(This is an instalment in a series of blogposts about the ISAF Casebook 2009-2012 with amendments for 2010. All cases are official interpretations by the ISAF committees on how the Racing Rules of Sailing should be used or interpreted. The cases are copied from the Casebook, only the comments are written by me.)
Rule 20.1(b), Room to Tack at an Obstruction: Hailing and Responding
When a boat is hailed for room to tack at an obstruction and replies ‘You tack’, and the hailing boat is then able to tack and avoid the hailed boat, the hailed boat has complied with rule 20.1(b).
Summary of the Facts
As two close-hauled boats approached a shore, L hailed W for room to tack. W replied ‘You tack’ and L then tacked immediately. After tacking, L bore away in a seamanlike way and passed under W’s stern, which she cleared by three feet (1 m) or more. L protested W under rule 20.1(b). The protest committee decided that W failed to give room as required by rule 20.1(b) and disqualified her. W appealed.
W’s appeal is upheld, and she is to be reinstated. L’s actions showed that she had room to tack and avoid W. W therefore met her obligation under rule 20.1(b).
The exact wording in rule 20.1(b) is:
……. ,or by immediately replying ‘You tack’ and then giving the hailing boat room to tack and avoid her; …..
In Case 35 boat L made the mistake in thinking that after she was given the reply “You Tack” she was free to do as she pleased. That she was free to tack and go in front of W. But the obligation to keep clear under rule 13 and then under rule 11, is not switched off. The only thing she ‘gained’ is that W took the obligation to give her room to do so, and while L did everything to keep clear, to avoid her.
Right of way is NOT changed by this rule. The hailed boat only gets an additional obligation to give (more) room and make sure that she avoids L.
If L would not have been able to bear away – or only in an un-seamanlike way – then W would not have given her enough room and would have broken rule 20.1(b). The failure to keep clear by L in that case, would be exonerated under rule 20.2