That Ugly Word "RULES"


Seems like there are a lot of members new to sailing and some aren’t quite sure of the rules when racing. Better to avoid them (RULES that is) when you aren’t quite sure is always the easier option. Not the best but the easiest.

At my local clubs, combined yachts & scale, we divised a simple set of rules which are used in a similar vein by quite a lot of other clubs about the place.

These are only for club events to make it more fun and easier to understand in a friendly sort of way. District championships need more detail but these are sufficient for using for most small clubs.

Pays to be easy on beginners until they get to know the rules in more detail and when racing is for fun & enjoyment and not Sheep Stations… Baa… :stuck_out_tongue:
[li]Port Keeps Clear of Starboard
[/li][li]Windward Keeps Clear of Leeward
[/li][li]Boat Astern Keeps Clear of Boat Ahead
[/li][li]Boat Tacking or Jibing keeps clear of one that is not
[/li][li]Avoid Collisions. Racing Rules are Defensive to prevent collisions, not offensive racing tactics
[/li][li]If you gain right of way or change course give the other boat time to keep clear
[/li][li]Inside boats at 4 boat lengths from the mark are entitled to room to round the mark
[/li][li]A boat that is backing up or not racing keeps clear
[/li][li]If you Violate a rule, take a penalty. Honest is the best Policy you are only cheating yourself if you don’t.
[/li][li]It is better to give way than spend hours in a protest room.

Not sure if this is the palce for it but are there any comments on using something like this across the Footy Fraternity until more fleet racing gets established or maybe the class gets a bigger footing (so to speak) in established clubs?

They can be adjusted for Local Conditions but we settled on 10 Simple rules as this was about as much as anybody could remember during Race Days.


We used a similar list to explain the basisc to new sailors.

We added one more at the end. . .

If you are unsure, stay out of the way. (and ask later):zbeer:

You gotta remember that the rules are a couple centuries old, and were started by Gentlemen sailors ( the guys who sailied in suits & white gloves,) so the idea is to be a Gentleman and not hit the other boat(s.) Thus, if you are in doubt, you should give the other boat the rooom to sail.

there’s a document based on the acronym SLOOPBOAT that helps to remembr the rules. Maybe somebody has it?


I think that the most important thing is not to simplify the rules but to teach people one of the fundamentals of how to win races - stay out of trouble. In my experience, vey few top sailors use the rules aggressively except in such specialised chess game pursuits as team racing and match racing.

The reason is patently obvious. In a fleet there is always the risk of, say, Dreaded Rival A gping round the outside and getting away in clean air while you are busy trying to push Dreaded Rival B the wrong side of the mark. Furthermore, there is always the risk of gettijng it wring so that you take the penalty (Dreaded Rival A gets away too) or getting disqualified (you end up the worse points for that race than Also Ran Z).

John’s ‘simplified’ set of rules is the bit of the full rules that most non-agressive sailors will use throughout their sailing lives. Simplification increases the risk of grey areas in unusual cases (which mostly happen by accident anyway) - so why bother?

This is a fun way to learn the rules before sailing in a race:

Thanks Bill, this is something I think a lot of people need to know as you say before going racing.


The rules of sailing don’t excite me either. What’s wrong with trading a little paint in the corners? It’s not like Footys are going to sink each other. Port/starboard? Who cares? Get out of my way.

There ya go.

Well what can I say but an example and hopefully only a minority. But it is there for all to see.

Expecting people to know from the outset sometimes can be a bit naive. Teach them the basics and they have somewhere to start and hopefully grow into a knowledgeable sailor.

All points so far are valid and hence the healthy debate.

Still an UGLY WORD though “RULES” and not palatable to all. I lean more to Bill & Angus but think in such a small class with so many new people with little or no experience that we should educate for the betterment of all.


I found my copy of the SLOOPBoats document.

After you download it, uncompress it and open with Adobe Reader, then print. You get 10 copies on a page, so print it on cardstock, cut it up, nd giveto 9 other noobs.


Not a bad summary of the basics but I’m in Angus’ camp that simplified rules will only cause more misunderstandings in all but the clearest of violations. Pointing to the RRS and adding examples or additional explanations would be my suggestion for learning to sail under the RRS.

Waboats, please credit my posts when quoting them please. Publishing another person’s work without citation or permission is generally frowned on. You also made a false assumption if you think that statement of opinion means that I don’t know the rules or would intentionally violate the rules during an event governed by those rules. Yes, I’m new to sailing. Yes, I’m learning how the rules work in practice on the water. So far, “keep clear” has served me well for any boat that wasn’t behind me.

