Before their starting signal, two overlapped boats, L and W, are approaching the starting line on parallel closehauled courses, roughly a boat width apart. With about 20 seconds to go, L slowly begins to luff above closehauled. In order to keep clear, W also luffs. However, W is worried about being over the line early, so she does not luff as quickly nor as far as she could. As a result, the boats converge. L continues luffing slowly until the boats hit side to side, which creates a large crack in W's rubrail. Both boats file valid protests. If you were on the jury, which boat(s) would you penalize?
Correct Answer: Penalize both boats
Explanation : The correct answer is "C) Penalize both boats." As the windward boat, W was required to keep clear of L by rule 11 (On the Same Tack, Overlapped). Did she do this? No. L was not able to sail her course "with no need to take avoiding action." Therefore W did not keep clear, so she broke rule 11. Did L break any rule(s)? If she changed course without giving W room to keep clear, she would have broken rule 16 (Changing Course). If that happened, W might have been exonerated for breaking rule 11. However, the facts state that L luffed slowly and that W could have done more to keep clear. So L did not break rule 16. She also did not break rule 15 (Acquiring Right of Way), because the boats had been overlapped for some time, nor rule 17 (On the Same Tack; Proper Course), because L can always luff head to wind before the starting signal. However, L could have avoided contact if she had curtailed her luff. Since she did not do this, she broke rule 14 (Avoiding Contact). As the right-of-way boat, L would not be penalized under rule 14 unless there was contact that caused damage. Since W had a cracked rubrail and this is likely considered damage, L should be penalized also.