Racing Rules of Sailing...

Sicne this came up in another thread I figured we could start a Rules Thread…so we dont’ jack threads

so the first question out of the box-

What determines which tack you are on?

my quick rule of thumb is “your tack is based on the main and your tack is opposite of the side of the boat that the main is on.” IE main is on the port side, you are on starboard tack.

the definition is
Tack, Starboard or Port A boat is on the tack, starboard or port, corresponding to her windward side.

So is’t possible, especially when running down wind to be on a starboard tack and have the main sail on the starboard side of the boat.

See the RRS definition of Leeward and Windward, which reads in part:

“… when sailing by the lee or directly downwind, her leeward side is the side on which her mainsail lies.”



It seems to me that the wind determines the tack. That’s what the rule says. In practice, skippers have to use the evidence in view. The position of the main is probably the strongest evidence most skippers have to work with. Sailing downwind with the main on the starboard side and claiming starboard tack may not convince the jury in a protest.

Maybe we should all carry smoke pots on the boats. We can use that to judge wind direction and ignore the sail position. Or better yet, I propose that the wind be visible at all times while sailing. I know I’d sail better if we got rid of this pesky invisible wind.

P.S. Seems Earl found additional RRS while I typed. Seems to support what I said in my 1st paragraph so I’m not complaining.

thanks earl.

visible wind…I’m all for that. So at your next regatta how are you goingto mandate visible wind…:slight_smile:

Has TMYC gotten their regatta schedule done for the year? I’m looking to make some road trips with my 12…

That’s only for sailing downwind. Why does everybody quote this useless and irrelevant definition?? We are talking about determining your tack when sailing upwind, and it has not defined as being in relation to the mainsail.

Yes! Especially when your gooseneck gets stuck on one tack, or when the boat is listing with light winds. BTDT

This forum doesn’t nest quotes, which evidently misled people. I was responding to string starting the “So is’t possible, especially when running down wind to be on a starboard tack and have the main sail on the starboard side of the boat. Yes???” The definition is different for going to windward and going to leeward.

By the definition, the answer is no. If during a run the mainsail is on the starboard side of the boat, by rule that is the leeward side even if you are “tacking downwind” and what wind there is blowing from the starboard side of your boat.




Yeah, that’s right, but in a sense, if you go by both rules, you’re on one tack from the side of the wind, and the other by the rule. It’s the only situation when you think you’re on one tack because of the side the mainsail is on, but the rule says the opposite (you think you’re on port tack because the main is to stbd, but the rule says you’re on stbd tack.)

Right. This is one of many places where the RRS, which assume you’re in the boat, confuses things for radio sailors. A “pure radio” rule would say what so many skippers think is the case, mainsail position governs.



tomo keep in mind that we are refering to R/C boats…there are manyf actors in big boats which don’t apply to R/C sailing. case in ponit. all the crew on the windward rail in light air thus prodcing a list inthe boat to the windwardside and the main flops over to the windward side, not as a result of a wind shift, but the weight of the boom and sail being more than the wind can hold onthe lewward side.

Bound up gooseneck…yeah I guess it can happen…

but i will stand by my quick and dirty ROT that if the main is on the port side of the boat, you are on a starboard tack and vice versa…Its a determiniation that can usually easily be made from shore while sailing the little boats…

Unfortunately, we all agreed to abide by the ISAF RRS, which is as it is. This is another thing to put into Appendix E. And, another thing we can bring up when the big-boat skippers say, " r/c sailboating is just like the big boats…"

Did we all just agree on something? kool… :zbeer:

I’m all about following the rules. There are thinsg we small skippers just can’t do like the big boys. Which makes it much harder to sail a small boat from 20 yards away looking into an afternoon sun…

I hate it when I hear the sound of two clorox bottles hiting one another followed by silence, or even worse the skippers calling for room, over lap, stdb, ect and then the sound of clorox bottles and then silence as no one calls a protest. When boats collide someone’s at fault…

Yeah we agreed. follow the rules and keep the pointy end above the water…

so next rules question-

Star/finisht line Shenanigins… Does one have to give mark room at the start/finish line…

That’s because the jury themselvesare cinging to their misguided notion of “tack” that is still undefined. I hardly think that people on big boats are thinking “which side is my boom on?”

there is a rule that mentions giving room at the finish, but I don’t recall which it is. I think you just need to follow the usual ROW rules.

This is not hard. There are two definitions to read. They work together.

Leeward and Windward A boat’s leeward side is the side that is or, when
she is head to wind, was away from the wind. However, when sailing by the
lee or directly downwind, her leeward side is the side on which her mainsail
lies. The other side is her windward side.

Tack, Starboard or Port A boat is on the tack, starboard or port , corre-
sponding to her windward side.

Note that when sailing downwind ‘by the lee’ it is the position of the boom that determines leeward and windward sides of the boat. Once that is determined, then the question of which tack is settled.


The preamble to Part C which covers marks and obstructions, excludes the start mark (but not the finish mark). So the answer is “No” for start marks and “Yes” for Finish marks.


This has been said thousands of times already, and is still useless. The first parts says nothing, and the last part doesn’t answer the question.

It makes perfect sense.

If dead downwind or by the lee, the side that the boom is on is the leeward side. The other side is the windward and the windward determines which tack (P or S).

So if the boom is on the port side, then the starboard side is windward (regardless of where the wind is coming from). Now look at the second definition. The boat is on a tack (P or S) based on its ‘windward’ side. We just said that the windward side in our example is S, and so the boat is on Stbd.


I disagree. That logic cannot be used to determine your tack upwind.

If you are sailing downwind, the boom can be on either side. That is why the definition exists for downwind sailing, because things can go either way, and because you are sailing 'dead downwind, the wind is on neither “side”. You can have the boom swing to either side because of a swell. I have done this in dingies.

So that means the waves on the water determine your tack!

Again, the rules for tack are fine for big boats, but urgently need amending for radio sailing. I’m really amazed at how things could be likethis for so long without everyone noticing.