You asked for only 25 words to express my dislike for the other classes, including the Footy (that would be all sailing, right?). You’re not going to get politically correct, sanitized responses with 25 words. You get simple raw data points.

I will be experimenting with the 20 something crowd to see if a more NASCAR approach to racing boats would appeal. The Micro Magics often race with relaxed rules and ignore insignificant contact with marks or other boats. It might explain their popularity. I’d like to see the Footy become very popular. If skippers seeking more fun want different racing rules, then I’ll support them.

If resperctability as pereceived by the ‘establishment’ has any merit, we should certainly not make local variations on the RRS one of the Footy class’s central features. We have quite enougfh other things to convince the world about without that.

On the other hand, those rules are not immutable and if a particular group wants to try a mored 'dodgem car ’ oriented approach, there is no reason why they shouldn’t. If enough people like it, it will catch on.

I’m sorry if this sounds like a dollop of smoothing goop but sometimes it’s not a god idea to stick your head too far above the parapet: what youn do below it is your own business and may leak out and become popular.

What a contradiction of attitudes.

[INDENT][i]What’s wrong with trading a little paint in the corners? It’s not like Footys are going to sink each other. Port/starboard? Who cares? Get out of my way.

There ya go.[/i][/INDENT]

Last bloke that tried that on me is still crying over his pretty little boat at the bottom of the deep blue ocean.

Might have ripped my sails in the first race with a Get out of My way attitude. I had right of way! Second race I called he didn’t budge so I rammed his poor little DISCO amidships at 8 knots. Split it in Two. Pity I didn’t have enough time to get out of the way :lol: . Too busy calling him and being abused for my trouble. Serves the Idiot right for such a shallow view. He didn’t care much for the rules either. $3000 out of pocket and only sailed twice. Port/starboard? Who cares? Get out of my way. There ya go :cool:

What a narrow minded entrenched attitude from an obvious little boy with no respect for his elders or anybody with an alternative viewpoint.

Didn’t assume anything but then again with these quotes to lean towards,

What’s wrong with trading a little paint in the corners? It’s not like Footys are going to sink each other. Port/starboard? Who cares? Get out of my way. AND I will be experimenting with the 20 something crowd to see if a more NASCAR approach to racing boats would appeal.

If you don’t already know then perhaps you should ask your Old Man (Father) for some guidance.

I’d like to see NASCAR rules applied to Boats and I now have my Bowspit in the shop for a refit of the Battering Ram and sharpened just to be streamlined. I’d loved to sink another one with such entrenched 20 something attitudes. They don’t come next week or for months after. At least I know how to install a water activated Bilge Pump when it’s needed.

Geriatric, Retiree, Adult or Not, usually Kiddies don’t last because they can’t compete on an intellectiual level and watching them do penalty after penalty is such a laugh. They don’t swim well either.

"but I’m in Angus’ camp that simplified rules will only cause more misunderstandings "

Don’t you think this is a little condescending to Angus or are you just blowing smoke up his Ass… Completely Contradicts your position on what the Rules are there to achieve. Hmmmmm…

What’s wrong with trading a little paint in the corners? It’s not like Footys are going to sink each other. Port/starboard? Who cares? Get out of my way. AND I will be experimenting with the 20 something crowd to see if a more NASCAR approach to racing boats would appeal.

Bring on the Dodgem Bumper Boats a la Club 500 and I’m there. Great fun watching Grown Men Cry because of their stupidity.

Rules are there to help and guide not for playing Dodge Ball, Bumper Cars nor other childish pusuits.

I say simplify the rules to help those ignorant fools who only want to trade a little paint in the corners, sink each other, Port/starboard Who cares, Get out of my way. AND a NASCAR approach to racing boats.

Long live the Footy and every other Class as we have about a week left if this is the attitude that is supported by the Majority.

I certainly don’t suffer fools kindly or quietly.

Grow Up… and couch your words carfully in the future.

Can’t learn the detail until you know the basics. Other wise you’ll be too busy running for the book every time and have no time for sailing.

I love them Rules coz the Devils in the Details :devil3:

Young Ones don’t last coz them haven’t got the Patience for the Details.

All they want to know… and here it is… heard it before… Wait for it…

How Fast does it Go Mister…

It’s not NASCAR, it doesn’t have wheels, and it doesn’t even have a motor.

Try Fast Electrics it’s a lot more exciting and you get to rub paint.

Mine does 60mph Mister…

My monster Truck does about the same and sheets over nascar model racers…


Dear, oh dear!

From alleged barnage to apparent dotage in one!


Play nicely in the sandpit now boys.

