RRS 2009-2012

We tak a look at the latest Racing Rules of Sailing from ISAF
Last week a new incarnation of the Racing Rules of Sailing was officially released by ISAF, due to come into effect from 1 January 2009 and running until 31 December 2012. As most will know, ISAF updates the rules every four years so this was expected. This is always a controversial area of the sport and rule changes vary between being slight tweaks to wording – as in the 2005-2008 version – and full revisions as was the case for the 1996-2000 set. This year sees much of the usual tweaking with rules such as the change throughout from ‘personal buoyancy’ to ‘personal flotation device’. There are a number of these slight changes that have all but no effect on the sport for most sailors. However, there are also a couple of areas in the rulebook that have seen a total overhaul. The change likely to see the biggest effect out on the water is the total revision of rule 18. The most important parts of this rule are 18.1 ‘when this rule applies’ – now called ‘When rule 18 applies’ and 18.2 ‘Giving room; keeping clear’ – now ‘Giving mark room’. Specifically the rule used to be worded thus: 18.1 When This Rule Applies Rule 18 applies when boats are about to round or pass a mark they are required to leave on the same side, or an obstruction on the same side, until they have passed it. However, it does not apply (a) at a starting mark surrounded by navigable water or at its anchor line from the time the boats are approaching them to start until they have passed them, or (b) while the boats are on opposite tacks, either on a beat to windward or when the proper course for one of them, but not both, to round or pass the mark