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Proper Course FAQs

Printed From: Yachts and Yachting Online
Category: Dinghy classes
Forum Name: Technique
Forum Discription: 'How to' section for dinghy questions and answers
URL: http://www.yachtsandyachting.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=13607
Printed Date: 12 Aug 20 at 10:05pm
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Topic: Proper Course FAQs
Posted By: johnbrooker
Subject: Proper Course FAQs
Date Posted: 09 Jun 20 at 8:55pm

Hi all, I am in the process of writing an FAQ article regarding what may be the most contentious rule around: the Proper Course rule. 


Knowing this I'm keen to make sure I haven't made any mistakes (I'm sure you guys will find something)!


So, without further ado, here are my FAQs for Rule 17: 



 

Rule 17 addresses what happens if the overlap is created by the leeward boat overtaking. But what if it’s the windward boat that creates the overlap by overtaking?

 

Well, that doesn’t come under Rule 17 so you have to go back to the original rule (rule 11). This states When boats are on the same tack and overlapped, a windward boat shall keep clear of a leeward boat.

So the leeward boat is allowed to luff the windward boat above proper course. Providing of course it gives the windward boat time and opportunity to keep clear.

 

What about before the starting signal?

 

Before the start there is no ‘proper course’. Again, this means Rule 17 doesn’t apply and you’re back to Rule 11. Rule 11 allows a leeward boat to luff a windward boat wherever they wish provided they give them room and opportunity to keep clear.

 

What if the overlap is created beyond the ‘2 hull lengths’ stipulated in Rule 17?

 

Again, Rule 17 wouldn’t apply and the leeward boat can luff above their proper course if they give room an opportunity for windward to keep clear.

 

Who’s proper course is relevant? Windward or leeward?

 

It’s always the leeward boat’s proper course that we’re interested in. The windward boat’s proper course is irrelevant. This can make handicap racing rather frustrating for some. It means that if you’re sailing a boat that points very well upwind you can force a boat not pointing so well above their close-hauled. This can be very costly. Especially off the start line.

 

Also, downwind this can cause trouble if you’re not proactive. Asymmetric classes sail vastly different angles to their dead-downwind sailing counterparts. And it’s the asymmetric boats that will have luffing rights. So if you’re not careful you could end up sailing 40 degrees off course if you get stuck to windward of an asymmetric.

 

As a leeward boat would gybing then gybing back release me of my proper course obligations?

 

Yes, the double-gybe is a common trick that allows you to luff above your proper course even if the overlap was initially established within the two hull lengths. By gybing twice the overlap is established as a result of a gybe from an opposite tack, not as a result of coming from clear astern.

However, make sure the boom crosses the centreline or it won’t class as a gybe.

IS THIS CORRECT?

 

In a scenario where Rule 17 doesn’t apply can you luff past head to wind?

No, luffing is defined as heading progressively closer to the wind. So by definition you can only ‘luff’ until the eye of the wind. Turning beyond that would mean you are ‘bearing away’ from the wind rather than ‘luffing’. After the eye of the wind is passed the leeward boat becomes the windward boat and who has rights shifts correspondingly. 

 

Rule 17 mentions the importance of the overlap being created within 2 hull lengths. But what if one boat is larger than the other?

 

It’s the hull length of the leeward boat that is used.

 

What if a leeward boat luffs so quickly that I can’t keep clear?

Rule 16 states: When a right-of-way boat changes course, she shall give the other boat room to keep clear.

Room is defined as:  The space a boat needs in the existing conditions, including space to comply with her obligations under the rules, while manoeuvring promptly in a seamanlike way.

So, the leeward boat couldn’t legally luff quickly and without warning. Though, as the windward boat, you are expected to act as quickly as you reasonably can.

 

If two boats round a windward mark overlapped and both subsequently gybe does the new leeward boat have luffing rights?

 

Yes, because the overlap wasn’t established by the leeward boat overtaking from clear astern and therefore the proper course rule does not apply.


