Boats P (on port tack) and S (on starboard tack) are beating to windward. P tacks into a position just in front of S. When P reaches a close-hauled course, she is a few feet clear ahead of S. S, who has not needed to change course prior to that moment to avoid P, immediately luffs above a close-hauled course, avoids contact and protests. You are on the protest committee; how would you decide this? (answer below image)
ANSWER: S’s protest is dismissed; neither boat breaks a rule. While P is on port tack she is required to keep clear of S by rule 10, On Opposite Tacks. While P is tacking, she is required to keep clear of S from the moment she passes head to wind until she reaches a close-hauled course by rule 13, While Tacking. A boat “keeps clear” if the right-of-way boat can sail her course with no need to take avoiding action (see the definition Keep Clear). S does not need to take any avoiding action before P reaches a close-hauled course.
When P reaches a close-hauled course, rule 13 ceases to apply and P is the right-of-way boat under rule 12, On the Same Tack, Not Overlapped. Because she acquired the right of way by her actions, P is required to give S room to keep clear of her by rule 15, Acquiring Right of Way. S is able to avoid P in a seamanlike way; therefore P complies with rule 15.
This quiz was excerpted from Dave Perry's 100 Best Racing Rules Quizzes available from US Sailing.
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