Tuesday 28 September 2010

LTW Reader Q&A (47); Practice Race

Hi, Jos

I’ve been reading your blog since the beginning and almost daily and I think it’s very interesting. Great job. I’ve got a question about Appendix P but I can’t remember if there is a post about it. This is the question:

As stated in the Sailing Instructions, Appendix P will apply.
There is a Practice Race scheduled in the Sailing Instruction. The scheduled program is as follows:
Day 1:    Measurement and Practice Race
Day 2:    Races. 1st warning signal at 1200
Day 3:    Races. 1st warning signal at 1200
Day 4:    Races. 1st warning signal at 1200

Boat Yellow is penalized under Appendix P (P1) in Practice Race. Does it count to determine the number of times she has been penalized in the regatta? And what about if the same boat Yellow has a Second Penalty in the Practice Race? Must she then retire from the Practice Race? According to Appendix P it seems to be clear that the boat must retire.

More: Does the practice race count on the boat total points?

In most of the Sailing Instructions there is no reference to the Practice Race about Appendix P or Score for a boat. It’s supposed that the Practice Race is this, a practice race. But this is a common sense, not a rule in the Sailing Instructions.
What do you think?

Thanks for all the lights you put on the RRS.


Like you already guessed, a practice race is nothing more than that. A chance to try out the water, try out the conditions, see what the race committee boat looks like, how they they organize their flags etc, etc.

Everybody behaves as if it is an actual race – to create conditions as similar as possible to the the real thing - but it has no impact on the regatta or series.

No points are scored – although the committee may publish a result. Again, that way they can test that too.

If someone is penalized in the practice race for breaking rule 42, she can do her turns or not. The judges will try to look and penalize exactly as they would in the ‘real’ series, but if the sailor does not turn, the boat will perhaps be recorded in the results as DSQ, but the points don’t count. And it also does not count as a first penalty in Appendix P. Nor does a second or a third. Many sailors should find out what the limit is in the practice race and not be afraid of a penalty. That way they can avoid going over the limit in the real series. For a second penalty she may retire, but if she does not, all that will happen is that the boat might get a DNE recorded in the results. Again, that does not count in the regatta, so nothing is lost.

I urge all sailors who are penalized in the practice race once, twice or whatever, to talk to the judges after the race. So they can exactly find out what the judges saw and what they deemed the sailor did, that broke rule 42.

I’ve never had a protest from an incident in a practice race. Any DSQ that might be given has no impact on the series.

There’s one rule that might have influence on the series score – rule 23.1. If a boat that is NOT racing interferes with a boat that is racing in the practice race, theoretically that might result in a DSQ in the first race (See rule 64.1(d)).

Thanks for you encouragement and kind words. Keep on reading LTW and spread the word….

Monday 27 September 2010

X40 Trapani 2010 – Team racing?

Chasing the Extreme forties yesterday in perfect sailing conditions we were confronted with an unusual situation.
image Before the race one of the sailors asked us a question: “Can I slow down an opponent when it’s no longer influencing the results in this regatta, but only on the total series result?”
In order to slow down an opponent – bringing him to the back of the fleet, so he gains points which will result in a lower ranking – you have to use match race tactics. Covering his airflow, preventing him from tacking, making him give you room when needed, etc.

You need a lot of skill to do this effectively and even more skill to make sure you don’t break any rules while doing it.

Normally in any fleet race everybody will sail as fast as they can to the finish without worrying to much about other boats. At the end of the race some do consolidate there place by covering the boat directly behind them, but that’s about it. There are however – what else is new - exceptions.

If you’ve been following the (pillow)Cases, you will have seen Case 78. In that Case a boat directly went for her opponent and made sure that opponent ended up at the back of the fleet. That is allowed as long as it is reasonable that doing so will benefit the result of the boat in the series. AND – this is a big AND – if the boat breaks a rule in order to achieve that objective, it not only breaks that (row) rule, but it also breaks rule 2.
If the PC draws that conclusion, the decision must be a DNE. The question how deliberate the infringement was also needs to be addressed.

