Dave Perry Rules Quiz

Published on December 9th, 2014

Question
Boat A is approaching a port-hand windward mark in very light air, close-hauled on starboard tack. Because she is not quite making the mark, her helmsman puts the tiller to leeward but the boat does not turn enough to miss the mark. In order to turn faster, the helmsman returns the tiller approximately to amidships and forcefully pushes it to leeward several times, being careful to never let the tiller cross the boat’s centerline. She clears the mark by about two feet. Now above close-hauled and moving slowly, and to continue turning around the mark, the helmsman pulls the tiller to windward and returns it to approximately amidships several times forcefully in order to turn the boat back down to close-hauled. Boat B protests A for these actions. You are on the protest committee; how would you decide this?

Answer
Boat A is penalized for breaking rule 42.2(d), Propulsion: Prohibited Actions, which says that repeated movement of the helm that is forceful is sculling. The facts that her actions are necessary for steering and that she is not propelling the boat are immaterial. However, rule 42.3(d), Propulsion: Exceptions, permits a boat that is above close-hauled and stationary or moving slowly to scull to turn to a close-hauled course. Therefore Boat A breaks rule 42.2(d) when she is sculling to turn to windward to avoid the mark, but not while she is sculling to turn back down to a close-hauled course.

More
Dave enjoys discussing rules and tactics at all levels, and is a very entertaining speaker. If you would like to learn more about having Dave at your club or association this winter or spring, email him at davperry@optonline.net.

For more on the rules, get Dave Perry’s two books Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing through 2016 (which includes the complete rule book) and Dave Perry’s 100 Best Racing Rules Quizzes, available at US Sailing, 800 US SAIL-1, or www.ussailing.org.

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