This video shot by shows tight action at a windward mark during the RC44 Cup in Marstrand, Sweden the first weekend of July 2021. The lead boat RUS 21 shows great down-speed boat handling. She does several quick tacks in succession and luffs around the windward mark, all the while staying in front of the fleet. The question is: did RUS 21 pull off a slick move to round the windward mark first or should she get the flick for breaking a rule. Things to think about: 

When RUS 10 originally tacked from port to starboard, was she in the zone? Does 18.3 apply?

Watch the video and draw your own conclusions. The answer is below.

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In the initial meeting of the two boats, RUS 21 that was on port and then tacked on the leeward bow of RUS 10. RUS 10 immediately tacked away and RUS 21 followed. At this point both boats were either in the zone of the windward mark or very close to it. RUS 10 tacked to starboard and RUS 21 delayed her tack to starboard until the last possible moment. Even so, she was shy of making the mark. Therefore, she sailed to the mark with her sails luffing. Normally as a leeward boat, she is entitled to luff to get around the mark as long as she does not go beyond head to wind.

What the three jury boats missed, but you can clearly see in the “God’s Eye” view of the drone video is that RUS 21 never completed her tack to starboard. RUS 21 luffed RUS 10 before falling off to a closehauled course. If you watch carefully, you can see that RUS 21’s fully trimmed jib never stopped luffing. Rule 13 clearly says:

After a boat passes head to wind, she shall keep clear of other boats until she is on a close-hauled course. During that time rules 10, 11 and 12 do not apply.

Since RUS 21 never completed her tack from Port to Starboard, she never became the right of way leeward boat with luffing rights.

In the end, it wasn’t a slick move…it was a flick!

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