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Author Topic: Downwind finishes
Jane_Mark Buzz 847 Posted: 12-Apr-06 13:15
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At the week-end we were coming towards the finish line (at the bottom of the down wind leg) with several boats in close proximity. We were windward boat so we gave way to the boat on our inside which meant we couldn’t quite make it inside the committee boat and this caused us to lose several places. We certainly had a very generous overlap so could we have called for water ie is the committee boat treated the same as a mark? From the definition of a mark in the Racing Rules I think we possibly could have but others have told us we couldn’t. If you can’t call for water could the boat to the inside of the boat that we gave way to have hardened up and forced them out of the finish line too – this could potentially result in chaos? I am confused and would like to know what is correct (and if possible why) so we don’t get ourselves in this position again. I think these are relavant bits from the rules:

Mark; An object the sailing instructions require a boat to leave on a specified side, and a race committee vessel surrounded by navigable water from which the starting or finishing line extends. An anchor line and objects attached temporarily or accidentally to a mark are not part of it.

In rule 18, room is room for an inside boat to round or pass between an outside boat and a mark or obstruction, including room to tack or gybe when either is a normal part of the manoeuvre.
18.1 When This Rule Applies
Rule 18 applies when boats are about to round or pass a mark they are
required to leave on the same side, or an obstruction on the same side, until they have passed it. However, it does not apply
(a) at a starting mark surrounded by navigable water or at its anchor
line from the time the boats are approaching them to start until
they have passed them, or
(b) while the boats are on opposite tacks, either on a beat to windward or when the proper course for one of them, but not both, to
round or pass the mark or obstruction is to tack.

ifoxwell Posted: 13-Apr-06 10:26
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Hi Jane

As no one else seems to be that keen to jump into this topic so I dug out my copy of the rules and took a look.

So far as I can tell a finish line is a finish line regardless of weather you are going up wind or downwind… and a committee boat is a mark of the course. So, you do have rights once you get within 2 boat lengths. However up to this point, as windward boat you don’t!

If the situation you described had been on a nice easy day then I guess you could have warned all the boats concerned that you would be requiring water well before the line so that they could make space… however once alerted to this fact they may then have pushed you higher well before the line so that you lost the overlap on the bear away.

On the day in question I suspect that you had your hands full just hanging on much of the time (I know I did!) so this would have been much harder to co-ordinate with more than one boat. Especially as the speed we were all going in the puffs means that the you didn’t get much time once you got to the two boat length point, and could then call for water.

All in all I suspect that you did have rights but that in practice it wasn’t going to happen so with the benefit of hindsight you would have done better to bail out earlier and head for the other end of the line.

Jane_Mark Buzz 847 Posted: 13-Apr-06 13:07
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Thanks Ian

This was actually on the first race on Sunday so we were all 'relatively' in control. As far as I recall (though in the heat of the moment this may be far from the truth) we were ahead of the others in our batch all the way down the downwind leg. We, however, didn't realise we were finishing so were heading towards the downwind mark ready for another lap, while the others headed in the correct direction towards the line on a broader tack with superior speed. Once we realised where we were supposed to be going we had to change direction and this gave the boats on our inside an overlap. I think our bow might still have been ahead and there was a big overlap which I don't think could have been broken even with a big luff. I guess at some point they would have been considered the overtaking boat and therefore if we had realised where we were going we may have been able to cut them off? I still get confused when an overtaking boat becomes windward/leeward boat - any clarity would be much appreciated.

In all it was our fault for not being aware of the course or the rules - next time perhaps we will be more savvy??


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