Thursday, November 1, 2012

Changes to the RRS for 2013-2016

The Racing Rules of Sailing for 2013-2016 have been published.  They go into effect on the first of  January 2013.  As usual, the rulebook has "change bar" marginal lines opposite any rules that have been changed in any way (except formatting).  To find the ISAF Submission that led to any particular change, consult the "Study Version of the Racing Rules for 2013-2016" posted by ISAF on their site.  

But if you just want an overview of what's changed and a short explanation of the changes, I'm providing below what I think is a complete list of all changes that aren't simple grammatical or formatting (potential game changes in bold):

Changes to the RRS for 2013-2016 

Definitions have been moved to the front of the book.

Def. Finish – “from course side” v. “from direction of the last mark”.

Def. Keep Clear – “making contact” (not necessarily with the other boat in the rule).

Def. Mark – object must be “accidentally” attached in order to not be part of the mark.

Def. Mark-Room – Removes “to” vs. “at” distinction of 2009-2012 RRS.  Only gives room to sail to the mark if the boat’s proper course is to sail close to it; grants “room to round the mark as necessary to sail the course”, which can be much less than proper course. But see also new rule 18.3(c)(2). 

Def. Party – for redress, adds the person or organization alleged to have made an improper act or omission.  See change to rule 62.1.

Def. Room – “including space to comply with her obligations under the rules of Part 2 and rule 31”.

Part 2 Preamble – “right of way” slight wording change.

14(b) “exonerated” instead of “shall not be penalized”.

Preamble to Section C of Part 2 – “When rule 20 applies, rules 18 and 19 do not” deleted.

18.2(c)(2) Tied into new mark-room definition.

18.2(e) “or by tacking to windward of the other boat”

18.3 passes head to wind and is then on same tack …

20        Order of rule: Hailing, Responding, Passing On a Hail to an Additional Boat

Makes it clear that a boat must respond to an improper hail; allows passing the hail on to another boat even if the initial conditions for hailing do not apply to the middle boat.

21 EXONERATION  Moves exoneration from rule 18 to cover all of Section C  -- big deal for rule 19.

Old rules 21, 22 renumbered as 22, 23.

22.3 (previously 21.3) “moving astern through the water”.

25.3 RC may use shapes for flags, as long as they look right.

28 Made two separate rules – sailing the course and string rule.  No real change.

41(a) “help for a crew member … in danger”.

41(e) delete recovery of crew member overboard – covered by (a).

41 “However, a boat that gains a significant advantage in the race from help received under rule 41(a) may be protested and penalized; any penalty may be less than disqualification.”

42.3(e) (new rule) “If a batten is inverted, the boat’s crew may pump the sail until the batten is no longer inverted. This action is not permitted if it clearly propels the boat.”

42.3(h) “after colliding with a vessel …” (used to be “boat”).

44.1 makes the scoring penalty an “alternative” (so by default either one or the other applies, not both).

44.1(b) makes clear that the penalty is included in deciding whether she gains an advantage.

49.2 Crew may sit with heads outside lifelines regardless of the material of the lifelines.  Lifelines must comply with the ISAF OSR.

50.4 Headsails can have big roaches – 75% midgirth – and still not be spinnakers.

55 “A competitor shall not intentionally put trash in the water.” (Applies at all times on the water.) Moves a common SI into the RRS.

60.1 “A boat may … protest another boat, but not for an alleged breach of a rule of Part 2 or rule 31 unless she was involved in or saw the incident;”

61.1(a)(3) Clarifies that a boat may protest under rule 28 any time until just after the other boat finishes.

62.1 extends redress for improper actions or omissions by OA, measurer, etc.

63.6 “testimony of parties present …”

63.6 “A member of the protest committee who saw the incident shall, while the parties are present, state that fact and may give evidence.”

64.1 “When the protest committee decides that a boat … has broken a rule and is not exonerated, it shall disqualify her …” Also, some reorganization – in particular, exoneration for being compelled to break a rule is now rule 64.1(a), not 64.1(c).

67 Delete the rule – deals with rule 42 enforcement when App P is in effect. Duplicates provisions in App P.

69 Broken into 4 rules: 1. prohibiting misconduct; 2. laying out the procedure; 3. MNA actions; 4. ISAF actions.  Only substantive changes: 69.1(c) specifies a standard of proof as “comfortable satisfaction” of the protest committee.  This is stronger than “preponderance of the evidence” but weaker than “beyond a reasonable doubt”.  It would seem to require unanimity, or at least no minority position after deliberation.  Note that while rule 69.1 applies only to “competitors”, rule 69.3 allows MNAs to take action against “against the competitor or boat, or other person involved, …”

70.1 New part (b) allowing appeals base on no hearing.

71.2 Allows MNAs to appoint new protest committees when upholding appeals.

76.1 Basically adopts the US procedure for excluding competitors, but not the US standard against race, religion, etc. 

78.2 No valid measurement certificate – simply cleans up wording.

81 Change in event dates – cleans up wording.

86.1 Can no longer change the zone size in SIs.

89.1 Obscure changes about who can serve as OAs. Defines “affiliated”.


  1. The change to 50.4 is long overdue. Our local Merit 25 class has been in willful violation for decades, allowing jibs with battens and clewboards. In fact, any jib with a non-vanishing girth at the head, even if it's just a couple of centimeters, had been in violation of the "proportional girth" provision.

    Have arguments been put forward to delete RRS 50.4 entirely, leaving this up to class or measurement rules? It's out of place in a rule titled "setting and sheeting sails" unless the scope is narrowed to apply only to when sails of certain characteristics can be flown, and not to how the sails are designed and built.

  2. Well, your local Merit 25 class wasn't exactly in violation, as long as the class rules changed rule 50.4 appropriately. Rule 86.2, which specifies which rules can be changed by National Authorities, sailing instructions and classes, says in part, "(c) Class rules may change ... racing rules 42, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53 and 54. Such changes shall refer specifically to the rule and state the change."

    But I agree with you, the change was long overdue. Actually, I feel even more strongly than that. I think rules 49-54 are really class rules -- they define "sailboats" in ways that are restrictive and silly. Why not create a boat with a jib tack that slides from side to side, rather than attaching it at the boat's centerline, as required by rule 54? Why shouldn't a boat with twin headsails use twin whisker poles? Many cruising boats do exactly that, and it's not dangerous to do so. If classes or handicaps want to restrict or penalize such features, let them do so. Meanwhile, let designers, builders and sailors design, build and sailboats any way they see fit.

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  4. Rob, there's a typo in your note about the definition of mark room. You refer to " rule 18.3(c)(2)", where I think you must mean 18.2(c)(2). (Please note: previous comment removed to correct typo!) :)