Rules Corner

Ask Jared Hickman your rules questions;  Jared is our lead reference in the Rules Corner to help us to sort out the occasional on-the-water rules questions or disputes.  First a bit about Jared and then questions and answers follow.

Jared is a certified US Sailing Judge, and a US Sailing Umpire-in-training.  He has been working as a Judge for 6 years and certified for 3.  Jared is on the CYC protest committee, and will be the Chief Judge for the Puget Sound events this summer (a position currently held by Charlie Macauley).  Jared is also a frequent crew member in the Seattle J24 fleet, so he recuses himself from any official Rules Committee or Judging for J 24 Fleet 26 events – However, he is an active participant with our voluntary arbitration program, and the primary reference for our new Rules Corner.

Jared’s recent activities include; Chief Judge at the Collegiate Dingy Championships in Austin Texas, Umpire at the college team race championships, and a Judge at the women’s event, Umpire at the High School team race districts and a Judge at the fleet race districts. And, last February Jared was in New Zealand as a member of the Umpire team for the Harken international youth championships.

Question 6/28/16

The scenario was as follows. There was a lineup of port tack boats trying to round the leeward mark. Seepaert was coming in, at the mark on starboard, found a little hole right at the mark, squeezed in and rounded. Bruce Sherman suggested that he may have gybed (1), from starboard to port in the three boat length circle and, since we did not have an overlap at the time, we had no starboard (1) or inside rights on him. Because there was some room at the mark, we may not have fouled him right there but we certainly prevented him from coming to a close hauled course when he was entitled to it (2). Bruce suggested that there were perhaps other boats that had gybed in the three boat length circle as well.

Comment 1. A boat on Starboard ALWAYS has right of way over a boat on Port. Nothing ever turns than off. However, there are restrictions on what a right of way boat may do. In this case rule 18.4 requires the Starboard tack, inside boat to gybe on her proper course.

Question 1. Does a boat lose ‘mark room’ rights when they gybe inside the ‘zone’ at a leeward mark rounding?

Answer 1: No, unlike tacking in the zone, a boat entitled to mark room may gybe. In fact unless at a gate mark rule 18.4 requires a boat to gybe to a mark if there proper course is to do so.

Comment 2: I do not know when this prevention of coming to closed hauled was, but if it was after the mark rounding the inside boat (Seepaert in this sceniorio) was now the give way boat and needed to keep clear. However, Seepaert was allowed mark room. So should have been allowed to sail to the mark, and round it. If the leeward boat tried to come up before Seepaert was clear of the mark then the leeward boat would not have been giving SeePaert the room they were due.

When approaching that mark on starboard, I had Mouse Trap, also on starboard to windward of me but we had an overlap on her (3). She gave us room to gybe around the mark and she gybed as we did. For all intent and purposes, she became a blocker for all the other boats that may have had mark rights on Seepaert. (4) I have no way of knowing whether Mouse Trap may have had overlap rights on those boats that would have gybed in the three boat length circle but, if that was not the case, would Seepaert be off the hook because we have a boat in between us and the boat that we may not have had rights on?

Comment 3. Seepaert was the leeward boat and thus had right of way, and mark room.

Comment 4. In this scenario I do not see how anyone had ‘mark room’ rights on Seepaert, Mouse Trap would also have either Startboard rights, or after gybing ‘mark room’ rights on everyone except Seepaert. If you look at the definition of Overlapped, in this scenario as everyone is sailing below 90 degrees from true wind, basically everyone up course and within 3 boat lengths of the starboard layline is overlapped with the port boat and thus owed mark room.

Now a second question. Let’s assume that all port tack boats in the lineup had gybed on port outside the three boat length circle. The conditions were calm and the boats were essentially all drifting with limited maneuvering ability. Seepaert comes in on starboard and has rights on everybody but there is no hole at the mark to take advantage of and the port tack lineup just does not have the ability to make room for Seepaert to gybe. I am now going in the opposite direction, away from the mark, looking for an opportunity to turn 180 degrees. In spite of the fact that Seepaert may have had rights on all of the port tack boats, are they all off the hook because, in the drifting conditions, they just did not have the ability to make room for us to gybe for the mark?

Answer: This all depends on when the starboard boat established rights. If, like you mention, those rights had been in place for a while then there is no excuse for the port boats to not keep clear of her. This is a rule 19 scenario as the Starboard boat is an obstruction to all the Port boats. It basically comes down to the outside most port boat. The first boat needed to get room from the second, the second from the third and so on to the outside boat. This obviously takes a lot of time to set up. That means the inside boat cannot gybe to Starboard and expect everyone to just get out of the way. What may have been plenty of room if just two boats were involved may not be nearly enough for three or more.


Question 8/12/12

Mark Prentice asks …As I became parallel to the committee boat another boat with speed below me tried to come in and push me up, I could not respond due to my speed and close proximity to the boat.  I’m not sure when that boat had an overlap but do know he came up fast and given my speed he must have established the overlap after I had an overlap with the committee boat.  The leeward boat made contact… Who is at fault?”

Jared’s response is:

Let me make this clear, the windward boat is ALWAYS required to keep clear of a leeward boat.

Rules 15, (acquiring right of way) rule 16, (changing course) and rule 17 (on the same tack; proper course) may restrict what the leeward boat is allowed to do.

In this scenario when the overlap was established is a huge factor as this would establish if or when the windward boat had an exit. In the rules, when at a start mark and until you pass it the preamble to Part 2, section C turn off rules 18, (mark-room) 19, (room to pass an obstruction) and 20 (room to tack at an obstruction).

If the leeward boat established the overlapped at a point in which the windward boat would have no other option but to hit the committee boat to keep clear than the leeward boat is restricted in what course changes she is allowed to make.

Question 8/2/12

Bill Taylor asks, “how fast can a leeward boat luff, and to what extent with the end result and intent being to tag the weather boat and impose a foul?  And is it different in an upwind versus downwind leg?”

Jared’s response is:

First off, it is never O.K. to “tag” a boat and create a foul. Rule 14 makes it a foul if you do not do all you can try and not hit another boat. To purposely hit another boat is a rule 2 violation. Right of Way boats are often in fact limited on what they are allowed to do and how aggressive they are allowed to be. Rule 15 and 16.1 prevent a right of way boat from creating a no win situation for the give way boat.  No matter the direction of sail, a windward boat is required to keep clear of a leeward boat. “One boat keeps clear of another if the other can sail her course with no need to take avoiding action and, when the boats are overlapped on the same tack, if the leeward boat can change course in BOTH directions without immediately making contact with the windward boat.”


Question 7/22/12

Richard Bustamonte asks, “Does room at the mark apply to the finish line?”

 Jared’s response is “Yes, with conditions”