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Speed Limits applying to Sailing Boats?

Printed From: Yachts and Yachting Online
Category: General
Forum Name: Race Management
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URL: http://www.yachtsandyachting.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=5913
Printed Date: 02 Dec 20 at 2:48pm
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Topic: Speed Limits applying to Sailing Boats?
Posted By: ohFFsake
Subject: Speed Limits applying to Sailing Boats?
Date Posted: 07 Sep 09 at 8:54pm
Not entirely sure whether this is really the right section for this post, but here goes...

Here on Windermere, the lake speed limits have been a rather major political issue for some years now, with a 10mph blanket speed limit having been introduced about 5 years ago to stop water ski-ing.

This new limit applies to all powered craft on all the open areas of the lake, but there are also 3 areas where a further 6mph speed limit applies (and always has done).

Unfortunately, when this bye-law was drafted many years ago no-one thought to ensure that it only applied to powered craft, so in the letter of the law sailing boats are supposed to stay within 6mph too.

Until recently this has never been an issue, indeed it is over 20 years since I first sailed on the lake and I wasn't even aware of this restriction. But over the last 12 months or so the lake wardens have begun to take an interest in sailing dinghies. On more than one occasion club sailors have now been cautioned by the wardens for exceeding the speed limit, and recently the OOD was approached by the warden and told we should not be setting courses within the 6mph speed limit as this encourages people to break the speed limit. (Two of our regular racing marks are about 100 yards inside the speed limit area).

It all sounds a bit farcical (and really it is), but there is also a potentially serious problem for our club. The club itself is well within the 6mph limit area, so if it is windy (or even gusty as it tends to be here) then it could well be virtually impossible to sail to and from the race area without speeding. If we, as a club, go ahead and impose restrictions on our racing area as requested then it seems to me that we are tacitly agreeing that this enforcement is reasonable, and would then have no argument should they give a ticket to someone sailing out to the race course on a breezy day.

Further comments have been made about "reducing sail" and not flying spinakers, but clearly someone broad reaching down the lake in (say) a Laser has no practical way of keeping his top speed within the limit if hit by a gust (even if he could accurately measure his speed, which he can't).

Even more of a problem is our annual "long distance" races, in which we sail the full length of the lake and back. This runs as an open event and is the highlight of our calendar, but necessitates sailing through a further 6mph limit through Bowness Bay, halfway up the lake. This year a boat was warned for doing an alleged 9kts. (I believe it was a Blaze, so again no feasible way of limiting his downwind speed).

So if we agree not to run races in the speed limit then this race has to go by the board as well, which is a great shame as it has run for donkeys years. Not only that but it runs as a charity race and usually raises about £500 for local causes.

The reason I'm posting is to see if anyone has had any similar experiences elsewhere, eg with speed limits in restricted harbour areas. My assumption was that marine speed limits always exempted sailing boats for the practical reasons I've touched on above, in a similar way that speed limits on the roads don't apply to bicycles. Is this assumption accurate?

Is our strange situation unique, or have other clubs encountered similar problems? If so, how have they resolved them to protect their sport?

Any help or advice would be much appreciated.





Replies:
Posted By: laserboy404
Date Posted: 07 Sep 09 at 9:23pm
On the Norfolk Broads which have a similarly low speed
limit we have never had any problems because it is and has
always been the case that sailing boats are exempt from
speed limits, this is because the speed limits are designed
primarily to keep wash down, and obviously the wash created
by a sailing dinghy is negligable when compared to motor
boats.

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Laser 159392
Javelin 53


Posted By: G.R.F.
Date Posted: 07 Sep 09 at 9:26pm
Take it up with your local MP.

(Don't forget to mention his/her expenses and how much y'all
contributed)

Then involve the RYA legal department.

I'm fairly sure 'the spirit' of the law had no intention of restricting sail, as I
recall it was powerboats waterskiing and jetskis they wanted rid of,
trouble is the British Jobsworth, once given the title 'warden' with bugger
all to do all day will inevitably vary his remit.

If all that fails, late night, attach lump of concrete and chain to the legs of
the said jobsworth and introduce him to the lake first hand. (Best get
someone else to do it and be somewhere else, plausible deniability is
good in cases like this)

-------------

https://www.edgeactionsports.co.uk/products/kali-chakra-helmet" rel="nofollow - Bike helmet sale


Posted By: ohFFsake
Date Posted: 07 Sep 09 at 9:35pm
We are already in the process of contacting our local MP and our prospective local "shadow" MP (both of whom are keen sportsmen); and indeed the RYA.