(pillow)Case of the Week (39) – 74; Fair Sailing?

(This is an instalment in a series of blogposts about the ISAF Call book 2009-2012 with amendments for 2010. All calls are official interpretations by the ISAF committees on how the Racing Rules of Sailing should be used or interpreted. The calls are copied from the Call book, only the comments are written by me.)


Case 74

Rule 2, Fair Sailing
Rule 11, On the Same Tack, Overlapped

There is no rule that dictates how the helmsman or crew of a leeward boat must sit; contact with a windward boat does not break rule 2 unless the helmsman’s or crew’s position is deliberately misused.
Summary of the Facts
W was overtaking L in sub-planing conditions on a close reach. L luffed slightly, the helmsman’s back making contact with W just forward of the shroud. At this point the hulls were about an arm’s length apart. Neither boat took a penalty. At the subsequent hearing, the protest committee disqualified L under rule 2, stating that W was correctly trimmed with full sails and her crew sitting by the leeward shroud. ‘Contact’, it continued, ‘could only have been made if L’s helmsman was sitting out flat.’ In the prevailing conditions this was significantly beyond the normal sailing position required.’ L appealed.

L’s appeal is upheld; she is reinstated and W disqualified under rule 11. In Case 73 it is clear that L’s crew deliberately touched W with the intention of protesting her out of the race. In this case there was no such deliberate action by L. There is no rule that dictates how a helmsman or crew must sit and, in the absence of deliberate misuse of his positioning, no breach of rule 2 took place.

RYA 1993/2


Saturday 25 September 2010

Extreme Sailing Series Europe: Day Two in Trapani

Action packed day in Trapani
Most of the calls the sailors make we can answer, but unfortunately the game is so fast and we can only be at so many places we also do miss one occasionally. The one where the camera got hit none of us saw.

LTW Readers Q&A: Mark-room in ISAF MR Call 2010-004

Dear Jos,

Would you care to publish the following?

Rapid Response Match Racing Call 2010-004 has just been published.


It deals with a boat (Yellow), having rounded the windward mark well ahead and having completed a penalty just outside the zone, now on starboard, approaching Blue who is just finishing rounding the mark on port.
The Call asks and answers the question: ‘Does rule 18 apply between Yellow and Blue?’

Unsurprisingly it answers that rule 18, rule 18.2(a) to be precise, does apply.
I would have thought that this would have been painfully obvious. There are two boats. They are required to leave a mark on the same side. At least one of them is in the zone. None of the exemptions shown in rule 18.1 apply. Of course rule 18 applies.

Of much more interest is what happens when an instant after the last position in the diagram in the Call, when Blue leaves the mark astern and is no longer at the mark.

The instant Blue ceases to be at the mark, she is no longer taking mark-room to which she is entitled (to sail her proper course at the mark), and thus she ceases to be entitled to exoneration for breaking rule 10. Blue instantaneously switches from being a boat entitled to exoneration for breaking rule 10 to being fully obliged to keep clear by rule 10, without even the protection of rule 15.

So, to extend the problem diagrammed in the Call, just after Position 4, Yellow luffs, and makes non-damage contact between Y’s port bow and B’s port quarter.

Yellow Y Flags.

What is the umpire’s decision?


Calls only answer a specific question. This one is no exception.

The situation described is so specific that it will only happen once out of a hundred. But it can happen. As long as Blue is not yet past the mark she needs protection from a starboard boat. She entitled to protection under rule 18 . Like you stated, shortly after that she has passed the mark and she no longer needs protection and now can gybe to keep clear. She must do that as keep clear boat. She already can anticipate having to do this while rounding the mark because she's always keep clear boat.
The same is just before Yellow has turned down below ninety degrees. Then she is still on a beat and so there is no overlap, therefore rule eighteen does not apply. Only in those few moments between Yellow turning downwind and Blue passing the mark, rule 18 is in effect. And that is exactly when she needs it.

