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Dodging Yachts


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During the NSW Paper Tiger State Titles at Toronto, 3 sailing clubs had overlapping courses.

It wasn't too bad tacking around a 505 fleet's start while going upwind, but after rounding the windward mark we were on starboard tack, close hauled, pinching a little to make the wing mark in one tack (the wind shifted).

Coming up from the left, on port tack, was a line of 8 or so large yachts, all close hauled.

Normally you might call "starboard" and claim right of way, but we were accelerating from 5 to 15knots with gusts of wind, while they plodded along at a steady 3 knots. It was easier for us to judge their trajectory and go around them.

And there was about 10 of us in a line; so should we make them go behind all of us?

I was lucky and crossed just in front of their lead boat and made it safely to the mark.

Supposing you were on collision course with them, what would you do?

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We have this on Sydney harbour every time i sail on it, be it on the Windrush or Sport Boats or in the Sydney 38.

Answer - Yes, call starboard on them and only at the last minute get out of the road if they arent going to.

Why? Because under both sailing rules and maritime rules they have to give way.

Just because they think they are bigger is not an excuse... seen it all too many times, they have the manouverability to do it.

I mean common sense here too, if your on a 14ft cat and u've got a 70+ footer bearing down at u on port, just get the hell out of its way, because you can. But under 40ft i make them give way until the last minute.

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Yep - that gets my vote, hairy as it may be at times.

But what about cruising giving way to racing? This seems to be good manners to me - do others agree?

Having said that, I witnessed a clash of vocal chords on Saturday on Pittwater where a 40' mono racing under kite bore down on a 30' mono cruising under main only, and expected the cruiser to get out of its way. Rules about the overtaking boat apply surely, when there is no disadvantage (a 2° course change 100m earlier would have separated them by 30m).

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True enough - but I should have made clearer that the racer was coming up almost dead astern of the cruiser, maybe from a couple of degrees on the stbd qtr, on stbd tack. It just seemed a little churlish when he had plenty of time and room to change course ever so slightly and keep clear (as the overtaking boat).

Anyway, at the speeds they were going - what with their lumps of lead pointing at China - there was plenty of time for the skippers to have a long conversation about the rights and wrongs of it all. Had they been cats, the conversation would have been "Hey...!!" with a "What the..." in reply, then gone. :)

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