Rule 13 and Rule 17


This rule does not apply if the overlap begins while the windward boat is required by rule 13 to keep clear. Rule 13 states that a tacking boat should keep clear of other boats. I CAN’T THINK OF A SCENARIO WHERE THIS WOULD APPLY.




Let me know your thoughts (or questions). 



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Replies:
Posted By: JimC
Date Posted: 09 Jun 20 at 9:03pm
To my mind the most important concept to get across is that there is no requirement to sail a "proper course". In general a right of way boat may sail wherever she wants. However there are circumstances where a ROW boat may be restricted from sailing either above or beyond her proper course.


Posted By: Rupert
Date Posted: 09 Jun 20 at 9:35pm
The gybe and gybe back thing. You are still in that place through your own actions, so I thought you still can't sail above proper course.

If you overlap to leeward from behind and the windward boat gybed and gybes back, foolishly, the leeward boat can now sail above proper course.

I may be totally wrong on both counts?

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Firefly 2324, Lightning 130, Puffin 229, Minisail 3446


Posted By: Rupert
Date Posted: 09 Jun 20 at 9:37pm
Something wrong with the reasoning on the going past head to wind one. Basically, you've tacked, and have no rights whilst tacking, but I'm not sure what you are trying to say.

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Firefly 2324, Lightning 130, Puffin 229, Minisail 3446


Posted By: johnbrooker
Date Posted: 09 Jun 20 at 9:49pm
Cheers Jim. So, in general there is no requirement to sail a proper course (Rule 11) but there are circumstances (Rule 17) where a ROW is restricted from sailing above her proper course

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Posted By: johnbrooker
Date Posted: 09 Jun 20 at 9:52pm
According to Rule 17 it: does not apply if the overlap begins while the windward boat is required by rule 13 to keep clear.
This confused me to. Isn't this covered by rule 13?


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Posted By: johnbrooker
Date Posted: 09 Jun 20 at 9:54pm
My understanding is that if either boat gybes, then gybes back the windward boat loses the protection it had under Rule 17 since the overlap has been re-established a different way. I would be interested in getting clarification on this though from those more knowledgable than myself

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Posted By: JimC
Date Posted: 09 Jun 20 at 10:09pm
Whenever you are thinking about rules in any detail its wise to study the RYA (and World Sailing) Case book.

https://www.rya.org.uk/SiteCollectionDocuments/Racing/RacingInformation/RacingRules/RYA%20Case%20Book%2012.19_.pdf" rel="nofollow - https://www.rya.org.uk/SiteCollectionDocuments/Racing/RacingInformation/RacingRules/RYA%20Case%20Book%2012.19_.pdf


Posted By: H2
Date Posted: 10 Jun 20 at 8:04am
Hi - the RYA ran a set of short sessions recently and covered this point in depth. They can be found on youtube and are well worth a watch as they were narrated by respected international judges. They covered this point in depth and I would highly recommend watching them!

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H2 #115


Posted By: andymck
Date Posted: 10 Jun 20 at 8:49am
The one by Mark Rushall about the run covers all of theses with examples.

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Andy Mck


Posted By: johnbrooker
Date Posted: 10 Jun 20 at 5:31pm
Thanks all, I'll give those a look



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Posted By: Riv
Date Posted: 10 Jun 20 at 6:59pm
What I want is a decision making flow chart for each situation. Makes the reasoning obvious.

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Posted By: johnbrooker
Date Posted: 10 Jun 20 at 7:27pm
Thanks Riv, good idea. We definitely need tools like this to aid rule understanding. I'll seriously consider putting one together.

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Posted By: jeffers
Date Posted: 29 Jun 20 at 7:14pm
You probably want to remove any reference to 'overtaking' as this is not part of the RRS, it is 'overlap established from astern'. 

