This is probably one of the most forgotten rule in the book. Most of unexperienced protest committees will not apply this rule unless one boat says, during a hearing, she hit the other boat deliberately to produce an evidence.
However, in most incidents involving contact, at least one boat will have broken rule 14. All boats should avoid contact if reasonable possible, but the rule acknowledges that it is not always ‘reasonable possible’ to avoid a contact, but that is not acceptable as an excuse for not making every effort to avoid collision. Usually, a boat that fails to keep clear or does not give room or mark room also breaks rule 14 if there is contact, even without damage. A misjudgment by or a delay from the keep-clear boat cannot be justified as an excuse, even when at the last moment the boat makes every effort to avoid the collision. Poor seamanship is no excuse for breaking rule 14.
The rule is softer for the right-of-way boat. She will only be penalized if the contact causes damage or injury.
WS Cases 27 and 87 establish some principles:
· A boat is not required to anticipate that another boat will break a rule.
· A right-of-way boat need not act to avoid contact until it is clear that the other boat is not keeping clear.
WS cases can be downloaded at: http://www.sailing.org/tools/documents/20172020WorldSailingCaseBook-.pdf
It follows that a boat entitled to room or mark-room, or a right-of-way boat, may assume that the other boat will comply with the rules. Only when it is clear that this will not happen must she do whatever she can to help avoid contact herself.
It is expected to see a reasonable attempt to avoid contact from a boat entitled to room or mark-room, or a right-of-way boat, once it is clear that the other will not comply with the rules and there is risk of contact.
In an umpired race, the dilemma for the sailors is that if they take avoiding action too early, the umpires will green flag the incident. If they leave it too late, there may be contact with damage, or they may themselves be locked into a very bad position (in addition to potentially breaking rule 14).
Some common situations:
At position 1, it is not clear that Blue will not be keeping clear. At position 2 there is very little Yellow can do to avoid contact – all she can try to do at this stage is to manoeuvre to minimize the damage. If there is a collision in this situation – only Blue breaks rule 14.
In the second diagram, Blue makes a misjudgement when she tries to cross in front of yellow. In this situation, both boats will break rule 14 if there is damage. At position 1, it is reasonable possible for Blue to avoid the contact. When it becomes clear that Blue will not keep clear, it is still reasonable possible for Yellow to avoid the contact.
Now Blue is luffing Yellow. If Yellow does not respond, Blue should curtail her luff before there is contact. If Blue makes contact with Yellow and there is damage or injury, Blue breaks rule 14, as it would have been reasonably possible to avoid luffing into Yellow. If Yellow was given room to keep clear when Blue luffed, then Yellow too breaks rule 14 because she should have avoided the contact by keeping clear. If Yellow was initially keeping clear of Blue, and she responded promptly to the luff but Blue did not give her room to keep clear, then only Blue breaks rule 14 as it would then not be reasonable possible for Yellow to avoid the contact.
Another difficult situation is at the leeward marks. The boat entitle to mark-room, when sailing within the room or mark-room to which she is entitled, will be exonerated if she breaks rule 15 or rule 16. However, there is no provision for exonerating a rule 14 break. Therefore, the clear ahead boat must be careful when closing the door into a boat who gets a late inside overlap. The video below shows Asko Nobel avoiding Vesta and protesting her for getting mark-room she was not entitle to. If Asko closed the door to Vesta, It would result in damage and she could be disqualified for breaking rule 14.
In conclusion, after analysing some basic scenarios, we may say the boat who hit the other boat with her bow usually is the one who could had avoided the collision at the last moment. If the right-of-way boat hit the other boat with the bow, she probably brakes rule 14 and she will be penalized if the contact cause damage or injury. In addition, by avoiding contact, the right-of-way boat has also very low risk of being penalized by rule 15 (acquiring right of way) or 16 (changing course). On the other hand, in situations where the keep-clear boat is able to avoid contact at the very last moment by making a sudden change of course, it is normally not reasonably possible for the right-of-way boat to avoid the contact.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS