The Racing Rules of Sailing includes two main sections. The first, Parts 1–7, contains rules that affect all competitors. The second, the appendices, provides details of rules, rules that apply to particular kinds of racing, and rules that affect only a small number of competitors or officials.

A term used in the sense stated in the Definitions is printed in italics or, in preambles, in bold italics (for example, racing and racing).

Each of the terms in the table below is used in The Racing Rules of Sailing with the meaning given.
Term                            Meaning
Boat                             A sailboat and the crew on board.
Competitor                  A person who races or intends to race in the event.
National authority       A World Sailing member national authority.
Race committee         The race committee appointed under rule 89.2(c) and any other person or committee performing a race committee function.
Racing rule                 A rule in The Racing Rules of Sailing.
Technical committee The technical committee appointed under rule 89.2(c) and any other person or committee performing a technical committee function.
Vessel                          Any boat or ship.

Other words and terms are used in the sense ordinarily understood in nautical or general use.

Hails A language other than English may be used for a hail required by the rules provided that it is reasonable for it to be understood by all boats affected. However, a hail in English is always acceptable.

Notation The notation ‘[DP]’ in a rule means that the penalty for a breach of the rule may, at the discretion of the protest committee, be less than disqualification. Guidelines for discretionary penalties are available on the World Sailing Website. [Section C: 'Jury Policies - Including information to Athletes and Discretionary Penalty Policy' - 2021]

Revision The racing rules are revised and published every four years by World Sailing, the international authority for the sport. This edition becomes effective on 1 January 2021 except that for an event beginning in 2020 the date may be postponed by the notice of race or sailing instructions. Marginal markings indicate important changes to Parts 1–7 and the Definitions in the 2017–2020 edition. No changes are contemplated before 2025, but any changes determined to be urgent before then will be announced through national authorities and posted on the World Sailing website.

Appendices When the rules of an appendix apply, they take precedence over any conflicting rules in Parts 1–7 and the Definitions. Each appendix is identified by a letter. A reference to a rule in an appendix will contain the letter and the rule number (for example, ‘rule A1’). The letters I, O and Q are not used to designate appendices in this book.

World Sailing Regulations The Regulations are referred to in the definition Rule and in rule 6, but they are not included in this book because they can be changed at any time. The most recent versions of the Regulations are published on the World Sailing website; new versions will be announced through national authorities.

Interpretations World Sailing publishes the following authoritative interpretations of the racing rules:
  • The Case Book – Interpretations of the Racing Rules,
  • The Call Books, for various disciplines,
  • Interpretations of Rule 42, Propulsion, and
  • Interpretations of the Regulations, for those Regulations that are rules.
These publications are available on the World Sailing website. Other interpretations of the racing rules are not authoritative unless approved by World Sailing in accordance with Regulation 28.4.


Competitors in the sport of sailing are governed by a body of rules that they are expected to follow and enforce. A fundamental principle of sportsmanship is that when a boat breaks a rule and is not exonerated she will promptly take an appropriate penalty or action, which may be to retire.


Participants are encouraged to minimize any adverse environmental impact of the sport of sailing.
Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn more