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The Sailing Race

3: The ‘Racing Rules of Sailing’

These are internationally recognised and have been developed over a long period of time by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF). They’re updated every four years. Here are some of the basic elements of the rules:

* A boat on port tack (i.e. with the wind coming over the port side of the boat) must give way to one on a starboard tack.

* A windward boat must keep clear of one to leeward.

* An overtaking boat keeps clear.

* It’s worth noting that the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea apply to boats while they are racing and take precedence over the racing rules — the fact that you’re racing confers no additional rights whatsoever over other water users, although some may voluntarily give you room. In addition, a race boat that’s not engaged in a race should not impede those who are racing.

* There are also additional rules governing mark roundings: for instance, if a boat’s bow overlaps the stern of the boat ahead two boat lengths from a mark of the course, the leading boat must give the other room to round inside.

The full rules can be found on the ISAF website at although it’s well worth buying a book that also explains the rules.

ISAF have also introduced an introductory one page version of the racing rules which will help beginners immensely.

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More rules, specific to the area of water you are racing in

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