In the new rule book (RRS 2009-2012) the old rule 18, about rounding and passing marks and obstructions, has been split into two rules: 18 dealing with MARK-ROOM and 19 ROOM TO PASS AN OBSTRUCTION.
I have had some inquiries and comments on what the effect will be of the new wording in rule 19, particularly for boats on the starting line. Let's first look at the rule(s):
Rule 19.2(b) States: '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'
Definitions: Obstruction; An object that a boat could not pass without changing course substantially, if she were sailing directly towards it and one of her hull lengths from it. An object that can be safely passed on only one side and an area so designated by the sailing instructions are also obstructions. However, a boat racing is not an obstruction to other boats unless they are required to keep clear of her, give her room or mark-room or, if rule 22 applies, avoid her. A vessel under way, including a boat racing, is never a continuing obstruction.
For a boat approaching from behind, the boats lined up on the starting line are obstructions. She has to keep clear under rule 12. If she finds a gap between two of those boats the situation changes. From the moment the clear behind boat establishes an overlap with the windward boat of those two boat in front, she is no longer keep clear boat to both of them, she only has to keep clear of the leeward boat. Initially she has to give the windward boat room to keep clear under rule 15 but then that passes and she becomes right of way boat.
Under RRS 2005-2008 the two front boats were also a continuing obstruction and the boat from clear behind could not force his way in between if there was no room to do so at initial overlap.
Under RRS 2009-2012, boats racing can no longer be a continuing obstruction, so that part is gone. We only have rule 19.2(b) to rely on. At the moment the overlap was established, the windward boat has to give room, if she is able to.
If there are boats to windward she cannot luff and give room, you say? I received an interesting article from Mike Butterfield addressing this very issue:
How will they start in 2009 – line length issues!
I was just looking at the new rules and changes for Team Racing, and came across a game change that could affect starting in yacht races. Present I am considering a start line, the boats are in ranks, with the first rank spread down the line. We are used to the cries of UP, UP, UP, and often inactivity on behalf of the windward boat. The rules were in some areas complex, in some simple.
Two Boats: With two boats one of whom comes from astern, there is a simple progression under the rules. Initially one boat is clear astern of the other and must keep clear. Then that boat establishes a leeward overlap, and the windward boat must now keep clear, but initially the leeward boat has to give “room” to the Windward boat (RRS15) to do so. The windward boat must do all possible which may be to luff but may be to accelerate to keep clear. This can cause boats to be OCS.
Three boats: If there are three boats in the area with the two boats in the first rank just over a boat width apart, then the leeward boat is a continuing obstruction to the windward boat and the boat approaching from astern. This means that the leeward boat now cannot intervene unless at the time the overlap is established there is room to pass between the boats. RRS 18.5.
This means the boat approaching cannot enter the front rank, and in these circumstances cannot oblige the windward boat to accelerate to keep clear. This assists in regulating the start.
Two Boats: There is no change here.
Three boats: This is where the change is, the leeward boat cannot be a continuing obstruction (definitions) so under new rule 19, the boat approaching from clear astern can always put the bow in. Here the leeward boat on the front rank is an obstruction and the boat putting it’s bow in is inside boat relative to the windward boat and entitled to room unless the windward boat has been unable to do so from the time the overlap began.
Here is the problem, the windward boat can always accelerate (as otherwise how could it start) over the line.
Here could be the start of what will look like line indiscipline as boats are forced over or subject to disqualification for not keeping clear. In regattas (especially in team racing) now two boats could work in concert with a friend establishing an overlap too leeward of a target boat, to force it over or protest it. The previous protection in a crowded front rank has now been lost.
Will be need longer start lines or will we be developing a Black Flag lottery?
Mike Butterfield IRO IU IJ
I would like to hear your opinion....