Monday, 30 January 2012

(pillow)Case of the week (05/12) – 25

(This is an instalment in a series of blogposts about the ISAF Case book 2009-2012 with amendments for 2011. 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.)

(pillow)Case picture


Rule 11, On the Same Tack, Overlapped
Rule 14, Avoiding Contact
Rule 16.1, Changing Course
Rule 18.2(b), Mark-Room: Giving Mark-Room

When an inside overlapped windward boat that is entitled to mark-room sails below her proper course while at the mark, she must keep clear of the outside leeward boat, and the outside boat may luff provided that she gives the inside boat room to keep clear.

Summary of the Facts
Two 15-foot (3.5 m) dinghies, IW and OL, were approaching a leeward port-hand mark. IW established an inside overlap on OL well before the boats reached the zone, and OL gave IW space to sail to the mark and then to sail her proper course while at the mark. After IW passed the mark, OL began to luff to her course to the next mark. IW was slower in heading up, and her boom, still well out, touched OL’s helmsman and shrouds. At the time of the contact IW was a hull length from the mark and over 45 degrees below close-hauled. No damage or injury occurred. IW protested OL under rule 18.2(b), and OL protested IW under rule 11.


The protest committee decided that, because IW did not luff to a close hauled course while she was at the mark, she did not sail her proper course during that time. IW did not deny this but attributed it to her boom-end mainsheet rig as compared to the centre-lead rig used by OL.

The protest committee dismissed IW’s protest, upheld OL’s, and disqualified IW for breaking rule 11. IW appealed.


Rule 18.2(b) required OL to give IW room to sail to the mark and then room to sail her proper course while at the mark. Clearly, between positions 1 and 2 OL gave IW room to sail to the mark. At position 2, IW was ‘at the mark’ and between positions 2 and 3 she was entitled to room to sail her proper course. Her proper course during that time was to luff onto a close-hauled course, and OL gave her room to do so. Therefore, OL did not break rule 18.2(b).

When OL luffed between positions 2 and 3, IW was required by rule 11 to keep clear of OL, and OL was required by rule 16.1 to give her room to do so. OL luffed approximately 30 degrees while moving forward two hull lengths. Even with a boom-end mainsheet rig, a boat sailed in a seamanlike way can turn through 30 degrees and trim her mainsail appropriately while moving forward two hull lengths. Therefore, OL gave IW room to keep clear and OL did not break rule 16.1.

OL could easily have avoided contact with IW, and so OL broke rule 14. However, she is not penalized for doing so because neither boat was damaged, nor was there any injury. IW sailed well below her proper course; in fact she sailed a hull length away from the mark on a course over 45 degrees below close-hauled and, as a result, took much more space than rule 18.2(b) entitled her to take.

Throughout the incident IW was required by rule 11 to keep clear of OL.
Shortly before the contact, IW broke rule 11 by failing to keep clear. It was possible for IW to have avoided the contact, and therefore IW also broke rule 14. However, because IW was entitled to mark-room and the contact resulted in neither damage nor injury, she too can not be penalized for breaking rule 14.

W’s appeal is dismissed. The protest committee’s decision to disqualify
IW under rule 11 is upheld.


Noteworthy: IW was not penalized for taking “too much mark-room”, she was penalized for failing to keep-clear under 11. If she had been failing to keep clear within the space mark-room provided, she would have been exonerated for that. She failed to keep clear outside the room that mark-room provides and therefore was NOT exonerated.

Although the exoneration under 18.5 depends on the boat’s actions, the ‘exoneration’ under rule 14 does not. All boats – r.o.w, with room or with mark-room – regardless of there actions, get a freebie if there’s no damage or injury.

In this rulebook the wording is still ‘a boat will not be penalized’, but in the next rulebook (2013-2016) it will be brought in line with the other rules and ‘a boat will be exonerated’ for breaking rule 14 if there’s no damage or injury.


  1. Interesting that IW cannot be penalised for breaking rule 14. When does the 'mark room freebie' turn off if not when IW is no longer entitled to the room she is taking?


    1. The rule 14(b) clause does not turn off when a boat no longer needs mark-room. It only turns off when rule 18 turns mark-room off.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...