems to stand for the proposition that a single hail can be made to more than one boat.
Yes, where the hail does not nominate a boat.  In your special rules you require the hailed boat to be nominated.
  In that case the windward boat of 3 is a hailed boat because it heard the hail (odd as it wasn’t in the facts found and hails don’t normally need to be heard in the rules)
Not exactly.  The hail complied with Case 54 Answer 4, about being directed towards … and … as loud as is required in the prevailing conditions to be capable of being heard by the outside boat.  That’s what Case 54 requires to make the outside boat a ‘hailed boat’.
 and will have to respond before the hailer can tack. The situation at hand is different in that all the hailed boats know they are being hailed as their numbers are called.
Yes
  Also, there is more space in our situation in that removing the first hailed boat would allow the hailer to tack but not so in Case 113
Not relevant: once L expressly nominates W in her hail, W is undeniably a ‘hailed boat’.
In WS Cases 10 and 33  hailed boats were still required to respond to a room to tack hail even though the hail was not allowed under rule 20.1.  This suggests that hailed boats should respond as in rule 20.2 in all cases.
Yes.
Created: 19-Dec-28 03:47
John Ball
Nationality: Canada
0
The hailed boats have to react to the hail. R20.2(b) & (c). If they disagree with the hail, their recourse is to protest, but they may not ignore the hail. 
Yes things happen much faster in RC sailing, and yes, the consequence of a collision may be insignificant, but the rules still apply.

John
Created: 19-Dec-28 03:51
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
2
Philip Hubbell
said Created: Today 01:58

L made a proper hail, early enough for intervening boats to pass along the hail. ML failed to pass along the hail to MW.
Did he need to do so if L already hailed?

Rule 20.3 creates an entitlement for a middle boat that has been hailed to hail an outside boat when the middle boat herself does not meet the conditions of rule 20.1, namely that she does not soon need to make a substantial course change (possibly because she herself is fetching clear of the obstruction), or is not sailing close hauled or above.  It also reminds middle boats that the should hail if necessary.

Case 113 creates an obligation, on a middle boat, to pass on the hail to the windward boat for room to tack immediately after the leeward boat's hail where:
  • the middle boat cannot practicably comply with rule 20.2 by hailing 'you tack' and giving room, and
  • the windward boat is not already responding to the leeward boat's hail,  and
  • the middle boat cannot tack because of the presence of the windward boat.

Case 113, as in this example, contemplates the windward boat being a 'hailed boat', even though she is not responding.  That is, where the middle boat cannot comply by hailing 'you tack' she must pass on the hail, even though the windward boat may have already heard it.

In this example, ML can readily hail 'you tack', and bear away and give L room to tack and avoid her.  So ML does not fail to comply with the obligation stated in Case 113 by not passing on the hail, but she does break rule 20.2 by not either tacking or immediately replying 'you tack'.

Did he need to if he thought he had enough room to tack?

That would be an additional reason why the Case 113 obligation to pass on the hail did not apply.

If he thought he had that room, must he tack immediately, or when L should have expected a delayed process of hails?

The time requirement for a hailed boat to tack in rule 20.2c is not 'immediately' it is 'as soon as possible'.  The 'immediately requirement applies to the alternative of replying 'you tack' and giving room.

The hailed boat certainly can't dilly dally around awaiting some hypothetical time.

By the video, ML should have hailed "You tack," as L proved to have room to tack and keep clear of ML on starboard tack, - not prettily, perhaps, but by rudder action slowing and luffing in a seamanlike way.  

I'm a bit cautious about saying what boat's 'should' or 'should not' do in a rules discussion.

This being the case, L had no right to hail MW or W for room.

Strongly disagree.  The conditions for L to be entitled to hail any boat or boats on the same tack for room to tack and avoid them are stated in rule 20.1, and they are:
  1. she is approaching an obstruction and will soon need to make a substantiate course change to avoid it safely:  L MEETS THIS CONDITION
  2. she is sailing close hauled or above:  L MEETS THIS CONDITION
  3. the obstruction is not a mark that the hailed boat is fetching:  THE OBSTRUCTION IS NOT A MARK AND THE HAILED BOATS ARE NOT FETCHING CLEAR.

L is absolutely entitled to hail all the boats on the same tack as she is for room under rule 20.


Created: 19-Dec-28 04:56
Murray Cummings
Nationality: New Zealand
0
John Allen wrote:
 Yes, where the hail does not nominate a boat.  In your special rules you require the hailed boat to be nominated. 
E2.1 (b) The individual digits of a boat’s sail number shall be hailed; for example ‘one five’, not ‘fifteen’.
While the rule does state that 'a' boat's sail number shall be hailed, it does not specifically state which boat's sail number.
Would this not mean that a boat could hail her own sail number and still comply with the rule?  This would be a way to convey to all boats in the vicinity of the hailing boat that she requires room to tack.



