Rules and Sailing Tips

The purpose of The Racing Rules of Sailing is to keep sailors and boats safe and to provide fair competition

The rules are governed by a basic principle:

Sportsmanship and the Rules

Competitors in the sport of sailing are governed by a body of rules that they are expected to follow and enforce. A fundamental principle of sportsmanship is that when competitors break a rule they will promptly take a penalty, which may be to retire.

Link to USSailing Racing Rules of Sailing 2017-2020 and many helpful books to understand them:

Link to World Racing Rules of Sailing 2017-2020 PDFs:


We are updating the website with new downloads for 2017-2020 Rules Links.

Meantime, here's some good and current info on Mark Roundings and other exciting stuff provide by Founding Frank:

 The Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) govern the sport of sailing on the water. They are revised and published every four years by World Sailing The current edition is The Racing Rules of Sailing 2017 - 2020.

In regard to Mark Room, the rules simply state:

Mark-Room Room for a boat to leave a mark on the required side. Also,

1.     (a)  room to sail to the mark when her proper course is to sail close to it,


2.     (b)  room to round the mark as necessary to sail the course.

However, mark-room for a boat does not include room to tack unless she is overlapped inside and to windward of the boat required to give mark-roomand she would be fetching the mark after her tack.

Rule 18 is the rule that applies to Mark Rule, it states:


When Rule 18 Applies

Rule 18 applies between boats when they are required to leave a mark on the same side and at least one of them is in the zone. However, it does not apply

1.     (a)  between boats on opposite tacks on a beat to windward,

2.     (b)  between boats on opposite tacks when the proper course at the

mark for one but not both of them is to tack,

3.     (c)  between a boat approaching a mark and one leaving it, or

4.     (d)  if the mark is a continuing obstruction, in which case rule 19 applies.

Giving Mark-Room

1.     (a)  When boats are overlapped the outside boat shall give the inside boat mark-room, unless rule 18.2(b) applies.

(b)  If boats are overlapped when the first of them reaches the zone, the outside boat at that moment shall thereafter give the inside boat mark-room. If a boat is clear ahead when she reaches the zone, the boat clear astern at that moment shall thereafter give her mark-room.

3.     (c)  When a boat is required to give mark-room by rule 18.2(b),

1.     (1)  she shall continue to do so even if later an overlap is

broken or a new overlap begins;

2.     (2)  if she becomes overlapped inside the boat entitled to mark-room, she shall also give that boat room to sail her proper course while they remain overlapped.

4.     (d)  Rules 18.2(b) and (c) cease to apply when the boat entitled tomark-room has been given that mark-room, or if she passes head to wind or leaves the zone.

Part 2


  1. (e)  If there is reasonable doubt that a boat obtained or broke an overlap in time, it shall be presumed that she did not.

  1. (f)  If a boat obtained an inside overlap from clear astern or by tacking to windward of the other boat and, from the time the overlap began, the outside boat has been unable to give mark- room, she is not required to give it.

Tacking in the Zone

If a boat in the zone of a mark to be left to port passes head to wind from port to starboard tack and is then fetching the mark, she shall not cause a boat that has been on starboard tack since entering the zone to sail above close-hauled to avoid contact and she shall give mark-room if that boat becomes overlapped inside her. When this rule applies between boats, rule 18.2 does not apply between them.


When an inside overlapped right-of-way boat must gybe at a mark to sail her proper course, until she gybes she shall sail no farther from the mark than needed to sail that course. Rule 18.4 does not apply at a gate mark.

Since we sail RC boats, Appendix E applies to the rules, that's the RC appendix....  In that Appendix it defines ZONE as 4 BOATS Lengths. 



Radio sailing races shall be sailed under The Racing Rules of

Sailing as changed by this appendix.

1.     E1.1  Definitions

Add to the definition Conflict of Interest:
However, an observer does not have a 
conflict of interest solely by being a competitor.

In the definition Zone the distance is changed to four hull lengths.

Also the rule applies to all marks unless specified.

Note:  The following were made under 2009-2012 Rules, some of which have changed, but good info even if outdated.

2009-2012 Racing Rules for Sailing for R/C Boats (unchanged for 2017-2020):
       2009-2012 RC Sailing Rules pg 1.pdf
       2009-2012 RC Sailing Rules pg 2.pdf

Displays many situations to test your knowledge.
South Carolina Low Country Model Yacht Assoc:
  Shows a couple mark rounding situations with good comments.  Not too long.  Watch this!:
   By clicking on the link, it will take you to videos with different scenarios which can be opened to full screen and paused to study and
   analyze each situation. The end of a video leads into the next.
Duke City Model Yacht Club's Guide into racing:
NOTE:  These discussions are driven by the 2009-2012 RRS, and some rules they cite have changed. Good quick reference, though. 
Brian Ladouceur,
May 5, 2019, 11:01 AM
Brian Ladouceur,
May 5, 2019, 10:58 AM