In a recent Wed. night race, I crossed the start line and from clear astern was overlapped by boat "W1". W1 was bearing down on me (I was to leeward) and I hailed him to come up. He responded that he couldn't and delayed taking any action until he was overlapped to windward first by W2 and then by W3. W1 didn't hail W2 to come up (perhaps because he couldn't point higher than W2, or was just being stubborn). I hailed continually and said if he couldn't come up, W1 had to tack. I was successful in the protest, but want to learn from the experience. In the event L1 wants to come up, and there are multiple boats to windward, can W1 hail and then require room to tack from W2 and W3 if W1 can't point high enough to keep clear of L1? If not, it would appear that 3 boats would be fouling the leeward boat that has right of way (and more than anyone's fair share of a wind shadow). A crew member on W1 videotaped the incident and it has been posted on youtube if anyone would care to see it. I can give you the link. BTW, W1 has a long history of rules violations...as well as hitting marks, race committee boats, other racing boats, etc.
Funny that W1 is documenting themselves foupling other boats with video and posting it online. I am having a hard time understanding what w1 means when they say they couldn't come up. It may not have been an ideal heading for him, but it sounds like he could have sailed higher. In other words, at the time when you first hailed him, it sounds like there was no obstruction to windward of him, and not even any boats directly to windward. It would also help to see a diagram showing all the boats involved, maybe I am missing something.
the video was brought to the protest hearing by a witness on W1; he thought there would be a way to view it, but there wasn't. I saw if afterwards and one of the protest committee members posted it. W1 delayed taking action until he was overlapped by W2, then further delayed and W3 overlapped. W1, W2 and W3 each came across the line in single file, just to leeward of the Race Committee boat. W1 could have (should have) tacked around the RC boat to keep clear of me. Instead, he stubbornly proceeded to bear down on me to leeward as I consistently hailed him to come up. By delaying, he thought he was justified in saying he couldn't take action because he had a boat to windward of him, and later two to windward. He didn't hail either boat to windward of him, I presume that he thought he could "entrap" himself and not have to take action. My question is, what is required under the rules if he can't sail any higher to come up to keep clear of me and can't tack into the boats to windward of him. Is he required to hail them that he has to tack if that's what it takes to stay clear of me to leeward and do they have to tack to allow him to tack? It's like a row of dominoes - one goes and all the boats to windward would have to go, if I am entitled to enforce my leeward rights against them. The youtube video is titled DSCF1024Peniless.avi. I protested the same boat last year and won, largely in part because the evidence he and his crewmember gave made my case (a port/starboard situation).
Unless I am missing something in the description of what happened, there is no reason why w1 could not have headed up once he had w2 overlapped to windward, since w2 would have been obligated to head up as well. The same would have been true with w2 and w3. It sounds like w1 is trying to say that two wrongs (or three) make a right.
From my understanding of what you are describing, Rule 11 is the only rule in play here.
When boats are on the same tack and overlapped, a windward boat
shall keep clear of a leeward boat.
Rule 17 would not be in play, since a) there is no proper course before a start, and b) on a windward leg you proper course would be close hauled, which you were. The video does not show anyone sailing above close hauled with sails luffing, which is the only defense I could see for w1.
Just out of curiosity, what was w1's defense? What rule did he think gave him rights over your boat?
I agree with you. W1's "defense" was that he couldn't do anything because he was hemmed in between me to leeward and the boat to windward of him. Since he didn't hail W2 or W3 to come up, and didn't protest them either, his defense fell apart and he lost. Had he hailed W2 and they didn't keep clear of him, he most likely would have been exonerated. In my opinion, that would be totally unfair to me (as in 3 wrongs don't make a right), and I had asked for redress in the event my protest under Rule 11 was not upheld.
My original question was specifically if W1 could have required W2 (and similarly if W2 could have required W3) to tack to keep clear of me if they couldn't come up any higher and tacking was the only way to keep clear. I've been racing against these same skippers since 1994 and their "style" of racing is to ignore the rules and try to intimidate the boat that has right of way. Most of the skippers just let it go and don't protest, but I believe in complying with the rules and winning honestly. I think my crew deserves that in addition to myself and all the other skippers.