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Paul
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D-Zero GBR 74


Posted By: johnbrooker
Date Posted: 29 Jun 20 at 7:26pm
You're right Paul. However, to all intents and purposes it is overtaking. Unfortunately there isn't really a verb form of 'overlap established from astern'. My focus is on making the rules understandable and unless there is something damaging about my use of the word overtaking, it's probably the best word. I'm open to being convinced otherwise though

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Posted By: Sam.Spoons
Date Posted: 29 Jun 20 at 7:43pm
'Overtaking' requires the boat to continue to 'overtake', if they slow down until they are either only keeping station or are falling astern* they will no longer be 'overtaking' but will still have 'established their overlap from astern'. 

* A pretty likely situation for an overlap to leeward.


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Blaze 671 "supersonic soap dish"


Posted By: johnbrooker
Date Posted: 29 Jun 20 at 8:40pm
True Sam true. But to create an overlap one of the boats must be overtaking (at least initially) so you can still kinda see one as the overtaking boat even if they slow down or don't complete their overtaking. There isn't too much ambiguity in using the word as we all know which one we are talking about when we say 'overtaking boat'. But from a preciseness point of view you are dead right. I may change it. I'll just have to find words that fit the sentence without making it feel convoluted. 

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Posted By: JimC
Date Posted: 29 Jun 20 at 8:50pm
I submit that if you start using phrases and concepts that don't exist in the rules the end result will be more confusion rather than less.

More even, if you start using a phrase that is already widely misused and already creates confusion then you are almost guaranteed to make things worse.



Posted By: Rupert
Date Posted: 29 Jun 20 at 9:14pm
Given that many of the basics of the rules are based on IRPCS, but the overtaking boat rule was taken out because it caused clashes with other rules, putting it back in seems like a bad idea to me. Especially as it trumps even port/starboard in colregs.

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Posted By: Sam.Spoons
Date Posted: 29 Jun 20 at 10:12pm
I'm with JimC and Rupert here, the reason the rule refers to an 'overlap established from astern' is precisely to avoid imprecision and consequent misunderstanding of it's meaning.


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Spice 346 "Flat Broke"
Blaze 671 "supersonic soap dish"


Posted By: johnbrooker
Date Posted: 30 Jun 20 at 1:57pm
I think I can word it without using the word overtaking so I'll change that part.

However, I later use it in the following context which I would argue makes sense: "established by the leeward boat overtaking from clear astern". 

It seems acceptable to use the word 'overtaking' here as it's talking about how the overlap 'was' established in the first instance. If someone can reword this so it still sounds simple let me know. This is the published post:  https://dinghyracingtips.com/blog/luffing-rights-proper-course-rule-17-of-the-racing-rules-of-sailing/" rel="nofollow - https://dinghyracingtips.com/blog/luffing-rights-proper-course-rule-17-of-the-racing-rules-of-sailing/


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Posted By: johnbrooker
Date Posted: 30 Jun 20 at 2:04pm
I've re-worded the following sentence but I feel it's lost some clarity as a result. It's now harder for a beginner to visualise the situation. So if you have any ideas on how to reword it without using the word 'overtaking' let me know. "Rule 17 addresses what happens if the overlap is created by the leeward boat overtaking. But what if it’s the windward boat that creates the overlap by overtaking?" 

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Posted By: JimC
Date Posted: 30 Jun 20 at 5:12pm
What's wrong with the words in the rule "becomes overlapped to leeward"?

I'm not sure you should use "time and opportunity". That's old language that isn't in the current rule set, and was removed for good reason.

I'm also not at all sure about the phrase "luffing rights". Again that's very old language.

Surely its much simpler to go back to the fundamental - that the right of way boat may sail where she pleases and the give way boat must keep clear, but there are some exceptions which limit what the ROW boat can do.

Another thing that I'm not sure about is that you haven't highlighted what to me is the key point. When clear astern soon-to-be-leeward is the give way boat, and clear ahead the right of way boat. As soon as the overlap is created, though, this swaps round, and leeward is ROW. Its this transition from keep clear to ROW that is key to this rule and a number of others. By contrast in the other situation, where the boat clear astern overlaps to windward then she continues to be keep clear boat and nothing changes.

