Tricky Mark-Room Situations
Tricky Mark-Room Situations
Writing a fair and simple set of rules to get a fleet around the marks is undoubtedly the most challenging task that the writers of rules face. Take a look at these two situations. "Rules" from our June 2011 issue.
The second question involved an incident between Barb and Cliff shown in the second diagram below. The committee boat was the starting mark at the starboard end of the starting line. Between the preparatory signal and the starting signal both boats were sailing toward the committee boat’s stern. They were overlapped on starboard tack, with Barb being the windward boat and Cliff the leeward boat. Barb hailed Cliff for room to pass between him and the stern of the committee boat. Cliff replied “No room!” and Barb luffed sharply, successfully avoiding both the committee boat and Cliff. Barb protested Cliff for failing to give her room.
We do not yet have enough facts to decide this protest. We need one more critical fact. At positions 1 and 2 both Cliff and Barb are approaching a starting mark surrounded by navigable water. We need to know whether Cliff and Barb were on their approach to the committee boat to start or not. The application of the rules to this incident depends dramatically on whether the boats were, or were not, on their final approach to start.
The preamble to the rules of Section C states, “Section C rules do not apply at a starting mark surrounded by navigable water . . . from the time boats are approaching [it] to start until they have passed [it].” If the boats are on their final approach to start, then Rules 18 and 19 do not apply, and we need only apply the right-of-way rules in Section A. The Section A rule that applies is Rule 11, which requires Barb to keep clear of Cliff, and she did so. So, if the boats are on their final approach to start, neither boat breaks a rule.
Now let’s assume the incident occurs just afer the preparatory signal when there are still almost 4 minutes to go before the starting signal, and that both boats intend to jibe or tack and sail away from the line one more time before turning back toward it to make their final approach to start.
If the boats are not on their final approach, Barb is not entitled to markroom under Rule 18. Rule 18 applies between boats only “when they are required to leave a mark on the same side and at least one of them is in the zone.” Rule 28.2 tells us that a boat is not required to leave a starting mark on the required side until she is “approaching the starting line from its pre-start side to start.” Therefore, the boats were not required to leave the committee boat to starboard at the time of the incident and so Rule 18 did not apply between them.
What about Rule 19? The committee boat certainly was large enough to be an obstruction (see the definition Obstruction). The obstruction was a mark, but it was not a mark that Cliff and Barb were required to leave on the same side. Therefore, Rule 19 applied (see Rule 19.1). Cliff had chosen to leave the obstruction to starboard and Barb was overlapped with him and sailing to pass between him and the obstruction. Therefore, Cliff was required by Rule 19.2(b) to give Barb “room between [him] and the obstruction.” Nothing prevented Cliff from giving Barb room, and so Cliff broke Rule 19.2(b) and should be disqualified.
How can competitors or protest committees decide when boats are on their final approach to start? There is no case or appeal that answers this question, but in my experience it’s always been obvious when boats are on the final approach, and I have never heard of a protest in which there was any dispute over whether the boats were on the final approach.