I agree totally about "jobsworths". The acid test for me is "would any of these speed limits be in existence if powered craft weren't permitted to use the lake at all" and the answer seems an emphatic "no". Therefore the intent behind the law was not to restrict sailing boats so there is no moral justification for persecuting people who can neither measure nor regulate their speed with any accuracy.

Laserboy, thanks for the verification about the Broads. I love the Norfolk rivers and sail down there whenever I can engineer an opportunity, and what you say confirms what I always assumed to be the case.


Posted By: Villan
Date Posted: 07 Sep 09 at 9:51pm
Just a question - Are your clubs safety boats also limited to 6mph in the 6mph zone, and 10 in the 10, even if they are heading to a rescue? (Or to the shore if the rescue dictated needed to do so? (Injury etc? ))

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Vareo - 149 "Secrets"
http://www.TandyUKServers.co.uk" rel="nofollow - TandyUK Servers


Posted By: ohFFsake
Date Posted: 07 Sep 09 at 10:07pm
Originally posted by Villan

Just a question - Are your clubs safety boats also limited to 6mph in the 6mph zone, and 10 in the 10, even if they are heading to a rescue? (Or to the shore if the rescue dictated needed to do so? (Injury etc? ))

No. We're pretty sure we're ok with this one, thus:
Originally posted by Byelaw


The use of a power-driven vessel in circumstances necessary to the proper execution of his duty by any of the following persons, that is to say:-

...

(d) any person taking part in rescue operations or in securing the safety of persons on the lake; or

...

shall not be deemed an offence against these byelaws


There's also another rather vague loophole which I think could potentially be used by a dinghy sailor as a defence:


In obeying and construing these Byelaws due regard shall be had to all dangers of navigation and collision and to any special circumstances, including the limitations of the craft involved, which may render a departure from the above Byelaws necessary in order to avoid immediate danger.

It might be argued that it is a limitation of a sailing dinghy that it's downwind speed cannot be moderated without incurring immediate danger of capsize / loss of control.

But even so, I wouldn't like to have to try and explain the mechanics of dinghy sailing to a Magistrate, in order to justify the fact that the faster you go the safer you are. Obvious as it might seem to us, I can imagine it would seem like "a likely story" to a non-sailor!


Posted By: asterix
Date Posted: 08 Sep 09 at 8:42am

I hope you don't need to ... but maybe start a petition for common sense - I'll sign it!  and there must be 1000s of other sailors who would

Good luck!



Posted By: Stefan Lloyd
Date Posted: 08 Sep 09 at 10:21am

Originally posted by ohFFsake

Is our strange situation unique, or have other clubs encountered similar problems? If so, how have they resolved them to protect their sport?

Chichester Harbour speed limits apply to powered craft only, including rescue boats unless actually engaged on a rescue. They can and do fine offenders.

 



Posted By: ColPrice2002
Date Posted: 08 Sep 09 at 1:02pm

Hi,

11                      Speed Limits

             11.1     No master of a vessel shall knowingly cause or permit it to be navigated at a greater speed than 6 miles per hour (eleven kilometres) through the waters of the Lake in any of the following areas:-

From the bylaws - the work "knowingly" is important. If you don't have a log (and that's impractical for a dinghy - nor can you use a GPS device for many classes while racing) then you can't knowingly exceed the speed(?)

Colin



Posted By: Andymac
Date Posted: 08 Sep 09 at 7:07pm
Originally posted by ColPrice2002

Hi,

11                      Speed Limits

             11.1     No master of a vessel shall knowingly cause or permit it to be navigated at a greater speed than 6 miles per hour (eleven kilometres) through the waters of the Lake in any of the following areas:-

From the bylaws - the work "knowingly" is important. If you don't have a log (and that's impractical for a dinghy - nor can you use a GPS device for many classes while racing) then you can't knowingly exceed the speed(?)

Colin

I believe that is very much the case in law with pedal cycles (although many nowadays have mini computers fitted) I don't think a cyclist can be prosecuted for breaking a speed limit on the public highway, but can be prosecuted for reckless riding though!



