(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.)
For those who are counting, Case 86 has been deleted in the Call book.
Rule 14, Avoiding Contact
Definitions, Keep Clear
A right-of-way boat need not act to avoid contact until it is clear that the other boat is not keeping clear.
The angle of the starting line made it only just possible for a close-hauled boat on starboard tack to cross the line, and most boats approached on port tack. However, S approached on starboard tack from the right-hand end, continually hailing ‘Starboard’ to port-tack boats as they approached. P1 and P2 bore off below S. P3, however, made no attempt to avoid S and struck her amidships at right angles, causing considerable damage.
The protest committee disqualified both boats, P3 under rule 10 and S under rule 14. S appealed.
Rule 10 required P3 to keep clear of S. Rule 14 required each boat to avoid contact with the other boat if reasonably possible. In P3’s case, rule 14’s requirement to avoid contact with S was consistent with the broader requirement of rule 10 that she allow S to ‘sail her course with no need to take avoiding action’ (see the definition Keep Clear). P3 broke both rule 10 and rule 14.
In S’s case, while rule 10 required P3 to keep clear of her, at the same time S was required by rule 14 to avoid contact if it was ‘reasonably possible’ to do so. However, the second sentence of rule 14 allowed S to sail her course in the expectation that P3 would keep clear as required, until such time as it became evident that P3 would not do so. In this case, the diagram shows that P3 could readily have borne off and avoided S from a position very close to S. For that reason, the time between the moment it became evident that P3 would not keep clear and the time of the collision was a very brief interval, so brief that it was impossible for S to avoid contact. Therefore, S did not break rule 14. S’s appeal is upheld, and she is to be reinstated.
In the last Sneekweek I asked the panels to pay (extra) attention to rule 14. To write a conclusion and a decision in every protest were there was contact between boats. The subsequent discussions on ‘reasonable possible’ and ‘until clear that the other is not keeping clear’ sometimes were heated, but nevertheless very useful.
How about you?
Did you consider rule 14 in your last protest with contact?