Another one today from Rick Burgess from the USA:
While driving across the USA on our way to the Star North American Championships in California lots of things were discussed, but we were
in total disagreement on the following rules situation.
Sailing a windward/leeward course with NO off-set, fleet racing, and port rounding. Boat A approaches the mark on starboard and boat B approaches it on port. The question is does boat A have the right to round the mark and sail a course to the leeward mark even though boat B is in between? (we are talking both boats are right on the their lay lines and B is probably 11/2 to 2 boat lengths back).
I know A has to avoid contact but is the onus on B to give A room to sail her proper course? And if A has to alter course to avoid B is B in the wrong?
I’ve drawn your situation in Boat Scenario and hope this is what you mean:
Let’s analyze the situation step by step:
In position 1 boat B (orange) is on port and boat A (purple) is on starboard. Boat B is keeping clear. No issue.
In position 2 boat B is still port and boat A has changed course but is still on starboard. Because of the course change, boat A has a restriction under rule 16.1 to give room to boat B to keep clear. She’s doing this. If both boats would continue on a straight course from position 2, nothing would happen. Boat B is keeping clear. No issue
In position 3 boat A has changed course again (or has continued to change course). Now there’s a collision course established. From that moment, boat B must do everything possible to keep clear as boat on port and boat A must give her room to do that.
If boat A changed her course so close that the only option for B is to continue – luffing or bearing away would make things worse – then boat A has the obligation to avoid the contact. She then clearly has not given boat B enough room to keep clear.
But if B could bear away and she did not do so, thereby forcing A to luff to avoid the contact, she’s breaking rule 10.
Boat A has the right to sail around the mark even if boat B is in between, but she must comply with rule 16.1
I understand that Stars mostly go very deep on the run. They almost sail downwind. Because boat A is on a different leg of the course, she may not interfere with a boat on another leg of the course unless she sailing on her proper course.
From your story I cannot find as fact that she is not doing this. Boat A might want to gybe to port to go to the left side of the leg. So she’s not breaking 23.2 either, by steering this course.
Boat B has no obligation to anticipate that boat A will round the mark this way and has no ‘extra’ obligation to let A sail on a proper course.
But boat B must do everything to keep clear from the moment the collision course is established and boat A must give her room to do so.
I hope this clarifies things a bit.