Each morning around 10:30 we have scheduled a informal meeting with competitors to talk about there issues with rules and racing. The meeting is called: "Coffe with Umpires". Instead of a formal debrief after racing each day, we found that the morning after, is a much better time to address the sailor's issues and questions.
This morning we talked to a couple of skippers about the first day racing (Sunday) and there views.
Main point they brought up, had to do with a port boat tacking in front of a starboard tack boat. As you might know cats have a 'hard' time to go trough a tack. They loose practically all speed and turn very slowly.
The rule dictates that once you are on a close hauled course - regardless of your speed or sails filled - rule 13 is off and you become the right of way boat, clear ahead under rule 12.
The delta in speed is however sometimes very high. A starboard tack boat may approach with 15 knots and will have little time (even if there is enough distance) to respond.
Coupled with the fact that visibility to leeward is practically zero when a hull is flying, the tacked boat is in all intends and purposes "suddenly there"
We explained that the tacked boat does have an limitation beyond rule 13. Once she has become right of way boat, she then must give the keep clear boat - the one coming from behind with great speed - enough room to keep clear in a seamanlike way. Depending on the delta, the waves and circumstances, that is not only distance, but also time to react.
Speccially when the staboard boat has a overlapping windward boat, room to keep clear includes room for the windward boat to luff, before the leeward boat can.
The fact that visibility is very low is not something that is considered in the rules. It still is the responsibility of the starboard boat to keep an adequate lookout.
We will have to discuss this in our team, but personally I already think that I will adjust my perception of how much room the starboard boat needs.
I'll try to post FFFA 11.3 later today, hopefully.