Created: 19-Dec-28 15:37
John Christman
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • National Judge
  • National Umpire
0
All hailed boats must respond by either tacking immediately or hailing "you tack".  Red and Green should have hailed "you tack" and then immediately hailed "protest Yellow" as the hail was improper as Yellow could easily keep clear of them.

The only boats that Yellow should be hailing are the ones that must do something in order to give Yellow the room to complete her tack and then keep clear of them.  Clearly, Yellow was able to tack and then keep clear of Blue.

All of this just adds to my assertion that RRS 20 is a terrible rule and should be deleted.  The argument that it is a safety rule is unconvincing as the leeward boat will always be able to luff up to head to wind provided she does it slowly enough that windward boat can keep clear.  This can be done at whatever distance from the obstruction the leeward boat chooses.  Once the windward boat decides to tack away, the leeward boat can tack and sail on.  RRS 20 is acts as a "get out of jail free" card for a leeward boat who sails into a bad position and wants to be bailed out.  In many cases it results in a lead change as the leeward boat often comes out ahead of or controlling the windward boat.
Created: 19-Dec-28 20:51
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
John C,

Could you please explain, with specific reference to the words in a rule, why the ability of a hailing boat to tack and keep clear of hailed boats, or her 'need' for room,  is relevant to her entitlement to hail under rule 20.1.

I note that the 2001-04 rules, rule 19.1 contained the condition 'intends to tack but cannot tack and avoid another boat on the same tack'.  Nothing resembling this condition has appeared in the room to tack rule in versions since 2005.
Created: 19-Dec-28 21:31
John Christman
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • National Judge
  • National Umpire
0
John A -

Any boat can hali any other boat for room to tack at any time.  The question is whether that hail breaks RRS 20.1.  If the hailing boat has the room to tack, i.e. come to a close hauled course on the opposite tack, and then immediately do whatever is necessary to avoid the other boat (including tacking again, luffing her sails and allowing the other boat to pass by, or continuing to turn and duck) in a seamanlike way and she still hails then her hail breaks RRS 20.1.  The room she is requesting is only the room needed to 'tack and avoid'.  The rule does not say she can tack and sail on the new close hauled course and have the other boat avoid her.

In the case described, in the absence of  Blue, Yellow could clearly have tacked and easily avoided Red and Green, so Yellow's hail with regard to them clearly breaks RRS 20.1, she hailed when she already had the room to 'tack and avoid'.  Additionally, with regard to Blue, in position 5, Yellow could clearly have continued to turn down and 'avoid' Blue.  She did not need to hail Blue to have the room needed to 'tack and avoid' her.

This is exactly why this rule is so bad.  It is a rule that I see broken constantly in situations like the one described in all sized boats.  Boats think that the rule allows them to tack and sail on the new close hauled course and have other boats avoid them for some unknown length of time even though they are the keep clear boat.
Created: 19-Dec-29 00:20
Murray Cummings
Nationality: New Zealand
1
John A, 
I don't believe that a boat that hails breaks rule 20.1 if it turns out she had room to tack and avoid before the hail.  Sometimes it may not be entirely clear if there is room do do so or not.  If there already is room for her to tack and avoid without the hailed boat taking any action to create room, a simple hail of "you tack" from the hailed boat is provided for in the rule.   The ways the hailing boat can break rule 20.1 are laid out in parts (a), (b) and the additional paragraph.
Created: 19-Dec-29 01:15
John Ball
Nationality: Canada
0
I disagree with John Allen's statement in one of the above replies, and quoted below and argue that the wording of the rules do not support it. 

John Allen wrote:
 Yes, where the hail does not nominate a boat.  In your special rules you require the hailed boat to be nominated. 

The 'special rules' to which John refers is Appendix E.

R 20.1 requires that a boat hails for room to tack. 

The only change to R 20 in Appendix E is an additional requirement
E1.3(b) which says In rule 20, hails and replies shall be made by the competitor controlling the boat. 

Also in Appendix E2.1 (a) and (b) are requirements about how to hail a sail number (loud enough to be heard, and individual digits) - but this only applies where a rule specifies the inclusion of a sail number as a prescribed part of the hail, for example 

a hail of Protest E6.3 Informing the Protestee
or a hail of Out of Control E2.3 
or an Individual Recall E3.5 

To help support my argument, the IRSA version of Addendum Q for Umpired Racing contains the following 
Q.1 CHANGES TO RACING RULES OF SAILING (RRS)
(g) After the first sentence of RRS 20.1 add ‘The competitor controlling the boat shall hail ‘(her own sail number) room to tack.

There is also a new wording proposed for the RRS 2021-2024 in the WS IRSA Appendix E Working Group to use Appendix E to clarify the R20 hail to make it clear that the sail numbers of the 'hailing' boat is  prescribed, but not the sail numbers of the hailed boat(s).

