Thursday, 10 September 2009

ISAF Q&A | 036

This Q&A was published on the ISAF website today. It answers when rule 18.3 stops applying.

ISAF Racing Rules Question and Answer Service
Q&A 2009-036

Published: 9 September 2009
At a windward mark to be left to starboard, Blue is fetching the mark and Yellow tacks in the zone as shown in the diagram. Up to position 2 Yellow breaks no rule and will not do so if she continues to bear away to sail to the next mark. However, Yellow luffs and Blue must sail above close-hauled to continue keeping clear. She does so and protests. Does Yellow break a rule?

Yellow and Blue were approaching the mark on opposite tacks. When Yellow changed tack and as a result was subject to rule 13 in the zone when Blue was fetching the mark, rule 18.3 applied. When rule 18.3 applies, rule 18.2 does not thereafter apply. Blue keeps clear as required by rule 11 and Yellow’s luff complies with rule 16. Yellow causes Blue to sail above close-hauled to avoid her. If either boat is still in the zone, rule 18 continues to apply - see the first sentence of rule 18.1 - and therefore Yellow breaks rule 18.3(a).
This answer will also apply to a 'mirror-image' situation at a port-hand windward mark.

The answer is pretty straightforward. It does however, not mean that Yellow has to bear away to the next mark. There's no rule 17 restriction. Yellow can continue on a close-hauled course until BOTH boats are outside the zone, keeping Blue from sailing down. As long as Yellow does not cause Blue above close-hauled.
As soon as they both are outside Yellow can luff again. This means that if this situation occurs, the umpires have to decide if the luffing took place with one of the boats (most likely Blue) is still in the zone or not.
Rule 18.3 continues to apply, therefore determining when boats have left the zone is now a factor.


  1. Another lousy Q&A. However, I have a problem with your explanation too: you say "It does however, not mean that Yellow has to bear away to the next mark." However, at some point you have to ask whether yellow breaks the second part of 18.3(a): "or prevent the other boat from passing the mark on the required side, and". Suppose we're in a team race and yellow just stops at position 3 or just before. She is preventing blue from passing the mark. Doesn't she therefore break 18.3(a)?

  2. @Anonymous
    Good point A! In my opinion both Blue and Yellow have passed the mark as soon as they cross the extension of the line drawn from the next mark trough this mark. So it depends on where that next mark is. In this particular diagram it is to the right, so both boats have passed the mark. If we assume that the next mark is somewhere more to leeward, there are positions where that might not be true.

  3. The reason the Q and A is lousy is because the rules are lousy! The Q and A panel is only answering the Q the only way it can - which is in strict complince with the wording of the rule.
    They work well for fleet racing but do not adapt to match and team race situations. In a fleet race it would be rare for the Yellow boat to want to do such a manoeuver so the rule would not be an issue - but team racing -thats a whole new ball game.

  4. As yellow is only allowed to sail close hauled until leaving the circle I don't think that Anon.1's question about position 3 is relevant.
    I'm not sure about passing the mark being passing the extension from the next mark in this case. That would mean that yellow has already passed the mark at position 2 in the diagram. Could you please elaborate on your opinion.
    Regards, Andrew

  5. @Andrew
    Yellow has passed the mark but is still in the zone and therefore subject to rule 18.3. The extension line is from Match racing. There it is to determine when a boat is on a different leg of the course. In this situation you can use it to determine if yellow is complying with the second part of rule 18.3(a), i.e. not prevent the other boat from passing the mark on the required side.


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