October 2014 - Tacking Close But Not Too Close

placeholder image

October 2014 - Tacking Close But Not Too Close

A question that I recently received from a reader suggested to me a topic for this month’s article. Readers may have heard that you are not allowed to tack “too close”. This leads to the question of what is too close. There is actually a full sequence of rules involved in the situation in the following diagram.

At position 1, Red and Green are on opposite tacks with Red on port tack required to keep clear of Green on starboard tack according to rule 10. This continues through positions 2 and 3.
When boats are on opposite tacks, a port-tack boat shall keep clear of a starboard-tack boat.

At position 4, Blue starts to luff – some might say in simple English that she has started to tack. Tacking however, is covered in rule 13 and the rule makes it clear that tacking doesn’t start until Red crosses head to wind. At position 4, Red is still a port-tack boat and must keep clear of Green on starboard. At position 5, though, Red has passed head to wind and is now a “tacking boat”; according to rule 13, she must keep clear of Green.

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, 11and 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.

At position 6, Red has reached a close-hauled course. The significant fact is Red’s close-hauled course , not whether she has pulled in her sheets – she might still have her sails luffing, but she is on a course to sail close-hauled. At this point, she is still clear ahead of Green. Red is much slower after her tack, though, so Green starts to catch up. Note though that once Red is on a close-hauled course, clear ahead on the same tack as Green, rule 12 now applies and Green, who is clear astern, must now keep clear of Red.
When boats are on the same tack and not overlapped, a boat clear astern shall keep clear of a boat clear ahead.
At position 7, Green realizes that she is going to collide with Red so she heads up and at position 8 has luffed to avoid her. The boats are now overlapped. Red is the leeward boat, so Green must keep clear of her, which she does.

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

The right-of-way between the two boats changed when Red reached a close-hauled course; she changed from being the tacking give-way boat (rule 13) to being the clear-ahead right-of-way boat (rule 12). Rule 15 says that when a boat gains right-of-way she must initially give the other boat room to keep clear. Green’s luff keeps her clear so it is obvious that she was given adequate opportunity.

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.

In the second diagram, Blue is not as far ahead. Blue starts luffing at position 4. She is tacking at position 5 and has completed her tack at position 6. This is a bit too late, as Yellow is already having to alter course to avoid her before she achieves a close-hauled course. Blue has broken either rule 13 or rule 15 here.

The key difference between the two situations is when the boat that is not tacking has to alter course. If that boat (Yellow or Green) has to alter course before she becomes the give-way boat then the other boat has tacked “too close”. If she only has to alter course after the tacking boat has got to a close-hauled course then the tacking boat tacked “close”, but not “too close”.

© Copyright 2014 Andrew Alberti
Posted: 10/1/2014 11:04:32 AM by Andrew Alberti

Trackback URL: https://rcyc.ca/trackback/d9d669e9-8f86-4719-8b4f-b99b41b2817f/October_2014_-_Tacking_Close_But_Not_Too_Close.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
Post Archive
May 2024(0)
May 2024(2)
March 2024(1)
February 2024(1)
May 2023(1)
September 2023(1)
September 2023(0)
May 2023(0)
January 2023(1)
April 2022(1)
December 2021(1)
October 2021(1)
August 2021(2)
March/April 2021(1)
January/February 2021(1)
December 2020(1)
November 2020(1)
September 2020(1)
July 2020(1)
June 2020(1)
May 2020(1)
March/April 2020(1)
January/February 2020(1)
November/December 2019(1)
September/October 2019(1)
July/August 2019(1)
May/June 2019(1)
March/April 2019(1)
January/February 2019(1)
November/December 2018(1)
September/October 2018(1)
July/August 2018(1)
May/June 2018(1)
March/April 2018(1)
January/February 2018(1)
November/December 2017(1)
October 2017(1)
September 2017(1)
August 2017(1)
July 2017(1)
June 2017(1)
May 2017(1)
April 2017(1)
March 2017(1)
January/February 2017(1)
December 2016(1)
November 2016(1)
October 2016(1)
September 2016(1)
August 2016(1)
July 2016(1)
June 2016(1)
May 2016(1)
April 2016(1)
March 2016(1)
January/February 2016(1)
December 2015(1)
November 2015(1)
October 2015(1)
September 2015(1)
August 2015(1)
July 2015(1)
June 2015(1)
May 2015(1)
April 2015(1)
March 2015(1)
January 2015(1)
December 2014(1)
November 2014(1)
October 2014(1)
September 2014(1)
August 2014(1)
July 2014(1)
June 2014(1)
May 2014(1)
April 2014(1)
March 2014(1)
January 2014(1)
December 2013(1)
November 2013(1)
October 2013(1)
September 2013(1)
August 2013(1)
July 2013(1)
June 2013(1)
May 2013(1)
April 2013(1)
March 2013(1)
January 2013(1)
December 2012(1)
November 2012(1)
October 2012(1)
September 2012(1)
August 2012(1)
July 2012(1)
June 2012(1)
May 2012(1)
April 2012(1)
March 2012(1)
February 2012(1)
January 2012(1)
December 2011(1)
November 2011(1)
October 2011(1)
September 2011(1)
August 2011(1)
July 2011(1)
June 2011(1)
May 2011(1)
April 2011(1)
March 2011(1)
February 2011(1)
January 2011(1)
November 2010(1)
October 2010(1)
September 2010(1)
August 2010(1)
July 2010(1)
June 2010(1)
May 2010(1)
April 2010(1)
March 2010(1)
February 2010(1)
January 2010(1)