Posted By: ohFFsake
Date Posted: 08 Sep 09 at 7:11pm
Originally posted by Andymac

Originally posted by ColPrice2002


Hi,


<P style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt" ="Msonormal"><SPAN lang=EN-GB><FONT face=Times size=3>11<SPAN style="mso-tab-count: 2">                        </SPAN>Speed Limits</SPAN>


<P style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt" ="Msonormal"><SPAN lang=EN-GB><FONT face=Times><SPAN style="mso-tab-count: 1">              </SPAN>11.1<SPAN style="mso-tab-count: 1">     </SPAN>No master of a vessel shall knowingly cause or permit it to be navigated at a greater speed than 6 miles per hour (eleven kilometres) through the waters of the Lake in any of the following areas:-</SPAN>


From the bylaws - the work "knowingly" is important. If you don't have a log (and that's impractical for a dinghy - nor can you use a GPS device for many classes while racing) then you can't knowingly exceed the speed(?)


Colin



I believe that is very much the case in law with pedal cycles (although many nowadays have mini computers fitted) I don't think a cyclist can be prosecuted for breaking a speed limit on the public highway, but can be prosecuted for reckless riding though!


Speed limits on the road only apply to "motor vehicles" (I've checked).

What cyclists can be done for is pedalling "furiously"!

(Much the same exists in the lake byelaw - there is provision for prosecution for navigating your craft recklessly or endangering others. One would think that would be sufficient to control mad sailors if and when needed!)


Posted By: AlexM
Date Posted: 08 Sep 09 at 7:41pm

I sail on the Menai Straits and in our area there is a 5 Knot speed limit for motor boats which doesn't apply to us or our safety boat

It's patrolled by the harbor master and he's always chasing people down and then we go whizzing passed them  i think we have a good working relationship with the harbor master as he will often help out when our safety boats are stretched to capacity.  However we might be an exception, our club has a very localized membership, i.e. most live with 5miles or so away, so everyone knows each other and it’s treated as part of the community

Alex



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Posted By: Scooby_simon
Date Posted: 08 Sep 09 at 7:52pm

Originally posted by ohFFsake


Even more of a problem is our annual "long distance" races, in which we sail the full length of the lake and back. This runs as an open event and is the highlight of our calendar, but necessitates sailing through a further 6mph limit through Bowness Bay, halfway up the lake. This year a boat was warned for doing an alleged 9kts. (I believe it was a Blaze, so again no feasible way of limiting his downwind speed).

So if we agree not to run races in the speed limit then this race has to go by the board as well, which is a great shame as it has run for donkeys years. Not only that but it runs as a charity race and usually raises about £500 for local causes.


 

Also time to aproach the local papers.  "silly speed limits means the end of charity race, and loss of visitors" etc....



-------------
F16 GBR 553 - Hungry Monster - For sale
Wanna learn to Ski - PM me..
I also talk sport http://www.letshaveachat.com - here


Posted By: ohFFsake
Date Posted: 08 Sep 09 at 8:51pm
Originally posted by ColPrice2002

Hi,


<P =Msonormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-GB><FONT face=Times size=3>11<SPAN style="mso-tab-count: 2">                        </SPAN>Speed Limits</SPAN>


<P =Msonormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-GB><FONT face=Times><SPAN style="mso-tab-count: 1">               </SPAN>11.1<SPAN style="mso-tab-count: 1">     </SPAN>No master of a vessel shall knowingly cause or permit it to be navigated at a greater speed than 6 miles per hour (eleven kilometres) through the waters of the Lake in any of the following areas:-</SPAN>


From the bylaws - the work "knowingly" is important. If you don't have a log (and that's impractical for a dinghy - nor can you use a GPS device for many classes while racing) then you can't knowingly exceed the speed(?)


Colin


Unfortunately, that quote is from an old copy of the byelaws. In the 2008 amendment the word "knowingly" has been omitted...


Posted By: laser4000
Date Posted: 08 Sep 09 at 9:58pm
there was a 'situation' at the hamble warming pan a few years ago where the harbour master got on the VHF and basically told HRSC to abandon racing. It was pretty windy and there was no way the merlins were going at the speed limit for the river - but that wasn't the issue per-se it was more that it was 'dangerous'.

Why/How/when the harbour master has the authority to do that I have no idea, but could put you in touch with someone from HRSC if it helps...


Posted By: ohFFsake
Date Posted: 08 Sep 09 at 10:24pm
Originally posted by laser4000

there was a 'situation' at the hamble warming pan a few years ago where the harbour master got on the VHF and basically told HRSC to abandon racing. It was pretty windy and there was no way the merlins were going at the speed limit for the river - but that wasn't the issue per-se it was more that it was 'dangerous'.Why/How/when the harbour master has the authority to do that I have no idea, but could put you in touch with someone from HRSC if it helps...

