Interrupted while taking a penalty

Published on May 25th, 2021

The Racing Rules of Sailing Questions and Answers are published on the World Sailing website as a joint responsibility of the Racing Rules Committee and the Race Officials Committee. This Q&A from the 2021-2024 rules concerns a boat which was interrupted while taking a penalty:

On a beat to windward, boat B is on port tack, well clear of other boats, and she bears away to take a penalty. Boat A tacks to starboard onto a collision course with boat B. Boat B luffs to keep clear of boat A and then gybes and promptly completes her penalty.

Question 1
Did any boat break a rule?

Answer 1
No. When a boat that is well clear of other boats starts to take a penalty, and the actions of another boat cause her to interrupt her penalty to comply with rule 21.2, she complies with rule 44.2 if she then promptly completes her penalty. Boat A is sailing her proper course at all times, therefore rule 23.2 does not apply to her.

Question 2
Would the answer be different if the race was umpired?

Answer 2

Disclaimer: Q&As reflect the opinion of experienced race officials; they are not authoritative interpretations of the rules. Q&As only address the specific question and not all of the factors a protest committee will need to consider in a hearing.

RRS reference:

Rule 21.1
A boat sailing towards the pre-start side of the starting line or one of its extensions after her starting signal to start or to comply with rule 30.1 shall keep clear of a boat not doing so until her hull is completely on the pre-start side.

Rule 21.2
A boat taking a penalty shall keep clear of one that is not.

Rule 23.2
If reasonably possible, a boat shall not interfere with a boat that is taking a penalty, sailing on another leg or subject to rule 21.1. However, after the starting signal this rule does not apply when the boat is sailing her proper course.

Rule 30.1 I Flag Rule
If flag I has been displayed, and any part of a boat’s hull is on the course side of the starting line or one of its extensions during the last minute before her starting signal, she shall sail across an extension so that her hull is completely on the pre-start side before she starts.

Rule 44.2 One-Turn and Two-Turns Penalties

After getting well clear of other boats as soon after the incident as possible, a boat takes a One-Turn or Two-Turns Penalty by promptly making the required number of turns in the same direction, each turn including one tack and one gybe. When a boat takes the penalty at or near the finishing line, her hull shall be completely on the course side of the line before she finishes.

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