John
Created: 19-Dec-29 17:28
Bob Lewis
Nationality: Canada
0
Clearly, I owe John Allan an apology for implying that calling the hailed boats sail numbers is required under the radio sailing rules in my fact #7 in the original post.  My understanding is that the current practice is to not require any number hails in a standard radio sailing fleet race that is not umpired, for the reasons detailed by John Ball.  A hail of “water please” should do just fine.  My intent was to state the actual hail used and note that it met all requirements of a hail and went beyond usual current practice by identifying the hailing boat and the hailed boats.  Hopefully that would remove any discussion of “who was being hailed”.  My hope was that this thread would concentrate on whether all the non-rule 20 responders should be DSQ’d.
Created: 19-Dec-29 19:26
John Ball
Nationality: Canada
0
If I involved John Allen due to a misquote, I also apologize. Thanks Bob for pointing this out.

Blue is closest to Yellow and clearly is a concern to Yellow for Yellow to be able to tack. Similarly, Green is of concern to Blue if Blue were to try to tack to provide room for Yellow. So if you hailed their sail numbers or not, they are close enough and should be expected to respond to the hail.

The real question is about Red - she is far enough back that she is not preventing Yellow from tacking, and is also far enough back and to leeward that she is not blocking Blue or Green. So I think the questions is that by naming Red in the hail, and which was not a requirement of the hail, does that place an obligation on Red to respond.

I think the answer is Yes - Yellow thinks she and the other nearby boats may need room to tack or hail 'you tack' and be able to stay clear. It Is is very easy for Red to hail 'You tack' and stay clear. So Red's failure to respond breaks the rule. 

Had Yellow not mentioned Red in the hail, then Red could decide for herself whether or not she may be a factor in providing room for Yellow to tack.

John
Created: 19-Dec-29 20:28
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
1
Thanks John and Bob for clarifying the Appendix E rules requirements.  I think your discussions also answers Murray Cummings' question.

Fact remains that ML, MW, and W were 'hailed boats', for the following reasons:
  1. L nominated them by sail number in her hail;  and
  2. Case 54, Answer 4 provides that 'The hail must be directed towards [the boat intended to be hailed] and be as loud as is required in the prevailing conditions to be capable of being heard by [the boat intended to be hailed]'.  L's hail was so directed and sufficiently loud.
Once ML, MW, and W became 'hailed boats' they were required to respond in accordance with rule 20.2.
Created: 19-Dec-29 21:13
P
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
1
John C,

I think you are putting stuff into rule 20.1 that just isn't there.

Rule 20.1 says absolutely nothing about the hailing boat needing room to tack.  That is not the test.

Rule 20.1 contains four tests to show it has been broken:
  1. Is the hailing boat on the same tack as the hailed boat?
  2. Is the hailing boat approaching an obstruction and will soon need to make a substantial course change to avoid it safely?
  3. Is the hailing boat sailing close hauled or above?
  4. Is the obstruction a mark and a boat that is fetching it would be required to change course as a result of the hail?
These are the only tests for breach of rule 20.


Created: 19-Dec-29 21:42
Murray Cummings
Nationality: New Zealand
0
John Ball wrote;;
 Also in Appendix E2.1 (a) and (b) are requirements about how to hail a sail number (loud enough to be heard, and individual digits) - but this only applies where a rule specifies the inclusion of a sail number as a prescribed part of the hail, for example  

To this I disagree. E2.1  describes what is required of any hail and not just requirements of how to hail a sail number.  In radio sailing, any time a hail is required by the rules, then that hail must
(a) be made so that the competitors to whom the hail is directed might reasonably be expected to hear it, and
(b) Contain the individual digits of a boat’s sail number.

To me, this is totally logical, especially when there are large fleets and a lot of skippers in the control area.  It is quite possible that there can be any given time when more than one boat is in a position where she may hail for room to tack.  For example, two boats, A and B, on the same tack, are approaching a shoreline at the same time as two other boats on another part of the course, C and D on port tack, are approaching a starboard tack boat, E.  A single hail of "water please" or even "room to tack" from within the group of skippers is not going to convey enough information.  Who is hailing whom?  Say the skipper of D, thinking C hailed,  responds to the hail with "you tack".  A, who actually hailed for room, hears the "you tack" and tacks immediately, expecting B to give room. Well... potential carnage.
Including the sail number in the hail identifies who is making the hail and/or who the hail is directed at.  This is not normally required in non-RC racing as it is usually obvious which boat is hailing.

The requirements of any hail include both parts (a) and (b) of E2.1.  One cannot choose to abide by one and not the other. Part (b) specifically states that "the individual digits of a boat’s sail number shall be hailed",
Part (b) does not state that it applies only to rules E6.3, E2.3 or E3.5 or Addendum Q.



Created: 19-Dec-30 23:46
[You must be signed in to add a comment]
Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn more