Wednesday, 4 January 2012

LTW Readers Q&A (56) - Barging

From Loius Fernandez - Ardois on the other side of the world, I received an Email about barging I thought to share with you;

Recently I came across a fellow who was arguing the position that “Barging” on the Start line as we know it (or as I know it) doesn’t exist. He argued that the boat or boats that are barging at the start are entitled to “Buoy Room” because they are the inside boats.
He also argued that the committee boat becomes an obstruction and that the other boats that are close hauled going towards the starting line must give the “barging” boat room to clear the obstruction (in this case the Committee Boat even if it is surrounded by navigable water).
In my years of racing I have never heard of such interpretation.

I linked to this site from a link on your Racing Rules of Sailing blog that perfectly explains “Barging” on the Start line as I have known it. "Barging" on the Start line

Please help me clear up this situation.

Luis Fernandez-Ardois
Tinglar Racing Team
Fajardo, Puerto Rico

PS. Tinglar is the Spanish name for the Leatherback turtle the largest of all sea turtles.

The article by Greg & Paul on the Yachting Victoria Website is a good explanation about barging and what to do about it. And completely correct. The only emphasis I might want to add, in light of your experience, is in rule 18.1(a).

The whole issue on whether rule 18 applies at the committee boat or not, hinges on what the boats are doing at that moment. Specifically: Are the boats approaching the start line to start?

If they do, rule 18 is off and "barging" is prohibited;
If they don't approach to start, the committee boat becomes a 'normal' obstruction and rule 19 dictates what boats can or cannot do. In case the leeward right-of-way boat decides to pass to leeward, she has to give room to the windward boat to do the same. And the windward boat has to keep clear and if the leeward boat does not pass to leeward, she is not entitled to force her way - she must keep clear.

So WHEN are boats "approaching" the start line to start?

Alas, there is no fixed answer to this question. I'm sorry to have to give the judges standard answer: "It depends".

It depends greatly on the circumstances, the type of boat, the practise in the class and other factors.
The shorter the time before the start signal, the more likely it is that boats are approaching the line to start. In some classes that is from 2 minutes before the signal, in others as late as 10 seconds. I suggest you err on the side of caution, and assume a boat is approaching, unless you are sure she is not.
The angle in which a boat is pointing, is also a good indication if she approaching or not. Sailing fairly close- hauled, with slack in the sheets, not much speed.... pointing at the end of the committee.... You can more or less be certain she's approaching.
The crew of the boat will tell you that they are approaching. Then I would be inclined to believe them, wouldn't you?

Ooh, in light of your question: The whole barging issue is also depending on whether the committee-boat is a MARK of the the starting line or not. Some RC use a separate starting mark, a couple of boat lengths away. Then the RC-vessel is always an obstruction.

Luis, I hope this gives you enough "ammunition" to counter your fellow sailor?



  1. I do ont see in the last diagram how you can say the RC vessel is always an obstruction. I do not see it like this or more correctly even if it an obsruction by definition it could be a mark and RRs 18 apply. In any event if it is a staring mark then there is no barging.
    The sailing instruction would have to be badly written for the scenario you show to be correct. Both the marks can be starting marks as defined in the SI. Usually the starting line goes to a staff on the committee boat but one says the line is limited by marks which are also starting marks etc.

    Mike B

  2. On the other hand it would be worth looking at Team Racing Call C2.

    In your first diagram at position 2, Red is not entitled to mark room or to room to pass the RC boat, because neither rule 18 or 19 apply. However, rule 16.1 does apply and if Light Green changes course she must give Red room to keep clear. As Red would be unable to do so because of the RC boat then if Light Green does change course she may well break rule 16.1. In the incident depicted Light Green should hold her course (subject the limitations of rule 14, of course) or bear away and protest.

    If Light Green wishes to change course to "shut the door" she must do so whilst Red has room to keep clear.

    This is a frequently observed incident in team racing. Call C2 is a call I often show to fleet racing judges, who may well never have had a need to read the TR Call Book.


  3. @MikeB
    I specifically wrote that IF the committee vessel was not a starting mark this applies. That is usually not the case.
    I am of the opinion that in position 1 in the first diagram the Green boat is already pointing at the end of the RC Boat and is on a course that leaves no room for Red. Effectively shutting the door already.
    In position 1 Red has the opportunity to keep clear by luffing, but neglects to do so. She chooses to go in there. If Green has to bear away under rule 14 to give room to Red so she doesn't hit the RC boat, she should protest and Red would be DSQed in my view.
    That said, I agree that this Team Race call is applicable in this case.

  4. Agreed. I had no intention to contradict your analysis, merely to enrich it by adding a further twist!

    Obviously, if Green were obliged to take avoiding action by bearing away then Red has broken rule 11.

    My intention was to emphasise that Green in this situation has rights, but 16.1 does create an obligation for her if she changes course. Even if the door was closed, if Green did luff then she would have to give Red room to keep clear.

    The point made by the TR call is that any change of course by Green to close the door must be made early, whilst Red still has room to keep clear.

    In this instance Green does close the door early enough. At position 2 Red is sailing slowly - which may be enough for her to keep clear. If so Green would be putting herself at risk of breaking 16.1 were she to luff.



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