Rule of the Month: Windward-Leeward

Greetings sailors! During our April 10 practice racing we’ll concentrate on the basic windward-leeward rule: When boats are on the same tack and overlapped, a windward boat shall keep clear of a leeward boat.

Here’s a diagram that explains the terms:

When a boat is sailing by the lee, the leeward side is the side the mainsail is on. (B is sailing by the lee by heading more than 180 degrees from the wind.)

To define overlap, the RRS start with clear astern and clear ahead:

Two boats are overlapped when neither is clear astern:

Also, they are overlapped when a boat between them overlaps both. In this case both A and B must keep clear of C.

Here’s a test. Are these boats overlapped? If so, which boat has to keep clear?

They are on the same tack and overlapped, because neither is clear astern. A is on B’s windward side, so A has to keep clear.

But wait, there’s still more to learn about establishing or breaking an overlap, and limitations on the leeward boat’s actions. Stay tuned!

Please respond to me with comments, questions, or suggestions. -Stan McKay

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