The other day in a local club race, I was on port tack and a starboard tack boat hailed me "Starboard tack!"
I tacked promptly letting the other 3 boats to windward and astern know I was going to do so. They all tacked to starboard as well.
The starboard tacker did not hold her course and tacked off to port before she would have crossed my course as it was when she hailed me.
In years gone by, there was a rule against hailing 'Starboard tack’ and then failing to complete the cross. It was referred to as 'balking.'
Does this rule still exist in some form?
In the RRS 2009-2012 there is nothing preventing the starboard boat from hailing and then changing course – as it suits her – provided she complies with rule 16. It might be perceived as not very considered of her, but it is not against the rules.
It is the first time I have heard of the word ‘balking’.
I asked a friend who’s knowledge of rules “gone by” far exceeds my own. He answered:
The wording of the old rule 35 was:
35 Limitations on Altering CourseWhen one yacht is required to keep clear of another, the right-of-way yacht shall not alter course so as to prevent the other yacht from keeping clear, or so as to obstruct her while she is keeping clear, except:
(a) when luffing as permitted by rule 39.2; orThis is from the 1993-1996 International Yacht Racing Rules (IYRR).
(b) when assuming a proper course either:
(i) to start, when she is on the starboard tack and the other
yacht is on the port tack; or
(ii) when rounding a mark.
Even within this wording there is room for the starboard boat to tack away, as long as she does not prevent the port boat, in the process of keeping clear, from keeping clear.
Perhaps there’s a LTW-reader who can shed more light on this issue?