Saturday, October 22, 2011

ISAF Rules Submissions 2011

The rules will be updated after the Olympics in 2012.  There are constant changes to the rules that occur to try to improve and fix things that don't work. And to fix the unintended consequences of previous changes to the rules. Since there were wholesale changes to Section C - At marks and Obstructions in the last cycle, the ISAF working party on Section C that was responsible for the current rules, is still at work trying to improve the rules in this section of the rule book.  What follows are the submissions of the  that might make it into the next version of rules. ISAF will be voting on these and other proposed changes to the rules in November 2011.

Delete the definition Mark-Room and replace with:

Mark-Room Room for a boat to leave a mark on the required side. Also,
(a) room to sail to the mark when her proper course is to sail close to it, and
(b) room to round the mark as necessary to sail the course.
However, mark-room does not include room for a boat to tack unless she is overlapped inside and to windward of the boat required to give her mark-room and she would be fetching the mark after her tack.

Current Definition
Mark-Room Room for a boat to sail to the mark, and then room to sail her proper course while at the mark. However, mark-room does not include room to tack unless the boat is overlapped to windward and on the inside of the boat required to give mark-room.

This revision corrects flaws and removes ambiguities from the current definition as follows:
1. The current definition includes room to sail to the mark when the mark is a passing or finishing mark that is nowhere near the boat's proper course. That provision is unnecessary, and gives the boat entitled to mark-room more power than she needs to pass the mark in a seamanlike way. The proposed definition removes this flaw.

2. The word "at" in the current definition and the change of rights during the transition from "to" to "at" the mark have caused difficulties in interpretation. The proposed definition does not use "at" terminology and avoids the “to” to “at” transition. It replaces these by rights that depend on a boat's proper course and the rounding necessary to sail the course. This is easier to judge, less ambiguous, and takes other boats into account.

3. The current definition grants room to sail a proper course while at the mark, which is a broader right than is needed for orderly mark roundings. Under the proposed definition, the right of the boat that has mark-room is always to sail a seamanlike course (to or round the mark).

4. The current definition's provision for room to tack can be interpreted to give rights to tack in situations where the tack is not to fetch the mark, which was not intended. The proposed  definition clarifies when that provision should apply.

5. Because of 1 and 2 above, an extra rule 18.2(c)(2), covering the situation when a boat required to give mark-room establishes an inside overlap, is proposed in a separate  submission. That separate submission is integral to this submission.

Delete the definition Keep Clear and replace with:

Keep Clear A boat keeps clear of a right-of-way boat
(a) if the right-of-way boat can sail her course with no need to take avoiding action and,
(b) when the boats are overlapped, if the right-of-way boat can also change course in both directions without immediately making contact.

Current Definition
Keep Clear One boat keeps clear of another if the other can sail her course with no need to take avoiding action and, when the boats are overlapped on the same tack, if the leeward boat can change course in both directions without immediately making contact with the windward boat.

When two same tack boats are sailing alongside each other, the windward boat must give space, commonly known as "wriggle room", for the leeward boat to change course both towards her and away from her. In the same circumstances it is logical, consistent and has safety advantages to allow the same space to a starboard tack boat sailing downwind alongside a port tack boat.


Modify the definition of proper course as follows:

Proper Course A course a boat would sail to complete the course and finish as soon as possible in the absence of the other boats referred to in the rule using the term. A boat has no proper course before her starting signal.

The current definition does not define ‘proper course’ in the way that competitors use the term. The proposal aligns the wording with what competitors think the definition currently says – that is, a proper course is one a boat would sail to complete the course and then cross the finishing line as soon as possible, in the absence of other boats referred to in the rule. The problem with the current definition is that ‘finish’ is a defined term that makes no reference to sailing the course, only to crossing the finishing line from the direction of the last mark. Strictly speaking, a boat’s proper course under the current definition is to sail directly to the finishing line without completing the course. Adding the words ‘complete the course and’ brings the definition into agreement with current usage of the term among competitors.

