Room at the Finish

Last month we were talking about starting lines. This month I would like to talk about finishing lines. I am sometimes asked, “Is there mark-room at the finishing line?” The answer is fairly simple. Yes, there is mark-room at the finishing marks. No, there is no mark-room for the line itself. 

I think the reason that some people are confused is that there is no mark-room at a starting mark, so people assume that this applies at the finish as well. It doesn’t. Mark-room is covered in rule 18. Rule 18 is part of Section C of Part 2 of the Racing Rules Of Sailing. The preamble to Section C says that the Section C rules, “…do not apply at a starting mark surrounded by navigable water… from the time boats are approaching them to start until they have passed them.” There is no similar exclusion for finishing marks, so rule 18 does apply. The first part of rule 18 says that it applies between boats when required to leave a mark on the same side. Both ends of the finishing line are marks, so rule 18 applies at either end. 




In the diagram, we see Blue and Yellow, and Red and Green fighting separate battles as they approach the finishing line, Looking first at Blue and Yellow, Yellow is on starboard tack and Blue is on port tack. At position 1, they are still outside the zone of the committee boat (a finishing mark). Blue has to gybe to starboard tack to keep clear of Yellow. At position 2, Blue is the windward boat so she has to keep clear of Yellow. Just after position 2, they enter the zone overlapped. Yellow is now required to give mark-room to Blue. Mark-room includes room to sail to the mark and then a proper course round (or past) it. Although bearing off will take Yellow onto a lower course than she would like, she must do so at position 4 to give Blue the required room..

Red and Green start off in a very similar situation to Blue and Yellow, but here we see the effect of having zones around the marks that define the line, and the absence of a zone beyond their three-boatlength circles. At position 1, Red is on port tack approaching Green on starboard tack. At positon 2, Red has gybed; being the windward boat, she still has to keep clear, and she’ll carry this obligation to the end. As both boats are well outside the zone, Green does not have to give Red mark-room. Green luffs Red so that she can try to finish ahead of Red. At position 6, Red does get into the zone and since she is overlapped with Green, she is now entitled to mark-room  but it doesn’t help her get what she really wanted, a finish ahead of Green. 

At positon 2, Red has gybed; being the windward boat, she still has to keep clear, and she’ll carry this obligation to the end. As both boats are well outside the zone, Green does not have to give Red mark-room. Green luffs Red so that she can try to finish ahead of Red. At position 6, Red does get into the zone and since she is overlapped with Green, she is now entitled to mark-room  but it doesn’t help her get what she really wanted, a finish ahead of Green. 

 
Mark An object the sailing instructions require a boat to leave on a specified side, and a race committee boat surrounded by navigable water from which the starting or finishing line extends. An anchor line or an object attached accidentally to a mark is not part of it.

Mark-Room Room for a boat to leave a mark on the required side. Also,
(a) room to sail to the mark when her proper course is to sail close to it, and
(b) room to round the mark as necessary to sail the course.
However, mark-room for a boat does not include room to tack unless she is overlapped inside and to windward of the boat required to give mark-room and she would be fetching the mark after her tack.

SECTION C
AT MARKS AND OBSTRUCTIONS
Section C rules do not apply at a starting mark surrounded by navigable water or at its anchor line from the time boats are approaching them to start until they have passed them.
18 MARK-ROOM
18.1 When Rule 18 Applies
Rule 18 applies between boats when they are required to leave a mark on the same side and at least one of them is in the zone…..


© Copyright 2016 Andrew Alberti