June 2013 - Rules Changes V

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June 2013 - Rules Changes V

Last month we talked about rule 21, exoneration. This month I am going back to the changes in rule 18, the mark-room rule.

There is a change in 18.2e. I won’t cover it.  The situation that the change applies to is most likely only applicable to match or team racing. The change was made in the match racing rules a few years ago. The change this year just makes the rule consistent between match, team and fleet racing rules. 

18.2 Giving Mark-Room
(a) When boats are overlapped the outside boat shall give the inside boat mark-room, unless rule 18.2(b) applies.
(b) If boats are overlapped when the first of them reaches the zone, the outside boat at that moment shall thereafter give the inside boat mark-room. If a boat is clear ahead when she reaches the zone, the boat clear astern at that moment shall thereafter give her mark-room.
(e) If a boat obtained an inside overlap from clear astern or by tacking to windward of the other boat and, from the time the overlap began, the outside boat has been unable to give markroom, she is not required to give it.

18.3 Tacking When Approaching a Mark in the Zone
If two boats were approaching a mark on opposite tacks and one of the changes tack, and as a result is subject to rule 13 in the zone when the other is fetching the mark, If a boat in the zone passes head to wind and is then on the same tack as a boat that is fetching the mark, rule 18.2 does not thereafter apply between them. The boat that changed tack
(a) shall not cause the other boat to sail above close-hauled to avoid her contact or prevent the other boat from passing the mark on the required side, and
(b) shall give mark-room if the other boat becomes overlapped inside her.

A lot of words changed in rule 18.3 “Tacking in the Zone”.  The concept that it talks about, “Tacking in the Zone”, is fairly straightforward, but it is something the rulemakers have had trouble expressing,and there is no definition of “tacking” in the rule book.  It is generally considered that you are tacking when you change from close-hauled on one tack to close-hauled on the other tack, passing through head to wind.   If you do that within the zone, then this rule will apply.  The challenge is to consider other cases.  What if you were never on a close-hauled course?  What if you never get to a close-hauled course?  What if only some of your “tack” is in the zone? 

Let’s look at the diagram.

(click on the diagram to see a larger cleaner version)

Blue and Yellow are approaching the windward mark to be left to port.  Blue is clear ahead when she gets to the zone (position 1), so under rule 18.2, she is entitled to mark-room from Yellow. However, Blue is having trouble laying the mark, so she is sailing a little higher than a close-hauled course between position 1 and 3.  At position 4, she tries to head up to shoot the mark, but she crosses head to wind.  She crosses back at position 5 and ends up on a close-hauled course at position 6.  Did Blue tack?  I don’t really know and the rule book does not define it.  She didn’t go from close-hauled to close-hauled.  She was briefly (position 4) on port tack, so Blue and Yellow were on opposite tacks (part of the requirement in the 2008-2012 rules).  At or just after position 5, she crossed head to wind and ended up on the same tack as Yellow.  Yellow is fetching the mark. That meets the requirements of the new rule 18.3.  Blue now has to give mark-room to Yellow if Yellow establishes an overlap on the inside.  With all of this crossing head to wind, Blue is going very slowly.  Yellow is just about to get an overlap at position 6.  According to 18.3(b), Blue has to give Yellow mark-room.
In the diagram, it is clear that Blue passed head to wind between position 3 and 4 and then again somewhere between position 4 and 6, but in real life, this may not be so clear.  It is common for boats to attempt to “shoot the mark”, and when one does, the jib will luff and may even back slightly, but this does not mean that she actually crossed head to wind.  This is a critical point – if Blue had passed  head to wind, she would owe Yellow mark-room, but if she had not passed head to wind, there is no such requirement. If you are Blue, then, it is important that you can establish that you never passed head to wind.  On the other hand, if you are Yellow, it is important to establish that Blue did pass head to wind before you claim any rights – if you are not sure, it might be better not to take the mark-room.
There are a few other small changes in this rule. The words “if two boats” are deleted to make it clear that this rule might apply in cases that involve more than two boats. The words “between them” are added to make it clear that while rule 18.2 may stop between these two boats, it might still apply between other pairs of boats. 
© Copyright 2013 Andrew Alberti
Posted: 6/1/2013 2:25:48 PM 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.


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