Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

Straightforward rule 10 / 12 / 13 / 15 question

Jim Archer
Nationality: United States of America
This incident took place while sailing N10 (Turnabout) dinghies, which are slow 13 foot boats which are not nimble and don't pinch well, if at all. There is no protest as a result of this. I'm unsure if I was fouled or not and I would appreciate you folks helping me understand how the rules apply to this situation. This actually happened to me three times in just two races on the same day, and I have seen this happen with other boats as well. I'm sure this is a common incident in a dinghy, although I usually sail a large keelboat.

I was beating on a starboard tack in about 13 knots of gusty wind, with only minor chop. This did not happen in a mark zone. Another boat on port was approaching and I hailed "starboard." She waited and when it became clear she was not going to cross (I was just about to duck) she tacked literally right in front of me. As she completed her tack, she was practically stopped, if not completely stopped, and my boat was within three feet of her stern and I pinched up to avoid contact. That severely disadvantaged me because it practically stopped my boat.    

Clearly going in rule 10 gave me the right of way. While she was tacking, rule 13 gave me the right of way. Then what?

My questions:

1 - I don't see a definition of "close-hauled course" in the book. What defines this? Is it just a matter of where her bow is pointing relative to the wind or do her sails have to be full? Does she have to be moving to be "on a close-hauled course"? 

UPDATE: I see case 17 answers this question.

2 - Assuming she had completed her tack and was on a "close-hauled course" prior to my taking action, there is still no doubt I would have hit her transom, and pretty hard at that. So now, how are the rules applied? I assume rule 12 turns on making her the ROW boat and, if so, how does rule 15 apply? Does my ability to pinch up satisfy that obligation on her part? 

Update: A review of case 27 still leaves me unsure if she violated rule 15 or if my ability to pinch up satisfied that rule.

Thanks very much for your thoughts.

Created: 20-Jan-20 17:33

Comments

P
John Porter
Nationality: United States of America
1
If you did not need to take avoiding action before she reached a close hauled course (compass heading, not sails full or moving), and were then able to keep clear by acting promptly in a seamanlike way (includes pinching), then no foul occurred. If you needed to start pinching before the tack was complete, then the other boat broke a rule (13/15 depending on specifics). 
Created: 20-Jan-20 18:01
John Sweeney
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Race Officer
0
I agree with JP's first sentence. 
I disagree with the second, in that RRS 15 does not apply.  If in fact action to avoid contact was necessary before the tack was complete as described, the tacking boat did not acquire right of way.  
To address Jim's question re RRS15, it provides that as you alter course to avoid contact, the tacking boat cannot also continue to alter course so as to cause you to continue to do so. i.e. if you pinch she cannot force you head to wind, if you bear away she cannot also bear away from close hauled. 
Its my opinion that the rules should be revised so that RRS 18.3 applies anywhere on the race course, not only in the zone.  This would eliminate a lot of grey area in this question.
And I'd add that, tactically, the preferred move is to bear away and sail thru the slow/stopped boat's lee rather than pinch.  
Created: 20-Jan-20 18:59
Jim Archer
Nationality: United States of America
0
Well whether or not someone was on a "close-hauled course" in this situation is going on become a he-said she-said situation, and if it happens quickly enough both parties could believe they are right. 

As I described it, I agree that tactically it would have been better to drive below her, and probably roll completely under. In this case, I was approaching the mark but not fetching it. If I had driven under her I would have been pinned and unable to tack over to get to the starboard layline until she tacked over, so she could have easily taken me past the mark since traffic was light. 

Probably I should have tacked over to port, sailed to the layline and then tacked back. At that point I probably would have been in the zone before she approached me again. Or, she would have just tacked over gain and, again, had pinned and taken me past the starboard layline.

Or perhaps better yet, showed down just enough to let her cross, then tack right behind her and now I'm in control of when to tack on to the layline, as she wouldn't be able to tack if she is right in front of me. 
Created: 20-Jan-20 20:15
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
John Sweeny,

Here is rule 15

15 ACQUIRING RIGHT OF WAY
When a boat acquires right of way, she shall initially give the other boat room to keep clear, unless she acquires right of way because of the other boat’s actions.

