Over on Facebook, there has been a Sunday Racing Rules series. Here are the first three episodes so far…
During this time of lock down, when we can’t get out racing, we will run a series of articles on the key racing rules you need to know if you race.
Episode 1: What You Need to Know?
Everyone thinks the rules are complicated and, of course, in many ways, they are. They have to cope with boats in 3 dimensions, often not on the same leg of the course, sailing in different directions at different speeds.
But don’t let that put you off. Although the rule book (as published by World Sailing) is 188 pages long, most of this concerns the organisation of races or is for special types of sailing (match racing, kiteboarding, etc.). The actual rules that are really important for you to know fill just 10 pages.
As a club racer, what you need to know is:
- P7-10: Definitions
- P14-19: Part 2: When Boats Meet
You can download the rules for free here: https://www.sailing.org/tools/documents/WorldSailingRRS20172020new-.pdf
Why not read these 10 pages as part of your entertainment while stuck at home!
Episode 2: Right of Way
At every stage of a race, when 2 boats meet, one is the keep clear boat and one is the right of way boat. The following table shows which is which in different situations.
Episode 3: Limitation on a Right of Way Boat
In the last episode we covered which of 2 boats was the keep clear boat and which was the right of way boat. But being right of way boat doesn’t mean you can do anything – there are some limitations on you which we will cover in this episode.
1. You must avoid contact with another boat if reasonably possible (Rule 14).
If you are the right of way boat (or entitled to room, which we will come to in episode 5) you don’t need to act to avoid a collision until it is clear the give way boat is not keeping clear / giving room but, when it does become clear, you should try to avoid contact – but you will usually be exonerated if the contact does not cause damage or injury.
2. When you acquire right of way (e.g. by tacking on to starboard or establishing an overlap to leeward) you must initially give the other boat room to keep clear (Rule 15).
The only exception to this is if you acquire right of way because of the other boat’s actions (e.g. someone tacks onto port in front of you).
3. When you change course you must give the give way boat room to keep clear (Rule 16).
This is for every change of course, so a gradual luff is multiple changes of courses.
4. If you were clear astern and became overlapped within 2 hull lengths of a boat on the same tack you shall not sail above your proper course (Rule 17).
When you were clear astern you were give way boat but as you established the overlap to leeward you became the right of way boat (to leeward) but you must not do this so close that the windward boat cannot keep clear (point 2) and you must not sail higher than your proper course (the course you would sail to finish as soon as possible in the absence of the other boat).
In the next episode we will turn to the tricky subject of 2 boats meeting at a mark.