Saturday, 3 January 2009

RRS 2009-2012 Changes

Google Alert came up with a couple of presentations on the changes in the Racing Rules of Sailing.
The first one is by USSailing via the Florida EC-12 Association:
Changes to the Racing Rules of Sailing for 2009–2012

The second one is from Bill Kirkpatrick: Changes to Racing Rules of Sailing 2009-2012

Both presentations are written for the USA, with references to some of the prescriptions. Nevertheless, a good point to start to learn what is new.


  1. The YRALIS presentation is a useful detailed reference. The EC-12 presentation is comendably brief, but contains a couple of misstatements or over-simplifications.

    Interesting comment in the very last paragraph of the EC-12 presentation about rule 17 as follows:

    "Note also that old Rule 17.2 has been deleted. This is a major game change that will affect
    boats when trying to pass to leeward on a run. The boat clear ahead may now maneuver as she pleases to prevent the overtaking boat from passing. This change was opposed by the US and Canadian members of the ISAF Racing Rules Committee; however, it was passed by a majority of one. It seems the majority of the committee members are umpires who wanted to see this rule deleted"

    I seem to recall reading on one of the commentaries that rule 17.2 was deleted because it was difficult to apply and seldom used (or perhaps seldom resulted in penalties).

    Anyone got any thoughts on this?

  2. I had a long discussion about this very point with a keelboat sailor who was quite upset about the demise of 17.2. My feeling was that many of the situations, especially those that involve, or could involve, contact would be adequately covered by rule 16.1.

    The ROW boat may not "manoeuvre as she pleases - If a ROW boat is steering a steady course below her proper course the keep clear boat should, in most situations, have room to do so. If ROW boat changes course then 16.1 applies the she is obliged to give keep clear boat room. I don't think that there will be an outbreak of broken boats resulting from the deletion of 17.2, there may be a reduction in the (albeit small number) of vexatious process that are incredibly difficult to judge and involve the protest committee in arcane arguments to decide the ROW boats proper course.


  3. The principle of proper course is well established and there will still be discussion on the topic.

    Imagine two boats going downwind. One clear astern moves to pass to leeward. The boat ahead bears away to prevent it and becomes overlapped to windward as a result. The boat now to leeward bears away and protests saying she had to alter course to avoid a collision. That might go on a bit in the protest room.


  4. Good riddence to 17.2, it did not exist in match racing and as another restriction on a ROW boat was oveedue for deletion.

    I for one was glad to see it go! If I ever was accused of breaking a rule it was this one.

    Mike B IU

  5. On another matter, last year I was silly. I was on a downwind leg ended by a mark to be left to starboard. Wind was very light with occasional puffs. Two boats were clear ahead of me and in the zone. I was brought up on a puff and, before my mind was in gear, overlapped between them with nowhere to go. I did my turns.

    If happened now, the inside boat would count as an obstruction and rule 19 apply. Notwithstanding my late overlap, I could ask the outside boat for room to avoid it. I dont believe this was intended. Where is the flaw in my interpretation?


  6. Dear Jos, I think Wag's problem deserves a separate Q&A of its own. Solving it was quite a wrestle. I think the answer is as follows.

    Three boats, I, M and O, approaching a leeward mark, all on same tack with no need to gybe to round the mark, M clear astern of I and O, I and O overlapped when the first of them reaches the zone.

    By the definition of obstruction O is an obstruction to M because M must keep clear of O (rule 11) and I is an obstruction to M because M must give I mark-room (rule 18.2(b)).

    I think that in a normally competitive mark rounding there will not be room between I and O for another boat to pass between them, so M will be obliged to keep clear of both O and I (rule 19.2(c))

    So the difficulty arises when O is making an unusually wide and sloppy rounding, leaving room for an intervening boat to pass between I and O at the moment M first becomes overlapped with one of them.

    Applying rule 19, both I and O seem to be obliged to steer apart to give M room to pass between them, unless I was so close to the mark at the time M became overlapped with I that I was unable to give M room without hitting the mark (unable to give M room), in which case only O is obliged to give M room to pass I (rule 19.2(b). If O and I do not both comply with this obligation, then both could be penalised under rule 19 even though they are entitled to mark-room. Rule 18.5 will not exonerate them, because rule 18.5 does not give exoneration from breaking rule 19.

    If I or O gives M room and is forced to depart from her course to the mark or proper course at the mark, then she has complied with rule 19, and M has broken rule 18: penalise M.

    If, let's say O, closes the door on M and contact occurs, then it looks like what in Match Racing we would give as a twin penalty: O breaks rule 19, M breaks rule 18: penalise both.

    I stress that if you apply the principle of last point of certainty (rule 18.2(d), and MR Call Gen 1), you will only very rarely find M has any rule 19 rights at all, except when I and O are extraordinarily wide and sloppy in their roundings.


  7. Wag
    I do not think there is a flaw in your interpretation. I have sent a set of questions to the ISAF rules Q and A panel to try to determine what happens when rule 18 and 19 both apply and are apparently in conflict.
    There has alreday been much private discussion on this matter, so far unresolved!

  8. Hey Brass,

    I'm afraid you can't use rule 19.2(c)as per your 4th para, because 19.2(c) only applys at continuing obstructions - and ROW boats can no longer be deemed continuing obstructions.

  9. Thanks Wag.


    Whole carefully constructed analysis collapses.

    We'll have to see what ISAF Q&S says about it.


  10. Hey! I thought you had to be a "National Member" of ISAF to submit a question and get an answer?

  11. You have to be an ISAF Race Official - and I am!


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