October 2010 - Tacking Too Close - On The Course

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October 2010 - Tacking Too Close - On The Course

Before I start this month’s article I want to bring back a phrase from my last article. “The best sailors and the best sportsmen and sportswomen are those who help their competitors to learn not those who intimidate their competition.”  I can’t think of a better example of this than our recent Vice Commodore Fleet Fred Eaton. You hopefully are reading elsewhere in this issue about his recent win of the International C Class Catamaran Championship (often known as the Little America’s Cup) held in August in Newport. Fred and Magus Clarke and their entire support team put on an impressive display of sailing at the event, but just as impressive is the effort that Fred put into building the event and the class. He recognized that winning without competition is no fun so he arranged for one of his boats to be sailed by a frequent catamaran (Tornado, A Class and F18) world champion Glenn Ashby and America’s Cup skipper James Spithill and another to be sailed by Antoine Koch and the world speed record holder Jérémie Lagarrigue. 

I have been asked a few questions recently and I will use them as the basis for the next several articles.   I may try to answer some of them more quickly and more directly on the website. Go to http://www.rcyc.ca/Doc-Types/Know-Your-Rules.aspx.   You can send me questions at [email protected]. I don’t promise a quick answer but I will try to get to them all.

The first topic suggested by the questions is the subject of tacking too close at the weather mark. To discuss this, we first have to take away the mark and look at tacking too close.   The rules that first come into play are rule 13 and rule 15.
After a boat passes head to wind, she shall keep clear of other boats until she is on a close-hauled course. During that time rules 10, 11 and 12 do not apply. If two boats are subject to this rule at the same time, the one on the other’s port side or the one astern shall keep clear.

When a boat acquires right of way, she shall initially give the other boat room to keep clear, unless she acquires right of way because of the other boat’s actions.

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

In the first diagram the green boat on starboard is approaching the red boat on port. The red boat decides to tack right in front of the green boat. Rule 13 starts at position 3 when the red boat crosses head to wind. It ends when the red boat gets to a close course which in this diagram is at position 4. This was part of one of the questions I was asked recently. You will notice at position 4 red’s sail is still flapping. That does not matter. She is still on a close hauled course. This is probably the same angle off the wind she was sailing before she tacked. It is probably about the same course that green is sailing. It is the same course that she will sail after she brings in her sails. It is probably about 40 degrees off the true wind. 

In the diagram by position 4 green has already had to alter course to windward by position 4. This means that red broke rule 13. She “tacked to close”.

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

In the second diagram we have a very similar situation. This time blue is trying to tack in front of yellow. Blue is slightly further ahead. At position 4 when blue completes her tack and is on a close hauled course, yellow is directly astern of her and has not yet altered course. At this position rule 13 turns off. Blue becomes right of way as the boat clear ahead (rule 12). Yellow is going slight faster. At position 5 yellow has altered course to windward to avoid blue. According to rule 15 blue who acquired right of way at position 4 has to give yellow room to keep clear. Since yellow does keep clear, she is able to keep clear. As long as yellow doesn’t have to alter course until after blue is on a close hauled course and as long as yellow’s required alteration of course does not have to be unseamanlike (a crash tack for example) blue has not tacked too close.

© Copyright 2010 Andrew Alberti
Posted: 10/1/2010 2:36:18 PM by Andrew Alberti

Trackback URL: https://rcyc.ca/trackback/a345f9ba-f91a-43f9-b6e5-5f6d54a07881/October_2010_-_Tacking_Too_Close_-_On_The_Course.aspx?culture=en-US

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 [email protected].


166 Years of Tradition | World-Class Sailing | Toronto Island & City Clubhouse
After You Cross The Finishing Line I
Tacking III
Tacking II
Publication Changes and Tacking
How to Finish
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