Rules Ideas and Links
by Mike Fahle
The RRS are the ISAF rules - they are the same around the world. The
only differences are prescriptions that individual countries make for
their purposes and those are limited. The whole point is to allow racers
to learn just one set of rules and race anywhere (such as the Olympics).
The first step for every racer is to get a copy of the rules AND ACTUALLY
READ THEM!!! That simple action would immensely reduce the rules confusion
expressed on the Catsailor's Forum. Whenever you discuss rules with someone,
have a copy of the rules in front of you. Look at the websites available,
find the one(s) you like, and just read and study a rule a day, or week,
even. For a fraction of the time and reading that the Forum requires,
you could become a rules scholar!! Please note in my insert below what
the very first statement in the rules book says and what Fundamental rule
three says that you promise to do every time you race! You cannot meet
your obligations if you do not know the rules!:
The Racing Rules 2004-2008
“Competitors in sport of sailing are governed by a body of rules
that they are expected to follow and enforce. A fundamental principle
of sportsmanship is that when competitors break a rule they will promptly
take a penalty, which may be to retire”.
1.1 HELPING THOSE IN DANGER
A boat or competitor shall give all possible help to any person or vessel
1.2 LIFE-SAVING EQUIPMENT AND PERSONAL BUOYANCY
A boat shall carry adequate life-saving equipment for all persons on board,
including one item ready for immediate use, unless her class rules make
some other provision. Each competitor is individually responsible for
wearing personal buoyancy adequate for the conditions.
2 FAIR SAILING
A boat and her owner shall compete in compliance with recognized principles
of sportsmanship and fair play. A boat may be penalized under this rule
only if it is clearly established that these principles have been violated.
A disqualification under this rule shall not be excluded from the boat’s
3 ACCEPTANCE OF THE RULES
By participating in a race conducted under these racing rules, each competitor
and boat owner agrees
(a) to be governed by the rules; (b) to accept the penalties imposed and
other action taken under the rules, subject to the appeal and review procedures
provided in them, as the final determination of any matter arising under
the rules; and (c) with respect to such determination, not to resort to
any court or other tribunal not provided in the rules.
4 DECISION TO RACE
A boat is solely responsible for deciding whether or not to start or to
WEBSITES FOR RRS INFORMATION AND REFERENCE (Last updated in early 2006)
1) International Sailing Federation website: http://www.sailing.org/
Select “Rules” at the top of the page.
This page starts the RRS and at the bottom of this page you can choose
“Racing Rules Q&A Service” which lists
different questions and answers written from around the world about racing
situations causing confusion; especially handy for race officials.
You can also choose “Publications” to get
the ISAF Cases – authoritative explanations and interpretations
of actual racing protest situations and the decisions of the protest and
2) U.S. Sailing website: http://www.ussailing.org/rules/
3) U.S. Sailing racing course website: http://www.racing.sailingcourse.com/index.html
(Most realistic training simulations of basic rules situations - video
4) UK Sailmakers interactive rules quiz website: (Also available for sale
on CD) http://www.ukhalsey.com/RulesQuiz/index.asp
(Probably the best site for rules quizzes)
5) COLREGS website: http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/mwv/navrules/navrules.htm
(These rules apply when racing after sunset and before sunrise)
6) SailNet Learning to Sail website: http://www.sailnet.com/collections/learningtosail/rules/index.htm
(Interactive place to learn the international and inland rules)
7) HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW THE RULES?
If you would like to feel more confident about racing near other boats,
should get Learn The Racing Rules! This new two-part DVD, written and
narrated by David Dellenbaugh, uses live sailing action and computerized
animation to explain all the important right-of-way rules in the 2005-2008
rulebook. Part 1 covers the essential rules that apply whenever boats
Part 2 explains the often-confusing rules about marks and obstructions.
is an hour long and includes the text of all rules discussed. Produced
SEA-TV, it makes a great gift! To learn more or to place an order, go