Nuances of Giving Mark Room
Nuances of Giving Mark Room
A common scenario illustrates that, as boats approach a leeward mark, multiple rules come into play—even when it may seem as simple as giving room. "Rules" from our March 2012 issue.
Rule 14 applies at all times and, in particular, between Positions 4 and 5. It requires both boats to avoid contact “if reasonably possible.” However, because Beth was a right-of-way boat and Arnie was a boat entitled to mark-room during that time, both of them enjoyed the right conferred by Rule 14(a) to delay taking avoiding action. Under that rule, Beth was not required to act to avoid contact until it was clear that Arnie was not keeping clear, and Arnie was not required to act to avoid contact until it was clear that Beth was not giving him mark-room. Beth could argue that she did not break Rule 14, because it did not become clear that Arnie was not keeping clear until just before the contact, by which time it was no longer “reasonably possible” for her to avoid contact. However, it was clear well before the contact occurred that Beth was not giving Arnie mark-room. Therefore, it was “reasonably possible” for Arnie to avoid contact by bearing off between Positions 4 and 5; Arnie broke Rule 14 and Rule 10.
Should one boat or both boats be penalized? Should boats be exonerated? Arnie broke Rule 14 but, because he was the right-of-way boat when he broke it, and because there was no damage or injury, he is not penalized for breaking it (see Rule 14(b)). Arnie also broke Rule 10 when he failed to keep clear of Beth at Position 5. Rule 10 is a rule of Section A. Rule 18.5(a) exonerates Arnie for his breach of Rule 10. “Translating” Rule 18.5(a) for our incident, we get, “While Arnie is taking the mark-room to which he is entitled, he will be exonerated if, as a result of Beth’s failure to give him mark-room, he breaks Rule 10.” Hence, under Rule 18.5(a), Arnie is exonerated for breaking Rule 10 and, as a result, is not penalized. Decision: Arnie is not disqualified, even though he broke two rules.
Beth broke Rule 18.2(b), and she did not take a Two-Turns Penalty after the incident. Rule 18.5 only exonerates a boat entitled to mark-room and never a boat required to give mark-room, and so Beth cannot be exonerated under that rule. Is Beth exonerated under Rule 64.1(c), an exoneration rule that is frequently overlooked? Beth could easily have given Arnie mark-room by luffing across his stern just after Position 4. For this reason, Beth was not compelled by Arnie’s actions to break Rule 18.2(b). Therefore, she cannot be exonerated under the Rule 64.1(c). Decision: Beth is penalized by being disqualified for breaking Rule 18.2(b).
This analysis has illustrated the steps that a protest committee must follow to reach a decision under the Part 2 rules:
Find the facts—determine the tracks of the boats involved leading up to and during the incident. Determine if there were any hails or if any boats took penalties under Rule 44.
Determine whether any boats broke any rules and, if so, which ones they broke.
Determine whether any boat qualifies for exoneration under one of the exoneration rules, Rule 18.5, 20.2, or 64.1(c). Also determine whether Rule 14(b) applies to any boat.
Finally, apply Rule 64.1(a) to disqualify any boat, or boats, that broke a rule and did not take a penalty, qualify for exoneration, or escape penalization under Rule 14(b).
Thanks to Ralph Roberts for this idea.