"Give-way" rules

The 2021 – 2024 Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) include several “give-way” rules. This is not a surprise as there are many situations where many boats converge in a small space. In order to conduct a race fairly, effectively and safely, we need to avoid collisions and hopefully, these rules will help achieve that.

Let’s have a quick look at Part 2 of the rules which talks about “where boats meet”…

PART 2

WHEN BOATS MEET

The rules of Part 2 apply between boats that are sailing in or near the racing area and intend to race, are racing, or have been racing. However, a boat not racing shall not be penalized for breaking one of these rules, except rule 14 when the incident resulted in injury or serious damage, or rule 23.1.

When a boat sailing under these rules meets a vessel that is not, she shall comply with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (IRPCAS) or government right-of-way rules. If the notice of race so states, the rules of Part 2 are replaced by the rightof-way rules of the IRPCAS or by government right-of-way rules.

In essence, this is the introduction of Part 2 simply explaining that if you are involved in a race this part of the rules applies to you.

The second paragraph explains that if there is a conflict between the RRS and the Col-Reg (the normal shipping rules), the latter prevails. 

Most sailors will be at least somewhat familiar with the 4 main rules covered in Section A of Part 2 of the rules.

Let’s have a look at these in general terms. Later, we cover each of these rules separately in detail. 

SECTION A

RIGHT OF WAY

A boat has right of way over another boat when the other boat is required to keep clear of her. However, some rules in Sections B, C and D limit the actions of a right-of-way boat.

10 ON OPPOSITE TACKS

When boats are on opposite tacks, a port-tack boat shall keep clear of a starboard-tack boat.

11 ON THE SAME TACK, OVERLAPPED

When boats are on the same tack and overlapped, a windward boat shall keep clear of a leeward boat.

12 ON THE SAME TACK, NOT OVERLAPPED

When boats are on the same tack and not overlapped, a boat clear astern shall keep clear of a boat clear ahead.

13 WHILE TACKING

After a boat passes head to wind, she shall keep clear of other boats until she is on a close-hauled course. During that time rules 10, 11 and 12 do not apply. If two boats are subject to this rule at the same time, the one on the other’s port side or the one astern shall keep clear.

However, there are other rules that govern who should keep clear of who. Let’s have a look at these as well…

SECTION D

OTHER RULES

When rule 21 or 22 applies between two boats, Section A rules do not.

21 STARTING ERRORS; TAKING PENALTIES; BACKING A SAIL

21.1 A boat sailing towards the pre-start side of the starting line or one of its extensions after her starting signal to start or to comply with rule 30.1 shall keep clear of a boat not doing so until her hull is completely on the pre-start side.

21.2 A boat taking a penalty shall keep clear of one that is not.

21.3 A boat moving astern, or sideways to windward, through the water by backing a sail shall keep clear of one that is not.

We will cover these rules individually and in detail later. For now, it is perhaps helpful to realise that there are seven (7) rules covering “keeping clear” of other boats.

Below is a quick flowchart to determine which one of these seven rules apply when boats meet…

Rules for right of way

So if you are ready to tackle these rules in detail then simply follow the “Next” buttons. There will be a detailed explanation about all seven rules with examples and quizzes…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top