(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.)
Rule 11, On the Same Tack, Overlapped
Rule 18.1, Mark-Room: When Rule 18 Applies
Rule 18.2(b), Mark-Room: Giving Mark-Room
Rule 18.5(b), Mark-Room: Exoneration
Definitions, Clear Astern and Clear Ahead; Overlap
In determining the right of an inside boat to mark-room under rule 18.2(b), it is irrelevant that boats are on widely differing courses, provided that an overlap exists when the first of them reaches the zone.
Summary of the Facts
OL and IW were approaching a mark to be left to starboard. The wind was light and there was a 2-knot current in the same direction as the wind. IW, which had sailed high on the course to the mark to offset the effect of the current, approached it with the current, almost on a run. OL, on the other hand, had been set to leeward and, at position 1, about three hull lengths from the mark, was sailing close-hauled slowly against the current. IW twice hailed for water, and OL twice replied ‘You can’t come in here.’ At the last moment, shortly after position 4 in the diagram, as IW luffed to begin her passing manoeuvre OL tried to give her room but the two dinghies made
contact. There was no damage or injury.
OL protested under rule 11 but was herself disqualified under rule 18.2(b). She appealed, asserting that it was illogical and beyond the intention of the definition Overlap and of rule 18 to consider as overlapped two boats whose headings differed by 90 degrees. She also asserted that the purpose of rule 18 was to protect a boat in danger of hitting the mark that was unable to go astern of the outside boat. She further argued that throughout IW’s approach to the mark until she finally luffed, she was easily able to pass astern of OL, and that IW was not an ‘inside’ boat until a moment before contact.
OL’s appeal is dismissed and her disqualification is confirmed.
The boats were required to leave the mark on the same side and were on the same tack, and so rule 18 applied after position 1 when OL reached the zone. The boats were overlapped from that time until contact occurred, and therefore the first sentence of rule 18.2(b) applied, limiting OL’s rights under rule 11 by requiring her to give IW mark-room. OL did not give IW mark-room, and so is disqualified under rule 18.2(b). It should be noted that OL also broke rule 14, as she could have avoided contact, but, because OL was the right-of-way boat and the contact caused neither damage nor injury, she could not have been penalized had rule 14 been the only rule she broke. As a result of OL’s failing to give IW mark-room to which IW was entitled,
IW broke rule 11 while trying to take that mark-room, and therefore is exonerated under rule 18.5(b). IW also broke rule 14, as she too could have avoided contact, but is not to be penalized, because she was a boat entitled to mark-room and the contact caused neither damage nor injury.
Many sailors have a hard time understanding that they can be overlapped with a boat far away on a hugely different angle. This case makes it clear once and for all and has been doing it since 1964!
The most common example is not with two boats, but with multiple boats who stack up behind each other to go round the mark and are surprized by a later incoming boat who claims mark room.
When the pink boat enters as fourth boat, the light blue is overlapped on the inside. Before we had the three length zone, this was even more seen as unfair.