Sizing Up the Zone


January 15th, 2008 · 


 Hi! You don’t need to read this article!

Not that you ever thought you needed to read anything else I ever wrote, but the only thing I’m going to say today is something really silly. Nonetheless, I think this bears repeating:

Big Boats need more room to turn than Little Boats.

Since I get paid by the inch here (joke), let me give you some details:

Do you remember last week? Neither do I. However, re-reading COM it looks like I wrote about a few races where ”turns at the marker buoys“ seemed to be important.  No surprise, this week showed many other races where those marker turns proved critical for the winning skipper. I could tell you about those races, but I won’t… at least not today. Instead, I want to talk about the size of your error-genous zone.

I’m sure you have all seen it.  Surrounding many of the race buoys in USS and the ACA sims you will find a faint, broken white circle. That’s the Two Boatlength  Zone where its easy to make errors since special rules apply:

2 boat length zone

 You need a Zone because things often get tense when more than one race skipper approachs a marker at the same time. Extra rules kick in, particularly Rule 18. Here’s part of IASF Rule 18 as it applies to Real-Life sailboat racing:


In rule 18, room is room for an inside boat to round or pass between an outside boat and a mark or obstruction, including room to tack or gybe when either is a normal part of the manoeuvre. …

18.2 Giving Room; Keeping Clear

 When boats are overlapped the outside boat shall give the inside boat room to round or pass the mark or obstruction, and if the inside boat has right of way the outside boat shall also keep clear. Other parts of rule 18 contain exceptions to this rule.clear astern becomes overlapped outside the other boat, she shall also give the inside boat room. If the boat clear astern becomes overlapped inside the other boat, she is not entitled to room. If the boat that was clear ahead passes head to wind, rule 18.2(c) no longer applies and remains inapplicable.Confused? Me too. It basically says that if two overlapped boats enter the zone, the inside boat has ROW. It’s a common problem, as demonstrated by the fourth race in this past Sunday’s Big-Boat series:
If boats were overlapped before either of them reached the twolength zone and the overlap is broken after one of them has reached it, the boat that was on the outside shall continue to give the other boat room. If the outside boat becomes clear astern or overlapped inside the other boat, she is not entitled to room and shall keep clear.
If a boat was clear ahead at the time she reached the two-length zone, the boat clear astern shall thereafter keep clear. If the boat


Gemma inside, Vin outside

As you can see, Gemma Vuckovic and Vin Mariani are overlapped, and Gemma has the inside track within the “zone.” Vin was subsequently disqualified when he fouled Gemma’s boat taking the turn. This was a particularly interesting case, however, since Vin’s boat was technically outside the Zone for much, if not all, of the Marker turn.

Don’t worry. I’m not to go into a long, tedious discussion of the nuances of Sailing Rules here (cough, good grief).  Let me just say I usually reduce SL Racing’s Rule 18 to two simple ideas:

#1: If you are heading for the mark and enter the Zone overlapped with another boat, the INSIDE boat has Right Of Way (ROW), and

#2: If you are heading for the mark and another, non-overlapped boat is trying to do the same thing, the boat on STARBOARD TACK has ROW.

 I’m only bringing this whole business up to make one simple, new point: The Two Boatlength Circle we standardly use to decide this stuff is designed for Tako races; it does not apply for other boat classes. Take a look at the picture below:

Little Tako, Big Larinda

A Tako is shorter than a Larinda (Mirabile dictu)! It prolly violates Newtonian physics to fit two or more Larindas within that two-boatlength circle we currently use. If you look at the image below, two Larinda boatlengths is pretty much the full distance from the Bismarck Sea red Race Buoy to the NYC Clubhouse!

Two Larinda length goes to clubhouse

I’d therefore like to argue for a small change that will hopefully prove easy to swallow. For future SL Sailboat races where Rule 18 is enforced, the white circles should only be used for Tako, Fizz and Beach Cat competitions. For Trudeau, ACA32, and ACC races, the ‘zone’ is much larger and should be left to the discretion of the Race Director.

I know that’s a tiny, obscure point… but it wasn’t so bad, was it?


Got that? Good!

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