Q: Leeward mark rounding

Rules Guy


We haven’t done the Rules Guy from Bryan Willis lately, but we’ve got a bunch of new Q&A’s for you, so here you go.

Q: Leeward mark rounding
Boat A & B are sailing downwind.  Boat A is approaching the leeward mark (port rounding).  Boat B has an inside overlap, acquired from outside the two boat length circle.  Boat A gives boat B room to round on the inside.  Boat B rounds the mark but comes out low, giving boat A room to round behind, but above boat B.  Boat B tacks onto starboard immediately after rounding right in front of boat A (still within the two boat length circle) .  Before boat B became close hauled, boat A had to take a radical evasive maneuver (duck) to prevent contact.

Skipper of boat B said that the tack was part of the mark rounding so he had right of way.

Skipper of boat A said that boat B did not have room to complete the tack onto starboard before clearing/contact (tacking too close). Can a tack be part of rounding, with all of it’s rights?

A: Firstly, don’t forget it’s not a ‘two boat length circle’ anymore (unless the sailing instructions say it is). The ‘zone’ is now three hull lengths of the boat nearest to the mark. Only when a boat is overlapped to windward and on the inside of another boat does mark-room include room to tack. When B passes head to wind, rule 18 switches off, whether or not the boats at that moment are overlapped. However, if B at that moment is overlapped to windward and on the inside, she would be exonerated if she broke rule 13 while tacking round the mark. If B is clear ahead and then tacks without keeping clear, she breaks rule 13 and there would be no exoneration.