To answer your call, after Blue has passed the mark and there’s contact
  • If Blue did everything to keep clear, Yellow broke 16.1; Penalize Yellow
  • If Blue did nothing or not enough to keep clear, she broke rule 10; Penelize Blue.

Friday 24 September 2010

Can Crewmembers Sue after a Protest Hearing?

My Google alert kicked out this article by David Weil esq.
Can Crew-members Ignore Race Protest Hearing Decisions and Sue a Boat Owner?

I have some notes on his article, but think it's basicly sound. Please do remember that what you can do after a hearing depends on which part of the world you are.

As to my remarks: It's not the Race Committee who conducts a hearing and gathers evidence, it is the Protest Committee. The Protest Committee can be completely independent from the Race Committee -  and in case of an International Jury, that's even required.
Secondly - in most cases there's an appeals process which can be followed, if the PC makes a mistake or you are not agreeing with their conclusion.

Thursday 23 September 2010

Racing Rules Submissions 2010

ISAF has its conference scheduled for November.
The Racing Rules Committee will vote on the proposed changes in the Racing Rules of Sailing.

Here's a file with all the proposals: ISAF RACING RULES COMMITTEE SUBMISSIONS 2010
The document was prepared by Brass who also added a short explanation and a direct link to the actual submission. (Thanks & Well done)

Rule 20 is one who's most changed....

I've talked to people in that committee and was told nothing will change the first of January.
There are no submissions that are categorized as an "emergency"
All these will - when approved - have an impact on the RRS 2013-2016

I'll try to go over them asap and give you my opinion.

Umpire dilemma

Many events are using a system with coloured windward marks. So the RO can quickly change the direction of the beat. In shifty conditions that might even be often.

With the preparatory signal a corresponding coloured flag is hoisted to indicate which windward mark has to be rounded. But, things being as they are, sometimes the sailors forget which mark to round – because it’s late in the day, because the beat was slow and long, because they were late entering and concentrating on that, instead on which colour was shown… take your pick. Once in a while boats sail to the wrong mark.

As an umpire I also sometimes forget – that’s why I added a couple of coloured clothespins to my kit. At the same time as the flag is hoisted at the entry, I stick one on a visible place (for us – not for the sailors) so I have a reference.

Anyway, sailors going to the wrong mark. As discussed in earlier posts just recently – that mark can be touched, it has no zone, it has no side to which it has to be rounded – it’s not a mark under the rules, at best it’s an obstruction.

But the boats behave as if it is a regular mark, with all the rights and obligations. Rule 18, rule 31.1, everything.

I’ll make my first question a simple one: The Blue boat, clear ahead, touches that wrong mark. The Yellow boat, not far behind, sees this and you see it also. Furthermore the crew of the Yellow boat see you at a place that it’s impossible not to see the touch by Blue.

Yellow shows her Yankee flag, you answer with a green/white flag (In Match Racing a boat cannot protest for rule 31.1).

And then?

What do you do?

If you do nothing you are telling the boats that they can touch (what they think is) a mark. From that they can deduce that this windward mark might be the wrong one….. Is that outside help?

Okay, you say, give them a penalty……

But, what rule have they infringed? On what do you base this penalty?


It’s even more complicated if the boats think that rule 18 is in play. You are umpiring solely under the right of way rules (perhaps, if needed, rule 19), but the boats behave as if there’s a zone, mark-room and everything.

Any call by the sailors MUST be umpired according to the rules – and that is usually as if that mark was not there.

Up until now I’ve solved this dilemma by sticking rigorously to the rules – what else can I do – but I’m not particularly happy with it…….


I’m posting this prepared blogpost from my B&B in Trapani, after a long day travelling. I’m here to umpire an extreme sailing series event.