Modify the preamble to Section A of Part 2 to read as follows:

A boat has right of way over another boat when the other  boat is required to keep clear of her. However, some rules in Sections B, C and D limit the actions of a right-of-way boat.

Current Wording
A boat has right of way when another boat is required to keep clear of her. However, some rules in Sections B, C and D limit the actions of a right-of-way boat.


The preamble’s current first sentence can be interpreted to mean that, when Boat A is required to keep clear of Boat B, B has right of way over all other boats. The intended meaning is that, when A is required to keep clear of B, B has right of way over A. The proposal states clearly what is intended.


Modify rule 14 as follows:

A boat shall avoid contact with another boat if reasonably possible. However, a right-ofway boat or one entitled to room or mark-room
(a) need not act to avoid contact until it is clear that the other boat is not keeping clear or giving room or mark-room, and
(b) shall be exonerated if she breaks this rule and the contact does not cause damage or injury.

Replacing "shall not be penalised" with "shall be exonerated" simplifies the rule and makes it consistent with the principle that a boat breaking a rule shall be exonerated or penalized.


Modify the preamble to Section C of Part 2 and Rule 20 as follows:

Section C rules do not apply at a starting mark surrounded by navigable water or at its
anchor line from the time boats are approaching them to start until they have passed
them. When rule 20 applies, rules 18 and 19 do not.

20.1 Hailing and Responding
When approaching an obstruction, a boat sailing close-hauled or above may hail for room to tack and avoid another boat on the same tack. After a boat hails,

(a) she shall give the hailed boat time to respond;
(b) the hailed boat shall respond either by tacking as soon as possible, or by immediately replying ‘You tack’ and then giving the hailing boat room to tack and avoid her; and
(c) when the hailed boat responds, the hailing boat shall tack as soon as possible.
(d) From the time a boat hails until she has tacked and avoided the hailed boat, rule 18.2 does not apply between them.

The current rule does not clearly limit itself to interactions between the hailed and hailing boats, which raises the possibility that rules 18 and 19 can be unintentionally dis-applied with respect to another neighboring boat. It is also not clear when rule 20 starts and ceases to apply. The proposed language clarifies both questions.

There is no need to “switch off” rule 19 when rule 20 applies. A boat hailing at an obstruction under rule 20 is either leeward or clear ahead of the hailed boat. Because she has right-of-way, rule 19.2(a) gives her the right to choose to pass the obstruction by tacking. This resolves the common situation where two port-tack boats approach a starboard-tack boat: the windward port tack boat’s claim to room under rule 19 to pass to leeward of the starboard-tack boat is invalidated when the leeward boat chooses to tack. This is exactly what is needed. Therefore rule 19 should apply when rule 20 applies. It is also essential that rule 19 does apply in some rule 20 scenarios when there is more than one obstruction.

Rule 20 can come into conflict with rule 18.2 when a port-tack hailing boat needs room to tack and avoid a starboard-tack boat inside the zone. If the hailed boat has mark-room because she is the inside boat the rules must, for safety, give priority to the hailing boat’s need to tack over her obligation to give mark-room. The proposed rule makes this clear.

There are no conflicts between rule 20 and other parts of rule 18. In fact it is desirable that rule 18.3 is clearly in force, as situations at windward marks involving rule 20 often also involve rule 18.3.

Preambles are less often read than rules. Placing this sentence within the rule where it arises will make Section C simple and easier to understand. The proposed rule will not arise unless rule 20 is part of the incident, so sailors will find this exception to rule 18 when they need it.


Modify rule 18.2 as follows:

18.2 Giving Mark-Room
(a) When boats are overlapped the outside boat shall give the inside boat mark-room, unless rule 18.2(b) applies.

(b) If boats are overlapped when the first of them reaches the zone, the outside boat at that moment shall thereafter give the inside boat mark-room. If a boat is clear ahead when she reaches the zone, the boat clear astern at that moment shall thereafter give her mark-room.

