January 2014 - Rules Changes X - Mark Room

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January 2014 - Rules Changes X - Mark Room

Last month I talked about one of the rule changes that led to a lot of discussion and some controversial interpretations.  This month I am going to talk about a change in different rule that has also led to a lot of discussion.

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.

Mark-Room is always the most difficult part of the rule book.  The number of different situations that can happen at marks continues to challenge the rule makers.  This month I am going to focus on the change from “room to sail her proper course while at the mark” to “room to round the mark as necessary to sail the course” in the definition of mark-room.  This change was introduced to avoid some confusion in situations where give-way boats entitled to mark-room (for example an inside windward boat at a leeward mark) were entitled to “room to sail to the mark” as they sailed to the mark and then suddenly room to sail their proper course when they were at the mark.

In the diagram at position 2, the Yellow boat might like to sail lower to sail “wide and close” around the mark, but she is the give-way boat and only entitled to room to sail to the mark.  At position 4, she is at the mark, so she can sail her proper course, but from there her proper course is just to head up to a close-hauled course.  At position 7, she is now the leeward right-of-way boat and she is above her proper course.  She is allowed to luff up like this but she must do it in a way which gives the Blue boat room to keep clear.  In the 2009-2012 rules, she is not longer given special exoneration by the mark-room rule since she has sailed above her proper course.  In the 2013-2013 rules she is not “sailing her course”, so again she is not given special exoneration.  The two versions of the rules have the same effect.

In the diagram, the Green boat is clear ahead at the zone.  She sails a little high getting to the mark and then at position 5, starts to bear off.  At position 6, she is on the course she would probably sail on starboard.  After that she gybes to sail on port.  When she gybes, she gybes right in front of the white boat.  She is altering course in a way which doesn’t give White room to keep clear so she breaks rule 16.  She also ends up on port tack, so is breaking rule 10. Under the 2009-2012 rules, it could be argued that she was still rounding the mark and that she was sailing her proper course and so she should be exonerated.  There has been a lot of discussion about this situation under the 2013-2016 rules.   The general conclusion is that at position 6, she was taking the “room to round the mark as necessary to sail the course” but that any further alteration down and into a gybe at position 7, was no longer the course necessary to sail the course. 

For any of you who are interested in the rules (and you must have some interest to have kept reading this far) there will be an introductory judges seminar at the Club on January 18th.  I will be helping Wendy Loat from Ontario Sailing teach the course.  Please consider registering.  Registration information can be found at http://www.rcyc.ca/Doc-Types/Winter-Sailing-Seminars.aspx.

© Copyright 2013 Andrew Alberti
Posted: 1/1/2014 10:30:16 AM by Andrew Alberti

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This page provides links to a set of articles original published in Kwasind magazine. The versions here include animated diagrams. The original articles can be found within the original magazines which are available online back to January 2007. 

Articles before December 2020 are based on the Racing Rules of Sailing 2009-12 or 2013-2016 or 2017-2020 and have not been updated to reflect the changes that apply as of January 2021 with the publication of the Racing Rules of Sailing 2021-24. A copy of the new rules can be found on sailing.org.
Andrew Alberti has been writing these monthly articles in the Kwasind since early 1997.  They explain the Racing Rules of Sailing. Andrew is an International Judge and National Umpire. He is a member of the Sail Canada Rules and Appeals Committees. The interpretation of the rules contained in the articles is Andrew's and not that of the RCYC or any of the committees he sits on. 

Send your questions to Andrew at kyrules@alberti.ca.


166 Years of Tradition | World-Class Sailing | Toronto Island & City Clubhouse
Penalties and Sportsmanship
Sailing Rules: Mark Room - When Can You Gybe?
Mark Room at a Gybe Mark
Penalties – When and How to Take Them
New Rule Changes III
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