US Sailing Proposals for the Next Rule Book

Published on August 6th, 2015

by Rob Overton, Chairman, US Racing Rules Committee
The Racing Rules of Sailing are only changed every four years, after each Olympic Games (except for rare “emergency” changes, when somebody finds a critical problem in the rules that needs to be solved immediately). ISAF only considers changes to the main body of the rules in the first three years of each of these quadrennia, in order to give the folks who write the Appendices, Call Books and Case Book a year to conform those documents to the new rules.

The Brazil Olympics will be held in 2016, so this is the last year in which National Authorities such as US Sailing can propose changes to the main body of the rules.

The US Racing Rules Committee held 90-minute conference calls every three weeks, on average, over the last 12 months, to discuss proposals for changes to the next rulebook. The committee decided on 13 proposals for changes and wrote them up as ISAF Submissions.

These Submissions were approved by the US Sailing Board of Directors on July 22nd and will be considered by the ISAF Racing Rules Committee (RRC) at the Annual Conference in China in November. ISAF might pass, edit or reject any submissions. Any changes for the 2017-2020 Racing Rules of Sailing will come into effect on January 1, 2017.

As usual, some of the US proposals are merely word-smithing or house-keeping. But a few are substantive:

– A proposal to reverse a 2014 decision by ISAF to change the Preamble to Part 2;
– A change to Rule 20 Hailing for Room to Tack that would require the hail to use the specific words “Room to Tack”;
– A new Rule 25 making it easier for organizing authorities and race committees to understand the procedure for changing rules by sailing instructions;
– A proposal to put the Appendix T arbitration process, which ISAF approved last year for worldwide use, in the actual rulebook instead of on the ISAF website.

The US Sailing submissions, which include reasons for why the changes should be made, can be found by following this link. If you have any comments, please send them to the US Racing Rules Committee at

By the way, if you think you would like to work on the rules you might consider applying to join the US Sailing Racing Rules Committee.

The easiest way to do that is to come up with an idea for simplifying, clarifying or otherwise improving a particular racing rule. Identify the rule, state exactly how you would change it, and then in a few words state why you believe this change would be a change for the better. Finally, tell the committee you’d like to be a member and briefly describe your racing and/or race management experience.

Send your application by e-mail to

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