Sunday, 5 April 2009

On the same side!

A case by Mike Butterfield;

The new rules differ from the old in that at obstructions under the old rules RRS18 only applied if the boats were to pass the obstruction “on the same side”.

There is no side requirement under the new rules and thus the New RRS 19 always applies.

The difference can be seen in the “Old” Team racing casebook Call F2 as opposed to the “New” Casebook F2.


Under the old rules Blue has no right to room at 1 and can only bear of without breach of 17.2 at 2 if it is a proper course, possibly a challenge. At 3 there is a right for room.

Under the new rules there is no issue at 1 and 17.2 does not now exist. Yellow becomes required to give room to Blue when Blue “needs to commit to passing to leeward of the moored boat”. When is this?

Blues case may be improved is she hails but there is no requirement to do so. Under the old rules as soon as the boats were passing the obstruction on the same side, the rights were clear, now this may not be so.

What here:-


Under the old rules Blue was never passing on the same side and there is no issue.

Under the NEW rules as Yellow did not give “enough room” for blue to pass to leeward of the obstruction is she at risk of losing any protest from Blue?

When would Blue “have had to commit”, would it be different if she had hailed?

Would it be harder to resolve if the moored boat was smaller (of the transom of a boat they were both overtaking (as F2).

The clarity of the old rule has been lost. Blue as windward boat always is the keep clear boat, what if she tried to go to leeward and there was not room? Would she be disqualified, as well, as a windward boat failing to keep clear?

Under 64.1.c has she been “compelled” and thus entitled to be exonerated when she has a simple windward escape.

This appears to be an example of the different wording in the rules, causing basically the “same game” to have responsibilities described very differently.

How do you see it?


Mike, I think that the emphasis in the rule 19 has been shifted to give more weight to the RoW rules. 

This means that the keep clear boat has “to do” more to establish that she is compelled to break a RoW rule, when she’s not given enough room

Under rule 19 that means her intention to pass at the same side has to be very clear to Yellow. This intention has to be obvious either when first the overlap is established or in your second drawing - with a standing overlap - at least a boat and a half before the obstruction. Yellow has an obligation to give room – only when she’s able to. If Blue ducks at the last moment there’s no way Yellow can give room and therefore is not obliged to do it.

In my opinion when Blue does not make her intention clear and sails to the other side of the obstruction – as you depicted – Yellow does not break rule 19.

The size of the obstruction is only of influence, if it makes it obvious that Blue cannot pass to windward. The bigger the obstruction, the clearer it will be that Blue will also pass to leeward. If the obstruction is smaller, Blue has to be more obvious, that she wants to pass at the same side and needs room to do so.

There’s no exoneration within rule 19 – like you stated, only under rule 64.1(c).
Therefore Blue must show she was ‘compelled’ – if not, she breaks rule 11.


Comments, anyone?



  1. In former times RRS 10,11 and 12 were "fundamental rules", rules carrying more weight. And I think it is necessary that a ROW boat will have more rights!! So in this case yellow is ROW boat according RRS 11. An blue needs very good reasons for 64.1(c)!


  2. If the leeward boat is overlapped and chooses to pass leeward of the obstruction she shall give the windward boat room to pass on the same side. (see rule 19.2(b). This obligation does not depend of the course the windward boat is sailing one or two length in front of the obstruction and does not depend from any hail. It is not correct that the outside overlapped has the obligation to give room only when she is able to do so from the moment the windward boat bears away. The obligation begins at the moment the overlap begins and she chooses to sail leeward of the obstruction.

  3. I do not believe rule 19 applies in the second diagram. 19.2(b) requires an outside boat to give room for an inside boat.
    At no time is Blue and inside boat in relation to the obstruction.
    In diagram 1 Yellow is required to give room after position 2 unless she luffs to pass to windward of the obstruction. She after all has the choice as to which side she they can pass. the luff must comply with rule 16.1

  4. 19.2 says "the outside boat shall give the inside boat room". Doesn't the inside/outside distinction have the same effect as the old "on the same side" ?

    In the second diagram, then, Yellow is safe from protest under 19.2b because she is not an outside boat. It seems each racer can be safe by sailing such that they are always ready and able to give room, in case the other boat pushes inside.

    The first diagram is discussed more simply in Case 41, and I think the same rules apply in this case for team- and fleet-racing. If I imagine I am Blue, Case 41 leads me to believe that if Yellow goes to leeward I can rely on room from Yellow. I don't see any requirement that I warn Yellow, and she had time to prepare and be 'able' to give room since our Blue/Yellow overlap began.

    At the "Blue needs to commit" moment I lose the ability to escape to windward. If Yellow has not yet given room, I must (by rule 11) escape at the "commit" moment and may protest. If Yellow appears to be giving room, I can take it with protection of 64.1 if Yellow later (too late) closes the gap. So I think the "commit" moment is not when Yellow's responsibility starts, but the moment she can get in trouble.

  5. I think in some ways the new rules are actually easier to interpret.

    In the first diagram yellow has chosen to sail to leeward of the obstruction. Between positions 1 and 2 it is clear that blue has chosen to sail to leeward of the obstruction as well. Rule 19.2b requires that yellow give blue room.

    In the second diagram blue can not protest (or at least shouldn't win one). Rule 19.2b says the outside boat has to give the inside boat "room", where room is defined as "The space a boat needs in the existing conditions while maneuvering promptly in a seaman like way". The key bit being, "the space a boat *needs*". If blue is not actually between the outside boat and the obstruction then blue does not "need" any space.

    If blue wants to sail to leeward of the obstruction then she has to point her bow to leeward of the obstruction and only has grounds for a protest if she is actually denied room.


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