Sunday, November 30, 2008

Both Leeward and Both Starboard

Here is a question about the Racing Rules that has been bugging me since it happened to me in a regatta over a year ago.

Here is the situation...


Boat 1 (Blue) is a Laser on starboard tack sailing by the lee.

Boat 2 (Red) is a Laser on starboard tack in the same race who has already rounded the leeward mark and is sailing close-hauled.

Neither boat changes course.

The two boats make contact when the end of the boom of the Blue boat brushes the sail of the Red boat.

Applicable Definitions and Rules

When boats are on the same tack and overlapped, a windward boat shall keep clear of a leeward boat.

Tack, Starboard or Port A boat is on the tack, starboard or port, corresponding to her windward side.

Leeward and Windward A boat’s leeward side is the side that is or, when she is head to wind, was away from the wind. However, when sailing by the lee or directly downwind, her leeward side is the side on which her mainsail lies. The other side is her windward side. When two boats on the same tack overlap, the one on the leeward side of the other is the leeward boat. The other is the windward boat.

OK. Here is why I am mystified by this one.

The Blue boat is sailing by the lee and so her leeward side is the side on which her mainsail lies, the port side. Therefore she is on starboard tack.

The Red boat's port side is her leeward side because it the side away from the wind. Therefore she is also on starboard tack.

(Note: the previous paragraph has been corrected from the first version of this post. In the original the fourth word of the first sentence was "starboard" which is clearly wrong. But it doesn't affect the sense of the rest of the post.)

Clearly the boats are overlapped so Rule 11 applies.

But which boat is windward and which is leeward?

Both boats could claim that they were the leeward boat because contact was made with the the leeward side of the other boat. On the other hand both boats would also have to concede that the other boat is on their own leeward side.

So have both boats infringed Rule 11? Or neither? Or if only one has, why?

This situation is a bit similar to the one posed by Jos Spijkerman on his blog, Who Has to Keep Clear? My example may also be the answer to the question posed by John Doerr in Scuttlebutt Newsletter 2733 last week, "Of interest to some will be the situation where both boats are leeward and on starboard. Now neither of them has any obligation to keep clear (but they must avoid contact). Can you construct that situation?"

Update: In the example above the two boats make contact with their leeward sides. A similar situation could be imagined where it is the windward sides of both boats that make contact. See Bigger Crunch. Same issue. Both boats could legitimately claim that they were the leeward boat and protest the other under Rule 11. Is the other example fundamentally different in any way?


Mal Kiely [Lancelots Pram] said...

The red boat to windward would keep clear, in my opinion... altho I can't right now give you a definitive reason why that should be so! Rule 11 to me... red boat is the windward boat, and has already passed you (as such)? Hope you get some more sane answers to this one.
Mal :)

Anonymous said...

1. Please don't assume which boat is me. I deliberately didn't reveal that fact.

2. Read the definitions of windward and leeward again. It's not just about the wind direction. The point of the example is that each boat is actually to leeward of the other at the point of contact.

3. If you are right that the red boat should keep clear, at what point is she obliged to start keeping clear?

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that both boats would be obligated to keep clear (and both are definitely required to avoid contact).

The rules don't cancel each other out (unless specifically stated), rather they would be cumulative, which means that you can have the same or different rules applying to more than one boat and therefore both boats can have an obligation to keep clear.

It is of course a tricky one on the water, and the situation will more likely come down to who is more forceful (or shouts loudest)...

Cheers, Tim

Anonymous said...

Hi, surely the Blue would be required to keep clear as it is the most windward boat. This would be Blue’s duty until passed. The same as overlapped boats on a start line- the windward must go up when called?

Anonymous said...

Rob, I have some sympathy with that position. A starboard boat on a beat can usually assume that any boat it may meet who is on a run must keep clear, either because the other boat is on port, or because the other boat is to windward.

But in position 2 (and for some time before that point) it is not at all clear to me that Blue is the most windward boat. Red is clearly on the leeward side of Blue (as leeward is defined in the Definitions for a boat sailing by the lee), but Blue is also on the leeward side of Red (according to the definition of leeward for Red).

Jolea said...

windwardstarbordportdownwindsnorkel!!! Danger will robinson information overload!!!!

merrifie said...

I think as the 'give way' boat at position 1 blue failed to keep clear of red. Red is the leeward, 'stand on' boat relative to blue at that time.

Anonymous said...

I would be surprised to hear anyone debate that in position 1, the blue boat is a windward boat (sailing downwind), and the red boat is a leeward boat. In fact, I do not see how you can argue otherwise until the blue boat's boom passes the red boat's mast.

So, I think the blue boat violated the rules. If the red boat's sail touched the blue boat's boom, that means that the blue boat was simply too close to the red boat as they approached eachother and did not give her opportunity to keep clear when the transition of rights occurred. (Assuming there even was a transition of rights... which is the true debate)

Tillerman said...

Derek, I agree that Blue is the windward boat in position 1. My own way of looking at this is to draw an extension of the centerline through Red. At position 1, Blue is on the windward side of this line (using the definition of windward that applies to the Red boat).

