It took some time but, then it's a whopper. The first Rapid Response Team Racing Call in 2011 was published last week by ISAF. The subject is rule 18 and mark-room and how to exploit an "unintentional consequence" in the current rules to gain an advantage for a team.
The Call explains that the way Mark-room is written at the moment, a keep-clear boat can break a right-of-way rule and be exonerated as long as she's doing it within the boundaries of "Mark-room"
RAPID RESPONSE TEAM RACING CALL 2011/001
Rule 18 Mark-Room
X on starboard tack enters the zone of the finishing mark clear ahead of A. X is sailing a course that will leave about half a boat length between her and the mark. After entering the zone X slows down without changing course, and A becomes overlapped to leeward of her. X then bears away to pass close to the mark and there is no longer room for A to finish between X and the mark. A bears away and protests. What should the call be?
When X enters the zone her course is high of the mark and she is not sailing to the mark within the space allowed by the definition Mark-Room. When X bears away after she becomes windward boat, she is sailing to the mark. X breaks rule 11, but is exonerated under rule 18.5(a). No penalty.
A complies with rule 18.2(b) by giving mark-room to X. If A is unable to respond when X bears away to sail to the mark, A breaks rule 18.2(b). Penalise A. However, if X bears away so that her course will not pass on the required side of the mark, she is no longer sailing to the mark and she is not entitled to exoneration. Penalise X for breaking rule 11.
As soon as X finishes, rule D1.1(d) applies and she can no longer act to interfere with A. She must trim in to a close-hauled course and clear the finishing line.
Published September 26;
This call is valid until 1 January 2013
In normal racing the infringement of rule 11 is usually unintentionally. And the windward boat would finish in front of the leeward boat anyway, so in a fleet race this will have no effect. (Except probably agitate the persons in the leeward boat).
But in Team Racing this can be used as a "weapon" to hinder a boat from the other team, so a team member can finish before the leeward boat.
Be aware however, to make use of it now!
If the submissions of the Rule C working party are accepted this will no longer be possible in the RRS 2013-2016