June 2017 - The 2017-2020 Racing Rules Of Sailing V

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June 2017 - The 2017-2020 Racing Rules Of Sailing V

This month, we continue our review of the changes in the latest rule book, 2017-2020. In honour of the Optimist North American Championships, scheduled for the end of this month, I am going to cover a situation that is much more likely in Optimists and other small boats on crowded starting lines than it is on keelboats. 

In the diagram, we have two pairs of boats. Let’s start with the Red and Green boats. At position 1, Green is clear ahead of Red. According to rule 12, Red has to keep clear of Green. Green is early for the start and over the line before the start signal. Green pushes out her boom and backs up. By itself, this is quite legal. However when she does so, she runs into Red. Green is moving astern by backing a sail, so according to rule 22.3, she has to keep clear of Red. This has not changed with the new book.
When boats are on the same tack and not overlapped, a boat clear astern shall keep clear of a boat clear ahead.

22.3    A boat moving astern, or sideways to windward, through the water by backing a sail shall keep clear of one that is not. 

The Yellow boat is trying to maintain a position close to the signal boat, but she has started to drift down the line. Yellow backs her sail and puts her tiller to starboard, which makes her go sideways to windward. At the same time, Blue sees the gap between Yellow and the signal boat that Yellow is trying to fill and sails in. In the old rule book, rule 11 was the only relevant rule and as Blue is the windward boat, she would have to keep clear of Yellow. In the new book the words, “or sideways to windward”, were added to rule 22.3 and Yellow has to keep clear of Blue. 

In both cases we have seen a conflict between rule 22.3 and a rule of Section A (rule 11 & 12). The preamble to Section D says that when rule 22 applies, the Section A rules do not, so Green and Yellow have to keep clear of Red and Blue.

The starting line in the diagram in pretty short. The starting lines for the North Americans will be much longer and have many more boats. The situations may well show up somewhere in the crowd on the line. The other thing that you are likely to see is boats quickly flipping over to port tack. When they are on port, they have to keep clear of any boats on starboard, so they have to be careful when they choose to tack.

© Copyright 2017 Andrew Alberti
Posted: 6/1/2017 2:16:28 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 on line back to January 2007. 

Articles before December 2016 are based on the Racing Rules of Sailing 2009-12 or 2013-2016 and have not been updated to reflect the changes that apply as of January 2017 with the publication of the Racing Rules of Sailing 2017-20.  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 a National 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
March 2015 - Three Boats At The Weather Mark
June 2017 - The 2017-2020 Racing Rules Of Sailing V
May 2017 - The 2017 - 2020 Racing Rules Of Sailing IV
April 2017 - The 2017 - 2020 Racing Rules Of Sailing III
March 2017 - The 2017 - 2020 Racing Rules Of Sailing II