Force 5 Class Association

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Home Rules Corner - Issue 5 Posted THE RULES CORNER - Issue 1



RULE 18 (Mark Room)

We have a new concept called “mark room.” Mark room is the space a boat requires to sail to a mark in a seamanlike way and the space it requires to sail a proper course around the mark. This sounds pretty simple, but there’s quite a lot to understand here.

The “mark room” concept subsumes a number of other defined terms and concepts—the most noteworthy of which is a new “zone.” We’re accustomed to the familiar “2 boat length circle” that was used for many, many years to determine whether a boat was entitled to “buoy room.” That’s gone. It’s been replaced by a 3 boat length zone (still a circle around the mark) which conclusively determines whether an inside (overlapping) boat is entitled to mark room. So, the first thing we need to do is become proficient at estimating a 3 boat length perimeter instead of a 2 boat length one. This won’t be as easy as it sounds. First, it’s easier to accurately estimate shorter distances than longer ones—especially when we’re moving. Second, it will be difficult to abruptly shift from the 2 boat length measure that many of us have become proficient at estimating over decades of racing.

Here’s a simple exercise: Find a large, flat, open space (field, parking lot, etc.). Precisely measure 52 feet from a trash can, post, backpack or other object (don’t use a tree). This will place you about 3 and 2/3 boat lengths away from it (which accounts for your normal position in the boat). Look carefully at the object and the space between it and you. Next, walk to a point roughly two or three times as far away from the object, but on its direct opposite side (no counting steps!). Now approach the object and mark the spot you think is exactly 52 feet away. Repeat twice more, at right angles to your original axis, so you have marked 4 spots total. Measure your 3 estimates. Would they satisfy the rule?


Back to the mark room concept: In contrast to the 2005-2008 version of Rule 18, the new version specifically requires an outside (overlapped) boat to give an inside (overlapping) boat room to sail to the mark in a seamanlike way—beginning when the outside (overlapped) boat first hits the 3 boat length perimeter. That means an outside (overlapped) boat sometimes will have to begin giving an inside (overlapping) boat mark room when the inside (overlapping) boat is nearly 4 lengths from the mark. Note that there may be more than one “seamanlike way” for the inside (overlapping) boat to sail to the mark. Note also that new Rule 18 requires the outside (overlapped) boat to give the inside (overlapping) boat sufficient space to sail a proper course around the mark once the inside (overlapping) boat reaches it. The “proper course” reference gives an inside (overlapping) boat the right to make a strategic mark rounding in more circumstances than did the old rule.


Be aware that a boat extinguishes its right to mark room if it subsequently sails outside the zone for any reason—this includes giving other overlapping boats mark room. In that case, the boat’s right to mark room is determined when it re-enters the zone. Also be aware that Rule 18.4 (gybing) does not apply at a leeward gate.


RULE 19 (Room to Pass an Obstruction)

The concept of an area “approaching” an obstruction has been eliminated. It is irrelevant whether boats are overlapped prior to reaching an obstruction—if boats are overlapped when they reach an obstruction, the outside boat(s) must give the inside boat(s) room to pass it. The only restriction here is that the outside boat(s) must be able to give room to the inside boat(s) once the required overlap is established.


At continuing obstructions (e.g., shoreline, seawall, sandbar), a boat clear astern with right of way is now permitted to establish an inside overlap between a boat clear ahead and a continuing obstruction even if there is insufficient room for the overtaking boat to pass safely between them. The overtaken boat must keep clear. This changes the prior rule, which prohibited overtaking boats from establishing such overlaps. Right of way boats still constitute obstructions under the new rule, but they cannot be considered continuing obstructions.


RULE 64.1 (b) (Penalties and Exoneration)


Rule 64.1 (b) clarifies that a boat which has taken a penalty—either on the water or ashore—cannot be further penalized for that incident unless the penalty for the broken rule is a disqualification which is not excludible from the boat’s series score. The RRS specify the only rules under which a boat may be disqualified and the disqualification not be excluded from its series score. Note that neither class rules nor sailing instructions may specify other rules under which a boat may be disqualified and the disqualification not be excluded from its series score (See RRS 86.1 (a), (b), (c)).


RULE 87 (Changes to the Class Rules)

This new rule permits sailing instructions to change a class rule, but only if (i) the class rules specifically permit such changes; or (ii) written permission from the class association for the change is displayed on the official notice board.