Racing Rules of Sailing
The basics of sailboat racing can be found in the Definitions and Rules 1 through 24.
Parts 3 through 7 (Conduct of a Race; Other Requirements when Racing; Protests and more) give you everything else you'll need to be successful with racing.
Download the current version of the RRS. The RRS are revised and published every four years by World Sailing.
There are four main rules [Part 2, Section A]:
- Boats on a port tack shall keep clear of boats on starboard tack (Rule 10).
- When boats are on the same tack and overlapped, the boat to windward (the boat closest to the wind) shall keep clear of a leeward boat (Rule 11).
- When boats are on the same tack and not overlapped, the boat that is astern shall keep clear of the boat ahead. (Rule 12).
- When a boat is tacking (changing tack) it shall keep clear of boats that are not tacking (Rule 13).
Four rules about general limitations: [Part 2, Section B]
- Even if you have right-of-way, it is your duty to avoid a collision, once it becomes apparent that the other boat is not keeping clear (Rule 14).
- If you acquire right of way, you must initially give the other boat room to keep clear, unless you get right of way because of the other boat's actions. (Rule 15)
- A boat that changes course, even if it has the right-of-way, shall do so in a manner that gives the burdened boat a chance to "keep clear" (Rule 16).
- If you catch up with another boat and you want to pass it to leeward, you may not sail above your proper course i.e. you shall not luff higher than you would have done if that boat wasn't there (Rule 17)
It is not necessary to know all of the rules to successfully compete and enjoy sailboat racing, but a knowledge of the basics is recommended.