Saturday, 7 August 2010

Xclusion Zone & rule 14

Two day’s ago I told you about the exclusion zone the extreme sailing series had to use in order to be allowed to sail during Cowes week.
One of the sailors came to us with a question about rule 14. And I thought it useful enough to also inform you. He asked:
”Is there a difference between the way rule 14 is used at a ‘virtual’ obstruction and at a real physical obstruction?”
Instinctively we started to say no, but then thought it trough. When contact could have been avoided, by sailing over the line of the exclusion zone, is a boat obliged to do that? Even if she’s right-of-way, just because she has to comply with rule 14?
Or, reversely, if there’s damage, can a boat be disqualified, if she does not sail over the exclusion line?
We decided that there’s indeed a difference. Virtual walls are not the same as actual walls – for the purpose of rule 14. It is reasonably to expect that boats would avoid contact (read damage) by sailing over any virtual line.
But perhaps you have a different opinion?
In answer to Sen’s question at my Wednesday post: I’ll scan the drawing of the exclusion zone and will post it asap.

I finally brought the drawing to work so I could scan it:
The paper got wet, so I hope you still can read most of it.


  1. Just because it would be a breach of the SI to cross the boundary of an exclusion zone, does not make it ‘not reasonably possible’ to do so if it is necessary to do so to avoid contact in compliance with rule 14. A boat that crossed the boundary to avoid contact with a boat that had failed to give her room would have been compelled to break the SI by the other boat’s breach of her obligation to give room, and thus would be exonerated for breaking the SI.

    On the other hand, if there is a danger of some sort on the other side of the boundary, then it might not be reasonably possible to sail in there. It would be for the protest committee to decide.

    Examples of the problem Jos describes will happen when an outside boat fails to give an inside boat room, under rule 19, or possibly rule 20 at the boundary of the obstruction constituted by the exclusion zone.

    This raises an interesting issue with rule 20. A boat can only gain an entitlement to room under rule 20 when safety requires her to make a substantial course change to avoid the obstruction. If we are agreed that it is reasonably possible to sail into the deemed obstruction area, then it cannot be said that safety requires her not to do so. Thus, a boat cannot obtain an entitlement to make a rule 20 hail when approaching the boundary of a SI-deemed obstruction with no actual danger on the other side.

    I have always said that to make exclusion zones or prohibited areas work, it is necessary for the SI not only to describe them, and say that boats shall not sail inside them, but also to say in as many words that the zones or areas are obstructions (thus expressly making rules 19 and 20 apply at them). It seems that it is necessary for the SI to say not only that the zones or areas are obstructions, but that they are taken to be obstructions which safety requires boats to change course to avoid.

    Jos has also identified a problem with what happens when a boat does sail across a prohibited boundary. To do so is not a breach of Part 2 or rule 31, so a rule 44 penalty cannot be taken unless there is something special in the SI. SI could say, “A boat which enters the exclusion zone may, after sailing out of the exclusion zone take a Two-turns Penalty in accordance with rule 44.” For boats required to keep out of the box, it might be a good idea to specify the box corner marks as marks of the course (although this would have caused problems in Jos example when the marks would not keep in position).

  2. OT: Is my reading of the RRS's & Robert Perry's Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing Through 2012 correct here? Can you render a quick judgment on my site?

  3. Your site looks fine. I'm trying to catch up on your posts. I especially liked 'A yacht race is not a demolition derby'
    I've added OPII to my bloglist.


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