But when does a change in the obligations to keep clear happen (if ever)? From the point that Blue's bow crosses that line through Red, you could argue that Blue is neither totally to windward nor totally to leeward of Red. And then when Blue's boat completely clears that line through Red, it would seem that Blue (at least from one perspective) is now to leeward of Red.

Shopping City Chaplaincy said...

I think to start with Blue has an obligation to keep clear but clearly she 'cuts it fine' and the collision occurs perhaps when she has gained the 'right of way'.

However red does not need to start to take avoiding action until the obligation to keep clear has passed from blue to red and even then Blue has to give sufficient time for Red to take avoiding action.

Clearly even if Blue has right of way at the time of the collision she has still violated the rules. Blue is in the wrong whatever way you want to look at it.

Anonymous said...

Rule 22.2 Interfering with Another Boat
“A boat shall not change course if her only purpose is to interfere with a boat making a
penalty turn or one on another leg or lap of the course.” This adds to the previous rule to
include a boat on another leg or lap as well as one taking a penalty. Note that it does limit
when the only purpose is to interfere. If some other, legitimate purpose could be
established then such a course change could, presumably, be permissible.

Hmmm...since this doesn't apply, and neither boat changed course, and slight alteration of sails by either party would have avoided contact...I'd toss both of you for not avoiding contact!

Anonymous...the other white meat.

PeconicPuffin said...

(from the unsalted peanut gallery) Isn't the upwind/downwind distinction meant to burden the boat that's in a better situation to take evasive action? The red boat looks like it's practically in irons to me...I'd have blue give way.

I should note that I was in two collisions last year on was definitely my fault. Maybe I'll just shut up and read...try to learn me something.

Tillerman said...

Tim, I think you are right if Blue gained right of way without giving Red time to keep clear as she is obliged to do under Rule 15. But the anomaly in the rules here, as I see it, is that contact happened between the leeward sides of both boats so I'm not sure which boat is the right of way boat under Rule 11 at the time of contact.

Anonymous - thank you for pointing out that Rule 22.2 doesn't apply here. Very helpful, I'm sure. Then you say you would toss us both for not avoiding contact. Under what rule, may I ask? It is true that under Rule 14 boats are obliged to avoid contact, but under this rule the right of way boat cannot be penalized unless there is damage or injury. There was no damage or injury in this case so you cannot toss the right of way boat. Which brings us back to the original question, are both boats right of way boats? Or neither?

Peconic Puffin, the red boat is not in irons. It is sailing a close-hauled course at 45 degrees to the wind direction. And your first comment about "upwind/ downwind" and a boat in a "better situation" is an extreme simplification of the rules that would never be a useful argument in a protest hearing. We have to look at what the actual wording of the rules and definitions is and then apply those to the facts of the situation.

JP said...

Very interesting puzzle - would like to hear the protest room decision on this one.

The figure implies they have always been on those courses but there would be a time when they were on different tacks and courses, and then it might be argued that rule 15 could imply that which ever settled on the current course last had an obligation to keep clear of the other?

Tillerman said...

That's an interesting way to apply Rule 15 JP. Never heard that one before.

Oh, and you should eventually get a "protest room decision" as I have requested an opinions from a certain International Judge who writes a well-known sailing rules blog and he has promised to consider the case and render his judgment.

PeconicPuffin said...

I'll crawl back to the gallery and peep not.

merrifie said...

Sounds like there's agreement that blue is 'give way' boat at position 1. I don't think that changes until blue has fulfilled the obligation to keep clear of red. Clearly, that didn't happen.

Anonymous said...

I like the analysis of the first Tim (the one without the boat photo). Blue needs to keep clear until the last second, then both need to keep clear, neither one having right of way.

Can I suggest (because I want to playfully pick on our host) that we "toss both out" under rule 11? We'd have to establish that red had a chance to keep clear during that final second. It's fuzzy to me exactly when Red's responsibility began; so it will be interesting if the International Judge comments.

Anonymous said...

Just being a bugger...

I had the the $145,000 spent by US Sailing on the Hall-Rios Arbitration in the back of my head.

I bet that if this was brought to a local RC, they would either do this, or disregard the protest on the grounds that the protesting party didn't avoid contact either.


Amando Estela said...

For me it is obvious that the boat sailing downwind has to keep clear.

Why? He is all the time windward and if, by any reason, he acquires Right-of-way a moment before the collision the R15 kicks in.

O Docker said...

And through it all, the blue boat was blogging about how he hates Sea Lawyers.

Anonymous said...

The boat sailing downwind is closer to the wind and should be considered the windward boat. The closehauled boat is leeward boat.
Windward boat should keep way clear so that leeward boat can change course in either direction without contact. Leeward might win protest without contact! Some hot shot move for you to use. Rule 11.
I've been wrong before though! Weds. looks nice for #91! Phil

Christy ~ Central Air said...

Oh dear... I'm still struggling with the concept of having two boats on the same tack having a near head-on collision. Brain hurts... need scotch...

Rich said...

I wonder why the term "avoid contact" appears so often in the rules as first priority. My vote is to avoid contact first. Then, file your protest later. Maybe this was a race with more prize money than the cost of boats? How about more than the cost of lawyers?

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