Sunday, 6 February 2011

Rules simplification; Sometimes it happens - but not often

Mike Pallazo send me a question that he has been pondering for quite a while now, but just thought to ask:

Why'd ISAF get rid of 17.2?  Was it because nobody ever paid it much mind? 
17.2 Except on a beat to windward, while a boat is less than two of her hull lengths from a leeward boat or a boat clear astern steering a course to leeward of her, she shall not sail below her proper course unless she gybes.
I asked a friend - and member of the RRC - to find the submission back in 2007 that instigated this change.
It was Submission 183-07. (Thanks LP!)

As the reason for deletion this rule from the Racing Rules of Sailing, it states:

Rule 17.2 is redundant. It is also a rule that sailors break when approaching a gybe mark clear ahead of a boat astern and to leeward. In such a situation, the clear ahead boat will bear away to ensure the other boat does not get an inside overlap at the mark. The reason for this bear away is the other boat – it follows that this is not a proper course and the boat breaks rule 17.2. A rule that makes traditional manoeuvring prohibited should be deleted from the rule book.

The purpose of the rule was to ensure that there was at least one passing lane for a boat coming from astern. With the introduction of rule 16 some years ago, passing a boat to windward at some distance became less of a hazard, because when altering course the leeward boat had to give the windward boat room to keep clear, and if attempting to pass to leeward, the other boat would become windward and required to keep clear.

The deletion of rule 17.2 would make the racing rules of sailing simpler.

Don't say rules never are simplified - not often, I grant that - but it does happen.

1 comment:

  1. I still badly miss this rule while racing, as it gave you an easier way to pass a slower boat, passing to windward always takes longer as the other boat will luff.
    Of course there were classes where the rule was followed and only since the "new" rules people start to aggressively bear down to prevent an overlap at the gybe mark or prevent people from passing to leeward. I guess rulemakers had boats with spinnakers in mind, were leeward passes just 2-3 boatlenght away are nearly impossible, while with a few waves it's easy in single handers.
    Also the "becomes windward boat" is an argument more for keelboats than dinghies which turn so fast that you bear down on the other boat until you are very close and then luff rapidly to break the overlap again most single handers do at least 40 degree course changes on a reach or run all the time.
    On a run the deletion of this rule effectively closed all passing lanes : try leeward and the other will bear down on you, so you will only go about her speed, try windward and the other boat will luff, which at best costs you many meters compared to the rest of the fleet.
    So I guess the rule was as redundant as rule 42, look at a un-judged fleet on a reach and you see that rule 42 prohibits traditional boat handling... (I don't think 42 should be deleted, but it would simplify the rules and in most keelboats and match racing it would make no difference)


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