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TOPIC: Overlapping boats, same tack at the mark zone

Overlapping boats, same tack at the mark zone 6 months 1 week ago #158

  • Bill Brockbank
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Mo asked this question. Without a hearing (which might discover other facts) we'll explore the answer and some variants.
In all cases 2 boats W and L are overlapped on the same tack as they enter the zone at a windward mark which both hope to round without tacking.
Q1: Simplest case: L has luffing rights, and must luff (but not go beyond head to wind) to clear the mark.
A1: L already has the right to luff and can do so before, at and beyond the mark providing she complies with rule 16. RRS16 limits the speed and extent of any change of course by the right-of-way boat. Effectively L can act as if the mark wasn't there.
Insight: Rule 18 (Room at a mark) is there to provide sufficient rights for an inside boat to round the mark insofar as she didn't already have such rights.

Q2: L doesn't have what we loosely call luffing rights having established her overlap from behind W yet within 2 lengths abeam.
A2: If L's proper course (the course she would sail to finish ASAP if W wasn't there) includes luffing round the mark then W must keep clear. As L clears the mark her rule 18 rights expire. Not only must she stop luffing, she must bear away to her proper course to the next mark, even gybing if that is necessary.
The requirement to sail no higher than a proper course after the mark applies whether L needed to luff round the mark or not.

Q3: After luffing L finds she can't pinch round the mark
A3: Tough. If she did have luffing rights she has broken no rule but must find a way out without infringing against W or the mark. If she had no luffing rights she has already broken a rule whether W responded or not. In either case if she luffs beyond head to wind she is tacking and has no rights at all.

Q4: The mark is a starting mark, typically at the port end with boats approaching on starboard. What changes?
A4: Because there's no proper course before the start, L can luff W even if she gained the overlap from behind. Rule 18 doesn't apply at a starting mark. Effectively the zone doesn't exist either.

Q5: Do the same core principles apply at all marks?
A5: No. While most do the inside boat must generally gybe at a gybe mark. She can't carry on even if she has luffing rights.
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