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.
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.
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.
You should now have a better understanding of Rule 18.3. Let’s see if the following scenarios fall into place…
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.
So to sum up Rule 18.3…
- Rule 18.3 is in place to enable an orderly rounding of the windward mark.
- Rule 18.3 abolishes the mark-room rules that are part of Rule 18.2 but only for boats moving towards the windward mark on port tack.
- If you are passing head to wind (tack from port to starboard) in the zone and are fetching the mark, you cannot make other boats sailing on a starboard tack sail above close-hauled.
- If you are on a port tack and you tack to starboard whilst in the zone then you must thereafter give mark-room to any boat that was in the zone on a starboard tack if or when they become overlapped.