(c) When a boat is required to give mark-room by rule 18.2(b),
(1) she shall continue to do so even if later an overlap is broken or a new overlap begins;
(2) if she becomes overlapped inside the boat entitled to mark-room, she shall also give that boat room to sail her proper course while they remain overlapped.
However, if the boat entitled to mark-room passes head to wind or leaves the zone, rule 18.2(b) ceases to apply.

(d) If there is reasonable doubt that a boat obtained or broke an overlap in time, it shall be presumed that she did not.

(e) If a boat obtained an inside overlap from clear astern or by tacking to windward of the other boat and, from the time the overlap began, the outside boat has been unable to give mark-room, she is not required to give it.

The new rule18.2(c)(2) prevents a boat required to give mark-room from acquiring any rights or obstructing the boat entitled to mark-room if she becomes inside the other boat. It also puts a limit on the action that the boat entitled to mark-room may take when the boat required to give mark-room attempts to take advantage of space left between her and the mark by the boat entitled to mark-room. The (1)(2) sub-division of rule 18.2(c) is added to make the rule easier to read.
* It makes clear that the first line applies equally to both (1) and (2)
* It helps clarify that the 'However' sentence applies to all earlier text in the rule
* The rule can only apply when rule 18.2(b) applies as the first line is specific to that rule; therefore it is not necessary to turn off 18.2(c) in the last line.

The extra words at the end of the first line of rule 18.2(e) address scenarios when a boat tacks inside at a windward mark, after passing either in front of or behind the other boat. Team racing call E6 (Q2) also refers but these scenarios can occur in fleet races with boats of differing speeds.

This is a combination of 2 submissions prepared by the ISAF Section C Working Party. It is integral with the submission to change the definition Mark-Room.

Delete rule 20 and replace it with the following:

20.1 Hailing
When approaching an obstruction, a boat may hail for room to tack and avoid a boat on the same tack. However, she shall not hail if
(a) she can avoid the obstruction safely without making a substantial course change,
(b) she is sailing below close-hauled, or
(c) the obstruction is a mark and a boat that is fetching it would be required to respond and change course.
20.2 Responding
(a) After a boat hails, she shall give the hailed boat time to respond.
(b) The hailed boat shall respond even if the hail breaks rule 20.1.
(c) The hailed boat shall respond either by tacking as soon as possible, or by immediately replying ‘You tack’ and then giving the hailing boat room to tack and avoid her.
(d) When the hailed boat responds, the hailing boat shall tack as soon as possible.
20.3 Passing a Hail to an Additional Boat
When a boat has been hailed for room to tack and she intends to respond by tacking, she may hail another boat on the same tack for room to tack and avoid her. She may hail even if her hail does not meet the conditions of rule 20.1. Rule 20.2 applies between her and the boat she hails.
20.4 Exoneration
When a boat is taking room to which she is entitled under rule 20.2(c), she shall be exonerated if she breaks a rule of Section A or rule 15 or 16 with respect to the hailed boat.

Rule 20 has received less attention in previous rules cycles than the other rules of Section C. This proposal is the result of an extensive discussion and submissions in 2010, followed by revisions in 2011 to respond to input from the Racing Rules Committee, the Section C Working Party, and others.

The current rule mixes hailing and responding rules into one section, goes on to exoneration, and
then returns to restrictions on hailing in its final section. The proposed rule has been reorganized into a more logical structure. The first section brings together the requirements and restrictions for a boat hailing for room to tack. The requirements for responding to the hail are together in the next section. Passing on a hail to a third boat is covered in its own section, and the rule concludes with a section on exoneration. This structure will make the rule easier to learn and use and more straightforward to cite in decisions.

The proposed rule largely and as far as possible retains the wording used in current rule 20. It also adds language to clarify the hailed boat’s obligation to respond and covers multiple-boat situations much more comprehensively than the current rule.

