Upwind Mark Rounding Rules Quiz Answer

March 11, 2009

So my email in box has been filling up with answers and follow up questions to this morning’s rules quiz questions.  If you have an idea or question, please don’t hesitate to submit it, but in the future, if you are comfortable doing so, please submit it as a comment on the blog.  Your comment may help someone else better understand the situation.


So, the assignment was to describe what rules are in play at each of the positions, and determine if Red broke a rule.  If she did break a rule, what rule, and how can she exonerate herself?
Let’s look at what happened.  In position one and two, the two boats are on opposite tacks so according to Rule 10 (Opposite Tacks), Green – a starboard tack boat – has right of way and Red must Keep Clear.  They are also in the ZONE, but according to Rule 18.1(b) Rule 18 does not apply.  Now at position three, Red tacks.  She is required, by Rule 13, to Keep Clear.  Green is required, by Rule 14, to avoid contact.  Because of where Red tacked, it is obvious that she tacked IN THE ZONE and now Rule 18.3(a) (Tacking when approaching a Mark) comes into play and says the following:

18.3 Tacking When Approaching a Mark
If two boats were approaching a mark on opposite tacks and one of them changes tack, and as a result is subject to rule 13 in the zone when the other is fetching the mark, rule 18.2 does not thereafter apply. The boat that changed tack (a) shall not cause the other boat to sail above close-hauled to avoid her or prevent the other boat from passing the mark on the required side…

Now is position 4 Red is leeward boat, and according to Rule 11, Green is required to Keep Clear.  BUT!  Because Red tacked in the ZONE, and therefor Rule 18.3(a) is in play, Red shall not cause Green to sail above close-hauled to avoid her or prevent Green from passing the mark on the required side…And at position 5 Red does exactly that and in the process breaks the rule.

Luffing up to make the mark, a fairly normal maneuver, she makes Green sail above close hauled, and because Red had tacked in the Zone she can’t do that.  Green does what she is required to do – which is to Keep Clear, hail protest, fly a flag and sail on.

So, did Red break a rule?

YES!  Rule 18.3(a)

What can Red do to exonerate herself?

After getting well clear of other boats as soon after the incident as possible, Red can take a Two-Turns Penalty by promptly making two turns in the same direction, each turn including one tack and one gybe.

If you have questions – please don’t hesitate to post them to the comments.


12 Responses to “Upwind Mark Rounding Rules Quiz Answer”

  1. bo on March 12th, 2009 2:18 am

    That EXACT scenario happened to us 3 weeks ago during a frostbite race. We did not protest, but in hindsight, maybe we should have. Thanks KB.


  2. Bo on March 12th, 2009 4:44 pm

    We had that EXACT/EXACT scenario happen to us while sailing in a frostbite series about three weeks ago. We were unclear about what the rules specifically said, so we did not protest. Next time we’ll know. Thanks!

  3. Kristen Berry on March 13th, 2009 5:20 pm

    I would say definitely. First of all protests are part of the game, similar to calling traveling or a foul in basketball. Few players take a well intentioned foul personally on the basketball court. Should be the same on the water.

  4. Kristen Berry on March 13th, 2009 5:21 pm

    I understand being unclear about the rules. Hopefully you kept clear (your obligation) and I also hope you remember the incident. Make sure you get even. :)

  5. Phillip Hubbard on July 10th, 2009 9:26 am

    A similar incident happened to me last night racing my RS400. The green boat was bearing down to the mark, fetching, not close-hauled, and we were on port tack, slightly ahead on the water but would not cross clear in front. We tacked, as the red boat in the example above, but the green boat continued on their fetching course and hit us, mid-way down the boat. They shouted a lot about not tacking there and made no attempt to avoid a collision, which occurred, and we were forced onto the mark. Both boats rounded the mark. Had we sailed unimpeded for the mark we would have rounded with no problem.
    As I was uncertain about the new rules I did a 720 and finished down the pan- next time I will not and will accept the green boat’s offer of a protest! Thanks for this good example clearly laid out. The green boat, in my incident, should therefore have luffed up from a fetch to close-hauled, as Rule 18.3, and avoided a collision, as Rule 14.

  6. Kristen Berry on July 14th, 2009 12:50 am

    Phillip – Thanks for your great comment! You got it right, and that sort of thing happens all the time when a right shift comes into the course and the starboard parade has overstood the mark.

    Interestingly, since you were compelled to hit the mark, you would not have been required to do your one-turn penalty either – but you would have had to protest the offending boat in order to be exonerated. Good luck and good racing!


    ps – Where do you sail your RS4000?

  7. Phillip Hubbard on July 14th, 2009 8:05 am

    Hi Kristen-thanks for your comment. I sail my RS400 at Royal Windermere Yacht Club on Lake Windermere in the Lake District, England- http://www.royal-windermere.co.uk

  8. Kristen Berry on July 14th, 2009 12:31 pm

    WOW! Well I am happy that you found the Gale Force Sailing Blog. As you will see later today (when I post the next one) I do some rules discussions for a few clubs. If you or your club has a rules scenario that you’d like to see diagrammed and discussed. Please send it along. You can email the description of the incident and then I’ll respond with a drawing and discussion. I hope this can help you and your club in the future!

    The RS400 is a cool boat by the way. I wish we had more active classes like that one here in the states. Thanks again, and please let me know what I can do to help in the future

  9. g on July 16th, 2009 2:58 pm

    i’ve haven’t raced for a few years, and i know the rules often change ever 3-4, but this article was good to let me know that this fundamental windward mark principle is still intact.

    good show!

  10. Bob Brunius on August 25th, 2010 6:45 am

    What constitutes Above Close Hauled? If Green Boat is sailing to the mark on a close hauled heading and only had to luff a few degrees above their ideal close hauled course to avoid Red Boat but the jib doesn’t break, does does Red still break rule 18.3? How is “Above Close Hauled” determined?

  11. Kristen Berry on September 14th, 2010 2:55 pm

    Bob – Thanks for your comment. The racing rules define many of the words that they use. In fact when you are reading the rules if a word is italicized that means that it is defined in the definitions section of the rules. In the case of “close hauled” it is used throughout the rules, but not defined. Therefore we should go with the common understanding or dictionary definition of how the word is used. In this case, I would say that sailing “close hauled” is sailing as close to the direction the wind without luffing the sails. So, in the case of Green Boat, if she only had to luff up a few degrees, and her jib didn’t luff – then she wasn’t close hauled at the time.

    This happens often. Boats coming into the windward mark from the starboard tack layline (especially if they called the layline from a long way out or got more right shift) will often be slightly overstood, and that makes them ripe for the picking for port tack boats coming into the top mark. I hope this helps.

  12. Doug on June 24th, 2012 8:27 pm

    I know this is an old post but still relevant discussion.
    What if red tacks in the zone but after red completes the tack, the green boat immediately ducks below red to become the inside boat then the boats collide and green yells foul. Green claims they were forced to duck to avoid collision, red claims they had completed the tack and were clear astern of green. Who is right?

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