Monday 20 September 2010

(pillow)Case of the Week (38) - 75; Blocks

(This is an instalment in a series of blogposts about the ISAF Call book 2009-2012 with amendments for 2010. All calls are official interpretations by the ISAF committees on how the Racing Rules of Sailing should be used or interpreted. The calls are copied from the Call book, only the comments are written by me.)


Case 75

Rule 10, On Opposite Tacks
Rule 14, Avoiding Contact
Rule 16.1, Changing Course

Rule 18.2(b), Mark-Room: Giving Mark-Room
Rule 18.4, Mark-Room: Gybing
When rule 18 applies, the rules of Sections A and B apply as well. When an inside overlapped right-of-way boat must gybe at a mark, she is entitled to sail her proper course until she gybes. A starboard-tack boat that changes course does not break rule 16.1 if she gives a port-tack boat adequate space to keep clear and the port-tack boat fails to take advantage of it promptly.
Summary of the Facts

Two boats, S and P, were sailing directly downwind towards a leeward mark to be left to port. They had been overlapped for several lengths with S inside and slightly ahead. As S entered the zone, she luffed. As her bow came abreast of the mark she bore away to gybe, and there was contact, but no damage or injury. S protested P under rule 10 while P protested S under rule 18.

The protest committee disqualified P for breaking rule 10. P appealed, asserting that she had given S mark-room and that S had broken rule 18.4.



At position 1, S reached the zone and P was required by rule 18.2(b) to give S mark-room thereafter. In addition, until S gybed P was required by rule 10 to keep clear of S. As S luffed, she was required by rule 16.1 to give P room to keep clear, and until she gybed S was also required by rule 18.4 to sail no farther from the mark than needed to sail her proper course.

The mark-room that P was required to give S was the space S needed in the existing conditions to sail promptly to the mark in a seamanlike way. That space was a direct corridor from S1 to a position close to and alongside the mark on the required side. P gave S that room. However, because S had right of way she was not required to remain within that corridor; she was permitted to sail any course provided that she complied with rules 16.1 and 18.4.

S luffed gradually through approximately 45 degrees while sailing about three lengths forward, and P made no effort to keep clear. Shortly before position 2, S needed to act to avoid P. At that moment P broke rule 10. When S luffed after position 1, if P had acted promptly there was space for her to have manoeuvred in a seamanlike way to keep clear of S. Therefore S did not break rule 16.1.

When S gybed just after position 2, she had not sailed farther from the mark than needed to sail her proper course. Indeed, in the absence of P (the boat ‘referred to’ in the definition Proper Course), S’s proper course might well have been to sail even farther from the mark and higher than she did, so as to make a smoother, faster rounding and to avoid interference with her wind by being backwinded or blanketed by other boats ahead. Therefore S did not break rule 18.4.

Concerning rule 14, both boats broke the rule because there was contact and it was ‘reasonably possible’ for each of them to avoid it. P is therefore disqualified under rule 14 as well as rule 10. However, S cannot be penalized because she was the right-of-way boat when the contact occurred and there was no damage or injury (see rule 14(b)).

P’s appeal is dismissed. She was properly disqualified, and S did nothing for which she could be penalized.

USSA 1976/195

This case illustrates the principle that the right of way rules are not ‘switched off’ by rule 18, like many sailors seem to think. The right-of-way rules always apply! (with an exception in rule 19).
Rule 18 only adds or subtracts something from the room and space a right-of-way boat can take or has. If you imagen the total of rights a right of way boat has as a green block and the total of rights of the keep clear boat as a red block.

Now rule 18 comes into force, represented by a yellow block.

If the right of way boat gets that mark-room, very little really changes. All the things she could do with mark-room are already within the green block. She lost nothing, and she gained a little (exoneration for rule 15 and 16, if…)

However if the keep clear boat gets mark-room the yellow block switches to her side. Part of the rights previously with the ROW-boat now go to the keep clear boat.

