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TOPIC: A ‘what-if’ query

A ‘what-if’ query 7 months 5 days ago #138

  • Bill Brockbank
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Original case
Q. 2 boats are overlapped on starboard as they enter the 3 length zone at Mark 9 (to be left to port) in very shifty conditions.
It looks as if the L(leeward) boat must tack to get to the mark, the W(windward) boat might (but might not)
The leeward boat asks the windward boat if they intend to tack.
What rules apply, if any?

A. No rule requires the windward boat to respond either verbally or by altering course.
Such a casual conversation has no standing in the rules, only the words ‘Protest’, ‘Room’ (to tack, with ‘Water’ still widely used) and ‘You Tack’ do.
No rule is broken; no action required. But see version 5 below.

What-If #1
Q. Both boats are lifted, L can probably make the mark and W certainly can
A. W is outside boat at the mark and must allow L (who had an inside overlap entering the zone) inside room up to (but not beyond) L being head to wind. Rule 17 applies.
If L does go beyond head to wind she then breaks rule 13, even if she did so accidentally, e.g. because the wind flipped back. Providing W kept clear up to that point she broke no rule.

What-If #2
Q. L calls for Room to tack (for the mark)
A. W must respond (by tacking or shouting ‘you tack’) even though the call is later discovered to be spurious. Here’s why.
The rules are framed to avert collisions and L might be able to see an obstruction (e.g. a swimmer) which W can’t. Safety demands W allow L room to tack, protesting if the call was illegal.

What-If #3
Q. Neither boat can lay the mark and L calls for room to tack at the lay line
A. Rubbish! And quite a common misconception. Nevertheless W must respond (see #3 above) and protest if they wish

What-If #4
Q. The call from L is a bluff, and (cleverly, because they know their request is illegal) doesn’t use the word Room or Water. While there’s no need for W to respond they may well do so to avert a collision, or because they don’t know their rights. What rules apply?
A. Rule 69 (Gross Misconduct) or Rule 3 (Fair Sailing) might, although hearings are reluctant to convict in part because the penalty (which can be a ban) is so fierce and the admin so oppressive. In this country bluffing calls are still tolerated, in some parts of the game the US ban them with an escalating penalty which tops out at DSQ from the entire regatta.

What-If #5
Q. W thinks L might not know the rules, or attempt a bluff. What should W do?
A. Manage the situation before it develops. Make clear your (W’s) rights, and what you expect L to do or not do. If they infringe, ask them to do turns and protest if they don’t.
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