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New Racing Rules of Sailing 2010

by Darryl Waskow

Starting January 1st 2010 there are new updates to the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS).  The rules writers introduce a new rule book every fours years in coordination with the Olympics and we are now in the 2009-2012 cycle.  Occasionally there are important changes that ISAF votes to implement mid cycle that take affect annually January 1.  This year the change to RRS 18.2c will be most important for team racing, the change to the definition of Party is important for redress hearings, and most of the other changes clean up language discrepancies.

2010 Rule Changes


Change 1 – 18.2c

The 2009 rule 18 rewrites were intended to simplify the rule without changing the game.  One change however opened an unintended opportunity for a trailing boat to turn off mark room by tacking, and while this was probably not used in fleet racing it was seen in team racing specifically to counter a leeward mark trap.  

Rule 18 has been changed by eliminating the language that turns off Mark Room if either boat tacks.  The new rule now says “…if the boat entitled to mark-room passes head to wind or leaves the zone, rule 18.2(b) ceases to apply”, so now the trailing boat can’t turn off mark room  by tacking.

Change 2 – Definition of Obstruction

The Definition of Obstruction has been simplified by eliminating a phrase about mark room.  This change is to help clarify when rule 18 Mark-Room and rule 19 Room to Pass an Obstruction each apply. 

Change 3 – Definition of Party

The Definition of Party has been changed so during redress hearings the Race Committee or Protest Committee can now make a boat a party to a hearing.  In hearings the RRS very specifically state who is a Party and who are Witnesses.  A Party has the right to attend the full hearing, and a Witness can only give testimony at the invitation of a Party and must be excluded from the rest of the hearing.  The new definition broadens who can be a Party.  Now when the RC or PC initiates a redress hearing the competitor(s) can be made a party and attend the full hearing.  In the past this was technically not allowed.

Appendix Changes

There are also numerous changes to update and clarify the appendixes.

The complete text of the rule changes and copies of the new rules you can paste in your rule book are available at:[7907].pdf

For those who are interested in keeping current with rules updates and related documents they are posted on the ISAF rules web site at:         

ISAF also publishes ongoing Questions and Answers about rules and in 2009 there were 41 Q&As, each explaining a rules question.  For example Q&A 2009-040 was Published 10 December 2009 and discusses rules related to denying the right of appeal when it is essential to determine promptly the result of a race that qualifies a boat for a subsequent event.  This is useful information for Organizing Authorities planning international qualifiers.  Q & As are posted individually and also collected in booklet form and published at:

Good Luck, sail fast and clean.

Darryl Waskow is an International Judge, Snipe and Lighting sailor, and has two junior sailors: Dorothy in Optis and Harry in 420s.

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