Clarification of rules question in pre start

I posted the following to Matthew Knowles, a US sailing Racing Rules Committee member who writes a blog called Unruly at

Hi there

I have been enjoying your blog.  Discussion of the RRS is improving my overall rules knowledge.

Anyway, I have a rules question that came up when I was discussing pre-start with a member of the local Tasar fleet that I race with here in Vancouver BC.  Here's the situation:

In the last minute of the start, two boats are approaching the start below a close hauled course on parallel courses aiming to start about 1/3 of the way in from the boat end.  Boat W continues to slowly approach their chosen start point, but boat L accelerates and drops to leeward and obtains an overlap, then heads up and calls for room.

Is W required to give room because she L is Leeward, or is she not required to give room because L is the overtaking boat?

Thanks in advance

Joel Taylor

I got the following response by email.

Hi Joel,

Glad to hear you are enjoying the blog.

There is no provision concerning an "overtaking boat" in the Racing Rule of Sailing. That concept from the COLREGS does not carry over.

In your scenario, W must keep clear of L under rule 11. However, L must initially give W room to keep clear at the time the overlap begins (rule 15) and must also give W room to keep clear of her each time L alters course (rule 16). To put it differently, W must do everything she can to keep clear, but L can't do anything that makes it impossible for W to do so.



I like this explanation and will be using it in my Learn To Race teaching.