[Later] Thinking about it this highlights the fundamental difference between RRS and Col Regs. Under RRS a ROW boat can normally sail where she wants, even if it impedes another boat, and give way must adapt to whatever she does. By contrast in Col Regs the stand on boat is required to hold course and speed. Col Regs don't even include the phrase Right of Way.



Posted By: A2Z
Date Posted: 30 Jun 20 at 5:36pm
I think a FAQ for rule 17 should include a definition of proper course.


Posted By: johnbrooker
Date Posted: 30 Jun 20 at 9:12pm

Cheers Jim. There’s nothing wrong with ‘becomes overlapped to leeward’.

However, I’m struggling to reword the sentence using just those terms. Here’s the sentence again: “Rule 17 addresses what happens if the overlap is created by the leeward boat overtaking. But what if it’s the windward boat that creates the overlap by overtaking?"

 

You’re right on the "time and opportunity" matter. I will change that. Out of interest, when was that changed as I remember talking to Chris Watts in 2015 when he used the term.

 

With the term ‘luffing rights’, how else could you phrase it? And is there anything wrong with the term. I don’t see any ambiguity there.

 

Regarding, going back to the fundamental – that’s what the article is trying to do and is structured in exactly that fashion. The FAQ is tagged onto the end of the article to explain the exceptions which limit the ROW boat.

 



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Posted By: Sam.Spoons
Date Posted: 30 Jun 20 at 9:14pm
I'd have said the phrase "coming from astern" is accurate and does not sound as much like like 'legalese' as much of the RRS, necessarily, does.

I've read the page though and, as you are quoting the rule then explaining it in plain language I think you have overcome the need to 'dumb it down' to the extent of using imprecise wording. To me what is there in the link is good.


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Posted By: johnbrooker
Date Posted: 30 Jun 20 at 9:14pm
ACZ  It does. However, I didn't attach my full article here as I didn't want my post to be too long. The full article is here:  https://dinghyracingtips.com/blog/luffing-rights-proper-course-rule-17-of-the-racing-rules-of-sailing/" rel="nofollow - https://dinghyracingtips.com/blog/luffing-rights-proper-course-rule-17-of-the-racing-rules-of-sailing/



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Posted By: johnbrooker
Date Posted: 30 Jun 20 at 9:20pm
Thanks Sam, yup and my use of the word overtaking is in a question format voiced by an imaginary sailor. It's worded how they may describe the situation. My answer doesn't include incorrect terminology.  
However, I see it could be worded your way. Something like: "Rule 17 addresses what happens where a boat comes from astern to become leeward boat. But what if a boat comes from astern to become windward boat?"



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Posted By: JimC
Date Posted: 01 Jul 20 at 3:33am
The trouble with talking about luffing rights, I think, is that there's really no such thing any more. It was all keyed in with mast abeam and all the complex special situation stuff that got ditched in the big rewrite back when half the current sailing population weren't even born. There is no specific right to luff. The right of way boat has the right to sail where she likes, even if it impedes another boat, subject to some specific restrictions.

So rule 17 deals with the special case where the ROW changes when an overlap is created and the boats are close. In the astern/windward situation ROW doesn't change when the overlap occurs, and the boats continue to have the same rights and responsibilities. Similarly if an overlap was created when the craft were more than two boat lengths apart although ROW changes, there's no need for a special case (and practically it may well be impossible to know which boat was astern of which when the overlap started).

I suppose my criticism would be that you are treating the overlap creation as too much of a standalone situation, and not enough about it as a part of the general rules. I struggle with suggestions a bit because the way you are approaching this is so very different from the way I would.

Maybe something like.
Rule 17 addresses the special case where an overlap starts when the boats are close together and the ROW boat changes. If the boats are far apart then there is no need for a special case, and if ROW doesn't change when the overlap is created then the relative rights and responsibilities continue as they were before the overlap.

