Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Racing Rules of Sailing 2009-2012 | Definitions

New post in our series about the new rules going into effect the first of January 2009.
Before I continue with the rules by number, I thought it would be useful to pay some attention to the changes in the definitions. You may have noticed a few new ones already in last couple of posts about the rules

If a definition is not mentioned below it has not changed compared to the current RRS.And as usual, red text marks new text and striketrough marks deleted text.

Clear Astern and Clear Ahead; Overlap One boat is clear astern of another when her hull and equipment in normal position are behind a line abeam from the aftermost point of the other boat’s hull and equipment in normal position. The other boat is clear ahead. They overlap when neither is clear astern. However, they also overlap when a boat between them overlaps both. These terms do not apply to boats on opposite tacks unless rule 18 applies. These terms always apply to boats on the same tack. They do not apply to boats on opposite tacks unless rule 18 applies or both boats are sailing more than ninety degrees from the true wind.
Fetching A boat is fetching a mark when she is in a position to pass to windward of it and leave it on the required side without changing tack.
Finish A boat finishes when any part of her hull, or crew or equipment in nor­­mal position, crosses the finishing line in the direction of the course from the last mark, either for the first time or after taking a penalty under rule 31.2 or 44.2 or, under rule 28.1, after correcting an error made at the finishing line, under rule 28.1.
Mark An object the sailing instructions require a boat to leave on a specified side, and a race committee boat surrounded by navigable water from which the starting or finishing line extends. An anchor line and objects or an object attached temporarily or accidentally to a mark are is not part of it.
Mark-Room Room for a boat to sail to the mark, and then room to sail her proper course while at the mark. However, mark-room does not include room to tack unless the boat is overlapped to windward and on the inside of the boat required to give mark-room.
Obstruction An object that a boat could not pass without changing course substantially, if she were sailing directly towards it and one of her hull lengths from it. An object that can be safely passed on only one side and an area so designated by the sailing instructions are also obstructions. However, a boat racing is not an obstruction to other boats unless they are required to keep clear of her, give her room or mark-room or, if rule 22 applies, avoid her. A vessel under way, including a boat racing, is never a continuing obstruction.
Rule (a) The rules in this book, including the Definitions, Race Signals, Introduction, preambles and the rules of relevant appendices, but not titles;
(b) ISAF Regulation 19, Eligibility Code; Regulation 20, Advertising Code; and Regulation 21, Anti-Doping Code; and Regulation 22, Sailor Classification Code; (c) the prescriptions of the national authority, unless they are changed by the sailing instructions in compliance with the national authority’s prescription, if any, to rule 88;
(d) the class rules (for a boat racing under a handicap or rating
system, the rules of that system are ‘class rules’);
(e) the notice of race;
(f) the sailing instructions; and
(g) any other documents that govern the event
Two-Length Zone The area around a mark or obstruction within a distance of two three hull lengths of the boat nearer to it. A boat is in the zone when any part of her hull is in the zone.

The new definitions mark-room and fetching as well as zone are needed because of the re-writing of rule 18. They also put to rest an old discussion point about the difference between room at a mark and room on other parts of the course.
You notice that the length of the zone is now in the wording, no longer in the definition. That is because in the Sailing Instruction that length can be altered in special circumstances. Read: New Rule 18 - The three-length zone in RRS 2009-2012 if you want to know more about that.


  1. It appears that the verbiage you quote is different than the last draft that I've seen. In partucular, the draft at http://www.sailing.org/tools/documents/2007_RR_06_11-%5B4282%5D.pdf
    deletes all references to rule 18 in the definition, but your quote restores that reference.

    Which is correct?

    Where can I get an complete copy of the latest proposal?

  2. The reference you mention is from 2007. I've been quoting from the latest version send to all MNA's for translation a couple of months ago.
    I'm sure it is the definitive text approved by ISAF.

    I still don't know when they will publish the new rules on their website....

  3. Ok. I'm looking forward to seeing it all in one place, but in the meantime, thanks for sharing the excerpts here.

  4. Does anybody know how the "normal position" definition applies to retractable bow sprits?

    coming to a mark, you may have the sprit out in preparation for a set, so does that count as normal?

  5. @Anonymous;
    If the bowsprit is out in preparation for a set it counts as being in a 'normal' position. But remember the zone is defined by the hull length and in that context the bowsprit never counts.
    It only does for overlap and finish.

  6. Jos, excellent blog, lots of valuable information. Congratulations,keep up the good work!
    Niek Kort


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