Racing Rules for Sailors

Paul Henderson, President of ISAF, calls for use of ten simple racing rules for sailing

In talking with Ding Schoonmaker, and others we has often expressed ISAF's concerns that the Racing Rules are too complex for those sailors who love the sport and compete just for the shear enjoyment of the game at home. In many sports there are simple rules for the recreational competitor as distinct from the Elite International Competitors. Sailing should do the same. I stood up and cheered when I saw the clear set of simple rules proposed by Don Becker, US Sailing Senior. Judge, who challenges us all by offering the following:

Ten Racing Rule Commandments:

  1. Port keeps clear of starboard.

  2. Windward keeps clear of leeward.

  3. The boat astern keeps clear of the boat ahead.

  4. A boat Tacking or Jibing keeps clear of one that is not.

  5. Avoid collisions. Racing Rules are defensive to prevent collisions not offensive racing tactics.

  6. If you gain right of way or change course, give the other boat time to keep clear.

  7. The inside boat(s) at two boat lengths from the mark is entitled to room to round the mark.

  8. A boat that is backing up or not racing keeps clear.

  9. If you have violated a rule, take a penalty.

  10. It is better to give way than to spend hours in a protest room.

I believe that ISAF and Member National Authorities should publish these rules as the broad base Commandments and also Sailing Clubs should also endorse these truly simple rules to encourage regional racing. Sailing is a participatory sport run by volunteers and this sure encourages those who love to go to sea to race and then return for good fellowship with their competitors. The best day you can have in your life is two great races, back to the club to smile a lot, rehash the race and join together with other sailors who will become your lifelong friends. Compliments of the Season!!