When it comes to mark rounding this business of ROW changing and limits on the ROW boat becomes even more important. But that's another tale!



Posted By: 423zero
Date Posted: 01 Jul 20 at 6:06am
Simplest thing have no overlap at all, boats can only go round Marks in line astern, if you haven't got past before 3 boat lengths, bad luck, this would get rid of a load of protests and rules.

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Robert


Posted By: Rupert
Date Posted: 01 Jul 20 at 6:49am
Originally posted by 423zero

Simplest thing have no overlap at all, boats can only go round Marks in line astern, if you haven't got past before 3 boat lengths, bad luck, this would get rid of a load of protests and rules.


And spoil the game. All games have rules. Monopoly would cause fewer household rifts if you could wander round the board staying where you like for free, but it would be a tedious way of spending a Sunday afternoon.

Surely, when teaching rules to those starting racing a picture is worth a thousand words, and playing with toy boats or cardboard cutouts, 10000.

What we are trying to put into more simple words can't be, really, the rules as written aren't very wordy, even if the situations can be complex. Visually, they become very clear.

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Posted By: davidyacht
Date Posted: 01 Jul 20 at 7:32am
Originally posted by JimC

It was all keyed in with mast abeam and all the complex special situation stuff that got ditched in the big rewrite back when half the current sailing population weren't even born. 

Bring it back LOL


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Posted By: Rupert
Date Posted: 01 Jul 20 at 7:38am
If people think the 3 boat length rule is hard to judge, mast abeam was impossible! 2 different angles with 2 different wishes was always going to create 2 very different opinions, with no reliable witnesses.

I was sad when it went, but can't imagine it returning.

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Posted By: 423zero
Date Posted: 01 Jul 20 at 7:08pm
Three rules could cover it,
1/ One way round.
2/ No bumping.
3/ Give way.

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Robert


Posted By: Rupert
Date Posted: 01 Jul 20 at 8:16pm
Again, just taking away the tactics.

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Posted By: johnbrooker
Date Posted: 01 Jul 20 at 8:28pm
Thanks Jim, didn't know that. Is it actually wrong to use the term 'luffing rights' though since the title should have the terminology in it that people would search for. Otherwise no one will see it! 

It seems to adequately describe what you are allowed to do when luffing. It's not saying there is a right to luff necessarily- rather it's saying which rights you have should you decide to luff.

And thanks for your re-wording suggestion. I think it's a little mind-boggling for an amateur sailor but that may be the only way to word it 100% correctly. 









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Posted By: 423zero
Date Posted: 01 Jul 20 at 9:15pm
A bit like Golf, if you are a bit slow you ask them if they want to play through
Rule 4/ politeness at all times   

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Robert


Posted By: Sam.Spoons
Date Posted: 01 Jul 20 at 9:39pm
Originally posted by johnbrooker

I think it's a little mind-boggling for an amateur sailor but that may be the only way to word it 100% correctly.

The only way to word the rules correctly is the way the rules are worded themselves.

The problem is that the rules have evolved over many years* and each evolution has been intended to reduce ambiguity. This has usually led to more complexity (the big rewrite a few years ago which was a deliberate effort to simplify the rules). But, as the rewrite demonstrated, simplifying the wording just reintroduces some of the ambiguity. The RRS committee did a pretty decent job but since then the 'new rules' have been refined and 'tweaked' to reduce the possibility for misunderstanding (at least amongst 'serious' racing sailors) and IMHO any effort to rephrase them in 'plain language' is going to reduce their precision and lead to new ambiguities.

* I started racing in 1965 and, apart from a few years between '73 and '80 when I courted, married and started a family, i have raced regularly since so I've experienced many of the rule changes first hand.


