This Guide does not cover all of the Racing Rules of Sailing for 1997-2000 (the 1997-2000 Rules or RRS) only the so-called "right of way rules" contained in Part 2 - When Boats Meet and those terms in the Definitions that are used in the r-o-w rules. However, you should have some familiarity with how the Rulebook is organized and what the other parts are supposed to cover.

The RRS in General

      The 1997-2000 Rules are organized as follows:

Sportsmanship and the Rules
Part 1 - Fundamental Rules
Part 2 - When Boats Meet
Part 3 - Conduct of a Race
Part 4 - Other Requirements When Racing
Part 5 - Protests, Hearings, Misconduct and Appeals
Part 6 - Entry and Qualification
Part 7 - Race Organization
Protest Form
Race Signals

      In addition to Part 2 and the Definitions, the rules that you will need to know to properly start and sail around the race course are contained in these five sections:

  • Sportsmanship and the Rules - the obligation to retire if you break a rule
  • Part 2 - When Boats Meet - the right of way rules indicating how boats should act toward each other when they meet on the race course
  • Part 3 - Conduct of a Race - starting procedures, sailing the course, rounding marks, etc.
  • Part 4 - Other Requirements When Racing - propulsion, outside help, alternative penalties, etc.
  • Race Signals - which flags and signals mean what

      The Introduction and Parts 5-7 contain information that is more administrative such as how to use the rules (Introduction), protest and appeal procedures (Part 5 - Protest, Hearings, Misconduct and Appeals), procedures for establishing race entry requirements (Part 6 - Entry and Qualification) and procedures for race management (Part 7 - Race Organization). The Appendices contain rules and information that is less commonly used, though most sailors should probably be familiar with Appendix A - Scoring, which indicates how a series will be scored unless the sailing instructions make some other provision.

The Right of Way Rules and Definitions

      This Guide explains the right of way rules found in Part 2 - When Boats Meet as well as certain of the related terms defined in Definitions. Part 2 is divided into four sections as follows:

  • Section A - Right of Way - the four primary right of way rules
  • Section B - General Limitations - rules that apply to all boats and can limit the actions of a r-o-w boat
  • Section C - At Marks and Obstructions - special rules that only apply at marks and obstructions
  • Section D - Other Rules - miscellaneous special situation rules

      Terms defined in the Definitions and used in Part 2 (When Boats Meet), and necessary to understanding the r-o-w rules, are:

  • Clear Astern and Clear Ahead; Overlap
  • Finish
  • Keep Clear
  • Leeward and Windward
  • Mark
  • Obstruction
  • Proper Course
  • Racing
  • Room
  • Tack, Starboard or Port
  • Two-Length Zone

Other terms defined in the Definitions, but not important to understanding the r-o-w rules and therefore not discussed in this Guide, are: Abandon, Interested Party, Party, Postpone, Protest, Rule and Start.

First Edition, March 1997
Copyright © 1997 Arthur Engel, All Rights Reserved