Rules Blog

Startline Parallax

Startlines can be tricky to judge for sailors and in the very carefully worded World Sailing Case 136  it is acknowledged that a correctly positioned Race Committee member following the correct procedures will usually provide more reliable evidence than a boat on the start line.

The diagram above and this facebook clip (from Volunteer at the NEXT GEN start illustrate how the Start boat is positioned better than some racing boats to determine if a boat is OCS.

The start boat can see the green boat is below the line, but the yellow boat is likely to think it is over.

This is also referred to as the Parallax effect that you can review here 

Penalty to right of way boat

At the Sorrento Cup, one incident that was closely observed by the umpires nearly had a penalty against  the boat that was on starboard, then had mark room and then was leeward right of way.

  • Approaching the top mark B was on Port and Y on Starboard. (RRS 10 B Keep Clear)
  • X cleared in front of Y and then changed tack in the zone (RRS 13 B Keep Clear)
  • After B came to her close-hauled course and was clear ahead (RRS 12 B is Right of way; But RRS 15 B needs to Initially give room for Y to Keep Clear)
  • B gave room for Y to pass between her and the mark (RRS 18.3)
  • Y came from astern and became overlapped to leeward of B and initially gave B room to keep clear (RRS 15 Limitation for Y, but exonerated under RRS 21 if only taking the mark room she requires, RRS 17 limitation on proper course for Y, RRS 11 B needs to keep clear and give mark room under RRS 18.2)
  • After passing the mark B luffs, above her proper course to the hitch, and B promptly luffs to keep clear. (RRS 17 Y breaks the rule and RRS 11 Y keeps clear)
  • Y is quite vocal in hailing “Up” when she is not allowed to sail above her proper course (Sailing Instruction 1.7 It is unsportsmanlike to intimidate another boat when the other boat is keeping clear and the hailing boat is breaking a rule – Umpire considers an umpire-initiated penalty)
  • Y bears down to her proper course – no more hailing and no clear actions of protest by either boat (incident closed)

A couple of observations

  • If either boat had hailed protest, Y would have been penalised.
  • If hailing “Up” had continued or if Y had argued or told off B, Y would have earned an umpire-initiated penalty.
  • B did all the right things. If she had not luffed and kept clear when Y luffed above her proper course, B would have been penalised as well as Y.





World Sailing have published this change to case 132 effective 3 December 2018.


Protests and Validity

We had a bit of discussion following an Arbitration, protest and de-brief and it seems that it would be worthwhile sharing with the whole fleet.

First up the, the representatives conducted themselves with good grace and sportsmanship and were careful to ensure they did not let any emotions come into play in the hearing: That’s great!

The arbitration did not end up with either boat taking a penalty, so the matter proceeded to a protest, with a protest committee of three people.

Informing the protested boat, validity and Protest Committee Actions

The protest was found to be invalid, due to the timing display of the red flag. The parts of the rules that were applied are in bold below:


61.1 Informing the Protestee

  1. A boat intending to protest shall inform the other boat at the first reasonable opportunity. When her protest will concern an incident in the racing area that she was involved in or saw, she shall hail ‘Protest’ and conspicuously display a red flag at the first reasonable opportunity for each. She shall display the flag until she is no longer racing.

63.5 Validity of the Protest or Request for Redress

At the beginning of the hearing the protest committee shall take any evidence it considers necessary to decide whether all requirements for the protest or request for redress have been met. If they have been met, the protest or request is valid and the hearing shall be continued. If not, the committee shall declare the protest or request invalid and close the hearing. If the protest has been made under rule 60.3(a)(1), the committee shall also determine whether or not injury or serious damage resulted from the incident in question. If not, the hearing shall be closed.

60.3 A protest committee may

  1. protest a boat, but not as a result of information arising from a request for redress or an invalid protest, or from a report from a person with a conflict of interest other than the representative of the boat herself. However, it may protest a boat
    1. if it learns of an incident involving her that may have resulted in injury or serious damage, or
    2. if during the hearing of a valid protest it learns that the boat, although not a party to the hearing, was involved in the incident and may have broken a rule;
  2. call a hearing to consider redress;
  3. act under rule 2(b); or
  4. call a hearing to consider whether a support person has broken a rule, based on its own observation or information received from any source, including evidence taken during a hearing.


In these situations, the protest committee has no choice under the rules but to close the hearing when the requirements have not been met, it’s not a choice that they have and no further details of the incident, or whether it has merit can be considered unless there is serious damage or injury.

Sailing a rival off the course

The Couta Boat aggregate comes to a climax this weekend with 2 races scheduled, with only a few points separating the leaders, there could be some match racing.
Let’s explore what boats can and can’t do.

Rule 24 Interfering with another boat.

24.2 states that if reasonably possible, a boat shall not interfere with a boat on another leg, but the rule does not apply when sailing her proper course, Case 126 explores some of the situations when this rule could be applied

Case 78 This is the permissive rule – It states when a boat can fairly hinder another boat’s progress – But there are strict limits on what’s fair play.
If a boat sticks within these limitations, it’s a fair duel.

Then we have a few cases that explicitly state what’s not fair play and even allows for redress for the infringed boat.  In summary, don’t break a rule when you interfere with another boat.

Case 34 – Hindering another boat may be a breach of rule 2 and the basis for granting redress and for action under rule 69.2.

Case 65 – A boat knows she should take a penalty – but continues to interfere with another boat

TR - New calls - Mark Room is not unlimited

The Call Book supplement has been updated with the most significant changes  limiting a boat with mark-room, to only use that mark-room: She doesn’t “own the zone”.

In Call E5 below, yellow gets penalised

In Call H2, the blue boats get penalised because she had mark room and was right of way but did not give Y room to keep clear.

In Call H5 yellow with mark room is exonerated when she resumes her proper course at Position 3 – even though she is give way boat.

This will see some changes in the way the game is played – Many racers and umpires have had an inaccurate view of mark-room, often the game is played such that a boat that gets mark room and doesn’t leave the zone completely owns it – that will change.