From what you say it would seem to be a case of the Harbour Master applying a bit of experience and common sense, rather than the "jobsworth" attitude we seem to be up against.

But if you could put me in touch with someone able to confirm how sailors stand in respect of speed limits in that part of the world I'd be very grateful.


Posted By: Stefan Lloyd
Date Posted: 09 Sep 09 at 7:27am

Originally posted by laser4000

there was a 'situation' at the hamble warming pan a few years ago where the harbour master got on the VHF and basically told HRSC to abandon racing.

There is a 6 knot limit on the river and that applies to sailing boats as well. http://www3.hants.gov.uk/hambleharbour/navigation-safety/river-byelaws.htm - http://www3.hants.gov.uk/hambleharbour/navigation-safety/riv er-byelaws.htm

The harbour master is well known for stopping keelboats kiting up the river but strangely enough, I can't find any basis allowing him to do so in the by-laws.

I kept a boat on the Hamble for several years and still sail out of there regularly. I don't think people regard the harbour master as officious. He's got a very busy and highly congested stretch of water to look after. Windermere can be pretty busy too but I don't think to anything approaching the same extent.

 



Posted By: ColPrice2002
Date Posted: 09 Sep 09 at 10:48am

Hi,

thanks for the update on the 2008 by-laws. I did take the information from the official Windemere site, so it looks like another update has happened (without publicity).

It may be necessary to have a look at the legislation that enabled the making of these by-laws. There is also the possibility of Judicial Review if they fail a "reasonable ness test" - look up "Wednesbury unreasonableness"

Colin

 



Posted By: JimC
Date Posted: 09 Sep 09 at 10:51am
Unfortunately I think its more likely that an exception for racing boats will fail a reasonableness test than vice versa...

There have been a few cases internationally of foiler Moths falling foul of harbour speed limits.


Posted By: hollandsd
Date Posted: 09 Sep 09 at 1:29pm

[/QUOTE]

I believe that is very much the case in law with pedal cycles (although many nowadays have mini computers fitted) I don't think a cyclist can be prosecuted for breaking a speed limit on the public highway, but can be prosecuted for reckless riding though!

[/QUOTE]

I havent been prosecuted but have been stopped after setting a speed camera off when a police car was following whilst cycling downhill.

Dan


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Laser 184084
Tasar 3501
RS600 698
RS600 782


Posted By: ChrisJ
Date Posted: 10 Sep 09 at 8:14am

Brightlingsea start (and finish) their races in a fairly narrow creek, before racing out in the large estuary / sea. The creek has a speed limit (which the harbour master enforces). The sailing club has negotiated a compromise:

The races can continue to start / finish in the creek, as long as the very fast speeds are removed. So: any catamaran (remember: this is the home of Olympic cat gold medals) has to drop its kite when entering the creek. They are still WAY over the speed limit when on a close reach, but the compromise keeps everyone relatively happy.

It might help that the Harbour Master has in the past taught many of the club members to sail!



Posted By: alstorer
Date Posted: 10 Sep 09 at 8:44am
Surely he knows that a lot of fast boats can go faster on a two sail reach (especially in big windds) than they could possibly go with the kite up?

On a related note: I've heard tale of a harbour master at Weston fining a large fleet of Fireflies for tacking up a channel rather than proceeding straight along it? Reputedly they sent him the cheque for the fine (out of class funds) stapled to a long letter explaining how sailing boats work?


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-_
Al


Posted By: ChrisJ
Date Posted: 10 Sep 09 at 2:27pm

Precisely: which is why its always worth discussing a compromise.

The Harbour Master can now report to his masters and any pesky jet-skier that the fast cats have to lower their sails... Meanwhile the cats promise not to get in the way of any yachts trying to manouvre into the moorings.



Posted By: Scooby_simon
Date Posted: 10 Sep 09 at 5:00pm

Originally posted by alstorer

Surely he knows that a lot of fast boats can go faster on a two sail reach (especially in big windds) than they could possibly go with the kite up?

 

I remember a very windy Brightlingsea Hurricane 59 nats when we came down the river at full chat on a broad reach in a good 6-7.  Probably doing 20kts and we could NOT slow down...

good compromise!



-------------
F16 GBR 553 - Hungry Monster - For sale
Wanna learn to Ski - PM me..
I also talk sport http://www.letshaveachat.com - here



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