Tacking to the Windward Mark and Back
I am writing this article in the hope we as a fleet can open a dialogue, on this web site, where the experienced sailors can give input and others can ask questions about rounding the weather mark.
The latest Racing Rules (2009-2012) were changed to address “Tacking when approaching a Mark”. We also know that when our H20 fleet is approaching the windward mark on starboard, seemingly in a good position, it is common to end up in fourth place down wind, due to Prot Tackers. This is what the new rule was designed to eliminate: Yes or No???
Our Harbor 20, Idros, has a hole in its bow from a Weather mark conflagration, hence the frown on her face when you see her out racing. The problem as I see it, has many parts to it. These may uniquely relate to our one design fleet and our boats and may not necessarily be covered by “facts found” in a protest.
Here is our broad review as I see it:
The rule 18.3 says port tack boats, tacking within three boat lengths, have added restrictions on them
(a) The port tack boat cannot force a starboard tack boat above close hauled as they round the mark.
– Well, we all watch port tack boats squeak up to the mark clear the fleet of five boats coming on starboard and then come to a virtual stop as H20’s do when you have to push the tiller over hard. The problem for the Starboard tack boats in 5knots (normal) of breeze as you approach the mark with 5 boats around and beside you, pinching will slow your boat significantly, causing everyone around you to bump, crash and burn. So going above close haul will cause a collision for sure. As I see it, the only advantage in doing this is you will be able to bring five witnesses to the hearing; the problem is you have lost the race and will most likely lose the hearing for causing a collision.
(b) The port tack boat must give an inside boat room at the mark.
– As one sailor has suggested, the starboard tack boat should fall off and point at the port tacker, in this way picking up speed to go inside. Hopefully the port tacker will bail out and all will be good. Our experience says, the port tacker does not bail out, now you will be the inside boat and the port tack boat must give you room. In our experience this is also problematic. The port tacker normally sees the gaggle of boats coming and tacks close to the mark to give maximum room and protect their ?? leading position. So even though you are now the inside boat, the port tacker cannot give you room because he is committed and even if the rest of the fleet gives her room, when they put the tiller down to give you room, the transom pivots about the keel again and either hits the inside starboard tacker or pushes her into the mark.
The aim of our fleet clearly has to be, to have clean fair racing. I believe this is relatively easy, all that has to happen is; we all follow the rules or take our penalty turns when we make mistakes, which we ALL make. To bring reality to this we have to occasionally protest and go to the room.
Well it should be easy, but we regularly have incidents where a starboard tacker went from first or second going to the mark to a long way back after the rounding. More of Peter Haynes’s seminars on the rules will always help, but if we are to continue to grow our fleet, fun racing is where it’s at and losing 3 places at the windward mark or worse, a frown of the bow, is not fun.
My question is, how can we show other competitors and judges she has to go above close hauled to avoid the tacking boat 18.3 (a) without causing problems for all boats except the port tacker. To duck down inside 18.3 (b) and call for room will cause a collision 9 out of 10 times.
YES / NO ? what is the answer? Please click comment and add your input, a good positive discussion can only help our fleet get more enjoyment from our sport.
by Warren Duncan, #34 Idros