PS: Case 76 has also been posted: (pillow)Case of the Week (37) - 76
I'll update the static page with link asap

Saturday 18 September 2010

FTBD (32), (33) and (34)

Flog the Blog Day times three - since I skipped in July and August.
(For those of you who are unfamiliar with this, FTBD is one day each month I invite you to criticize LTW and try to post something about anything other then the rules....)

First let me tell you something about what is happening in my life.
Because of the economical recession, the architectural company I work in, has not enough clients. Our order book is only half filled. That means I will be unemployed - if things do not change very soon - by the first of November. I'm already looking for other work - but without success, so far. (The whole construction business is in deep shit)

Because of this I'm also exploring other avenues - like perhaps starting my own business. I could use my expertise helping people who want to renovate their house. To encourage spending the government has lowered the VAT from 19% to 6% for renovations. Their might be a lot who want to use that opportunity... and I could maybe help them. Working from home, with little overhead, I might be able to do this. Anyway, I'm looking into that.

I also looking into making my blog earn some money. With advertisements, links and stuff like that. Up until now I've always avoided this and have rejected all who asked, but now I'm not sure if I'm missing an opportunity. If I do the latter, I could also make more time for judging and umpiring. And make some money with that too, perhaps.

But I need to reach a lot more sailors and change my posts to suit them, instead of (mostly) officials.

To kick that of, I would need something that puts me on the map. I need to write a helpful book or something .... What do you think, would sailors be interested in  "The E-book of Mark Roundings" or "Never loose another Protest"?
Anyway, just some ideas..

As to LTW - summer is almost over and the weather is cold and rainy again - so less events and a little more time (and motivation) to write. Please, keep sending in your suggestions, questions and observations.
I might make the three year mark after all - only two months to go.


Thursday 16 September 2010


Hyvä LTW-lukijat,

Tämä on ilmoittaa teille, että tästä lähtien kaikki viestit Katsokaa Windward on kirjoitettu minun uusi äidinkielellään.  Olen hyvin onnellinen Suomessa. Maaseutu on kaunista, kaikki tytöt ovat vaaleita ja siellä on paljon ja paljon purjehdus käynnissä.
Ainoa asia kaipaan puhuu muille ihmisille - koska tietoni suomalainen on hyvin, hyvin rajallinen ......

Scuttlebutt 3178

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Rulechanges in the 34th America's Cup?

Do the match racing rules need to be changed for the 34th America's Cup?
The editor of Scuttlebutt asked me this question some time ago and I've been thinking about it, on and off.

I've come up with the following analysis
by looking first at this question:
What are the big(ger) differences between 'conventional' mono hulls and these huge wingsail cats?
  • big acceleration
  • slow tacking - like any multi-hull
  • boats are very wide, with lots of water in between the hulls
  • overall speed
The acceleration issue comes into play, for instance, after a tack. One boat tacking to starboard while a Port boat is keeping clear by passing in front. But due to the acceleration of the Starboard boat, a few moments later Port cannot pass in front any more. Starboard has not changed course after she has completed her tack, so she does not have to give room under rule 16.1. Only rule 15 is applicable. Starboard becomes right of way boat after her tack and initially has to give the other boat room to keep clear. I do not think this warrants a rule change, but falls within the definition of room
The type of boat used and it's characteristics are part of the circumstances and therefore room under 15 must be more in these huge catamarans, then with mono hulls. Sailors need to be aware of it. Umpires need to consider this when asked to judge an issue where acceleration is a factor

Slow tacking then. Will that dictate a rule change?
Let me again illustrate with an example. A boat clear ahead rounds a leeward mark leaving it to starboard and sails four, five lengths upwind before tacking. While she's luffing the trailing boat arrives at the mark, rounds it and heads up. She's changing course around the mark and is now heading straight for the tacking boat. That boat - passed head to wind - is now keep clear boat either under 13 (tacking) or under rule 10 (Port Starboard), but cannot do anything until she's gained speed. 
Meanwhile the other (starboard) boat is sailing three, four lengths in a straight line toward her. A clear port / starboard issue, you say? No, it is not, in my opinion. 

