Port layline at the windward mark, who's right?

Our rules expert Richard Thompson answers..
Richard’s main role in the sport is as Vice Chairman of the RYA Racing Rules Group. This is combined with the additional duties of RYA National Judge and National Umpire. He has crewed for many years in International 14s including once winning Prince of Wales Cup. Having now hung up his harness and cancelled his extreme sports insurance, Richard spends his summer racing a Swallow in Chichester Harbour, with occasional success. Winter time is also spent on the water as a team racing umpire. Richard asks to ensure that questions are specific to an incident or problem encountered, and to give as much detail as possible. He is also keen to point out that his answers are inevitably a personal opinion and not those of the RYA! Jim Porter asks: Three boats are approaching the windward mark on the port layline. W1, L1 & L2. W1 has an overlap on L1 & L2. As they approach the mark L2 is outside the two boat length circle. W1 calls for room at the mark on L1as he enters the two boat length circle. L2 tacks and call starboard. L1 tacks inside two boat length circle and calls starboard. W1 tacks and hits L1 and the mark. L1 yell protest as does W1. Who's right? Does it matter that they are approaching the windward mark or would the rules apply the same no matter were they are on the course Jim, you have set out a common problem. I hope the diagram below accurately represents the situation you described when approaching a windward mark to be rounded to port. As is often the case the answer is "It depends." Small differences in the relationships between the boats can make a big difference to the outcome. This is why the rules enable a protest committee to try