Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Two weeks ago we had all these questions about the rules. I was going to copy all the stuff out of the rule book but it is so intertwined that I gave up. Then the computer went down and I was out of business for a while. I will try to have my free (downloaded) rule book in my car so you can read the stuff for yourself and here is the meat of the matter.

Essentially the ZONE is now three boat lengths in radius instead of two. The rule numbers and wording have changed, but the sailing is the same except "Proper Course " for the boat being overtaken to leeward has been deleted . The boat being overtaken can now sail below its proper course to interfere with a boat trying to pass either to windward or to leeward. The windward boat will still have to "keep clear" and the leeward boat can’t sail above its PROPER COURSE.

One question was touching the finish marker at the finish. YOU MUST NOT TOUCH IT AT THE FINISH OR AFTER FINISHING. RULE 31. Do a 360 and finish again. You may do the 360 on the finish side of the line, but then return to the racing side of the line before "finishing".

NOTE that is rule 31– Don’t touch the marks while RACING. The RACING begins with the preparatory signal (two minutes in the 3 minute sequence.). So you can hit the starting mark or the committee boat at 2 ½ minutes to go with out penalty. If you hit them with 1 ½ minutes to go then you need a 360 turn that you can do by getting clear of the other boats and do it before the start if you are fast. Rule 44.2 Same with a Rule Part 2 penalty ( a 720 turn) at 1 ½ minutes. Get clear and do the turns before the start if you can.

We had this other question of two boats on starboard close hauled sailing to the finish line and the boat to windward staying clear. The boat to leeward has the right to "shoot the line" (come head to wind just at the line) but should warn the windward boat it is going to do that. Rule 16.1 "When a right of way boat changes course, she shall give the other boat room to keep clear."

Another question was the three boat length zone at the leeward mark. It is not a red line in the water so it is probably best answered by some shouting back and forth. If you think you have an inside overlap, say it loud and clear. If you think you are clear ahead , say it "no overlap at the zone".

One tactic is to sail to the left side of the zone and just as you think you are about to cross that red line into the zone turn to the right to enter the zone. This should move anyone who just has a marginal overlap into the "no overlap" position.
On bigger boats, a good solution is to ask the boat ahead if you have an inside overlap. The helm and tactician are near the stern of the boat and a better place to see. If they say no, then go behind them for a good tactical rounding. On a Laser the helm is pretty much in the middle of the boat and the rudder counts, so just yell back and forth. Be as honest as you can, as it maybe just the other way around next time.

If you do not have an overlap on the boat entering the zone, you must give him room to round the mark. This means that as they slow up due to blanketing from boat behind , maneuvering around the buoy , sail trim to round and gybing, you must keep clear. If you end up hitting the boat ahead as well as the mark, you only have to do a 720 for the boat hit. If you just hit the buoy, that is just a 360. Rules 18.2, 44.1 and 44.2.

So stay clear and make a wide turn so you are not so close that you hit them. If they make a sloppy rounding and leave a gap between them and the buoy, be careful sailing into that spot. You will be the windward keep clear plus keep clear for rounding. If they head up quickly to head to wind or close hauled you may be nailed. The mark rounding does not include tacking, but short of that, it is getting around the mark.

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