Tuesday 14 September 2010

LTW Umpire Call (9)

A short one. In an umpired match race:

  • Blue leaves the box five seconds to soon and crosses the perpendicular (H)-line at minus 4’05”
  • She touches the pin-end mark at minus 4’03”
  • The preparatory signal is given exactly at minus 4’00”
  • By that time she’s no longer touching the mark.


You are the umpire in that match and you give:

  1. A green flag
  2. One blue flag
  3. Two blue flags
  4. A red and a blue flag
  5. Nothing

Right, you have 20 seconds to decide.
Give me your answer (and motivation) in comment…… please.

I’ll wait a bit before publishing the comments so everybody has a chance to make up his or her own mind.

Don’t forget to whistle!

Monday 13 September 2010

Catching up on Cases IV

Three new (pillow)Cases this time. If I do two next week, we will be on schedule again
As usual, click on the Week link to read the cases.

Case Rule Rules description Week link
Recalls: Individual Recall
Fair Sailing
Series Scores
77 12
On the Same Tack, Not Overlapped, Avoiding Contact
Touching a Mark
Keep Clear

(pillow)Case of the Week (37) – 76;

(This is an instalment in a series of blogposts about the ISAF Call book 2009-2012 with amendments for 2010. All calls are official interpretations by the ISAF committees on how the Racing Rules of Sailing should be used or interpreted. The calls are copied from the Call book, only the comments are written by me.)


Case 76

Rule 16.1, Changing Course
Rule 18.1(a), Mark-Room: When Rule 18 Applies
Rule 64.1(c), Decisions: Penalties and Exoneration

When a boat changes course she may break rule 16, even if
she is sailing her proper course.

Assumed Facts
S on starboard tack and P on port tack are on a leg from the leeward mark to the finishing line. S has overstood and bears away to clear the stern of the committee boat at the starboard end of the line. P can cross S clear ahead if S maintains that course, and P hails S to hold her course. After S passes the stern of the committee boat, her proper course is to luff to a close-hauled course. S luffs to a close-hauled course at which point there is less than a hull length between S and P. Both then luff to head to wind, and they manage to avoid contact by the narrowest of margins.

Case 76 pic_Pagina_001

What rules govern the relationship between the two boats?

Rule 18 does not apply because the boats are on opposite tacks on a beat to windward (see rule 18.1(a)). Therefore, S is not entitled to mark-room from P. P is subject to rule 10, which requires her to keep clear of S, but rule 16.1 prohibits S from changing course without giving P room to keep clear, even when S is sailing her proper course. In this situation when S luffs to a close-hauled course just after passing the stern of the committee boat, she does not give P room to keep clear and, therefore, breaks rule 16.1. P breaks rule 10, but is compelled to do so because S breaks rule 16.1.
Therefore, P is to be exonerated under rule 64.1(c).

USSA 1980/231


Who initiated the collision course?
That is what I tell sailors when asked about situations like this;

Which boat changed it’s course and created the situation?

If it was the keep clear boat, she in big trouble, she put herself in that position and should keep clear thereafter and if she does not, she breaks a rule of Part 2 section A.

But if it was the right-of-way boat who initiated the collision course, like in this case, she must give room to the keep clear boat to do just that. If the keep clear boat from the moment the collision-course was established, does everything (within a seaman like way) to keep clear, but can not, the r-o-w boat breaks rule 16.1 and then the keep clear boat is exonerated for breaking a rule in Part 2, section A.

If the keep clear boat does not respond, or does not enough or to little, she’s not exonerated and then she still breaks a right of way rule.


Saturday 11 September 2010

Cleaning up my inbox (a little)

Since the event I'm going to this afternoon (PC) does not need me until five, I have some time to answer mails and start cleaning up my inbox. First of all I need to apologies for not getting to it sooner.
In order to really make some headway I'll try to do more then one....

