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Mark Room

Race Details

  • Wind: 4 knots, gusting to 8, shifted to the south
  • Course: Drop Mark (near 14) -1-drop
  • Temperature: 30 feels like 40°C
  • RaceQs Link: Not tonight (forgot my phone at home)
  • Results Link: Visit
Course Map


  1. Bowman: Fourhands
  2. Mastman: Fourhands
  3. Understudy: null
  4. Pit: Afterguy
  5. Foresail Trimmer: Lazy Sheet
  6. Mainsail Trimmer: Squirrel
  7. Helm: StarPort

No, this report is not named after all the guys named Mark in the crew.  Besides, on Thursdays we only have one Mark.  (Tuesdays we have three — go figure!).  Instead this is named for a very important rule in the Racing Rules of Sailing.  Tonight we put that rule to very good use, overtaking both Battlewagon and Big Yellow in one bold move (and a very tight squeeze).  We even earned a protest flag and few F-bombs from our friends (?) aboard Big Yellow, but I’m confident that will come to naught.

For those of you interested in the technicalities, I’ve pasted the rule, and our rebuttal below, but the video is worth more words than I can type or paste, so let’s start with that!

It was a fun race, but very unusual.  After the first few fleets got away, the wind shifted about 90 degrees to the south so that it became a drag race on beam reaches to and from the mark.  That made for very crowded roundings, and a lot of decisions to make as we passed a lot of boats.  So, the spinnaker stayed down and we focused on speed and some interesting decisions at each of the roundings.  At the first mark, the decision to squeeze in was rewarded handily, but at the second rounding, I think we would have been better to sail up and above all the boats after rounding.  Clearer air would have been rewarded, but instead we wallowed in dirty air, losing ground to our competitors.

All that added up to a photo finish with Battlewagon, and they got us by a nose.

But never mind all that — the thrill was at the windward mark.  We had a nice line to the mark to leeward of Battelwagon and Big Yellow.  As we approached the mark, they were approaching also, from a position to windward, sloping down to the mark.  Big Yellow was on a course to close the door on us, but the rule says that if the leeward boat has overlap three boat-lengths from the mark, the windward boat has to give “Mark Room” — enough room for the leeward boat to round the mark.  I put all our eggs in that basket — there really was no room to maneuver as the boats ahead who had just rounded were now heading straight back toward us, just to leeward.  Things got tighter and tighter until I hollered “Overlap” at Big Yellow and they made room for us.  But oh, were they unhappy, and they let us know it.  They protested, claiming we had no overlap, and tried to engage us in an uncivil, passionate debate.  But we kept our cool, kept quiet, and stayed focused on sailing our boat.  Make sure you have the volume up on the video, so you can catch all the spice.

Once we got away from the traffic, we were grinning like cheshire cats!

Unfortunately, Big Yellow did eventually overtake us, giving them another chance to ‘offer us some advice’.  They were trying to goad us into doing a penalty turn to exonerate ourselves.  It was another invitation to get distracted, to which I merely responded that we could discuss it on Monday (ie: at the protest hearing). Fun!

So, here’s the rule:

18.2 Giving Mark-Room

(a) When boats are overlapped the outside boat shall give the inside boat mark-room, unless rule 18.2(b) applies.

(b) If boats are overlapped when the first of them reaches the zone, the outside boat at that moment shall thereafter give the inside boat mark-room. If a boat is clear ahead when she reaches the zone, the boat clear astern at that moment shall thereafter give her mark-room.

(c) When a boat is required to give mark-room by rule 18.2(b), (1) she shall continue to do so even if later an overlap is broken or a new overlap begins; (2) if she becomes overlapped inside the boat entitled to mark-room, she shall also give that boat room to sail her proper course while they remain overlapped. However, if the boat entitled to mark-room passes head to wind or leaves the zone, rule 18.2(b) ceases to apply.

(d) If there is reasonable doubt that a boat obtained or broke an overlap in time, it shall be presumed that she did not.

(e) If a boat obtained an inside overlap from clear astern or by tacking to windward of the other boat and, from the time the overlap began, the outside boat has been unable to give markroom, she is not required to give it.

So, this protest hearing (if there is one), will depend on whether the protest committee is convinced we had overlap when Big Yellow got to within three boat-lengths of the mark.  If they are not convinced (ie: think we got it later than that), then Big Yellow was not required to give Mark Room.  Hence, I have prepared my rebuttal (good thing the camera was on)!

The Rebuttal

(All times below refer to the accompanying video)

1:24.  PERSPECTIVE established overlap ON Take Notice Again at first rounding of windward mark, and maintained overlap through to the mark.  At this time we are six boat-lengths from the mark.



1:31.  It became clear that Take Notice Again would need to alter course to provide “Mark Room” (4.5 boat lengths from the mark)



1:34.  Hailed “Overlap”, with 4+ boat lengths to the mark



1:45 Take Notice Again provided “Mark Room” with more than one boat length to the mark (Battlewagon has begun to round, ahead of Chinook, which is clear ahead of Take Notice Again)145cartoon


1:53. PERSPECTIVE rounds the mark, 29s after establishing overlap on Take Notice Again



A comment on distances and times.  We were travelling approximately 4 knots, or 2 m/s, which means we travelled a boat length (10m for PERSPECTIVE, 12m for Take Notice Again) every five seconds.

2 thoughts to “Mark Room”

  1. Update on the photo finish. It was scored as a tie with Battlewagon in elapsed time. After handicaps, Battlewagon comes out ahead — reminds me to work on our PHRF rating again this winter. They should owe us time, rather than the other way around.

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