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Racing Rules and Organisation - how it all works

Competitive sailing is coordinated across the UK by the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), and internationally by the World Sailing organisation. World Sailing produces a set of rules for use in racing; the RYA makes further "prescriptions", to apply in the UK; and individual clubs, like HLSTC, add further detail and/or local adjustments, in the form of "Sailing Instructions".

World Sailing resources

On the World Sailing website, you can see the rules themselves, the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS). (These are updated every four years, and we are now in the 2021-2024 period.) The "study version" of the rules highlights the changes from the previous version, and you can see a brief digest of the changes here.

There is also the Case Book. This gives an insight into the way that the rules are interpreted in difficult or complicated situations.

RYA resources

The RYA also provides a comprehensive set of documents. Apart from the link to the World Sailing site, for the rules themselves, the RYA includes its own case books, with more examples of interpretation, and an excellent guide to the application of the rules. You can also find the RYA "prescriptions", which are mainly about formalities, and need not concern us in our club racing.

You can download any of these documents for your own use, but we can't copy them here, for copyright reasons.

HLSTC Racing Rules Guide

The official documents are all worth getting to grips with, once you get into serious racing, but they are fairly bulky, and not necessarily presented in the best sequence for learning. In the first instance you may find it easier to use our own Guide to the Racing Rules, HERE. This aims to take you through the rules in a logical sequence, building up from the most basic principles. There's one caveat though: it's intended as a learning guide; not as an authority. In the interests of simplicity, it inevitably glosses over some details, and if a real dispute arises, the relevant actual rule(s) should be consulted.

Sailing Instructions

HLSTC's Club Racing is fairly informal, and we don't go in for strict registration and entry procedures. But we do follow the Racing Rules, subject to a few adjustments for local conditions. The details are spelt out in our Sailing Instructions HERE.

Race Officer Guide

Races don't just run themselves, and we all need to take our turn at Race Officer duty.

If you haven't done it before, you may be wondering where to start, but it's actually not too difficult: it's best if you can start out by buddying with someone who knows the ropes, and then, when you understand how all of the steps work, have a try at reversing the roles. When you're ready to go it alone (you're never really alone - there are always people around to help and advise) all you need is something to remind you of the steps you have to follow. That's where the Race Officer Guide comes in. And it lets you dig down into more detail if you need it.