I'm looking for some further clarification about a downwind finish. I've attached a (rather crude - I'm not at home with my graphics software) sketch and I've left a couple of things ambiguous because I want to understand more than just a who's right/wrong....I want to explore and understand the various facets of the rule as worded so I know what my tactical options are in this scenario. I believe I know the answers to some of these questions but I am looking for some really rounded thoughts here and I'm trying to approach this from a couple of different angles.
Situation; A course is set with a separate start/finish line - the start line is to port of the committee boat and the finish line to starboard of the committee boat when viewed facing upwind. The start/finish lines are set at the bottom of the course below C-mark. A two lap race is finishing with a downwind finish between the committee boat (to starboard as approaching the finish) and a pin (to port as approaching the finish). Blue boat has been gradually gaining on orange down that leg and as both boats approached the three boat length circle on starboard, blue established a leeward overlap. If maintaining a typical downwind gybe angle (the same angles sailed down the entire course) it would mean both boats would need to gybe back to port in order to finish. At some point (inside the circle or outside the circle) both blue and orange could have soaked it dead downwind and crossed the finish line.
What happened: Blue insisted on being able to sail her proper course and continued sailing until she reached a point where she could gybe at a regular angle in order to finish right at the committee boat. This made orange sail further than she needed and put orange solidly behind blue (no overlap after the gybe) and orange finished behind blue.
At what point is orange technically the "inside boat". Blue could physically be closer to the committee boat if they approach near the apex of the three boat length circle. "inside" doesn't seem to be defined very well in this context with our typical gybe angles for a downwind finish with the end of the line to be passed to starboard.
If orange is the "inside boat" but couldn't lay the mark without gybing - is blue required to allow orange to gybe to port at close quarters in order to finish? What if there isn't enough room for orange to give blue time an opportunity to avoid her gybe?
Should blue allow orange room to drive to dead downwind (maintaining starboard) and soak it dead downwind to finish once they entered the circle?