(This is an instalment in a series of blogposts about the ISAF Call book 2009-2012 with amendments for 2010. All calls are official interpretations by the ISAF committees on how the Racing Rules of Sailing should be used or interpreted. The calls are copied from the Call book, only the comments are written by me.)
Rule 28.1, Sailing the Course
When a boat’s string passes a mark on the required side, she
does not break rule 28.1 if her string, when drawn taut, also
passes that mark on the non-required side.
The first leg of a race on the Panama River was to windward, in a weak and fluky wind and against a strong current. Boats A and B started correctly, but the wind died and they drifted backwards. A passed outside the port end of the line, and B crossed back over the line. Later, the wind returned but from a new direction, and both boats passed to starboard of the race committee boat at the starboard end of the line and continued up the leg.
A protested B for breaking the ‘string rule’ (rule 28.1) but the protest committee decided that the protest was invalid. However, it sent a request for interpretation of rule 28.1 to the national authority under rule 70.4.
Did boats A and B comply with rule 28.1?
Boat A complied with rule 28.1. After starting, she left each starting mark on its required side. Then she sailed around the entire starting line as shown. Even so, the string representing her track, when drawn taut, leaves each starting mark on the required side as it crosses the starting line. Rule 28.1 does not prohibit extra turns around a mark, provided that the string when drawn taut lies on the required side of each mark. For example, if a boat touches a rounding mark while leaving it on her starboard side as required by the sailing instructions, and then makes a clockwise penalty turn around it, she complies with rule 28.1. Another example, as boat A illustrates in this case, is when a boat’s string passes the two starting-line marks on the required side, she does not break rule 28.1 when her string also passes one of those marks (in this case the race committee boat) on the non-required side.
Boat B broke rule 28.1. After starting, she left the port-end mark to port and the starboard-end mark to starboard, as required. However, she later drifted back across the starting line and then left the starboard-end mark to port. When the string representing her track is drawn taught it will not pass through the starting line and therefore will not leave the starboard-end mark on the required side.
See Case 106 for a discussion of a similar incident at a finishing line.