Coach Tip of the Week: Room to tack vs room to pass astern

Consider the following scenario, common in one design fleets as they converge on the weather mark.

The line of starboard tack boats are defined under the rules as an obstruction to the two port tack boats. The two competing rules for the port tack boats are that the yellow boat is claiming room to pass astern of the group of boats, while the green boat wants to tack and is claiming room to tack.

So which of the yellow and green is correct?

If you were to change the scenario to the situation below, where both boats are approaching a different type of obstruction, in this case a breakwater, everyone clearly understands the situation that the green boat can call for “room to tack” and the yellow boat is required to give them that room.

Going back to the first situation, the applicable rules are exactly the same – the green boat can call for room to tack and the yellow boat is required to respond immediately. Both the parade of starboard boats and the breakwater are considered “obstructions” and the same rules apply.

However, if the green boat does decide to bear away and duck the line of starboard tackers, then the yellow boat may call for “room” and the green boat is required to give the yellow boat room to pass between themselves and the stern of the blue boat.

The main thing is that there needs to be some early call by the green boat if they are intending to tack.