Boats W (a windward boat) and L (a leeward boat) are reaching towards the gybe mark. L becomes overlapped with W from clear astern. They are both sailing proper courses and are on a collision course. As they near each other, W hails, “You came from clear astern and I’m on my proper course.” L replies, “I’m on my proper course.” W’s boom then touches L with no damage or injury and both protest. You are on the protest committee; how would you decide this?
Boat W is penalized under rule 11, On the Same Tack, Overlapped, for failing to keep clear of a leeward boat, and rule 14, Avoiding Contact, for failing to avoid contact when it was possible to do so. When L first became overlapped with W, she was required to give W room to keep clear under rule 15, Acquiring Right of Way, which she did. Because L overlaps W from clear astern, rule 17 requires L not to sail above her (L’s) proper course. L is sailing on her proper course (not above it) and W fails to keep clear. L could have avoided making contact with W, but didn’t; therefore she
breaks rule 14. But a right-of-way boat is exonerated (not penalized) for breaking rule 14 when the contact does not cause damage or injury (see rule 14(b)).
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