The Racing Rules of Racing
The Racing Rules of Sailing (often abbreviated to RRS) govern the conduct of yacht racing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, model boat racing, dinghy racing and virtually any other form of racing around a course with more than one vessel while powered by the wind. A new revision is published every four years (after the Olympic Games) by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), the sport's world governing body. The current edition (2009–2012) came into effect on 1 January 2009, and can be downloaded at the International Sailing Federation.
1997 saw the most dramatic simplification to the Racing Rules of Sailing since the 1940s. They are based on four main right of way rules: [Part 2, Section A]
In total there are 90 rules but (since the major simplification in 1997) only 14 rules govern what boats do when they meet on the water (part 2 rules). It is not necessary to know all of the rules to successfully compete in a dinghy race, but a knowledge of the basics is recommended.
Sailboat racing is a self-regulated sport. As stated by the Racing Rules of Sailing, "Competitors in the 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.".
Depending on the nature of the infraction, the penalty may be either: (1) performing a turn consisting of one tack and one gybe or (2) performing two turns consisting of two tacks and two gybes (except for windsurfing).
For most rules infractions, a competitor may be absolved from disqualification from the race by taking such a penalty. However, if the infraction caused injury or serious damage, or produced a significant advantage in the race or series, the penalty shall be to retire. If a competitor fails to take penalty turn(s) they may be disqualified after a hearing by the Protest Committee. The aforementioned principles do not apply to match racing (like the America's Cup) where on-the-water umpires impose penalties immediately after an infraction occurs.
Race signalsSail races are governed with flags and sound signals to indicate flag changes. The flags used are taken from the International maritime signal flag set. During a race and for any signal concerning the race, these flags are defined in the ISAF Racing Rules of Sailing but the signal can be modified by the Sailing Instructions.
The raising (hoisting) or removing of a visual signal is accompanied by the emission of a sound signal to draw attention to the new signal. The type of the sound signal (one short sound, two short sounds, one long sound, etc.) is described by the rule according to the type of signal. The usual meanings of these flags are as follows:
The Answering Pennant (AP) with or without a numerical pennant is used to indicate a postponed race. A numerical pennant below the AP denotes the time, in hours, of the race postponement.
These signal flags are used before a race start and most commonly as part of a start sequence/procedure.
These signal flags are used in the pre-start procedure. Class flags can be numeral pennants 1 , 2 , and 3 however they can be substituted to avoid confusion with the postponement signals relating to a particular class.
Course Change Signal