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Weekly QuizQuizBoat S and P, two close-hauled dinghies, are approaching each other on a collision course in medium breeze. P fails to keep clear and S bears away to pass astern of P. As she passes astern of P, S accidentally hits the starboard corner of P’s transom, putting a small crack in S’s bow and a 12-inch scratch along her starboard bow. She is safely able to continue in the race. P immediately does a Two-Turns Penalty and protests S. You are on the protest committee; how would you decide this?
AnswerBoat S is penalized for breaking rule 14, Avoiding Contact. Given that she “accidentally” hit P, the presumption is that it was “reasonably possible” for her to have avoided contact with P had she been more careful. However, S, as a right-of-way boat, cannot be penalized for breaking run 14 unless the contact causes damage or injury to either boat. In this case, S was damaged and therefore she is penalized for breaking rule 14. She could have exonerated herself by doing a Two-Turns Penalty, but she failed to do so leaving disqualification as the only penalty available to the protest committee (rule 64.1(a), Penalties and Exoneration).