The Racing Rules of Sailing offer two methods to protect boats before their start from interference from boats that have been racing or intend to race in a later start.
“If reasonably possible, a boat not racing shall not interfere with a boat that is racing.”
‘Boats whose warning signal has not been made shall avoid the starting area during the starting sequence for other races.’
If possible, clearly define the starting area
While these options should be sufficient in most instances, some race committees have adopted alternative rules to achieve the same objective.
Note that rule 23.1 and the rule suggested above deliberately do not use the term ‘keep clear’. Rules intended to protect boats before their start must take care not to use this term because in any situation there must be only one right-of-way boat, and therefore only one ‘keep-clear’ boat. No rule in the notice of race or sailing instructions can change a primary right of way rule (rules 10 to 13). The correct approach is to place a restriction on the right-of-way boat or to place a further obligation on the keep-clear boat.
Give the race committee the power to penalize a boat without a hearing, for instance with a rule in the notice of race or sailing instructions such as:
‘When the race committee sees a boat breaking rule 23.1 it may, without a hearing, [disqualify her from her nearest race] [penalize her in her nearest race with a xx% scoring penalty calculated as stated in rule 44.3(c)], notifying her in the race results. This changes rules 63.1 and A5.1.’
A rule in the notice of race or sailing instructions may prohibit boats whose warning signal has not been displayed from entering a defined area which includes the starting line. For example:
‘Boats shall not enter the area bounded by the following Navigation Buoys until [n minutes before] their Warning Signal: [e.g., West Bramble, South Bramble, Prince Consort and Gurnard.]’
These measures can be effective only against boats that have been racing or are intending to race. Other boats that stray into the starting area are subject to the rights as well as the obligations of the IRPCAS or local navigation rules.