Send in by Brad this readers Q&A is about rule 18 and approaching a mark.
Here’s what he wrote:
I have searched for ISAF rules interpretations in the past and have been directed by Google to your blog on many separate occasions.
I am not sure if you answers questions. In case you do I will send you my question about a windward mark rounding below. If you do not answer questions, can you recommend a good site or blog where I might be able to get an answer from ISAF judges?
Thank you in advance for your help,
I overheard this situation that took place recently at my yacht club. I was asked my opinion. I gave my opinion but after I heard what the PC decided and re-read the rule book, I have some questions. This is what happened:
Two 28 foot E-scows are sailing on port. They are sailing to windward, towards a mark to be rounded to port. Boat A is clear ahead and 1+ boat length to leeward of boat B. They both enter the zone on port, boat A ahead of boat B. Boat A tacks onto starboard (according to the protest approximately 60 feet from the mark). Boat A arrives at a close hauled course and Boat B has enough time and room to respond. Boat B tacks directly in front and slightly to leeward of A. Boat A has to take avoiding action and heads up to avoid contact with B. (Boat A was able to avoid in a seaman like way). It is in question as to weather boat A had to sail above close hauled, as she was reaching slightly towards the mark at the time.
Boat A protested boat B under rule 18.3(a)
The protest was denied since boat A neither hailed protest or flew a flag. However they heard the protest and decided if the protest had been filed properly that under rule 18.3(a) boat B would have been given a DSQ.
I question this ruling. How would you rule in this situation?
Rule 18.3 has language that seems ambiguous.
If two boats were approaching a mark on opposite tacks and one of them changes tack is it possible for a boat to enter the zone on port, tack onto starboard, and still be considered to be approaching the mark on starboard?
If you tack in the zone from port to starboard is your tack considered part of the rounding procedure and therefore you are approaching from port, or as soon as you tack are you then approaching the mark from starboard?
Is there a definition of approaching the mark?
Is it ever possible to be on port and approaching the mark from starboard; or on starboard and approaching the mark from port?
APPROACH is not in the definitions so I am not 100 percent sure about rule 18.3. Also if a boat enters a windward mark and 18.2 is in effect is it possible for 18.3 to come into effect at that same mark without that boat leaving the zone?
Thank you in advance for either trying to answer my questions and/or directing me to where I can get the question answered.
I'll try to give you my opinion as best as I know, but your questions are all, so to speak "to the heart of the matter". The logic of rule 18 is sometimes hard to find.
Lets begin with some ground principles:
Boats are approaching a mark until they have reached it. In my opinion that is when they are AT the mark. There is no definition about this, but I have yet to find a situation that needed one.
Rule 18.2 is off, when they are on opposite tacks on a beat to windward to a windward mark... even if one of the boats is in the zone, or is at the mark and the other still approaching, or even both boats are in the zone.
In the situation you describe, the leading boat enters the zone clear ahead and besides being right of way boat, also gets mark room from that moment. None of the exceptions in rule 18.1 apply - both boats still have to tack to round the mark - so rule 18.2(b) is in effect.
As soon as boat A passes head to wind - rule 18.2(b) is switched off - she's now keep clear boat under rule 13 until she's on a new close hailed course, then she again becomes right of way boat under 10 (starboard) and has a restriction under 15.
You can have a look at Case 88, which deals with this – although the boats are on starboard tack, the principle applies.
Rule 18.3 is not activated, because boat A, after being subject to rule 13 in the zone, is now on an opposite tack then boat B. The first sentence of rule 18 does not 'fit'
Then boat B also passes head to wind. As soon as she does that, she's on the same tack as boat A (starboard) but still keep clear boat under 13. Rule 18.3 is now (also) active. They were approaching on a different tack and one of them changes tack (now both boats are on the same tack) ... The first sentence of rule 18.3 'fits'
Boat B may not cause boat A above close hailed to have to avoid her or etc... Rule 18.3 burdens the boat with a couple of extra obligations because she tacks within the zone. In your scenario we need to find as fact if boat A had to go above close hauled to avoid her or not. Otherwise we cannot conclude that B broke rule 18.3
In the zone, when boats are on different tack and one of them passes head to wind - rule 18.3 must be considered. Regardless of what happens before or regardless of the distance to the mark.
Rule 18 is written to clear inside - outside roundings. As soon as there is tacking involved the rule gets a lot more complicated.
The factor that further complicates things, is the exception that is written in the definition of mark room.
ONLY IF a set of special circumstances are met, the inside boat gets "something extra", she gets the room to tack. Only if she's inside boat entitled to mark room AND is overlapped to windward of a boat that has to give mark room, she's is entitled to room to tack.
Rule 18.2(b) normally is switched off as soon as the boat entitled to mark room passes head to wind, but only in these circumstances it still 'lingers' on.
On a side note: I had a very hard time – actually I couldn’t – draw your situation with any kind of consistency in boat speed. Also I have doubts about the distance of 60 feet. That would place boat A outside the zone (again) when she first tacked from port to starboard.
Perhaps you or someone else can do it. If so please send me an Email with the diagram.
I hope this answers your questions,