Making a case for the racing rules

Published on September 7th, 2022

The Case Book for 2021-2024 follows a complete review of all the cases previously published and includes all new cases adopted by the World Sailing Council since 2017. Many cases have been rewritten, some only slightly but others extensively, to illustrate as clearly as possible the application of the 2021-2024 racing rules.

Case 147 is the most recent submission and includes:

• Rule 10, On Opposite Tacks
• Rule 16, Changing Course
• Rule 43.1(b), Exoneration

When a right-of-way boat changes course, her obligation to give a keep-clear boat room to keep clear under rule 16.1 begins. The right-of-way boat may give that room by making an additional change of course. If, while the right- of-way boat is making that additional change of course, the keep-clear boat unavoidably breaks a rule of Part 2 Section A, the keep-clear boat is exonerated by rule 43.1(b).

Facts and Protest Committee Decision:
The incident involved three J/105s sailing upwind, with one on starboard (S) and two on port (P1 and P2) that were not overlapped and a couple boat lengths apart. S first approached P1 and had to duck, with P1 accepting the penalty.

When S luffed after avoiding P1, she was on a collision course with P2. Due to the proximity of the boats, P2 was unable to keep clear of S either by tacking or by maintaining her course. S promptly bore away to avoid contact and hailed “Protest!” The protest committee disqualified P2 for breaking rule 10. P2 appealed.

Appeal Decision:
After ducking P1, S could continue to sail the course she was sailing with no need to take action to avoid P2; therefore P2 was keeping clear (see the definition Keep Clear). However, after S luffed, the boats were on collision courses, and P2 was unable to keep clear of S either by tacking or maintaining her course. S needed to change course to avoid contact with P2.

When S, the right-of-way boat, changed course after ducking P1, rule 16.1 required her to give P2 room to keep clear. By promptly bearing away and avoiding P2, S complied with her obligation to give P2 room.

Because S needed to change course to avoid P2, P2 broke rule 10. However, she is exonerated for that breach by rule 43.1(b) because she was sailing within the room to which she was entitled under rule 16.1. P2’s appeal is upheld and she is to be reinstated.

To see the case and diagrams, click here.

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