Overlaps Established Inside the Zone

Brush up on three common mark-rounding scenarios. Rules from our July/August 2011 issue.

I’ve been judging high-school regattas lately, and I’ve witnessed late overlap incidents in which the competitors did not apply the rules correctly. One rule in particular, Rule 18.3, seemed to be poorly understood. Here are two incidents that highlight some competitors’ incomplete knowledge of that rule.

In the first of these incidents (above), Joe and Julie were on starboard tack approaching a windward mark to be left to port. At Position 1, both were fetching the mark. Joe was clear ahead of Julie at the edge of the zone, but inside the zone the wind headed him and he could no longer fetch the mark. He tacked onto port and then almost immediately tacked again back onto starboard. As a result of these two down-speed tacks, Julie caught up and, after Joe’s second tack she became overlapped to leeward of him, between him and the mark. What happened next had me scratching my head. Just before Position 3, Joe warned Julie, “Don’t go in there.” Lucy tried to bear off to jibe around, but she had left it too late and as she bore off she hit the mark. She promptly took a Two-Turns Penalty.

Let’s apply the rules to this situation step by step. Until the boats were in Position 2, Joe had right of way as a clear ahead boat under Rule 12, and he also was entitled to mark-room from Julie under Rule 18.2(b)’s second sentence. Shortly afterwards, Joe passed head to wind during his first tack and at that moment Rule 18.2(b) ceased to apply (see Rule 18.2(c)). While Joe was on port, he and Julie were both approaching the mark on opposite tacks. When Joe changed tacks for the second time, Rule 13 applied in the zone while Julie was fetching the mark. At that moment, Rule 18.3(b) (see box) began to apply. It required Joe, the boat whose change of tack triggered Rule 18.3, to give Julie mark-room when she became overlapped inside him at Position 3. From Joe’s hail and Lucy’s spins, it was clear that neither of them understood how Rule 18.3(b) applied to their situation. Joe should’ve made his second tack far enough to windward of Lucy’s track such that, if she became overlapped inside him, he would have been able to give her mark-room. Lucy was fully within her rights to establish an inside overlap, and when she did so, she was entitled to mark-room from Joe. Joe’s hail was improper and it was he, not Julie, who should have taken a Two-Turns Penalty.


The second situation (below) involved Leo and Lena, who were approaching the windward mark on port tack. Leo was clear ahead when he reached the zone. He sailed a small distance past the layline and tacked onto starboard. A second or so later, Lena, seeing that Leo had overstood, tacked onto starboard into an inside overlap under Leo. Lena kept clear while she tacked and never caused Leo to sail above closehauled. Leo hailed to Lena that she had no right to room and he bore off at Position 3, forcing Lena to hit the mark to avoid him.

Here’s how the rules apply to Leo and Lena. Until Leo passed hear to wind, just before Position 2, he was a clear ahead boat with right of way under Rule 12 and, from the time he entered the zone until he passed head to wind, he was entitled to mark-room under Rule 18.2(b)’s second sentence. When Leo passed head to wind, Rule 18.2(b) ceased to apply (see Rule 18.2(c)), and then the boats were approaching the mark on opposite tacks. When Lena passed head to wind she became subject to Rule 13 in the zone, and at that moment Rule 18.3 began to apply. Lena completed her tack without causing Leo to take any avoiding action, and so she did not break Rule 13. After Lena was on a closehauled course, she became the right-of-way boat under Rule 11. Leo had plenty of room to keep clear and so Lena complied with Rule 15. Lena never caused Leo to sail above closehauled, nor did she prevent him from passing the mark on the required side. So she did not break Rule 18.3. Because Rule 18.3 applied, Rule 18.2(a) did not and, therefore, Lena was not entitled to mark-room. But Leo was required by Rule 11 to keep clear. By forcing Lena to bear off, Leo broke Rule 11 and, in so doing, he compelled Lena to break Rule 31 by touching the mark. Under Rule 64.1(c), Lena is exonerated for breaking Rule 31. The bottom line is that Leo should be disqualified for breaking Rule 11.

A third incident, shown in the last diagram (below), involved Beth and Carl, who were rounding a leeward mark to port. There was moderate current flowing in the same direction as the wind. At the zone, Beth was clear ahead of Carl. Due to the current, at Position 2 a gap opened between Beth and the mark. Carl, thinking he could sneak through that gap, established an inside overlap on Beth and immediately luffed sharply to closehauled. Beth hailed “You have no rights in there!” and she luffed almost to head to wind. At Position 3, when Beth luffed above closehauled, there was contact between the boats. The contact resulted in neither damage nor injury. Beth hailed “Protest” to Carl, and Carl took a Two-Turns Penalty.


Carl was clear astern when Beth entered the zone, and so he was required to keep clear of her (Rule 12) and to give her mark-room (Rule 18.2(b)’s second sentence). When Carl established an inside overlap on Beth, he become obligated by Rule 11 to keep clear of Beth, and he was still required to give her mark-room (Rule 18.2(c)). When Beth began to luff between Positions 2 and 3, she was “at the mark” and therefore entitled to room to sail her proper course. Her proper course was to luff to a closehauled course, but she luffed higher and, as a result, made contact with Carl. When Beth luffed above closehauled, she had right of way, but she was subject to two of the limitation rules in Section B. She was required under Rule 14 to avoid contact with Carl “if reasonably possible” and under Rule 16.1 to give Carl “room to keep clear.” Beth broke both these rules. She is not penalized for breaking Rule 14 (see Rule 14(b)), but she is disqualified for breaking Rule 16.1, because her rapid luff above closehauled while Carl was very close to the mark did not give Carl room to keep clear. Beth is not exonerated under Rule 18.5 for breaking Rule 16.1 because, when she continued to turn above closehauled, she was no longer “taking mark-room to which she was entitled.” Carl failed to keep clear as required by Rule 11, but he is exonerated under Rule 64.1(c) because Beth’s luff above closehauled, which broke Rule 16.1, compelled Carl to break Rule 11.


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