Whether you turn your claim over to your insurance company or to an attorney, the first question that will come up is this: Which set of rules, the racing rules or the government right-of-way rules, will be used to decide who is at fault? In the United States one of two virtually identical sets of government right-of-way rules apply on a given body of water. The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea apply on deep waters near the coastline, and the Inland Navigational Rules apply on inland waters. The Coast Guard publishes a book entitled "Navigation Rules" which contains both sets of rules, and in it you will find no mention of the racing rules. Therefore it would appear that the government rules always apply, even to sailboats while they are racing.
However, a 1994 landmark decision by a federal appeals court makes it clear the racing rules should apply between boats that are in or near the racing area and intend to race, are racing, or have been racing. When the racing rules apply between two competing sailboats, they replace the applicable government right-of-way rules. The court's decision was written by Juan Torruella, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and also a former Finn sailor and currently an ISAF-certified International Judge.