Ask the Rules Guy
Duck or Turkey?
Q: I was in a situation where we were leeward boat on port tack with a boat just to weather of us also on port. Along comes a starboard tacker, which we will cross very close behind without having to duck. The boat to weather of us after being hailed from the starboard boat calls obstruction and drives down on us to duck as well. We avoid the collision but are like wtf? Is that a fair interpretation of the rules? Any Turkey who has the ability/opportunity to tack away from a starboard boat can choose to drive down on his competition and call obstruction worry free?
A: The quick answer is ‘yes’ under the old and the new rules. Under the old rules the two port tack boats needed to be overlapped at two lengths from the obstruction (the starboard tack boat). Under the new rules the leeward boat must have been able to give room since the overlap began. As you didn’t have to make a ‘substantial alteration of course’ the option of hailing for room to tack was not open to you. Had it been, your call (“room to tack”) overrides any desire of the windward boat to get room to pass under the starboard tack boat.