Skip to content

How Did You Score in December’s Max Ebb Rules Quiz?

In the December issue of Latitude 38, Max Ebb and Lee Helm debated sailing rules as they appear in the new 2021 rule book. Did you take the quiz? If you haven’t yet, go check them out, then come back to mark your answers — no cheating!

Rules quiz - boats at the mark
How well did you do in Max Ebb’s rules quiz? For at least the next four years, if the hiking crew crosses the line before the boat they are not over early.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Rules Quiz Answers:

Overlap 1
Yes, because neither boat is clear astern and they are on the same tack.

Rules quiz question 1
Question 1: Are these boats overlapped?
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC /

Overlap 2
Yes, because neither boat is clear astern, even though they are on opposite tacks, and because they are sailing below a true-wind beam reach. (Before 2009 they would not be overlapped on opposite tacks unless subject to mark room.)

Leeward Mark
Yes, because they were overlapped when the first boat reached the 3-length zone.

Windward Mark
NO!! Because they are not overlapped, and because one of the boats has to tack to round the mark. (This counts for triple points; it’s the cause of the worst boat-to-boat crashes among newbie racers.)

Room at the Starting Mark
NO!! Mark-room does not apply at a starting mark surrounded by navigable water. (Forcing room at a starting mark is known as “barging.”)

Rules quiz question 8
Question 8: The boat is in the position shown at the starting signal. Is it over early?
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Archives

Definition of Starting
Change for 2021: Now it’s the hull only, not including the crew, sails, and equipment.

Definition of Finishing
Change for 2021: Now it’s the hull only, not including the crew, sails, and equipment.

Proper Course
Proper course is whatever course a boat would sail to finish as soon as possible in the absence of other boats. It does not have to be the rhumb line to the next mark. There are two tests for proper course: 1) There must be a plausible rationale for sailing that course; and 2) the rationale must be applied consistently. That is, you can’t change your proper course for tactical advantage when other boats are nearby.

The “Mast Abeam” hail is long gone. Since 1997, the boat that established a leeward overlap from astern can only luff up to its own proper course, but no farther.

Proper courses often converge at marks, and proper courses might be different for different boats. A boat might be forced to sail above its proper course by a leeward boat that came from astern, even though the leeward boat does not have the right to luff above its own proper course.


  1. John Hysler 3 years ago

    Can you provide answers questions 10 and 11: tacking too close?

    • John Arndt 3 years ago

      John thanks for your question. Max responded: “Question 10: Yes, see rule 13. It’s the course, not the sail trim, that determines when the tacking boat’s obligation to keep clear ends, and determines if the tack was too close.

      Question 11a: If the tack is from port tack to starboard tack, near a mark to be left to port that the tacking boat can then fetch, then yes, the tack was too close. See rule 18.3. Read it carefully!

      Question 11b: Yes, the inside boat is entitled to room if it establishes a late overlap. More of rule 18.3.”

  2. Richard Wodehouse 3 years ago

    Am I missing something? You did a great job in describing the test questions and then a super lousy job of short handing the answers.
    Could have been more instructional and directly answering each of your questions. We worked at taking the test, you got lazy in providing answers.

    • John Arndt 3 years ago

      We received the following reply from Max Ebb: “Yes, Max was a little lazy in not referencing the rule numbers that apply. But they’re not hard to find. The moral is, to fully understand the rules you have to carefully read them as written in the rulebook. On the other hand, there’s some detail in Max’s answers you won’t find in the book, especially the history of some of the changes and the warnings about which rules are most likely to lead to trouble.”

  3. Steve Katzman 3 years ago

    Now that Max Ebb has had some time to become more ambitious we need definitive answers to question 7 a, b, c, and d.

  4. Dave 3 years ago

    Dude! Question number then answer and explanation! I’m begging you!

  5. Oliver Sudan 3 years ago

    “Won’t get fooled again.” Pete Townsend

    I admire a clever tactic to drive readers to the ‘Lectronic site but am as frustrated as everyone else by being told to, “Read the Rules”. Finding the answers at a specific time and place is clearly indicated at the end of the article. The follow-up is a sloppy bait and switch ploy with no pay off for anyone involved. Readers invest time only to be thwarted by negligent follow through. Why would a responsible organization, ostensibly devoted to improving sailing, offering a quiz with “just enough to keep you out of trouble”, leave out the answers? Maybe it is time to consider shortening your motto to: “We Blow….hard!” Conversely, you might upgrade your standards.

    • John Arndt 3 years ago

      Oliver, thanks for your reply and feedback. As you can see, you’re not the only one who was a bit disappointed by our rules effort. We did want to put the answers in the back of the December issue containing the questions but just didn’t have the editorial space. Then we thought a good solution would be to put them on a specific date in ‘Lectronic Latitude. Then, as you state, we thought it would be cool if magazine readers find our online newsletter and online newsletter readers find the magazine. Despite your thought that we ‘left the answers out’ or had ‘negligent follow through’ we feel pretty good that we actually got the answers out on the stated date. We do all we can to live up to Latitude 38’s historically high standards but, like media companies everywhere, are continuously challenged by trying to cover more sailing and feed more channels with a smaller staff. Overall we think Max Ebb does a fantastic job and, given the enormous amount of insightful content he and Lee and Latitude 38 has created over the years, are very happy with the track record. But feedback always keeps us on our toes.

Leave a Comment

Sponsored Post
Complete your ASA IQCs at MSC! Our new instructors receive 100% tuition reimbursement for each clinic after teaching their first course at the level.