Friday, 20 February 2009

LTW Umpire Q&A; Room to tack?

Andraz send me a question he and his fellow umpires have been discussing. It's about how to use the new definition of mark-room regarding room to tack. Here are his questions:


Hello Jos!

I had a debate with some fellow umpires and it seems that we cannot completely agree on whether a boat has right of room to tack or not, in different situations. Since I've also traced some interpretations which are opposing our most accepted approach, maybe some of your readers would comment on it?

Here goes:

According to the definition, mark room includes room to tack if a boat is on the inside, overlapped and windward of the boat required to give mark room.

Now, the main question is: When must these conditions been fulfilled? When entering the zone or when starting to tack?

In most of the opinions it was said, that since the room to tack is "included" in mark room, the conditions should be met, when entering the zone of course, because obligations for giving mark room starts there.

So, when a boat gains the right of mark room, it depends on whether this room includes room to tack, on having an overlap at the zone....

In some of the diagrams I've seen, explaining the situations, the boats were drawn at the mark, hence one would assume to start looking for the overlap when the boats are near the mark.

Let's take a look at some of the possible situations.


Diagram 1.

Boats overlapped at the zone, Blue inside has the right to mark room an Yellow right of way boat. The overlap is broken in position 4, Blue starts tacking somewhere between 6 and 7, Yellow has to take avoiding action in position 7. Blue says that the tack was part of the mark rounding.

The overlap was broken, but regarding the 18.2(c) nothing really changed, Yellow is still required to give mark room.
Does the second part of the mark room definition kick in?
When Blue starts tacking, she is overlapped, but outside and leeward.


Diagram 2.

Similar case, Blue inside overlapped, windward when entering the zone, but Yellow follows the Blue boat on the outside. In position 6 and 7 Blue is windward, still inside & overlapped, so she should be entitled to room to tack.


Diagram 3.

Blue boat clear ahead at the zone but slower, overlap established inside the zone, Yellow must give mark room. When Blue starts tacking, she is most probably inside, overlapped & windward, but Yellow might be forced to take avoiding action. Is Blue entitled to room to tack, since she was not overlapped when entering the zone, even though she has right to mark room?

Here depicted are only leeward mark situations, but you can similarly apply the same rules at the windward mark.

It is hard to determine the exact moment of the transition from rule 11 to 13 and checking for the overlap at the same time, to see if the boat should be exonerated for a possible breach of a section A rule.

The question is - from the tactical point of view - would it be better for a barely leading boat to wait for the trailing one, to get an the overlap before entering the zone? So that mark room includes room to tack?
Or should the leading boat only make sure that he has an overlap before he passes head to wind? And does not matter if that happens at the mark or when entering the zone?

If one is not sure if to make it round the mark clear ahead, just be sure to be on the inside and overlapped, so that you're protected, no matter about the overlap when entering the zone?

Best regards, Andraz


Dear Andraz,

Room to tack is written into the definition of mark-room. It is only "part" of mark-room if a specific set of conditions are met. Those conditions being: If you have an inside overlap to windward of the boat required to give mark-room.

Once a boat has mark-room, every time it meets those conditions, that mark-room includes also room to tack. If that boat fails one of the conditions stated, it still has mark-room, but room to tack is no longer included.

It does not matter when the conditions are established. It doesn't have to be at the zone. At the zone it gains or has to give mark-room. Mark-room according to the definition with everything that entails.

To go back to your diagrams:

In diagram 1 Blue may have mark-room and may claim the tack was part of her rounding, but because she is on the outside of the boat required to give mark-room, that mark-room is not including room to tack. Blue breaks rule 13, penalty on Blue.

In diagram 2 Blue meets all the conditions, so she her mark-room does include room to tack. Green Flag

In diagram 3 Blue no longer has an overlap in position 5, that means that her mark-room has no longer "room to tack" included. Yellow must alter course before Blue has passed head to wind because she has to give mark-room and Blue is ROW boat under 12. If Yellow does not have to alter course, to avoid Blue after Blue passes head to wind, there is no rule infringement and no penalty. Blue keeps clear according to 13.

To go back to your original question: A boat with mark-room, has room to tack, when all the conditions have been met at the moment a boat starts to tack.
Well, that's my opinion anyway.

Cheers, Jos


As always, comments are welcome.



  1. Every time I go to the blog site and try to log on to make a comment, I cannot.

    So, here goes.

    In diagram #2 at position blue is no longer entitled to mark room because she is past the mark. She is past the mark because she is no longer at (along side) it, and in no danger of hitting it. Therefore she is subject to rule 11 without possible exoneration and must keep clear of yellow if yellow luffs without breaking 16.1. If she tacks and causes yellow to alter course, she breaks rule 13.

    (Posted by Jos: Seems to work fine at this end. I'm at a loss what to do about your problem, Peter.)

  2. Thanks Jos for your point of view.
    Peter, I know what you think, maybe it's a clumsy picture, but if you ask me... blue boat came in close to the mark, started rounding it, came to a close hauled course and continued into a tack. She's still near the mark, rounding it on to a proper course.
    In position 7, regarding the "old" "definition" of when a boat leaves the mark, she is still at it, in my opinion.
    As some interpretations say, you're at the mark, when you start doing something to round it (morr or less changing course). Since blue didn't finish doing something to round it, she is still at it.

  3. Jos is absolutely right about the conditions for room to tack and when they have to be met.

    Reading the response from Peter I would like to ask: How long does Rule 18 apply? We had many discussions about "TO the mark" and "AT the mark". But what about "LEAVING the mark"? As there is no clear statement the most common answer I've heared is "Rule 18 ceases to apply when it is no longer necessary."

    Looking at the 3 diagrams from Andraz I would say that Blue has completed her maneuver to round the mark and has no mark-room afterwards - thanks Peter.

    In sit. 1 Blue may be protested by Yellow who may claim the overlap was not broken and she had to give more room than required for mark-room. If the overlap was in fact broken Yellow may try to get an inside overlap to Blue – Blue is definitely not sailing her proper course at the mark - so Blue can't luff more than HTW after passing the mark.

    In sit. 2 Yellow has to allow Blue to sail her proper course while at the mark. In addition of rule 16.1 any course change of Yellow after passing the mark also may be subject to rule 17.

    Sit. 3 is the most 'active' one for umpiring as ROW changes 3 times: in pos. 1 Blue is row, in pos. 2 - 4 Yellow, and in pos. 5 again Blue. Again Yellow may try to get an inside overlap like in sit. 1, and when staying outside Yellow is definitely subject to rules 16.1 and 17 when changing course.

    From a tactical point of view I would suggest to always be inside and windward overlapped to the other boat, in which case I can enjoy mark-room and while still being overlapped room to tack at the mark. IMHO this room to tack will in most cases be required at a windward mark.

    Regarding the question of room to tack at a mark there is a recent ISAF Q&A 2009-017 posting.

    Regards, Fritz


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...