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Rookie move: Barging at the start

Published on July 15th, 2020

Barging is the most common foul that happens on the starting line, yet there is no “anti-barging” rule in the Racing Rules of Sailing. Barging is when an inside windward boat takes mark room at a starting mark.

Why isn’t the boat entitled to room? That is clearly stated in the preamble to Part C of Section 2 of the rule book. It states:

“Section C rules do not apply at a starting mark surrounded by navigable water or at its anchor line from the time boats are approaching them to start until they have passed them.”

Therefore, rules 18 Mark Room and 19 Room to Pass an Obstruction, do not apply while approaching the starting line to start, the rule that does apply is that a windward boat must keep clear of a leeward boat.

This video shows a great example barging. Watch the Beneteau 36.7 (sail number 52464) set-up above the boats on the layline at the starboard end of the line. The Beneteau proceeded to barge…boldly!

Despite calls of protestation from the leeward boat, the windward boat barreled right around the mark. Foul, Foul, Foul! Having to do turns right after a start is never a game-winner, particularly in a light-air race like this. Getting tossed is even worse.

Now, let’s look at the leeward boat that was so flagrantly fouled. You’ll see that the boats further to leeward probably had left him a hole through which he could have sailed by bearing away from the barging boat. Instead, perhaps out of extreme caution or perhaps to reinforce the fact he was fouled, leeward boat turned sharply. So sharply that he lost a couple of boats.

A solid understanding of the rules can earn you several places in a regatta. Subscribe to the UK Sailmakers newsletter and Facebook page to learn from their rules quizzes, videos, and articles as they get published.

Source: UK Sailmakers

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