We were racing the other weekend at Seattle Yacht Club’s Grand Prix. This is considered by many to be the season championship for local PHRF boats. I was driving a Beneteau 40.7 and had a common situation develop that I could not remember the proper response for.
We were on starboard tack after the start, heading to the weather mark. The wind was 10-13k and unsettled. We had a Farr 39 crossing us on port tack, but just barely. It was going to be pretty close, but it appeared they were going to cross us. When they were about a boatlength from our bow, we got a puff, which was also a veer. I immediately responded by coming up on the lift. This, however, would have resulted in us T-boning the Farr somewhere abaft of midships. So I pulled the helm down and ducked their stern and yelled ‘Protest’.
They did their 720 and we raced on without incident.
But later I started thinking about it. Am I required, as the burden vessel, to hold my course or can I continue to sail the fastest course possible? In other words, was I allowed to come up on the lift and was the give-way vessel required to allow sufficient room for any changes in wind speed/direction. In addition, had I yelled ‘Starboard’ and had the other vessel replied ‘Hold your course’, would that have changed the situation at all?
This is a fairly common situation and I would be very interested in feedback. Thank you very much for your assistance.