This may be a mute point as I have read that Perpetual Loyal subsequently withdrew her protest (or at least she stopped flying the protest flag) however I am still very interested to learn whether my interpretation of RRS 17 is correct or incorrect.
PL = Perpetual Loyal
WOXI = Wild Oats XI
BL = boat lengths
If you have access to the Channel 7 coverage of the start then refer to the timestamps in that coverage. (Too bad the camera angles are not as limitless as they are in our VSK environment!) If I can find a link to this Channel 7 coverage then I will post it here.
Approximately 30 sec before the start PL and WOXI are on starboard tacks with WOXI clear astern of PL and several boat lengths downwind.
At the start gun WOXI has gained overlap on PL and is to leeward by more than 2 BL.
At about 2:30 it is not clear to me whether WOXI to (still to leeward of PL) has successfully placed PL clear astern. Also there is no crew member at the bow of PL in a position to monitor this potential loss of overlap. (By contrast the helmsman on the leeward boat has a near-perfect vantage point to determine if she managed to leave the windward boat clear astern.)
I think this becomes important in deciding whether RRS 17 applies later on or not. For this discussion I am assuming that WOXI did not put PL clear astern. If a better camera angle is found then I'll be happy to concede this pivotal point.
Also I can't judge from the camera angle whether WOXI is within 2BL of PL or not at 2:30.
By 3:20 WOXI is clearly within 2BL to leeward of PL and both boats are on the same starboard tack they have been on since before the start.
Now it is from this time forward (i.e. the leeward boat is within 2BL of the windward boat) that I understand RRS 17 prohibits the leeward boat from sailing above her proper course. Agreed?
At 4:25 the leeward boat starts to head up and by 5:00 this maneuver has forced the windward boat to also alter her course and head up.
Don't be mislead by the channel 7 commentators calling the race because at 4:35 those commentators mistakenly described one yellow buoy (for the smaller boats in the fleet) as the mark these two maxis are trying to round. The correct mark for these two maxi yachts is the yellow buoy visible near the top of the screen at 4:50. The best course to the correct mark is well below the course being sailed by both boats.
At 5:05 the windward boat starts to furl it's luffing reacher and at this time the leeward boat bears away to sail what I believe to have been her proper course from the outset.
(From 7:20 to 8:20 a replay of the incident is broadcast and this replay affords some different camera angles.)
Now it would seem to me that the windward boat (PL) can successfully protest the leeward boat (WOXI) citing RRS 17.
My question of more experienced skippers: Is this overlap established from clear astern applicable even though the clear astern relationship was established before the start gun (at ~-0:30) ?17 ON THE SAME TACK; PROPER COURSE wrote: If a boat clear astern becomes overlapped within two of her hull lengths to leeward of a boat on the same tack, she shall not sail above her proper course while they remain on the same tack and overlapped within that distance, unless in doing so she promptly sails astern of the other boat. This rule does not apply if the overlap begins while the windward boat is required by rule 13 to keep clear.
I think it is applicable and that the success or failure of any protest would depend upon whether or not the leeward boat managed to place the windward boat clear astern at any time during their starboard tack to the first mark.
What do you think