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Posted By: Sam.Spoons
Date Posted: 01 Jul 20 at 9:49pm
Originally posted by 423zero

A bit like Golf, if you are a bit slow you ask them if they want to play through
Rule 4/ politeness at all times   

That's more or less how I race at club level, I want to be able to have a chat in the bar afterwords without any bad feeling. Elvstrom himself said something alongs the lines of “You haven’t won the race, if in winning the race you have lost the respect of your competitors”. It is a good thing to remember, especially at club and local open level.


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Posted By: JimC
Date Posted: 01 Jul 20 at 10:01pm
I would say it is wrong, or at least inadvisable to use the term luffing rights, since this is a concept from the pre 1996 rewrite days when there were specific rules about the right to luff. There are no longer any such rules, so using the term suggests, amongst other things, that the person using it hasn't read a rule book since 1995!


Posted By: Rupert
Date Posted: 02 Jul 20 at 7:55am
1996? I feel old now.

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Posted By: Lukepiewalker
Date Posted: 17 Jul 20 at 8:23pm
Originally posted by johnbrooker

Thanks Jim, didn't know that. Is it actually wrong to use the term 'luffing rights' though since the title should have the terminology in it that people would search for. Otherwise no one will see it! 

It seems to adequately describe what you are allowed to do when luffing. It's not saying there is a right to luff necessarily- rather it's saying which rights you have should you decide to luff.

And thanks for your re-wording suggestion. I think it's a little mind-boggling for an amateur sailor but that may be the only way to word it 100% correctly.

The thing with the old school pre-96 'luffing rights' was there was no room to keep clear, no obligation to avoid collision, so the luffing in question was far more aggresive a maneouver than we would recognise today. Hence to avoid people flashing back to those days, it is best to remove the word luffing from the scenario.









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Posted By: Jack Sparrow
Date Posted: 20 Jul 20 at 11:00am
Originally posted by Rupert

Again, just taking away the tactics.

Maybe, maybe not... but you might just have a sport left. Rather than just a memory of water chess.


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Posted By: Rupert
Date Posted: 20 Jul 20 at 11:35am
Originally posted by Jack Sparrow


Originally posted by Rupert

Again, just taking away the tactics.

Maybe, maybe not... but you might just have a sport left. Rather than just a memory of water chess.


In the end you have a pastime left using collision regulations if you take away the interaction between boats. Or just a time trial. Out thinking a competitor has always been part of sailing boat racing, and to do that you need a set of rules which allows interplay between boats when they meet.

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Posted By: 423zero
Date Posted: 20 Jul 20 at 12:14pm
Boats will meet on the legs, just keep the marks neutral zones, not saying all races, would be better for timid or new racers.

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Robert


Posted By: NickM99
Date Posted: 20 Jul 20 at 2:04pm
Marks are neutral zones? Like those mixed pedestrian and car zones in Holland?  Maybe you  can do it like they do at crossroads in the USA: the car that arrives first has priority.  Oh, hang on....


Posted By: 423zero
Date Posted: 20 Jul 20 at 5:02pm
Neutral zone re previous pages explanation, if you haven't got past before the zone, bad luck, marks must be passed in line astern, slower boats can allow faster boats through if they wish, similar to Golf where you allow faster players to go through.

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Robert


Posted By: JimC
Date Posted: 20 Jul 20 at 7:05pm
I'm not sure how it would work in practice, especially with three or four boats overlapped approaching the zone. Quite a challenge to get into line astern. I'm having a lot of trouble figuring out how it could work. Perhaps some examples. How about, for instance:

1 - Boat on port, Boat on starboard both on lay line, enter the zone near enough together as best can be judged.
2 - Boat on port approaches line of boats on starboard that have overstood so she could tack under them and make the mark
3 - Three boats overlapped approaching the zone.


Posted By: 423zero
Date Posted: 20 Jul 20 at 7:20pm
Forget port and starboard, boat with Mark to its side is first around the mark, ie if mark is to starboard boats in line abreast, boat with Mark to starboard is first around the mark, boat to port of him second etc.
Faster boats can attempt to overtake wide, but must be outside the zone.

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Robert



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