Forum: The Racing Rules of Sailing

Windward - Leeward, Overlap, Broach

Maksim Grischev
Nationality: Cyprus
Regatta: Local club race
Boats: Fareast 28r (28ft, gennaker)
Weather: no waves (the spot is close to windward shore), wind 14 -16 kts, gusts up to 20 kts

Two one design boats round the windward mark one by one with interval of several seconds, both on the starboard tack.
The boat that rounds the mark first (Boat 1) bears off deep enough to protect the leeward position, so the boat that was rounding the mark after it (Boat 2) has no option but to stay in a windward position behind.
Boat 1 proceed to set the gennaker and Boat 2 was not able to set the gennaker because the gennaker was taken down on- previous leg on starboard side. While busy with the gennaker setup, the Boat 1 miss the moment when the Boat 2 catch it up and blankets the wind, within 10 seconds two boats sail together side by side. Windward (boat 2) gradually passes the Leeward (boat 1). When the bowsprit of the Leeward (Boat 1) was around half the length of the Windward (boat 2), the Leeward (boat 1) has finished setting the gennaker and now try to go sharper to the wind in order to fill the gennaker with air, the windward boat keeps clear, still the gennaker of the leeward (boat 1) has no air. The distance between the boats is around half length (14 ft). The leeward (boat 1) takes decision to go a bit more sharper to the wind. In about 3 seconds (GPS data)  the gust comes and the leeward (boat 1) broaches - goes windward sharply and hits the windward (boat 2). The boats continue to go alongside touching each other, bowsprit of the Leeward (Boat 1) stuck in lifelines of the Windward (boat 2), leeward (boat 1) can't  bear off, in about 15 seconds the bowsprit of the leeward boat crashes and the leeward bears off.

Nobody was injured, the leeward (boat 1) has damage - broken bowsprit. There was a touch between the boats
Rules concerned 11, 14, 16.1, 17

As I understand there are 2 primary rules concerned in this situation:
When boats are on the same tack and overlapped, a windward boat shall keep clear of a leeward boat.
16.1. When a right-of-way boat changes course, she shall give the other boat room to keep clear.

still what rule should prevail is not clear for me in this case. I inevitably end up with conclusion that either Boat 1 (Leeward) has no right for accidental broach in this situation, or boat 2 (windward) has to predict what might happen...

I would appreciate your comments as to the situation described.

Created: 20-Jul-07 15:31


Charles Darley
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • Regional Umpire
I think the first question is was the windward boat keeping clear before the broach.  From the description, she was.  
Second question, could windward have kept clear after leeward broached.  From the description she could not.  

On that basis, windward broke no rule and leeward broke 16.1.  There is no requirement to anticipate a change of course.
Created: 20-Jul-07 15:54
Clark Chapin
Nationality: United States of America
  • National Judge
  • Club Race Officer
Here's my take on this. (Revised (again) slightly)
First, rule 17 does not apply because the overlap was not established to leeward from clear astern.
Second, while the boats are overlapped, rule 11 requires the windward boat (Boat 20 to Keep Clear , that is, the other boat can sail her course without the need to take avoiding action.
As you state, rule 16.1 also applies each time that Boat 1 (leeward) changes course.
And, of course, rule 14 also applies to both boats.

So in total:
From your description, Boat 2 (windward) altered course throughout the incident to keep clear of Boat 1 (leeward). She met her obligation under rule 11.
Boat 1 (windward) did not keep clear of Boat 2 (leeward) and so broke 11, but is exonerated under 21.
Boat 1's broach was so quick that it did not allow Boat 2 Room to keep clear, so Boat 1 broke rule 16.1.
Boat 2 did not break rule 14 because it was not reasonably possible for her to avoid the collision.
Boat 1 broke rule 14 because there was damage. The damage was probably "serious damage" at that.

Summary: Boat 1 is penalized for breaking rule 16.1 and rule 14. Boat 2 is not penalized.
Created: 20-Jul-07 16:01
Tim Hohmann
Nationality: United States of America
  • Club Judge
Maybe a nit, but I would say that windward boat did break rule 11 (there was contact, so she did not keep clear) but is exonerated by rule 21. I agree that it wasn't possible for windward to avoid contact so she did not break rule 14.

So windward is not penalized and on valid protest leeward is disqualified, even if she took penalty turns or a scoring penalty.

Question though - if wind and sea conditions were such that a broach could reasonably be anticipated, was windward at 1/2 boat length distance properly keeping clear?
Created: 20-Jul-07 16:38
Clark Chapin
Nationality: United States of America
  • National Judge
  • Club Race Officer
Tim Hohmann:
Good catch. I have revised my answer accordingly.

In answer to your question, my response is that the windward boat has kept clear when the leeward boat can sail her intended course (which was certainly not to broach) and (paragraph (b) of "Keep Clear") the leeward boat can change course in either direction without "immediately" making contact. Consequently, my opinion would be that Boat 2 (windward) was keeping clear within the definition.

Created: 20-Jul-07 19:06
John Allan
Nationality: Australia
  • National Judge
  • Regional Race Officer

You are adding stuff into a rule that is just not there.

The word 'intended' never appears in the Defniition: Keep Clear.  A boat's course is her course, whether she intends it or not.  Rules generally do not depend on the intentions or desires of competitors.

If there is contact between boats the give way boat necessarily has broken the applicable right of way rule.  She might be exonerated, but she has nevertheless broken the rule, and a protest decision should so state.

I agree that, having been deprived of room to keep clear, it was not reasonably possible for Boat 2 (W) to avoid contact, and thus that she has not broken rule 14, and I suggest that this will always be the case.

I think that in this scenario, where crew of Boat 1 (L) may be off the rail, attending to sail hoist and trim, and she is hit by a gust, the broach is accidental and not within the control of L, and thus that it also not reasonably possible for L to avoid contact and that L has not broken rule 14.  I note that whether there was injury or damage, serious or not is irrelevant to whether a boat breaks rule 14, only to whether she may be exonerated under rule 14(b).
Created: 20-Jul-07 22:42
Clark Chapin
Nationality: United States of America
  • National Judge
  • Club Race Officer
John Allan:
You're correct and I have edited my answer yet again.
Created: 20-Jul-08 03:33
Anders Rydlöv
Nationality: Sweden
  • National Judge
  • National Umpire
We could comment 24/7 if we work together...!

John, I would say that it was reasonable possible to avoid contact for L, not hoisting is one possibility. A broach is your own fault. Since the bowsprit was broken there will be no exoneration as in rule 14.2 and she can not take a penalty to free herself 44.1b). I agree with Tim in this. By the way you might as well RET if you race FE28 without a bowsprit... 
Created: 20-Jul-08 12:20
Maksim Grischev
Nationality: Cyprus
Thanks to everyone for your comments! The case is clear now.
Created: 20-Jul-17 08:41
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