March/April 2020 - A Three-Boat Finish

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March/April 2020 - A Three-Boat Finish

Before I start, I want to offer my congratulations to Tom Clarke, son of Robin and the late Nicki Clarke and brother of Kirsty, Magnus and Zoe, who are all, I think, still members of the club. Tom was also my skipper for two years in the racing division of the RCYC Junior Club. Tom now lives in Bermuda, where he is a member of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. At the World Sailing meeting in November, he was certified as an International Race Officer (IRO). To put it in perspective, Canada administers four levels of race officers, Assistant, Club, Regional and National. International is the level above that. There are 212 in the world, 6 in Canada, and Tom is the only one in Bermuda. This is quite an accomplishment and we should all be proud of him. 

This month, I would like to talk about a real-life situation that took place in the quarter-final race of the Star Sailors League Finals in December 2019. If you want to watch it, go to and advance to 2 hrs and 30 minutes.

The diagram is a little compressed from the real-life situation, but I think that it illustrates the rules situation. In the diagram, Blue (Paul Cayard) is sailing slightly ahead and to windward of Green (Henrique Haddad), both on starboard tack. Further to leeward is White (Oskari Muhonen), also on starboard. Four other boats have already finished and only the top five advance to the semi-finals, so these three boats are racing for the final spot. Blue gybes onto port at position 2, and now must keep clear of Green (rule 10). Green also gybes onto port at position 3, and now must keep clear of Blue (rule 11). Since the overlap was not established from clear astern, Blue is not limited to her proper course (rule 17), so she can luff Green. Just after position 3, Blue and Green enter the zone around the finish boat. Blue is entitled to mark-room from Green (rule 18.2b) but is still entitled to luff her. White is still on starboard tack, so has right-of-way over Green and Blue (rule 10), but White must give mark-room to both Blue and Green (rule 18.2b). White has to give the two boats room to leave the mark on the required side (definition of Mark-Room). White does not have to let Blue continue to sail her higher course. Green squeezes through ahead of Blue and White, and claims the final place in the semi-finals. 

I used this situation to illustrate how multiple rules come together on the course.  The sailors have to consider, not only what rule applies at the time, but what rules will apply going forward, and particularly at the finish line.  The Brazilian (Green), knew that the  Finn (White) was there, and that this would require and therefore give him the opportunity to bear away and stay ahead of the American (Blue). These were star sailors (in both senses of the word). 

While you have the video open, you may want to see the finish of the final race at 5 hours and 20 minutes. It is very close. Keep in mind that the finishing line is from the blue flag, not in line with the camera. I won’t spoil it by telling you who actually won.

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.

When boats are on opposite tacks, a port-tack boat shall keep clear of a starboard-tack boat.

When boats are on the same tack and overlapped, a windward boat shall keep clear of a leeward boat.

If a boat clear astern becomes overlapped within two of her hull lengths to leeward of a boat on the same tack, she shall not sail above her proper course while they remain on the same tack and overlapped within that distance, unless in doing so she promptly sails astern of the other boat. This rule does not apply if the overlap begins while the windward boat is required by rule 13 to keep clear.

18.2    Giving Mark-Room
 (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.



Posted: 5/19/2020 1:15:54 PM by Andrew Alberti | with 0 comments

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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 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
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


166 Years of Tradition | World-Class Sailing | Toronto Island & City Clubhouse
December 2020 - Proper Course – an over-used term
November 2020 - Further down the line at the start
September 2020 - Back to the Usual Start
July 2020 - An Unusual Start II
June 2020 - An Unusual Start
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