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Proper Course FAQs

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johnbrooker View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote johnbrooker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Proper Course FAQs
    Posted: 09 Jun 20 at 8:55pm

Hi all, I am in the process of writing an FAQ article regarding what may be the most contentious rule around: the Proper Course rule. 


Knowing this I'm keen to make sure I haven't made any mistakes (I'm sure you guys will find something)!


So, without further ado, here are my FAQs for Rule 17: 



 

Rule 17 addresses what happens if the overlap is created by the leeward boat overtaking. But what if it’s the windward boat that creates the overlap by overtaking?

 

Well, that doesn’t come under Rule 17 so you have to go back to the original rule (rule 11). This states When boats are on the same tack and overlapped, a windward boat shall keep clear of a leeward boat.

So the leeward boat is allowed to luff the windward boat above proper course. Providing of course it gives the windward boat time and opportunity to keep clear.

 

What about before the starting signal?

 

Before the start there is no ‘proper course’. Again, this means Rule 17 doesn’t apply and you’re back to Rule 11. Rule 11 allows a leeward boat to luff a windward boat wherever they wish provided they give them room and opportunity to keep clear.

 

What if the overlap is created beyond the ‘2 hull lengths’ stipulated in Rule 17?

 

Again, Rule 17 wouldn’t apply and the leeward boat can luff above their proper course if they give room an opportunity for windward to keep clear.

 

Who’s proper course is relevant? Windward or leeward?

 

It’s always the leeward boat’s proper course that we’re interested in. The windward boat’s proper course is irrelevant. This can make handicap racing rather frustrating for some. It means that if you’re sailing a boat that points very well upwind you can force a boat not pointing so well above their close-hauled. This can be very costly. Especially off the start line.

 

Also, downwind this can cause trouble if you’re not proactive. Asymmetric classes sail vastly different angles to their dead-downwind sailing counterparts. And it’s the asymmetric boats that will have luffing rights. So if you’re not careful you could end up sailing 40 degrees off course if you get stuck to windward of an asymmetric.

 

As a leeward boat would gybing then gybing back release me of my proper course obligations?

 

Yes, the double-gybe is a common trick that allows you to luff above your proper course even if the overlap was initially established within the two hull lengths. By gybing twice the overlap is established as a result of a gybe from an opposite tack, not as a result of coming from clear astern.

However, make sure the boom crosses the centreline or it won’t class as a gybe.

IS THIS CORRECT?

 

In a scenario where Rule 17 doesn’t apply can you luff past head to wind?

No, luffing is defined as heading progressively closer to the wind. So by definition you can only ‘luff’ until the eye of the wind. Turning beyond that would mean you are ‘bearing away’ from the wind rather than ‘luffing’. After the eye of the wind is passed the leeward boat becomes the windward boat and who has rights shifts correspondingly. 

 

Rule 17 mentions the importance of the overlap being created within 2 hull lengths. But what if one boat is larger than the other?

 

It’s the hull length of the leeward boat that is used.

 

What if a leeward boat luffs so quickly that I can’t keep clear?

Rule 16 states: When a right-of-way boat changes course, she shall give the other boat room to keep clear.

Room is defined as:  The space a boat needs in the existing conditions, including space to comply with her obligations under the rules, while manoeuvring promptly in a seamanlike way.

So, the leeward boat couldn’t legally luff quickly and without warning. Though, as the windward boat, you are expected to act as quickly as you reasonably can.

 

If two boats round a windward mark overlapped and both subsequently gybe does the new leeward boat have luffing rights?

 

Yes, because the overlap wasn’t established by the leeward boat overtaking from clear astern and therefore the proper course rule does not apply.


Rule 13 and Rule 17


This rule does not apply if the overlap begins while the windward boat is required by rule 13 to keep clear. Rule 13 states that a tacking boat should keep clear of other boats. I CAN’T THINK OF A SCENARIO WHERE THIS WOULD APPLY.




Let me know your thoughts (or questions). 

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JimC View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote JimC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 20 at 9:03pm
To my mind the most important concept to get across is that there is no requirement to sail a "proper course". In general a right of way boat may sail wherever she wants. However there are circumstances where a ROW boat may be restricted from sailing either above or beyond her proper course.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Rupert Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 20 at 9:35pm
The gybe and gybe back thing. You are still in that place through your own actions, so I thought you still can't sail above proper course.

If you overlap to leeward from behind and the windward boat gybed and gybes back, foolishly, the leeward boat can now sail above proper course.

I may be totally wrong on both counts?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Rupert Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 20 at 9:37pm
Something wrong with the reasoning on the going past head to wind one. Basically, you've tacked, and have no rights whilst tacking, but I'm not sure what you are trying to say.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote johnbrooker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 20 at 9:49pm
Cheers Jim. So, in general there is no requirement to sail a proper course (Rule 11) but there are circumstances (Rule 17) where a ROW is restricted from sailing above her proper course
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Post Options Post Options   Quote johnbrooker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 20 at 9:52pm
According to Rule 17 it: does not apply if the overlap begins while the windward boat is required by rule 13 to keep clear.
This confused me to. Isn't this covered by rule 13?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote johnbrooker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 20 at 9:54pm
My understanding is that if either boat gybes, then gybes back the windward boat loses the protection it had under Rule 17 since the overlap has been re-established a different way. I would be interested in getting clarification on this though from those more knowledgable than myself
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Post Options Post Options   Quote JimC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 20 at 10:09pm
Whenever you are thinking about rules in any detail its wise to study the RYA (and World Sailing) Case book.

https://www.rya.org.uk/SiteCollectionDocuments/Racing/RacingInformation/RacingRules/RYA%20Case%20Book%2012.19_.pdf

Edited by JimC - 09 Jun 20 at 10:09pm
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Post Options Post Options   Quote H2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jun 20 at 8:04am
Hi - the RYA ran a set of short sessions recently and covered this point in depth. They can be found on youtube and are well worth a watch as they were narrated by respected international judges. They covered this point in depth and I would highly recommend watching them!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote andymck Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jun 20 at 8:49am
The one by Mark Rushall about the run covers all of theses with examples.
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