The first question is from Thorsten from Germany:

I have a short rules question i did not find anything about. Imagine the following:
Two boats on port tack and overlapped are sailing on a downwind leg, approaching the left layline. Rule 17 applies. When almost at the layline, the windward boat hails "room to tack". The leeward boat replies "you tack", gybes and protests. The windward boat does not tack. No penalty turns are taken.

Did the windward boat infringe rrs 20.1 and/or 20.3?

Best regards from Germany,

My answer is: The windward boat breaks rule 20.3. There's no reason for her to hail since safety does not require her to make a course change to avoid an obstruction. I also would investigate under rule 2.  I'm thinking about the issue in Case 47, where a boat deliberately hails starboard when she knows she's on port. If you deliberately hail for room to tack when there is now reason for it, that might also be unfair sailing.

Another one on rule 20, this one is from Ratko from Croatia:

Hi Jos,
Can you take a look at the following animation:

Click on the picture to see the animation

In this situation Blue boat is hailing for room to tack, but Green boat is refusing that with voice and hand signals. Does the rule 20.2 gives right to be exonerated for breaking the rule 10 against Yellow boat? :)
My opinion is that Blue boat have to be penalized for breaking the rule 10 and can not be exonerated for that, because of late decision for changing the course.


Well Ratko, you are partly right. Rule 20.2 does not exonerate anything else then the room she is entitled to under rule 20.1(b). And that room has to come from the Green boat. So, no she cannot be exonerated under rule 20.2 for breaking rule 10.
But because Green is not responding according to rule rule 20.1(b) she is breaking that rule and thereby forcing Blue to break a rule of Part Two against Yellow. That is a straightforward exoneration according to rule 64.1(c)! Blue should not be penalized, Green should be DSQ-ed

Max from 'don't know where', has a different problem:

I was hoping that you might be able to help me out?
I race a Laser. Every weekend there is one guy who always tacks right in front of me and then, usually, luffs violently. He isn't lee-bowing me. He is tacking just in front a little below me. I always alter course because he seems too close and I feel that I need to avoid a collision. The luff is thrown in because he is out of control (probably). I tell him that he needs to give me time to keep clear after his maneuver and that, anyway, I had to alter course to avoid a collision so he is wrong. He believes otherwise.
What do you think? Also how close do I have to be before I can alter course to avoid a collision.
Thanks for your help!

Max, mixing Rules 13, 14, 15 and 16 is tricky. 
Tacking in front of another boat is perfectly "legal" and within the rules, PROVIDED you give the boat clear astern room to keep clear, once you completed your tack. Now, if you have to alter course before he's on a close hauled course, he's breaking rule 13. If you have to alter course in a split second after he is on a close hauled course, he's breaking 15... 
You don't have to anticipate he's tacking and - depending on the circumstances, you are entitled to a couple of seconds after he completed, to respond. But you have to respond! You are the keep clear boat from the moment he has completed his tack.

Luffing violently - be it because you are out of control or because you want to - is breaking rule 16.1, if you do not give the keep clear boat room to keep clear. 

Altering course to avoid a collision is rule 14. Before that comes into play, a right of way rule usually already  has been broken. The closeness when you need to alter course depends on what rights you have at that moment:
  • If you are the right of way boat you only have to alter course when it is clear that the other boat is not keeping clear. In most circumstances that is pretty close.
  • If you are entitled to room under rule 15 the same applies save for the wording. You do not need to alter course before it is clear that the other boat is not giving room.
  • If you are keep clear boat you have no leeway, You must keep clear and avoid contact as soon as reasonably possible. A lot less close.
In all of this the definition of room plays a big part. Conditions dictate the closeness. In heavy wind and sea it will be a lot closer then in light conditions. You sail a Laser. Those can turn on a dime. So closer then when you do the same with 44 foot yachts, I would suggest.
Hope this helps a little,

I'll try to keep emptying my mailbox..

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