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The Sailing Race

3: The ‘Racing Rules of Sailing’

These are internationally recognised and have been developed over a long period of time by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF). They’re updated every four years. Here are some of the basic elements of the rules:

* A boat on port tack (i.e. with the wind coming over the port side of the boat) must give way to one on a starboard tack.

* A windward boat must keep clear of one to leeward.

* An overtaking boat keeps clear.

* It’s worth noting that the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea apply to boats while they are racing and take precedence over the racing rules — the fact that you’re racing confers no additional rights whatsoever over other water users, although some may voluntarily give you room. In addition, a race boat that’s not engaged in a race should not impede those who are racing.

* There are also additional rules governing mark roundings: for instance, if a boat’s bow overlaps the stern of the boat ahead two boat lengths from a mark of the course, the leading boat must give the other room to round inside.

The full rules can be found on the ISAF website at www.sailing.org/racingrules.php although it’s well worth buying a book that also explains the rules.

ISAF have also introduced an introductory one page version of the racing rules which will help beginners immensely.


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More rules, specific to the area of water you are racing in

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