Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Racing Rules of Sailing 2009-2012 | 8

Rule 19 is completely new and splits off obstructions from the "old"rule 18:


19.1 When Rule 19 Applies

Rule 19 applies between boats at an obstruction except when it is also a mark the boats are required to leave on the same side. However, at a continuing obstruction, rule 19 always applies and rule 18 does not.

19.2 Giving Room at an Obstruction

(a) A right-of-way boat may choose to pass an obstruction on
either side.

(b) When boats are overlapped, the outside boat shall give the inside boat room between her and the obstruction, unless she has been unable to do so from the time the overlap began.

(c) While boats are passing a continuing obstruction, if a boat that was clear astern and required to keep clear becomes overlapped between the other boat and the obstruction and, at the moment the overlap begins, there is not room for her to pass between them, she is not entitled to room under rule 19.2(b). While the boats remain overlapped, she shall keep clear and rules 10 and 11 do not apply.

Subsequently all following rules have been renumbered:


20.1 Hailing and Responding

When approaching an obstruction, a boat sailing close-hauled or above may hail for room to tack and avoid another boat on the same tack. However, she shall not hail unless safety requires her to make a substantial course change to avoid the obstruction. Before tacking she shall give the hailed boat time to respond. The hailed boat shall respond by either After a boat hails,

(a) tacking as soon as possible, in which case the hailing boat shall also tack as soon as possible, or she shall give the hailed boat time to respond;

(b) immediately replying ‘You tack’, in which case the hailing boat shall tack as soon as possible and the hailed boat shall give room, and rules 10 and 13 do not apply. the hailed boat shall respond either by tacking as soon as possible, or by immediately replying ‘You tack’ and then giving the hailing boat room to tack and avoid her; and

(c) when the hailed boat responds, the hailing boat shall tack as soon as possible.

20.2 Exoneration

When a boat is taking room to which she is entitled under rule 20.1(b), she shall be exonerated if she breaks a rule of Section A or rule 15 or 16.

20.3 When Not to Hail

A boat shall not hail unless safety requires her to make a substantial course change to avoid the obstruction. Also, she shall not hail if the obstruction is a mark that the hailed boat is fetching.

19.2 Rule 19.1 does not apply at a starting mark surrounded by navigable water or at its anchor line from the time boats are approaching them to start until they have passed them or at a mark that the hailed boat can fetch. When rule 19.1 applies, rule 18 does not.

The rewriting is again done to get a more logical sequence;
Obstructions: How the rules work when passing one, then the rule when you need to tack for one.

I've been thinking about the deletion of 19.2 especially the part about not applying at a starting mark when boats are approaching to start. That has not been rewritten in the new rules.
That means that a tiny part of what was not allowed in the old rules has been deleted: If you approach a starting mark on starboard, which is also an obstruction - say a pin-end Race Committee vessel - you can hail. But only if the hailed (windward) boat is NOT fetching the (committee boat)mark. You must give the windward boat time to respond - including time to hail other windward boats.

What if there's a three boat situation where the two leeward boats cannot fetch the pin-end committee boat, but the most windward boat can?

In my opinion the leeward boat cannot force the middle boat to tack, she can only luf head-to-wind. What do you think?


  1. Jos,

    the preamble to Section C says that Section C rules (18, 19 & 20) do not apply at a starting mark from the time the boats are approaching to start until they have passed it. Therefore you can't hail for water in this situation.


  2. You are absolutely right! Thanks

  3. If we assume its a mark, but not a starting mark, I reckon leeward can call for room to tack. The middle boat would call windward for room to tack to avoid leeward, not to avoid the mark.


  4. I've been thinking about change of definition of continuing obstruction. In new rules other yacht can not be continuous obstruction, it means that rule 19.2 c does not apply if the obstruction is right of way (aka leeward) yacht. Then it is allowed to sail between two very close overlapped yachts and force windward one to give room.


  5. I'm confused about the continuing obstruction part. Let's say I'm running along a shoreline that moves at an angle in front of me (that is, pinches in on the line I'm sailing towards a mark), and a following boat wants to pass on the shoreline side. Once and overlap occurs, then I must determine if the boat COULD HAVE PASSED--I understand that part. But what does it mean "could pass"? Does that mean enough room to have boat-width clearance for an instant? Or enough room to get around? Because the shoreline is encroaching, don't you have to factor in the time it would take to pass? If not, doesn't it allow someone to take a course that never would have been successful, and then rely on the continuing obstruction rule to bale them out?

    Any clarification would really help.


  6. Look at it this way: At the moment an overlap is established you take a snapshot. You freeze the outside boat and look if the inside boat can sail between the shore and the boat that is "freezed" in position. If that is possible the outside boat must give room, even if a little later the shore is making the gap narrower. The factor time is eliminated for the application of this rule.

  7. Thanks Jos--

    I understand--a snapshot freezes time.
    One more question.

    What if the obstruction we are talking about is a shallow water bottom. And there are other boats in line or even further towards shore that have raised their centerboards, but the "inside" boat to me calls for room. I asked why, and they said "my centerboard is stuck."

    Do I have to move over so they won't run aground and thus lose my line to fetch the mark, even if there are a line of boats even inside my "inside boat"


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