Latest edition of Racing Rules of Sailing take effect

The 2021 to 2024 edition of World Sailing's Racing Rules took effect on Jan., 1 2021 and includes many small changes aimed at making the sport safer and fairer.

SOUTHAMTON, ENGLAND—With the turn of the new year, came a new edition of the World Sailing’s Racing Rules, which governs the sport of sailboat and sailboard racing. The 2021 to 2024 edition of the Racing Rules of Sailing took effect on Jan. 1. The rules are revised and published every four years by World Sailing’s Racing Rules Committee, a group of experienced international judges and officials.

The Committee took feedback from sailors, Member National Authorities, and sailing officials to refine the new edition. Though there are not any major rule changes, there are many small changes that will affect sailors and race officials.

One of those small changes was made to rule 16.2, often called the “Anti-Hunting Rule.” A starboard-tack boat can now luff towards a port-tack boat that is sailing to pass astern of her on a downwind leg, but not on an upwind leg.  The starboard-tack boat still has to give the port-tack boat room to keep clear of her under rule 16.1, Changing Course, but starboard-tack boat can make it more difficult for the port-tack boat to pass astern of her.

“The change to rule 16.2, Changing Course, means that starboard-tack boats can no longer ‘hunt’ port-tack boats (bear off and make it more difficult for port-tack boats to duck them),” said Dave Perry, National Judge, author and chairman of the US Sailing Appeals Committee, to US Sailing in a question-and-answer session about the new racing rules.

Another change in the rules is, an item that is listed in the Notice of Race no longer needs to be listed in the Sailing Instructions.

“Therefore, if sailors do not read the Notice of Race, they may not know important information such as whether there will be a throw-out race or even what the courses are,” said Perry to US Sailing.

A final small, significant change is that a boat’s crew and equipment are no longer a factor for deciding if a boat is over the starting line at the start, or has crossed the finishing line at the finish, it is just the boat’s hull that counts.

“Race committees can ignore the boat’s crew, even if they are out on the trapeze at the start, and will no longer have to decide whether a boat’s spinnaker was in its ‘normal position’ in close finishes,” Perry told US Sailing.

For more resources on the 2021 to 2024 Racing Rules of Sailing visit

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