Starts Near Shore and Slam Dunks
Starts Near Shore and Slam Dunks
A few Part 2 rules almost never apply, but when they do, they can be important. "Rules" from our October 2011 issue.
The Preamble to Section C tremendously simplifies the rules at most starts by “switching off” all Section C rules at a starting mark when the mark is surrounded by navigable water and you are on your final approach to the line to start. What happens in those rare circumstances when one end of the starting line is on shore or on the end of a pier?
In US Appeal 71, the starting line is between a flagpole on a seawall and a mark set offshore. Art and Bev, sailing agile keelboats, are beam reaching below the line toward the seawall. As shown in the diagram above, Art was clear ahead when he reached a point three lengths from the seawall. He luffed to a closehauled course, and that put him on a collision course with Bev. There were two ways that Bev could respond to avoid a collision—by luffing or by bearing away. She thought that if she luffed she might cross the line too soon, so she bore away. She miscalculated and her bow hit Art’s starboard side near the stern causing damage. Both boats protested—Art under the second sentence of Rule 18.2(b) for Bev’s failure to give him mark-room, and Bev under Rule 16.1 claiming that Art failed to give her room to keep clear when he luffed.
The appeals committee’s decision may surprise you. First, they pointed out that the seawall at the inshore end of the line was both a mark and a continuing obstruction. Citing Rule 18.1(d), they pointed out that Rule 19.2(b) and not Rule 18 applied to the boats at the seawall. Moreover, Rule 19.2(b) did not begin to apply until the boats were overlapped and “at” the seawall.
Art had right of way over Bev at all times, first as a clear ahead boat under Rule 12, and later as a leeward boat under Rule 11. When Art luffed, he was required by Rule 16.1 to give Bev room to keep clear. Both boats were required by Rule 14 to avoid contact if reasonably possible, but Art, as the right-of-way boat, was not obligated “to act to avoid contact” until it became clear that Bev was not keeping clear (see Rule 14(a)). Rule 15 did not apply when the boats became overlapped because Art had right of way at all times and, therefore, did not acquire right of way when the overlap began.
It’s obvious from the diagram that, when Art luffed, Bev could’ve easily kept clear had she also luffed. Therefore, Art did not break Rule 16.1 because when he changed his course he gave Bev room to keep clear. Bev broke Rule 11 because she failed to keep clear of Art. Bev also broke Rule 14 because it would have been easy for her to luff and avoid contact. Art did not break Rule 14 because it did not become obvious that Bev was not keeping clear until just before the contact, at which point it was not “reasonably possible” for Art to have avoided contact. The fact that Art’s protest did not mention the rule that Bev was found to have broken was irrelevant (see Rule 64.1(a), last sentence), and Bev was disqualified.
If Bev had luffed at Position 2 and kept clear of Art, she would later have been required by Rule 19.2(b) to give Art room as the boats passed close to the seawall.
If the inshore starting mark had been the end of a long pier extending out from the seawall, then that mark would not have been a continuing obstruction (see ISAF Case 33), and Art’s contention that Rule 18.2(b) applied would have been correct. In that circumstance Bev would have been disqualified, but the reasoning would’ve been different. Bev still would’ve broken Rule 11, and Bev, but not Art, still would’ve broken Rule 14. However, Bev would also have broken Rule 18.2(b)’s second sentence. Finally, if Bev had luffed at Position 2 and kept clear of Art, she would have been required by Rule 18.2(b) to give Art mark-room while they were sailing to and at the seawall.