Racing Rules Weekly Quiz

Each week this season, we will offer a “quiz” question regarding the Racing Rules of Sailing.  Read the scenario below, formulate your answer, then move your mouse over the box to reveal the correct answer.

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something we can discuss on the porch on Sunday.

This Week's Question

Boats S (on starboard tack) and P (on port tack), both close-hauled, are converging on a beat. P will safely cross S. However, when they are less than two lengths apart, the wind veers (shifts to the right) ten degrees. S luffs (changes her course) in response to the wind shift such that P is unable to keep clear. There is minor contact with no damage or injury, and both boats protest. You are on the protest committee; which boat should be penalized? (From Perry, Quiz 6)


Boat S is penalized under rule 16.1, Changing Course. Rule 16.1 states, “When a right-of-way boat changes course, she shall give the other boat room to keep clear.” S changes course when so close to P that P is unable to keep clear and there is contact. Therefore, S failed to give P room to keep clear, thereby breaking rule 16.1. The fact that S’s change of course is in response to a windshift is not relevant to the application of rule 16.1. P breaks rule 10, On Opposite Tacks, but is exonerated (not penalized) under rule 21, Exoneration, or rule 64.1(a), Decisions: Penalties and Exoneration, because she is compelled to break rule 10 by S’s breach of rule 16.1. S also breaks rule 14, Avoiding Contact; but as the right-of-way boat, she is exonerated (not penalized) for breaking rule 14 as the contact does not cause damage or injury (see rule 14(6)). P does not break rule 14, because S changes course so close to P that it is not possible for P to avoid the contact

This quiz was borrowed from the Inland Lake Yachting Association‘s #FairSailing initiative
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Excerpted from Dave Perry’s100 Best Racing Rules Quizzes, available from US Sailing. For a comprehensive explanation of the rules, read Dave Perry’s Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing through 2024, which is also available from US Sailing.