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TOPIC: Open Hearing No9

Open Hearing No9 1 year 6 months ago #125

  • Bill Brockbank
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Open Hearing No 9

An interesting case where the 2 sailors related similar versions which were actually different in the crucial aspect.
The Case
2 boats tacked to the windward mark, correctly obeying all rules. At the mark the boat then clear astern (B, for Behind) was required to give mark room to A (Ahead) under the second sentence of RRS 18.2(b). Initially, she did so but then, as the run started, gained a leeward overlap on A which led to 2 light collisions.

Let’s explore a common misunderstanding, key to this case
The rules try to avert collisions. If the leeward boat runs out of ‘wiggle room’ a rule has been broken, even if there’s no collision. See the Definitions. Most sailors count ‘from the bump’ when they should count ‘from when the rule first got broken’, ie always earlier.

Simplified a bit, if the overlap (and ‘same tack, too close’) had started after the boats cleared the mark (and rule 18, no longer required, is switched off), B is allowed to then sail a proper course (but not above) and A must keep clear. But A always sails low on the run! Tough; B decides the proper course. (See Definitions, B’s proper course is one B would sail in A’s absence)
There being no independent evidence the case was decided on the (strong) balance of probabilities.

B could not have achieved a half length overlap so close to the mark before rule 18 switched off. B became overlapped inside A while rule 18 still applied. RRS 18.2(c)(2) anticipates this, specifically flipping the proper course entitlement to A (now Windward) and the keep clear onus to B (now Leeward). So B was required to keep clear of A (and did not do so) even if A had sailed her traditional low course on a run. B agreed to retire.

Follow up questions.
Q. A didn’t protest B, can B be disqualified? A. Yes (As can a third party if they caused it, although this is rare)
Q. Is a protest committee of 1 valid? Yes, unless damage or injury is involved.
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