You can study the racing rules until you become expert. However the rules that relate to conduct on the water are essentially extensions to the International Collision Regulations.

See perhaps.

What you need to know WHEN RACING:

When boats meet

Give way boats keep clear

There are 4 major rules in play during the time that the Racing Rules of Sailing are in force that help reduce the risk of collision:

A boat has right of way when the other is required to keep clear.

  • Rule 10: Opposite tacks - PORT tack keeps clear
  • Rule 11: Same tack & Overlapped - WINDWARD keeps clear
  • Rule 12: Same tack & not overlapped - boat ASTERN keeps clear (becoming overlapped immediately switches off this rule)
  • Rule 13: While tacking (passed head to wind, not just luffed) - TACKING boat keeps clear. This rule overrides 10, 11 & 12 until the tacking boat is heading on a close hauled course.

Note that this spells PWAT! which might help you remember.

One point to note is that when looking for an overlap situation to decide if rule 11 or 12 applies, if one boat of a pair is clear astern, then there is NO OVERLAP.

Right of way boats give room

There are 4 major limitations on the rights of the boat with the right of way that prevent a right of way baot 'bullying' a give way boat.:

  • Rule 14: If resonably possible, the right of way boat must avoid contact.
  • Rule 15: If a boat aquires right of way, it must allow the give-way boat room to keep clear.
  • Rule 16: When changing course, the boat with right of way shall give room for others to keep clear.
  • Rule 17: Do not sail above the proper course specifically when .... except for .... This is a detailed limitation with exceptions that needs further study!

Marks and obstructions

Other rules