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Room at the mark

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Boat A is rounding a downwind mark to port, however she is taking a wide line, although inside the zone and is part way around the mark. Boat B approaches on the same tack albeit tighter to the mark than Boat A however she does not have an overlap at four lengths and considers that there is plenty of space for her to round the mark on a tighter line than Boat A which may bring her overlapped but not into contact with Boat A. Boat A's skipper hails "No room/water in there Boat B" what is Boat B's correct course of action?

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Hi Peter,

if B gets through without making contact with anyone then there is no case to answer except that of being possibly too pushy, if boat A has to alter course to avoid B then B is at fault and must do a penalty or retire and should be behind A after completing the penalty, the distance that A leaves to round the mark should be consistent with any previous mark roundings and should not be excessive it all ties in with the proper course etc, but the fundamental fact is that an overlap once established at the 4 boat lengths mark is retained even is the boat astern or outside subsequently gains an inside overlap.

Mike Ewart

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Case 63 has some guidance.


At a mark, when space is made available to a boat that is not entitled to it, she

may, at her own risk, take advantage of the space.

To answer this, a lot depends upon the location of the next mark. If the next mark is back upwind, then the clear ahead boat is entitled to mark room, and that entitles her to sail to the mark if her proper course is close to the mark. In this case, the ahead boat is entitled to luff up to their proper course and the astern boat must keep clear or she breaks R 18.2.b and 18.2.c

However if there is also a downwind offset mark, then the ahead boat that went deep, is now limited that her proper course is no longer to sail close to the mark, but to sail towards the next mark. This leave a hole that the astern boat could sail into. Now it gets more complicated. The ahead/now leeward boat still has luffing rights under R 11, but when she alters course to luff, she must give room, under R 16.1. That room includes room for the inside/now windward boat not to hit the mark - see the definition of Room. So in this case, she cannot force the inside/now windward boat to hit the mark or outside/leeward breaks R 16.1



John Ball

IOM CAN 307 (V8)

In my private capacity

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If I may be excused for being pedantic (again): Rather than stating " In this case, the ahead boat is entitled to luff up to their proper course and the astern boat must keep clear or she breaks R 18.2.b and 18.2.c" It is better to point out that Yellow:

- is right of way boat throughout - firstly under rule 12 and then rule 11. Therefore Green is obliged to keep clear.

- Yellow was clear ahead at the zone. She is entitled to mark room (rule 18.2b). The only practical effect of this Yellow as RoW boat is that while is sailing within the mark room to which she is entitled she will be exonerated under rule 21for any breach of a rule of section A, rule 15 or 16. In other words she can change course rapidly and Green must anticipate that she will do so as Yellow rounds the mark

- if the next mark is a reach then Yellow can luff above the course necessary to sail to the next mark as she rounds the mark, however once she sails above that course she is no longer protected by rule 21

An important concept - the principal effect of rule 18 is to impose additional limitations on a RoW boat that is not entitled to mark room, she cannot exercise all the rights she would have as RoW boat because of these limitations. These limitations give the keep clear boat entitled to mark room limited entitlements as she sails to and around the mark.


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