Of course rule 15 applies:  the other boat (A) has gained right of way other than through the OP boat (B)'s actions.  There may be a question of whether rule 15 was broken.

It is quite possible that before A reached her close hauled course and rules 12 and 15 began to apply A broke rule 13.

If, subsequently, she broke rule 15 (almost always evidenced by contact between boats), that would be a separate occurrence.

In accordance with US Appeal 65, that may be two occurrences constituting one incident.

You are putting stuff into rule 15 that just isn't there.  It is rule 16, not rule 15 that refers to changing course.
Created: 20-Jan-20 21:26
P
Paul Zupan
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • International Judge
  • National Judge
  • Regional Umpire
0
Just a technicality here, but when a boat tacks, she changes tack when she crosses head to wind. Thus, rule 12 begins to apply as soon as port crosses head to wind, except that rule 13 states that a boat shall keep clear of other boats while tacking, which is from head to wind to close hauled.  And 13 states that, while a boat is tacking, rules 10, 11 and 12 don't apply.  Thus a tacking boat has changed tacks at the point they pass head to wind, but they are keep clear until they reach close hauled.   Once close hauled, 13 turns off, 12 and 15 turn on.  Subtle, but important.  So the question of when they become close-hauled is important for determination of both 13 and 15. 
Created: 20-Jan-20 22:06
John Sweeney
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Race Officer
1
John Allen,
Quite the contrary, I am very strictly applying the words within RRS15 while you are overlapping distinct elements of the discussion. 
Rather than considering my separate comments, you are putting in stuff that i just didn't write. 
John Porter's 2nd sentence: 'If you needed to start pinching before the tack was complete, then the other boat broke a rule (13/15 depending on specifics)."
My point is, if a port tack boat has insufficient room to tack and establish close haul position before forcing the starboard boat to alter course to avoid contact, then she has failed to acquire right of way.
If she has no right of way, then 15 cannot apply. 
You may disagree with my interpretation, but in doing so I would ask that you maintain the premise.
regards, 
Created: 20-Jan-20 22:26
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
John Sweeney,

We may be arguing at cross purposes.

I am very well aware that there are two distinct elements in the scenario, namely:
  1. whether, before reaching a close hauled course, A failed to keep clear of B and broke rule 13;  and
  2. whether, some seconds later after reaching a close hauled course, and acquiring right of way, A broke rule 15 by not initially giving B room to keep clear.

Having broken rule 13 before she reached her close hauled course does not preclude A from gaining right of way under rule 12 once she has reached her close hauled course, and becoming subject to rule 15.

If A did not keep clear of B before reaching her close hauled course and broke rule 13 this does not prevent her, seconds later, after she gains right of way, from failing initially to give B room to keep clear.
Created: 20-Jan-20 22:53
Philip Hubbell
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
  • Judge In Training
0
This can be a gotcha situation. Smart moves for starboard are to duck, as stated, or to tack “tactically” and protest. 
Knowing your protest committee before starting can guide you. If they are not dinghy sailors, they will side with the stand-on starboard tacker every day of the week.
I have been the port tacker, crash tacked, came to course. AND trimmed in, plus a five count and the starboard tacker was still three feet away - and I got dinged.
Sometimes it pays to do circles even when you know in your heart you were okay.
Created: 20-Jan-21 20:33
Jim Archer
Nationality: United States of America
0
Well our protest committee probably won't want to hear any protests. 

Thanks very much for the comments everyone. Bottom line, if the port tacker can complete their tack and be on close-hauled course, even if it's just a few feet in front of the starboard tack boat, then no foul. At least for dinghys. 
Created: 20-Jan-21 20:39
Paddy Fitzpatrick
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
0

Hi Jim
If a protest is lodged the PC must hear all protests RRS63.1
Re your bottom line
It all boils down to the Starboard boat clear astern being able to keep clear while sailing promptly in a seaman like way. If he can’t or has to get clear by unseamanlike manoeuvors then the port racket broke RRS 15. 
Hope this helps 
Paddy 
Created: 20-Jan-21 21:54
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