Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Changes in the RRS effective 01/01/2010

Because my evenings seem to be filled with meetings and preparations, I don’t have much time to write about the changes in the rules which are effective next January.

I promise to get back to these. For now, I’ve shamelessly copied the text from the ISAF Website: The Racing Rules of Sailing 2009-2012 Amendments Effective 1 January 2010

The Racing Rules of Sailing front cover

The International Sailing Federation has published amendments to The Racing Rules of Sailing for 2009-2012 (RRS) following the adoption by Council of recommendations made by the Racing Rules Committee during the Annual Conference in Korea. The amendments are effective from:

1 January 2010.

The Changes are shown in detail below and can be downloaded from the ISAF Racing Rules of Sailing page.

Words deleted from a rule are shown struck through and new words added are shown in bold and underlined.

Rule 18.2(c):

(c) When a boat is required to give mark-room by rule 18.2(b), she shall continue to do so even if later an overlap is broken or a new overlap begins. However, if either boat passes head to wind or if the boat entitled to mark-room passes head to wind or leaves the zone, rule 18.2(b) ceases to apply.

Rule 18.2(c) will be changed to prohibit a newly discovered and potentially dangerous tactic that was an unintended consequence of the current wording of this rule. The revised rule will no longer permit a boat to tack just before she reaches a mark and, as a result of her tack, become entitled to mark-room from boats that had been clear ahead of her when they reached the zone. A parallel change in rule B3.1(c) outlaws a similar tactic in a sailboard race.

Definition Obstruction:

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.

The definition "Obstruction" will be changed so that a boat racing will no longer be an obstruction to other boats that are required to give her room or mark-room. This change will simplify the analysis of some situations near a mark in which both rules 18 and 19 apply, and it will not otherwise change the ‘game’.

Definition Party:

Party A party to a hearing: a protestor; a protestee; a boat requesting redress or for which redress is requested by the race committee or considered by the protest committee under rule 60.3(b); a race committee acting under rule 60.2(b); a boat or competitor that may be penalized under rule 69.1; a race committee or an organizing authority in a hearing under rule 62.1(a).

Additions will be made to the definition Party to correct unintended omissions. The revised definition will mean that, whenever redress is requested for a boat by the race committee or considered for a boat by the protest committee, that boat will be a party to the resulting hearing. Also, a race committee that requests redress for a boat will also become a party when its request is heard.

Appendix B, Rule B3.1(c):

Rule 18.2(c) is changed to:
When a board is required to give mark-room by rule 18.2(b), she shall continue to do so even if later an overlap is broken or a new overlap begins. However, if either board the board entitled to mark-room passes head to wind, rule 18.2(b) ceases to apply.

Appendix C, Rule C2.12 (a new rule):

C2.12 Rule 18.2(e) is changed to ‘If a boat obtained an inside overlap and from the time the overlap began, the outside boat has been unable to give mark-room, she is not required to give it.’

A new rule, rule C2.12, will be added to the Match Racing Rules. It will prohibit a tactic at the windward mark that the match racing community does not wish to allow.

Advertising Code and Appendices J, K and L:

After the 2009-2012 rulebook was printed, ISAF revised its Advertising Code and, in so doing, eliminated all references to Category A advertising. References to the Advertising Code in Appendices J, K and L will be changed to make them consistent with the revised Code. (more)

The RRS is available to view on the ISAF Racing Rules of Sailing page at Marginal markings indicate important changes to the rules in Parts 1–7 and the Definitions. You can also order your hardcopy of the RRS 2009-2012 direct from ISAF at
The ISAF Racing Rules Committee is tasked with formulating, revising and publishing the RRS, with any changes ultimately subject to the approval of the ISAF Council, the final decision-making body of the International Sailing Federation.


When you cannot wait for my posts on the effect these changes will have, you can visit the Sailgroove website. Matt Knowles has published a couple of videos explaining the rule changes: 2010 Rule Changes

If you want to make sure your rulebook is up to date, you can download this file and copy and paste (with glue) the new clean text on the pages in your book.


  1. I wonder if the change to the definition of 'obstruction' really clarifies that troublesome Q&A-024.

    Three boats, Outer leading Middle leading Inner, approach the leeward mark. Middle overlaps Outer. Inner gets overlap in time to earn mark room from Middle, but not in time to earn mark room from Outer. Q1 Must Outer give enough room to Middle so that she can in turn give room to Inner? Q3 Does Inner break 18.2b if Outer sails extra wide to allow for her, and she takes the room?

    Rob Overton, on the UKHalsey blog, proposed this definition change in conjunction with a Case, which said that 'room' includes room to follow the rules, which might include giving room to a third boat. This Case helps me with this Q&A, but it was not yet accepted by ISAF (according to the message form the committee member that Jos posted here a week ago).

    Assuming the Case expresses the intent of the rules, both Q1 and Q3 have the answer 'Yes'. I would be happy with this interpretation, as the sailors need only remember: "when you believe someone is taking too much room, give the room, but protest".

  2. I think the change to def. of obstruction may change US Appeals #36 slightly. Once the overlap is established with W1, although M1 and L1 both need to give W1 room to keep clear, W1 is no longer an obstruction under the new definition. Is the outcome changed? Does L's obligation to give M room to pass between her and the obstruction continue after W is no longer an obstruction? Thoughts?

  3. Here's something interesting from a recent judge seminar: Boat Astern is sailing dead downwind overtaking boat Ahead. Both boats on the same tack. Fleet racing rules apply. Astern is give way boat under rule 12. Astern is flying a spinnaker, and as she reaches Ahead's transom, Astern's chute overlaps Ahead's transom but does not touch any part of Ahead or its rig. (This may be called a technical overlap in match racing call book.)

    At the moment of overlap, does rule 11 begin to apply? Which boat is ROW? Which boat is windward?


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