10 commandments of racing rules

part of what’s holding me back from jumping into the world of Sunfish racing is my current lack of understanding of all the rules of racing.  I read other blogs (this one in particular is amazing) that drop random rule numbers like they should be common knowledge (and maybe they should?), but it’s Greek to me at this point.  I was pretty excited to see an email from a member of a local sailing club that posted the “10 commandments of racing rules”, as put together by ISAF President, Paul Henderson.

here they are in all their glory and simplicity:

Ten Racing Rule Commandments from ISAF’s President
1. Port keeps clear of starboard
2. Windward keeps clear of leeward
3. The boat astern keeps clear of the boat ahead
4. A boat Tacking or Jibing keeps clear of one that is not
5. Avoid collisions. Racing Rules are defensive to prevent collisions not offensive racing tactics
6. If you gain right of way or change course, give the other boat time to keep clear
7. The inside boat(s) at THREE two boat lengths from the mark is entitled to room to round the mark
8. A boat that is backing up or not racing keeps clear
9. If you have violated a rule, take a penalty
10. It is better to give way than to spend hours in a protest room.

if you’re curious, the full racing rules for 2009-2012 can be found in its entirety (157 pages worth) here.

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14 Responses to “10 commandments of racing rules”


  1. 1 tillerman April 6, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    Hmmm. Pretty good. A list like that is about all you need to know 99% of the time. Except #7 is wrong. The point at which the inside boat acquires the right for room at the mark is now THREE boat lengths, not two. This changed in the 2009-2012 Rules.

    • 2 my2fish April 7, 2010 at 9:57 pm

      tillerman, thanks for the catch about boat lengths. I had just copied the text from an email… (foolishly, perhaps?)
      I can’t vouch for it’s accuracy, so I’m glad brighter minds than mine are paying attention.

  2. 3 Pat April 6, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    Of course, to confuse people properly, the new Rules allow your club (Organizing Authority) to change the circle to two or four boat lengths if there’s good reason… for example, making the circle bigger for boats that go super-fast. And there are a couple of little bitty technical points about “boat length”. Such fun.

  3. 4 Jos April 7, 2010 at 5:53 am

    I agree with Tillerman. If you use these rules you are pretty much covered. The others you will pick up when you start racing.
    Don’t let the geeks – like me – discourage you from trying!

  4. 5 Sunfish Sailor April 7, 2010 at 7:07 am

    I’m right there with you on this…it can be intimidating. But you have to ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen if you stick with the 10 commandments and jump into the race? A penalty here or there (and some namecalling, she says from experience)? I say, have at it…it’s not the America’s Cup and while sailors are not the most friendly group of people when rounding a mark, if you endear yourself to them by being a good sport and can let the yelling on the course roll off your shoulders, you’ll learn more as you sail merrily along. In my experience, every skipper thinks all other skippers are idiots on the course anyway, regardless of your mastery of the rules.

    For what it may be worth…I just bought “The Rules in Practice 2009 – 2012” by Bryan Willis and find its diagrams and explanations pretty helpful.

    I’d love to read posts about your entree into the Sunfish racing world. But which of your 2 fish will your race?
    🙂

    • 6 my2fish April 7, 2010 at 10:01 pm

      sunfish sailor – thanks for the tip about Bryan’s book – I’ll look into it. I can pretty much guarantee that neither of my 2 current fish would be Worlds-worthy. 1st off, one is a Super Porpoise, so instant disqualification, and 2nd – my Sunfish is way too old and waterlogged to be truly raced.

      I’d love to write about being there, though!

  5. 7 Pat April 8, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Now there’s something I’d love to see a good illustrated blog post about — the rescue and rehab of an old waterlogged Sunfish. I’m guessing that involves separating the deck and re-bonding it. I have a few candidates to practice upon.

    • 8 lirende April 9, 2010 at 2:25 am

      thank you these information!I wish to know more friends accroding this web.if you have seen this ,i hope you can help me.

    • 9 my2fish April 9, 2010 at 4:36 pm

      Pat, everything I’ve read strongly discourages against separating the deck from the hull. better option is to install a few inspection ports, and use one of several methods to dry it out – fans, a small light bulb for heat, as well as a couple others. after making sure it’s dry, the 2nd step is the leak test – to find and repair the leaks to keep it from getting waterlogged again. I’ve started the process, but haven’t done the leak test yet.

      https://my2fish.wordpress.com/2009/10/10/i-cut-2-holes-in-my-sunfish/

  6. 10 Captain Peter F. Black April 9, 2010 at 9:53 am

    my2fish, I’m totally with you regarding sailing rules. I’ve raced 4 out of the past 8 years and still have yet to sit down and actually read the racing rules of sailing. The ones you have listed though are the ones that everyone knows and if you don’t; you pick up quick. Good luck!

  7. 11 Pat April 9, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Inspection ports I could do; I already have some lying around. Finding the leaks will probably be the fun part.

  8. 13 classicalgas April 12, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Sail a couple races, you’ll learn them REAL fast, because if you break one SOMEONE WILL MOST DEFINITELY CATCH IT! And will most DEFINITELY let you know it and you will be protested or penalized.

    Oh, and don’t hit the buoy. If you do, you have to go around it again. And always go around the correct way. No going around the way YOU feel you want to.

    Other than that, have fun!

    • 14 Tillerman (@ProperCourse) August 4, 2013 at 10:55 am

      I agree, don’t hit the buoy.

      But classicalgas is a bit out of date on the penalty to take if you do hit it. Many years ago you did have to reround it, but these days you just have to get clear of other boats and do one complete turn in the same direction involving one tack and one gybe.


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