A Few More Significant Rule Changes for 2001-2004

David Norton

This month, we’ll complete our tour of the significant changes in the new racing rules. In the past few months, I’ve covered the changes in the right-of-way rules and the rules governing protests, redress, and penalties. What’s left is a bit of a hodgepodge of changes in other parts of the rulebook.
Starting system: The new starting system, Rule 26, which I described in the May 2000 Rules column, is now in effect worldwide. Under this system, 5 minutes before your start, the race committee makes the warning signal by displaying your class flag, which must now be described in the sailing instructions. At 4 minutes, the preparatory signal is made by hoisting flag P, or flags I, Z, Z with I, or a black flag. At 1 minute, the committee lowers the preparatory signal. At your start, they lower your class flag. There is a sound signal at each of these times.
Because the interval between the warning and the start is only 5 minutes in the new system, Rule 29.3, General Recall, has been changed so that after a general recall the next signal will be the warning signal, not the preparatory signal. Also, when one of Rule 30’s starting penalties is in effect, the corresponding flag, either flag I, Z, Z with I, or a black flag, may be displayed before the preparatory signal. If so, the preparatory signal will be flag P.
Rule 26 is a rule that sailing instructions may change. Some clubs have opted to continue using the familiar yellow-blue-red System 2 from the old rules. They describe that system in their sailing instructions and state that new Rule 26 has been changed.
Starting penalties: Rule 30.2, which used to be called the Z Flag Rule, is now the 20% Penalty Rule, and it applies whenever flag Z is displayed before, with, or as the preparatory signal. Under the old rules, a boat received the penalty only when there was a general recall. Under the new rule, the penalty is assessed whenever a boat breaks the rule, whether or not a general recall is signaled. Also, when a boat is disqualified under Rule 30.3, the Black Flag Rule, and the race committee displays her sail number, if she persists in sailing in the race her disqualification becomes a DNE (Disqualification Not Excludable), a disqualification she cannot exclude from her series score.
Definition of finish: A few new words have been added to this definition so that a boat may correct her error if she inadvertently crosses the finishing line in the wrong direction. Regardless of what the sailing instructions say, boats must always finish “in the direction of the course from the last mark.”
In the diagram, the last mark of the course is a leeward mark, set south of the finish line. The pin end of the line has dragged downwind, but in order to finish in compliance with the definition, boats are required to finish by crossing the line in an upwind or northwesterly direction because that is the most direct course from the leeward mark. Between positions 1 and 2, Fran crosses the line in the wrong direction. The race committee does not give her a finishing signal and, at position 2, she realizes her error. Now, she has two problems–she has not finished and she has broken Rule 28.1 because the string representing her wake is now on the wrong side of the pin end of the finish line. To correct both errors, she must sail back across the line (position 3), circle the pin end, leaving it to port, and finish by crossing the line in a northwesterly direction (position 4).
Under the old definition of finish, she could not have corrected her error because at position 3 she would have finished, but she would have still been in violation of Rule 28.1. Under the new definition of finish, a boat may correct her Rule 28.1 error before finishing and will not be recorded as having finished until she’s done so.
Definition of rule: This definition has been extensively revised, and there are several implications of the change. (1) Now it’s clear that the provisions of the notice of race are rules governing the race. (2) If you are racing under a handicap or rating system, the rules of that handicap or rating system are rules that apply to you, just as a one-design boat’s class rules would apply to her. (3) The prescriptions of the national authority now apply unless the sailing instructions state that they do not. Previously, it was unclear whether they were in effect unless the sailing instructions explicitly stated that they were. (4) From now on, the sailing instructions need not list all the rules that apply. It will suffice for the sailing instructions to say, “The race will be governed by the rules as defined in The Racing Rules of Sailing.” That simple statement means that the notice of race, the sailing instructions, the prescriptions, and the class rules or handicap or rating system rules all apply.
Advertising: The rules governing advertising were overhauled, and consequently, we’re going to see a lot more advertising. The appendix containing these rules is now Appendix 1 in Section II of the appendices. Category B has been eliminated, and most races will now be Category C. Except for some club or invitational events, where organizers may still restrict advertising to Category A, the level of advertising permitted will now be determined by class associations or, for boats racing on handicap, by those who write the handicap or rating system rules. Each class or handicap fleet may choose either to race with very limited advertising (Category A) or with virtually unrestricted advertising on hulls, spars, and sails.
The advertising appendix may be changed by ISAF at any time, and the most current version will always appear on the ISAF website ( The new advertising rules have already triggered an avalanche of questions from regatta organizers, classes, and sailors. Frequently asked questions are answered by US SAILING on its website ( in the “Guide to the New Advertising Code.”
Drugs: In recent years, drug testing was something that concerned only Olympic hopefuls while they were sailing their Olympic Trials or the Olympic Games. Under the new ISAF Anti-Doping Code (Appendix 3 in Section II of the appendices), drug testing may be carried out at more regattas and at other times as well. Tests may be carried out at several major regattas where Olympic hopefuls are expected to compete.
A limited group of elite Olympic athletes may be subject to “out-of-competition” testing at any time. An official from the agency named by the U.S. Olympic Committee may show up unannounced when an elite athlete comes ashore from practicing or at his or her residence. US SAILING has decided that unannounced out-of-competition testing will be limited to the top five crews in each Olympic class on the US SAILING Olympic Committee’s ranking lists. The rules governing drug testing may be changed by ISAF at any time, and the most current version of them will always be on the ISAF website.

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