How to read the sailing rules. Guide for beginners
Sailing race rules might seem complex and secondary to the main goal (beating everyone). But sailing isn't just about speed; it's a tactical game against opponents
International sailing rules
The international sailing federation, World Sailing (WS) is responsible for making the most important decisions in sailing. One of the tasks of World Sailing is to publish the International Sailing Rules, which are reviewed, amended and supplemented every 4 years
The RRS (Racing Rules of Sailing) is a collection of numbered sailing rules, definitions and signals covering virtually all situations during and after racing
The rules are divided into sections, some of which deal with the conduct of crews, while others deal with the work of judges, the procedure for analyzing violations, and appeals. We are especially interested in the sections of the first category, because we use them during the race, when we do not have time to get a book, find a suitable rule and read it mindfully
In general, it is more important for crew members to know how to keep clear from other boats or understand the starting procedure than to know how to appeal, especially in amateur racing. These "field" rules for racing sailors should be studied in advance
The text of the main parts of the RRS are rules that apply to everyone. However, they may be supplemented or modified by specific documents that also constitute a rule and must be followed. Let's find out what these documents are
Appendixes to the RRS
After the main text of the RRS, the publication also contains appendixes. They mainly contain instructions for special competition formats: match and team competitions, windsurfing races and radio sailing races, as well as some guides for organizing authorities of competitions and special procedures. If they change the rules from the main text of the RRS, they always take precedence over it
For who: they must be studied by the participants in the special races described in the appendixes. The appendixes with guides and procedures are also important for judges and organizers
WS Codes
The WS codes provide important guidelines for areas where requirements and procedures cannot be stated succinctly. These areas include: Advertising on sailboats, classification of sailors, disciplinary rules, eligibility, anti-doping, betting, and corruption
For who: these rules are most important for participants in major national and international competitions who sail at a professional level, although they are formally applicable to regattas of any size
National regulations
World Sailing operates in various countries through the national organizations that are its members. In the United Arab Emirates, this is the UAE Sailing and Rowing Federation. The national federations may issue regulations that slightly clarify and modify the RRS
Sailboats compete with each other in different ways. Identical (or very similar) boats, i.e. boats of the same class (e.g. Fareast 28R), may compete "by arrivals", i.e. boats are given places in the order in which they finished the race)
The requirements for such sailboats and their crews are specified in the rules of the respective class, issued by the associations. Our instructors will inform you about the specifics of this class if you decide to participate in the races.On the other hand, different boats race against each other in a handicap system that balances the performance of the boats, so the competition is at the expense of the crews' abilities
For who: in any case, sailors who participate in races of a particular class need to know its rules. Knowing the handicap rules is also helpful. Actually it optimizes the score of a boat that races with time stamps
Notice of race
The organization of the competition is the responsibility of the Organizing Committee, which collects the applications for participation, invites the judges and takes care of the media support and the program on the coast. For example, Wind Rises is the organizer of the Wind Rises Cup and the regatta for beginners and experienced sailors in Dubai. The organizing committee issues its own document with the rules: the Regulations for the Competition. It contains the date and name of the competition, the participating classes and the conditions of participation, as well as other important instructions of the Organizing Committee
For who: if you are participating in a regatta, be sure to read the notice of race in which you plan to participate
Sailing instructions
The organizing committee hires race judges, some of whom form the race committee and are responsible for the direct conduct of the race. The Race Committee shall issue Sailing Instructions describing the rules for the starting procedure and course of the race, the scoring system, and the special requirements for boats participating only in this event
Judges and competitors must follow the instructions. Read the sailing instructions carefully before you get on the water so that you understand the specifics of the upcoming race and don't get confused at the crucial moment when starting or rounding the marks
For who: all sailors need to understand the sailing instructions, especially to avoid making mistakes at the start and on the course
Other documents
The rules mentioned in this article are the basic minimum of any competition, which does not limit the list of applicable rules. A complete list is always given in the notice of race and sailing instructions
In this article we've oriented you, dear reader, in the world of racing rules of sailing and have talked about the most important general and special rules. In the fall we want to introduce you to the rules of sailing races, so we are preparing a lecture for you on this topic. In it you can learn more about the most important rules of sailing regattas and also ask your questions if something is still unclear
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