Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Rule 14; Always a mess?

Why is the application  of rule 14 always such a mess?

Couple of observations:
  • Rule 14 is in part B, and part B mostly restricts the rights of the right-of-way boat. Does part B have any rules on the keep clear boat?
  • If the ROW boat does nothing - or worse - the wrong manoeuvre, is the keep clear boat still breaking rule 14?
  • If the keep clear boat is doing everything, even turning as fast  as she can, at the last minute, and still there's contact, because the ROW boat does not enough, is the keep clear boat still breaking rule 14?
I've send in a Q&A a couple of years back, about rule 14. I've found it in my archive, but be aware, it is NO longer in the Q&A booklet!
In later Q&A booklets it became 2011-028, and 2013-005 and now it is in de Casebook under number 123 (reversed upwind, but still)

Now for the new situation: It is from an Extreme Sailing Series event last year.
Here is the animation:
(I'm sorry about the quality - if you click on full screen it is a little better)

Alinghi is slightly changing course all the way, from the moment SAP has gybed, almost hunting them. But because the umpire boat is parallel to them, the Umpires fail to notice this, they cannot see this. And after protests from both boats SAP is penalized on the water for not keeping clear under rule 10. When boats are less than half a length apart, Alinghi gybes and luffs hard. Nevertheless there is contact with the aft quarter of SAP's port hull and Alinghi's starboard bow, resulting in damage. The bow of Alinghi is cracked and there are some scratches of the hull of SAP.

Now, IF Alinghi had gone the other way - and behind SAP - there would have been no contact. The course change was very minor that way. There was no reason that it couldn't have done this, other than loosing places in the race. Wind was slight, maybe 4 knots. Boats were not moving very fast.

SAP, having a view that allowed them to actually see the course change by Alinghi, claimed that they would have crossed IF Alinghi hadn't changed course - from the beginning. SAP was of the opinion that, because of this, they were not given room to keep clear. Once they had gybed they could do nothing else than speed up as best they could.... Gybing back would have made things worse.

Alinghi claimed, they had to come up fast, at the last possible moment, to avoid a collision. They did their very best, but it wasn't enough, and there was contact.

Because of the low quality of the video, I've tried to re-create the tracking in an animation:

My question to you: Did only one of the boats break rule 14? Or maybe both?
Please don't go back to the Part Two rules issue. Right or wrong, that was an umpire decision.
And tell me if Case 123 helps you answer.


  1. When SAP jibes onto port, she would have crossed if Alinghi had held her course (see position 3). The problem was that Alinghi bore off and hunted. Now there was nothing SAP could do to avoid a collision. Alinghi not only caused the problem, but by failing to go behind (wich she could have done), caused the collision and therefore breaks Rule 14. SAP is exonerated since she had no option to avoid the collision.

  2. I am not sure that SAP would have been clear if Alingi had held her course. It is like ISAF 50 backwards. I think Alingi could have altered either way saying they had a reasonable apprehension a collission may occur. This would disqualify SAP. alingi could have gone the other way and thus I believe broke 14. SAP broke 14 as she had no need to gybe in front of Allingi when she was ROW and by the time she became Give way it was her action thet put her there. Both boats get disqualifiad. Mike B

  3. It is funny really with this class. We try to stop collisions but these are what go on the news and video sites that get the publicity that pay for the racing. Mike b

  4. (Thought I had already submitted this comment, but it hasn't appeared so I assume I messed up somewhere along the line!)

    On the basis of Case 123 and the fact that SAP has already been found to have broken rule 10, I would say both boats have broken rule 14: SAP because she could reasonably have avoided contact by not gybing across in front of Alighi; and Alinghi because it was reasonably possible for her to have avoided contact with SAP, by luffing rather than bearing away and gybing, even if she had not acted to avoid contact until it was clear that SAP was not keeping clear.

    That said, I'm not sure why it matters whether SAP broke rule 14 or not. She has already been found to have broken rule 10 and taken an appropriate penalty. What additional penalty or other consequence is there of her having broken rule 14 as well?

    1. I'm sorry Zaphod, I checked my records and have not found your earlier submission.

      As to if it matters if SAP broke 14 or not: Restitution of costs for damages are often based on rule 14.


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