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.

Need further explanation?
something we can discuss on the porch on Sunday.

This Week's Question

Boat P (on port tack) is running downwind and on a parallel course with a dock less than one length away. Boat S (on starboard tack) is fast approaching P from clear astern and hails, “Starboard!” Approximately five seconds later, S makes minor contact with P’s transom (no damage or injury) and protests. You are on the protest committee; how would you decide this?


Boat P is penalized for breaking rules 10, On Oppo- site Tacks, and rule 14, Avoiding Contact. Though the boats are passing an obstruction (the dock), they are not overlapped, so no part of rule 19.2, Giving Room at an Obstruction, applies. Therefore, although P is clear ahead when she first reaches the obstruction, she gets no protection from rule 19.2 once she and S begin passing the obstruction, and she must therefore keep clear of S under rule 10. Regarding rule 14, it is reasonably possible for P to avoid contact with S by moving out of her way. She fails to do so and breaks rule 14 as a result. It is similarly reasonably possible for S to avoid contact with P, so she also breaks rule 14. However, a right of way boat is exonerated (freed from penalty) by rule 43.1(c), Exoneration, for breaking rule 14 when the contact does not cause damage or injury. In this case it caused neither; therefore S is not penalized.
This quiz was excerpted from Dave Perry’s 100 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. Permission to reprint this quiz for non commercial use is granted by the author.