RRS 2009 changes

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The RRS revised for 2009-2012 has a number of changes to wording and sections, but the game has largely not been changed for radio sailors (with the possible exception noted by Brig North and Steve Landeau to Rule 17).  These are the major differences I could see (and see the various updates at some of the paragraphs arising from the RYA Race Officers Conference in January 2009).

Rule 17.  Previously, in 17.1 a leeward overtaking boat generally could not luff up the windward boat, and in 17.2 a windward boat generally could not sail low to block a leeward over-taker.  In the new rules, only 17.1 remains.  The loss of 17.2 now allows a windward boat to steer any course she likes, including attempting to block the leeward over-taker.  (When she is overlapped to leeward, of course, Rule 11 'windward-leeward' kicks in and limits her, and this is likely to happen immediately she steers low if the leeward over-taker is anywhere near by.)

Mark rounding (Rule 18).  'Mark room' is the new name given to room at the mark.  The definition of mark room (see the definitions at the end of the RRS) explicitly provides for room to be given to the inside boat to tack, but ONLY IF she is overlapped to windward at the time.  Otherwise she loses her right to mark room if she passes head to wind.

Boats are now considered to be about to round or pass a mark when one of them is in the zone, and in this case they gain their rights to 'mark room'.  A boat with rights to mark room loses those rights if and when she exits the zone.  Update:  She also is no longer entitled to mark room when she has passed the mark.  I missed this originally, but it follows from the definition of mark room.  Mark room is only available when a boat is sailing to the mark, or is at the mark.  It is therefore not available otherwise...

New for 2009 is exoneration.  A boat entitled to mark room shall be exonerated if she breaks a rule (see *) because another boat failed to provide mark room.  She shall also be exonerated if she breaks a rule (see **) while sailing her proper course in rounding the mark.  That is, she does not need to give a boat room to keep clear when she changes course or acquires right of way.  A boat must now anticipate such outcomes or actions from a boat rounding a mark.

* The rules involved are the Part A rules: port-starboard, windward-leeward, ahead-astern, while tacking.  ** The rules involved are the Part A rules, and also the rules about changing course or acquiring right of way.

BUT NOTE a boat is still not exonerated if she touches the mark because another boat failed to provide mark room. This still requires her to go to protest.  BOTTOM LINE:  Now more than ever before, make sure that you do not touch the mark while rounding;  allow the other boat to touch you instead.  John  Ball has a suggestion for a change to the SIs, see below.

Update:  There is ongoing discussion, not yet concluded, whether the inside boat can sail in wide and exit tight as part of sailing her proper course as permitted by mark room.  That is, can she do a tactical rounding?  Opinion was divided...

Room at an obstruction (Rule 19).  I parse the revised definition of overlap as saying, “Boats on opposite tacks are overlapped when [...] both boats are sailing more than ninety degrees from the true wind”. So broad reaching (one of the boats would have to be sailing by the lee) or running boats on opposite tacks can now be (officially) overlapped.

I think the only time this makes a difference is in the application of the revised Rule 19 about room to pass an obstruction. The game has changed at obstructions to the extent that, like Rule 18 where an inside overlap gives you rights to round even though you may be on port, the new definition of overlap gives you rights at an obstruction when you are broad reaching or running even though you might be on port.

Update:  There is a nasty little effect of rule 19 because it can now apply at the same time as rule 18 applies.  Imagine a boat pushing herself between an inside and an outside pair of boats while they are all in the zone.  By rule 19, the inside boat is an obstruction to the pusher, and so the outside boat is now surprised to discover she is obliged to give the pusher room.  It is likely that the outside boat can protest and win, but only if she gives pusher room to round the mark.  Should she make contact with pusher, she is not exonerated, since there is no provision for exoneration in Rule 19, only in Rule 18...

Obstructions (Rule 20).  It is now explicit that a boat hailing for room at an obstruction must wait for the other boat to respond.  New for 2009 is exoneration.  A hailing boat is exonerated if she breaks a rule while taking the room to which she is entitled AFTER the other boat has responded.

Interfering (Rule 23).  A boat can 'interfere' with a boat taking a penalty turn provided she is sailing her proper course at the time.

Outside help (E4.2).  It is now officially allowed to receive information freely available to all competitors.

(A little conundrum remains, however.  If you are helped while you are in danger (or are ill or injured), well, you have just violated the outside help Rule, and so you must retire.  This means that if you accidently fall in the pond, you must absolutely refuse all help getting out if you wish to continue racing...!  Update: This now needs to be corrected by a Sailing Instruction, as below, since it is a little unfair to DSQ a boat because of such an accident.)

ISAF-RSD classes.  Interestingly, the ISAF-RSD is presumed to no longer exist (smile);  the organisation is now called ISAF RCS (Radio Controlled Sailing).  Changes to Rule E6 now officially identify the IOM, Marblehead, etc, as ISAF RCS classes.

Recommended additions to the Standard Sailing Instructions.  A number of detail changes to wording in the RRS 2009-2012 mean that some SSIs for radio sailing are no longer needed.  My suggestion to the SSIs that are still needed include:

In Rule 31, re-number Rule 31 to 31.1.  Add: “31.2 When a boat is wrongfully compelled by another boat to break Rule 31.1, she shall be exonerated if the other boat acknowledges breaking a Rule of Part 2 by taking a penalty or retiring immediately.

Update:  In Rule E4.2(b), add "(4) accidental immersion".  (The exact wording is under consideration by the RYA.)

In Rule E4.5(a), add: “A boat shall not start in a heat in which she is scheduled to sail after the first boat finishes.” (better wording provided by John  Ball)

In Rule E5.2, add: “or words to that effect which shall include the word ‘protest’ or its declensions and conjugations.

In Rule E6(b), add: “owner’s or the” before “competitor’s personal number”.

Update:  Previously, John Ball suggested the simpler:
In Rule 18.5(a), add "or rule 31" after "a rule of Section A".
In Rule 18.5(b), add "or 31" after "a rule of Section A or rule 15 or 16".
However, this falls foul of Rule 86.  I understood from a discussion I had with the Chairman of the RYA Racing Rules Committee that they were looking carefully at a submission to ISAF that Rule 31 should be added to the Rule 18.5 exonerations, but in the interim the Sailing Instructions cannot make this addition.  It must be done via a change to the existing Rule 31, as above.


©2022 Lester Gilbert