In the minutes of the Racing Rule Committee meeting at the Annual ISAF Conference 2007 in Estoril, all the way at the end, you can find a draft of the new rule 18. Changes will come in effect in 2009 in the new rule book after the Olympics. Complete document is here: Racing Rules Committee Minutes for ISAF 2007 Annual Conference.
Section C - At Marks and Obstructions, including rule 18, is extensively rewritten, but so far the basic principle hasn't changed. The inside boat still gets mark-room, which is now added to definitions, to round a mark. I still have to study it closer and of course the final version might be different, but for now the basic skeleton is there. I'll get back to this, when I've reviewed it some more.
One of the bigger changes in the new rule 18 is that the 2 hull-length zone is changed into a 3 hull-length zone. If you have trouble judging distances, this is something you might want to start practicing. You will need that skill, because now there is an added possibility. Race Committees can CHANGE the hull-length zone in the Sailing Instructions! Standard is 3 hull lengths, but in the SI this can be reduced back to 2 hull lengths or increased to 4 hull lengths. My advice to sailors is to start practicing, and find out whether they can judge 3 and 4 on the water already. For clubs, classes and event organizers it is important to start thinking about what they want for their event. Do we stick with the standard 3 or do we - for this class on this lake for this event - decrease or perhaps increase? The recommendation in App. L : Use 2 hull lengths when the racing area is particularly small and use 4 hull lengths when the boats racing are particularly fast.
NB, you cannot change between races, the distance is fixed for the event. You cannot have 3 lengths for one class and another for a different class in the same event. All boats who round the same mark, have to have the same zone.
Again, this is a draft version, the racing rules committee minutes states in response to this submission: Recommendation to Council: Approve with the following amendment; WP (working party) to edit in response to timely suggestions from members of RRC.
It will NOT come in effect until the next rule cycle, in 2009. Please give me your opinion on this specific issue. The final wording still has to be decided. If we find a problem, the RRC is only a mail away.