There are three ways in which the proposed rule differs from the submission made by US SAILING
in 2010:
1. Rule 20.1(c), which deals with hailing a boat that can fetch an obstruction which is also a mark, has been reworded to be simpler. The 2010 version was over-complicated in an attempt to cover multiple boat situations where, for instance, only the windward boat can fetch. After extensive discussion it was decided that this feature is important, so better wording has been developed. As a side benefit, the new wording improves the fairness of the rule in two-boat situations:
when two boats, L and W, approach an obstruction that is also a mark which W is fetching, if L hails for room to tack and W replies “You tack”, L does not break rule 20.1(c) unless W needs to make a course change to give L the room she has requested. Under the current rule, L would be penalized even if W has to make no change of course.
2. Rule 20.2(b), requiring response to a hail, was, in the 2010 proposal, less logically located at the end of rule 20.2.
3. The 2010 proposal contained a stand-alone sentence at the end of rule 20.1 permitting a boat, once she has been hailed for room to tack, to “pass on” the hail to another boat when she herself needs room to tack. In this proposal this issue is handled in a separate new section, rule 20.3. This change was made for two reasons. First, these situations are less common; moving them out of rule 20.1 simplifies the narrative of the rule, making it easier to understand and learn. Second, it is important for safety that such a “middle” boat is free to hail without risking a penalty for violating the normal restrictions on hailing contained in rule 20.1. It is easier to give relief from these restrictions in a separate sub-rule than in the rule containing the restrictions.

Relationships between the Proposed Rule and the Current Rule
Proposed rule 20.1 is constructed from parts of current rules 20.1 and 20.3, using almost identical wording. It makes clear when a boat may hail.

Proposed rule 20.2 follows current rules 20.1 (a), (b), and (c), with virtually unchanged wording. It takes the reader step-by-step through the sequence of events following a hail.
Rule 20.2(b) has no equivalent in the current rule. It adds an important safety feature by making it clear that the hailed boat must respond when she has been hailed under either rule 20.1 or rule 20.3, even if the hailing boat does not qualify to hail under those rules. This avoids dangerous disagreements on the water, in situations where delay can result in damage or injury. The hailed boat must respond; her remedy for an improper hail is to protest. This change embodies a principle expressed in Match Race Call MR 38 and in Team Race Call B7.

Proposed rule 20.3 handles hailing in multiple-boat rule 20 situations, as described above in the section on changes from the 2010 submission.

Proposed rule 20.4, Exoneration, is very similar to current rule 20.2. It adds the words 'with respect to the hailed boat' at the end. This restriction limits exoneration so that it is only available for interactions between the hailing boat and the hailed boat. The current rule can be read as permitting exoneration for breaking a rule with respect to a third boat that just happens to be close by but is not involved in the rule 20 interaction.

Here are some examples of the numerous multiple-boat situations which are not well resolved by the current rule but would be handled by the proposed rule. In each, the middle boat is in an impossible situation, with no safe option that complies with the current rule.

Three boats are overlapped approaching an obstruction. The middle and windward boats can fetch the obstruction, but the leeward boat cannot fetch. The leeward boat hails the middle boat for room to tack. Under current rule 20, if the middle boat hails the windward boat for room to tack in order to comply with her obligation to the leeward boat, she would break rule 20.3.

Three boats are overlapped approaching an obstruction. The leeward boat hails for room to tack. The middle boat is sailing below close-hauled. Again, if she passes on the hail to the windward boat, she will break the first sentence of current rule 20.

Three boats are overlapped approaching an obstruction. The obstruction is a mark that only the windward boat can fetch. The leeward boat hails the middle boat for room to tack. Under current rule 20, if the middle boat hails the windward boat for room to tack in order to comply with her obligation to the leeward boat, she breaks current rule 20.3. However, under proposed rule 20.3’s second and third sentences the middle boat’s hail does not break rule 20 and the windward boat is required to respond. The leeward boat breaks rule 20.1(c) and she is not exonerated
Note that the proposed rule is consistent with the conclusions of a recent Case (Case 113); all boats that can hear a hail of room to tack and need to respond must do so, but that does not relieve intervening boats of the obligation to pass on the hail.

Well these were the most significant changes that I found in sifting through the submissions to ISAF for the next cycle. They will vote in November as to which will be incorporated in the new rule book. Any comments?.