Learn the Racing Rules

Part 2 : When Boats Meet

The 2021-2024 Racing Rules of Sailing contain 92 rules over 50 pages (not counting Appendices). That's a lot to keep track of! 

Luckily, it's possible to narrow down the set of rules that you really need to pay attention to while racing.

Part 2 of the Racing Rules takes up 6 pages, and contains 14 rules. These are the rules to know.


Just as important as the Rules themselves, the Definitions are found between the Racing Rules' Introduction and Part 1.

Whenever you see an italicized word in the Racing Rules, it has an official definition. That definition is key to correctly interpreting the rule.

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 24.1. 

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 sailing instructions so state, the rules of Part 2 are replaced by the right-of-way rules of the IRPCAS or by government right-of-way rules. 

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. 

Rule 10 - On Opposite Tacks

Rule 11 - On the Same Tack, Overlapped

Rule 12 - On the Same Tack, Not Overlapped

Rule 13 -  While Tacking

Section C - At Marks and Obstructions

Section C rules do not apply at a starting mark surrounded by navigable water or at its anchor line from the time boats are approaching them to start until they have passed them. 

Rule 18 - Mark Room

Rule 19 - Room to Pass an Obstruction

Rule 20 - Room to Tack at an Obstruction

Section D - Other Rules

When rule 22 or 23 applies between two boats, Section A rules do not. 

Rule 21 - Exoneration

Rule 22 - Starting Errors, Taking Penalties, Backing a Sail

Rule 23 - Capsized, Anchored or Aground, Rescuing

Rule 24 - Interfering with Another Boat