Monday, 27 April 2009

Mark - Room; For how long?

A guest Post by Mike Butterfield;

In the old Rule 18 applied “until both boats have passed the mark”.

This has been removed from the current rule so what is the effect?

Clearly the new rule ends the right to mark room sooner, but how much sooner?

Mark Room is “Room for a boat to sail to the mark, and then room to sail her proper course while at the mark.”

Here then we can say that once the boat entitled to mark room has passed the mark, and therefore is not at it, the right no longer applies. As the old rule was governed by the second boat we have the right to Mark Room ending at least a length sooner.

The rule also switches itself of as stated in the rule itself. This is when one boat passes head to wind or if the boat entitled to mark room leaves the zone. Pretty clear!
What then if a boat sails slowly deliberately when entitled to room, or deviates, or indeed takes a tactical rounding when she is not ROW?
I believe her entitlement to mark room ceases here and the rules of part 2 apply. Mark room can be an entitlement to either a ROW or a give way boat, but mark room has two effects;
  1. It limits a ROW boat that has to give Mark Room and allows a Give way boat “room to sail to the mark and then room to sail her proper course while at the mark.”
  2. It provides exoneration to (give way and ROW boats) in rule 18.5 but only while a boat a boat is taking the mark room to which she is entitled.
I believe a boat is entitled to mark room to perform only the actions specified in the rule (to sail to the mark and then room to sail her proper course while at the mark).
If she exceeds these parameters then she has lost her right to mark room and the rules of Part 2 apply.
Why do I say this? Well unless she is “taking the mark room to which she is entitled” she cannot be exonerated and thus Part 2 rules apply.
So let’s look at a few examples:-
  1. Sailing excessively slowly to the mark. Mark room relies on the concept of room and in the definition the boat needs to manoeuvre “promptly” if she is sailing too slowly she does not comply and thus loses her right to mark room as she cannot be exonerated under 18.5.
  2. The tactical rounding. If a give way boat she has rights if she sails to the mark, again is she takes additional space she cannot be exonerated under 18.5 and has lost her right to mark room.
  3. An example of the thinking here has just been published as Rapid Response Team Racing Call 2009/006. A boat no longer has an obligation under rule 18.2(b) to give mark room if inside and overlapped and sails past where she could have tacked at the mark.
I know a number of you disagreed with me in posts before, but are you with me now?
Mike Butterfield


  1. Surely, if a keep clear boat entitled to mark room attempts to take more room than she is entitled to then although she has no entitlement to the extra room the other boat is still required to give the mark room to which she was originaly entitled. Whilst keep clear boat is taking more than mark room she has no exoneration and can be penalised for infringing a rule of Section A. However, if she returns to a course which is within the original mark-room surley she is still entitled to take that original mark room. In other words the entitlement does not switch off because a boat takes more than the mark room due to her, however she has put herself outside the exoneration provided by that entitlement. The other boat's obligation remains the same - to give mark-room, all of that mark room but nothing more.

    I hope that the above is clear.


  2. Once a boat has taken too much room how can you calculate where she can pick up on her entitlement. She is behind in distance and time so the boat that should give mark room does not know where that room now is. This is the question once you have taken too much room is that it or do you get a second chance. This goes to the comments of Brass does she have rights over the other boat. Well It could be no as she gave up her mark room entitlement when she transgressed and part 2 now applies as she lost the right to exoneration. We will have to await a Q + A or question. I dare not ask another.

    Mike B

  3. I suppose you are referring to the world "promptly" that is in the definition of Room.

    If understand correctly this word and the rest of the sentence means that if a boat is entitled room the boat required to give her room, must give her enough room so that if she manoeuvring promptly can sail (to the mark in case of mark room). That is the boat is not entitle a space so big that she need not to manoeuvre, but if a small space is given so that she can sail by promptly manoeuvring, that this is enough.

    But from that I can not assert that the boat is required to go to the mark promptly.

    I can agree that is she is not going to the mark via her proper course, than she can not be exonerated by 18.5(b), but if just just reduce her speed or if she is doing a little longer curse she is still entitle to mark room (provided that the conditions stated in rule 18 still apply and no events that end the room right has occurred).

    And what about a ROW boat? What happen if she is entitled to mark room and she is going far from the mark? For me, if she is entitle to mark room from rule 18.2(b), she is entitle to it until one of the conditions explicitly stated by rule 18.2(c) happens.

    A point to note that in the definition of the mark room there is a difference before reaching the mark and after. When the boat is at the mark (and after) she is entitle only to room to sail her proper course. So in this case is easy, if she is not sailing her proper course she cannot claim for room to sail her course (that is not her proper course). But before the reach the mark she is entitle room to sail to the mark.

    I am not incline to consider this as that she is entitle to room to sail from her entry point in the zone to the mark. It could also be consider as that she she is entitle in any moment to room to sail from her position to the mark.

  4. There was something niggling me about Mike B's post, and O'Hara, in the other thread has put his finger on it.

    Mike B has compared ending of the entitlement to mark-room under the new rule 18, with the ending of the entitlement under the old rule.

    As I have argued elsewhere, I think the entitlement to mark-room under rule 18.2 (b) continues until either boat passes head to wind or the boat entitled to mark-room leaves the zone, even though the entitlement ceases to have 'content' or practical meaning once the boat with the entitlement ceases to be at the mark (which I think is exactly equivalent to having 'passed the mark', as we would have said under the old rule). That is to say, the entitlement to mark-room continues to exist even after the boat with the entitlement ceases to need the mark-room.

    The thing which O'Hara pointed out is that old rule 18, as well as giving an entitlement to room, also gave an entitlement to right of way.

    Under old rule 18 the entitlement, both to room and to right of way, for an entitled boat advanced on the other boat ended when the other boat passed the mark, which was some time after the entitled boat had passed it.

    My analysis is that, once the entitled boat had passed the mark, she no longer needed room to pass it, so just as under the new rule, she remained entitled to room, but the entitlement had no 'content' in that she did not need the room.

    The analysis for right of way is different. Firstly the entitlement to right of way has completely gone from the new rule 18.2, with a similar but not identical effect being obtained by exoneration under rule 18.5.

    Under the old rule 18.2, once the entitled boat passed the mark, and no longer needed room, she continued to be entitled to right of way, which was an entitlement that still had a significant content and gave her a significant tactical advantage. Right of way under rule 18 did not end until the give way boat had also passed the mark.

    Under the new rule the entitlement of a boat to mark-room under rule 18.2, and the entitlement of that boat to exoneration under rule 18.5 end at different times:

    • entitlement to mark room under rule 18.2 ends when either boat passes head to wind or the boat entitled to mark-room leaves the zone,

    • entitlement to exoneration under rule 18.5 ends when the entitled boat ceases to be taking mark room to which she is entitled, that is, by sailing

    - outside her direct course to the mark,

    - outside her proper course at the mark, or

    - having passed the mark, being no longer at the mark.

    I hope that this provides a correct and complete analysis.

    As I have said before, I don't think that I disagree with Mike B about how the rule applies, just how we should use words to describe how it applies.


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