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Dave Perry - Tactics Tip
Team McLube


The Publisher

Dec 6, 2012, 2:09 PM

Post #1 of 5 (16456 views)
Dave Perry - Tactics Tip Log-In to Post/Reply

When racing upwind on port tack with another boat close to leeward, Rule 20 allows that boat to hail you for room to tack if she needs to make a major course change to avoid an approaching starboard-tack boat. Rule 20 requires you to respond by either tacking as soon as you can, or hailing back to her "You tack!"

In almost all circumstances, it is better for you to hail, "You tack!" Rule 20 then requires the hailing boat to tack as soon as possible, and you now have the option of tacking close to leeward of the hailing boat (leebowing her), or ducking her and the approaching starboard tacker and continuing on port tack.

Remember, if your plan is to duck the hailing boat when she tacks, be sure to create enough separation so that when she tacks, you can bear away and duck her without hitting her! -- Dave Perry, Chairman of the US SAILING Appeals Committee,

The Publisher

Dec 6, 2012, 2:10 PM

Post #2 of 5 (16453 views)
Re: [The Publisher] Dave Perry - Tactics Tip [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

From John Sweeney:
In response to Dave's tip, this is good tactical advise but is also a prime example of how unnecessarily complex the RRS are, and in this case perhaps contradictory.

My question is, which has precedence, Rule 20 as Dave points to, which gives the leeward boat Room to Tack at an Obstruction, or Rule 19.2 which gives the inside boat (assuming the boats are overlapped) room to pass the obstruction on either side?

While I disagree with the premise that the starboard tack boat is an obstruction, the rules allow the windward boat to force the leeward boat to bear away, providing enough space for both to duck the starboard tacker - essentially turning off Rule 11.

As the Rules stand, it appears that the first port tack boat to hail gets to invoke their preferred rule and dictate the action. But what happens in Dave's scenario if the windward boat believes that Rule 19 prevails and thinks she isn't obligated to respond to Rule 20 and insists on room to duck?

Seems like a recipe for disaster on the water, and a lengthy deliberation in the protest room. But isn't this precisely what the RRS should prevent?

The Publisher

Dec 6, 2012, 2:11 PM

Post #3 of 5 (16452 views)
Re: [The Publisher] Dave Perry - Tactics Tip [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

From Eric Robbins:
Mr. Sweeney has certainly misunderstood rule 19.2, which opens by saying "A right-of-way boat may choose to pass an obstruction on either side." Rule 11 specifies that the leeward boat, not the "inside" boat, is the ROW boat, and may choose on which side to pass the obstruction. Therefore, there is no conflict. While he may disagree with the definition of obstruction, that does not change its validity, and the rest of his argument falls apart.

The Publisher

Dec 6, 2012, 2:15 PM

Post #4 of 5 (16451 views)
Re: [The Publisher] Dave Perry - Tactics Tip [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

From Dave Perry:
In response to John Sweeney’s letter (SB 3733), the rules tell each boat what their rights and obligations are in each situation, which then informs the sailors what their tactical options are. My goal in teaching the rules through my books and seminars is to help sailors know and understand precisely what the rules say, so they are clear in each situation and can make the best tactical choices. Regarding the situation where two port-tack boats are approaching a starboard-tack boat:

1) The racing rules use some terms that are defined in the racing rules themselves. The starboard-tack boat (S) is an “obstruction” to the two port-tack boats because the definition Obstruction says “...a boat racing is not an “obstruction” to other boats unless they are required to “keep clear” of her...” The two port-tack boats are required to keep clear of S under rule 10; therefore S is an “obstruction.”

2) There is no question to the precedence of rules 20 and 19. The preamble to Section C of Part 2 of the racing rules says, “When rule 20 applies, rules 18 and 19 do not.” Rule 20 says, “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, the hailed boat shall (and remember “shall” is mandatory) respond either by tacking as soon as possible, or by immediately replying ‘You tack’...”

Therefore, when a boat hails under rule 20, rule 19 does not apply and the windward boat is required to reply. A windward boat cannot “force” a leeward boat to bear away and give her room to duck S *if* the leeward boat wants to tack. A hail for room to duck does not exist in the rules; therefore there is no rules significance to a hail for room to duck. Yes, if the leeward boat chooses to duck, then she is not invoking rule 20, and rule 19 requires her to give the windward boat room to duck as well.
For more on the rules, get Dave Perry’s two books Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing through 2016 (which includes the complete rule book) and Dave Perry’s 100 Best Racing Rules Quizzes available at US Sailing, 800 US SAIL-1, or, and sign-up for a North U Rules & Tactics Seminar this winter or spring, for which Dave is an instructor and co-author of the curriculum; check for the schedule.


Dec 7, 2012, 5:53 AM

Post #5 of 5 (16337 views)
Re: [The Publisher] Dave Perry - Tactics Tip [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

So if there is no hail of "room to tack", can it be taken by the windward Port tack boat that the leeward Port tack boat IS intending to duck and WILL give room to the windward boat? Is the potential protest room discussion then about whether or not there was a hail given and/or heard?

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