RULE 18.3
Passing Head to Wind in the Zone

Let’s start by looking at the rule itself:

18.3 Passing Head to Wind in the Zone

If a boat in the zone of a mark to be left to port passes head to wind from port to starboard tack and is then fetching the mark, she shall not cause a boat that has been on starboard tack since entering the zone to sail above close-hauled to avoid contact and she shall give mark-room if that boat becomes overlapped inside her. When this rule applies between boats, rule 18.2 does not apply between them.

Let’s unpack this a little and see what we are looking at. The first part of the rule speaks to when the rule applies.

"If a boat in the zone of a mark to be left to port passes head to wind from port to starboard tack and is then fetching the mark…"

So it applies to a boat that is:

  •  within the zone,
  • approaching a mark that must be left to port (anti-clockwise),
  • passing head to wind (which was simply called "tacking" in the old rules), and then
  • fetching the mark.

Remember, fetching is defined in the definitions of the rules:

Fetching A boat is fetching a mark when she is in a position to pass to windward of it and leave it on the required side without changing tack.

So if we look at fetching in example 1 below we see that in position 2, both yellow and blue are in the zone. Both are on a port tack attempting to round a windward mark that needs to be left to port. Both boats pass head to wind between positions 2 and 3. The only difference is that yellow is fetching for the mark whereas blue needs to tack again to round the mark. This means that at this point in time Rule 18.3 applies only to yellow.

Rule 18.3 explained
Example 1
Yellow is fetching - blue is not

The second part of Rule 18.3 limits the action of the boat on port tack and states that:

"..she shall not cause a boat that has been on starboard tack since entering the zone to sail above close-hauled to avoid contact.."

If we look at example 2 below we can see that at position 3, yellow forces blue to sail above close-hauled as her sail is luffing. So yellow broke Rule 18.3.

Rule 18.3 explained
Example 2
Yellow forces blue to sail above close-hauled

The third part of Rule 18.3 describes the obligations for the boat on port tack and states that:

"..she shall give mark-room if that boat becomes overlapped inside her…"

In example 3 we can see that yellow manages to cuts in front of blue at positions 2 and 3 and thereafter has to give mark-room to blue as there is an overlap: Rule 18.3 is not breached.

Also in example 3, green tacks to starboard in front of blue at position 3 but here too Rule 18.3 is not breached because green’s actions did not force blue to sail above close-hauled. But note that blue does not have to give green mark-room which leads us to the final part of Rule 18.3:

When this rule applies between boats, rule 18.2 does not apply between them.

Example 3
Yellow must give mark-room to blue
Blue does not have to give mark-room to green

You should now have a better understanding of Rule 18.3. Let’s see if the following scenarios fall into place…

Scenario 1

Yellow is sailing in the zone on a port tack towards the mark that needs to be left on her port side. Green is also in the zone and sailing on a starboard tack. Yellow passes head to wind trying to avoid green. Green, in an attempt to avoid yellow, has to sail momentarily past close-hauled. Both boats safely round the mark.

18.3 Passing Head to Wind in the Zone

Does Rule 18.3 apply?

Take a few seconds to look at the scenario. Does Rule 18.3 apply and if so why? What actions are required?

YES, Rule 18.3 applies

Green is in the zone when yellow passes head to wind. By trying to squeeze into the gap, yellow forces green to sail above close-hauled. Yellow should therefore take a two turn penalty under Rule 44.1.

Yellow could have sailed under green at position 3 and given green mark-room when rounding the mark.

Scenario 2

Green is on port and just passes in front of blue after which she tacks and fetches the mark.

18.3 Passing in front

Does Rule 18.3 apply?

Take a few seconds to look at the scenario. Does Rule 18.3 apply and if so when? Are any rules broken?

YES, Rule 18.3 applies

Although green only just stays clear of blue no rules are broken because green gives mark-room to blue as required under Rule 18.3.
Scenario 3

Green sees a bit of space and tacks into it on the inside of blue.

18.3 Tacking before no passing closed haul

Does Rule 18.3 apply?

Take a few seconds to look at the scenario. Are any rules broken?

Yes, Rule 18.3 applies

Because green tacked in the zone and is now fetching the mark, Rule 18.3 applies. However, Rule 18.3 is not broken by green as blue didn't have to sail above closed-hauled.

So to sum up Rule 18.3

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