2020 Champions Regatta Rule 16.1

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2020 Champions Regatta Rule 16.1

Postby rs vernon » Thu Mar 19, 2020 12:58 pm

It took me a couple days of thinking about it to realize what obviously happened/what caused an inadvertent breaking of rule 16.1.

Right to left start middle of the morning on Sunday. Wind fairly light – about 3 to 4 maybe.

I started near the leeward end of the line. I looked around and realized I could tack and cross several boats. I crossed a couple and then convinced myself that I could cross the very fast and fair guy, who was standing on my right. As I got close to him, he told me that I should not have tried it – too close to try it. But I thought I could cross. I was standing where his boat was heading directly toward me. He sheeted in his sails and picked up a lot of speed, which is not a rule violation.

But the act of sheeting in increased his boat’s weather helm and the boat turned to weather a couple of degrees. Obvious to me since his boat was heading directly toward me. Not obvious to him and he knew that he had not steered the boat up. I could not cross.

There were no protests that went to committee in the entire regatta. I was not doing well. I did my turn and got yet one more crappy finish. Now that I have a clear idea of exactly what happened and why it happened, I will protest if I see it again. Normally it would be very hard to detect with certainty.

16.1 When a right-of-way boat changes course, she shall give the other boat room to keep clear.

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Re: 2020 Champions Regatta Rule 16.1

Postby bigfoot55 » Sun Mar 22, 2020 10:57 am

Exhaustive discussion of this situation of Starboard changing course at


U.S. Sailing Appeals 33
Interpretation Requested by the Norton Yacht Club

Rule 16.1, Changing Course
Rule 16.2, Changing Course

To change course means to change the direction in which the boat is heading or moving.

What is the meaning of “change course” in rules 16.1 and 16.2?
Is it a change of course for a boat to sail an arc of a circle?
If she does not move her helm in doing so, is she nonetheless changing course?

Yes, a boat changes course when she sails the arc of a circle or any other course
where she changes direction, whether or not she moves her helm. This includes a
change from moving forward to moving backward, or vice-versa. To change course
means to change the direction in which the boat is heading or moving.
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Re: 2020 Champions Regatta Rule 16.1

Postby Capt. Flak » Wed Mar 25, 2020 9:51 am

I have questions that you did not spell out. First was there contact? You said you could not cross, but did the right of way boat avoid you and then protest you, or did you hit?

Rule 16 is a little bit tricky in that it does not say any change in course is a foul. It says when a right of way boat changes course, she shall give the other boat room to keep clear. So it limits the right of way boat. It does not say, BANG, you changed course PROTEST!.

So back to my question. If he avoided you and then protested after having changed course near you, I would agree that he should not have protested you. You needed to have room to keep clear.

But this is one of those things were Starboard usually always wins over Port. You said you were on Port for some time, having already crossed two other boats. You also clearly saw this other guy coming, so that would mean you knew exactly what you were doing and the risks you were taking. If he was sheeting in to follow a slight shift, that would also mean that you were probably getting headed and had to fall off a bit. This would bring you closer together faster and mean you no longer could cross. His change of course meant that he only needed to give you room to keep clear. If he changes course and then immediately hit you, I am on your side. If he changed course some distance away and you continued to sail your course, I would lean to his side. And if he changed course near you and then avoided you and protested, I would have to hear the argument of both parties before siding with you on Rule 16. If his statements agreed with your statements, I would probably say no protest.

My advice in the future is to say, let's go to committee. He is going to protest you for Rule 10 and you simply say you are countering him on Rule 16 and then take your chances in the protest room. Don't argue, and don't be afraid of the protest room. We learn from it, no matter the result.
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Re: 2020 Champions Regatta Rule 16.1

Postby rs vernon » Wed Mar 25, 2020 11:26 am


I will say a couple of things, but I am not going to discuss it further. At this point in time my memory of what happened is not clear enough to discuss it in fine detail. I believe there was no wind shift because I did not need to head down to keep up my speed. I believe that initially he was not sheeted correctly for his course. I say that because of the dramatic increase in speed when he sheeted in. The increase in his speed was a killer for me, but broke no rule. The course change turning up to weather also hurt me and, I believe, was illegal per rule 16.1.

I do not know if there was contact, but if there was (and I cannot imagine how it could have been avoided) it did not seem to slow either of us down at all or very much as I remember it. I do not remember how each boat maneuvered to minimize the hold up. We seemed to get lucky on that account.

I just think it is an interesting situation that is quite rare and was worth presenting. How often is a skipper looking at a right of way boat coming directly at him and able to easily detect a slight course change by that boat?

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