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24 September 2008, 02:27 pm
An Expert's Guide to the New Edition of The Racing Rules of Sailing
Dick ROSE at the 2005 ISAF Annual Conference
Rules expert Dick ROSE gives his view on the new edition of the RRS

The Racing Rules of Sailing

Following the online release of The Racing Rules of Sailing 2009-2012, get the lowdown on the new edition from rules expert Dick ROSE.
Few people are more familiar with The Racing Rules of Sailing than US rules expert Dick Rose. Dick has been a member of ISAF Racing Rules Committee and the Racing Rules Committee Working Party for almost 20 years. He is also the chairman of the ISAF Case Book Working Party, has been a member of US SAILING's Racing Rules Committee for well over 20 years and was rules advisor to the US Olympic Team from 1984-1992. He is perhaps most familiar to sailors worldwide for his monthly Rules column in Sailing World.

Since the publication of the 2005-2008 edition of The Racing Rules of Sailing, Dick has been a central figure in the evolution of the 2009-2012 edition of the RRS. We spoke to him to find out more about the new RRS.

Are there any major changes in the new edition of the RRS? If so what are they and how did they come about?

By far the most significant changes for sailors will be the major revision in the rules that govern boats at marks and obstructions (and some related definitions). These rules are in Section C of the Part 2 rules. The old Section C rules, particularly old rule 18, were by far the most complicated rules in The Racing Rules of Sailing for 2005-2008. While competitors generally liked the 'game' they produced, many, including the last two ISAF Presidents, called for simplification.

In 2005 and 2006 the US SAILING Racing Rules Committee and the Royal Yachting Association Racing Rules Committee developed several drafts of possible revisions of Section C, and two preliminary US drafts were tested on the water by various fleets during the summer of 2006.

The new Section C rules (and related definitions) are the result of a process that was described to and approved by the ISAF Racing Rules Committee in November 2006. Using the US and RYA drafts and feedback from competitors and race officials as initial input, a special working party drafted the new Section C rules. Its members were Chris Atkins and Richard Thompson, from the UK, and Ben Altman, Rob Overton and the author, from the USA.

There are other changes in the new edition of the rules, but they are not as extensive as the changes that have been made in past revisions and for the most part, when compared to the changes in the rules for marks and obstructions, not critical to how the 'game' is played..

As a member of the Racing Rules Committee you receive hundreds of submissions from nations all over the sailing world. With all these different national perspectives, is it difficult to write rules that can be applied internationally?

Over forty years ago the International Yacht Racing Union (ISAF's former name) adopted a single set of rules that applied to all sailboat races sailed anywhere in the world, and so the sailing world is used to changes made every four years that apply worldwide. However, it's always a challenge to write rules that are both clear and simple and, most important, provide sailors with the 'game' they want to play. One added challenge when writing in English for an international community is to choose one's words so that they are relatively easy to translate in an unambiguous manner.

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