Are you in the right forum, waboats? This is about Footys. You know, the cute little boats that weigh 250-1000g usually. We don’t go 8 knots. Most are building boats for less than $300. We don’t need to swim, we stand on shore while skippering. Try to read what I’m writing without extrapolating to the extreme. Personal attacks are also generally frowned on in this forum. We try to have civil discussions even when forum members may have widely different points of view.

I’ve participated in many sports in my life. I often have to deal with variations in the rules within a single sport too. I fail to understand what is wrong with having a preference for or against a given set of rules.

Allowing incidental contact (rubbing paint) is a far cry from ramming the opposition with a sharpened bowsprit. I haven’t proposed a class-wide policy or even running a regatta under relaxed rules. I simply stated a preference. I don’t think I’ve contradicted myself either. Model yachting rules are taken, almost unchanged, from the full sized yacht rules. Many of the rules exist for safety concerns and damaging expensive hardware. They make perfect sense for full sized and most model yachts (although I will admit the sense being difficult to detect in certain rules.). I’ve seen what 2 EC12s can do to each other when they tangle. The Footy, like the Micro Magic, can be raced under relaxed rules without great risk. They don’t have the mass or speed. I have 2 Footys and have bashed them into each other quite a bit just to see what happens. Not much. They spin around a bit and keep on going. My rigs are shroud free so I know that’s one area of concern with other designs. I’m going to play around with the idea. I might not find any like minded skippers or we might find it doesn’t make the game more fun. It could be a barrel of fun too. We’ll see.

So again, relax waboats. I’m not tearing down the hallowed halls of yacht racing. You asked for opinion. You got it. Welcome to the diversity of thought. If you only wanted responses to reinforce your own views you should have stated that in the beginning.

Back to a discussion on Rules. . .

To me, the fundamental rules (when yachts meet), and as expressed by the simplified set discussed earlier, are quite easy to learn and apply.

The real complexity of the rules and the real world experiences as related in many protest rooms, are the transitions. The transition is when the burden shifts from one yacht to the other; and included concepts like ‘room’ and ‘sufficient opportunity’. For example on a beat, P and S approach. P has to keep clear. Now S tacks close ahead and to leeward. Contact occurs.

Several rules quickly rotate.
P/S (P keeps clear) is replaced by
tacking/give room (S keeps clear),
to overtaking boat (P keeps clear),
to windward leeward (P keeps clear).

There are several moments where either boat could be guilty after a contact. In this situation, not only are there several rules, involved, there is the definition of ‘tacking’

We have to start somewhere, and a simplifed list of the rules is a great start. Off season get-togethers with some whiteboard instruction are a great help and in my experience were very well received by the skippers (of all levels)

Those transitions are a good reason to use the language from the actual rules and not an approximation. You already have judgements of what occured from 2 POV. You don’t need 2 sets of rules being cited.

When I judged fencing bouts, many moons ago, I tried to used the language in the rule book when explaining actions. Then everyone is on the same page, even if it’s a complicated page and you only really need one phrase from it.

In practice, it’s sometimes easier to deal with rule benders in informal, self refereed situations than events with officials present. The easiest solution is to refuse to compete with them. With official events, you have to wait for a problem and then deal with the fallout. Being right doesn’t always help, judges make mistakes too.

The major key, in my view, is when a local competitior decides it’s time to try a regional or national event. Using/knowing relaxed rules won’t cut it - and while a local club is free to sail without any rules, somewhere, sometime, the two (formal/ vs. relaxed) are bound to clash.

The basics given are well intentioned and serve the newcomer - but need to be distributed with the very explicit commentary they are “guidelines” not rules. That way, the potential for nasty surprises as one gets better and travels will be lessened.

Just a suggestion and point-of-view of course.

OK Dick, make a liar of me: we agree!

Course layout and event rules help as well. The Marbleheaders of Spring Lake (NJ) have some interesting rules to help people stay out of each other’s way, an important consideration when racing highly finished and not terribly maneuverable vintage boats.

  1. No dip starts. You must be behind the start line at the 30 sec count. If you are over, you must reenter the start area by going around the end of the start line. Until you are back in the start area, you have no rights.

  2. No barging at the start line. That is, you cannot treat the start marker as an obstacle when on port tack and call for sailing room to force a starboard tack boat to give way.

  3. There is a wing mark at the windward mark (two markers). For the purposes of rights, they are treated as one mark, that is, if you have right to room at the first one that right carries over to the second.

  4. You can touch distant marks on the proper side without penalty.

The rationale for each:

1 and 4 are there to reduce the need for quick maneuvers by the burdened boat (s). 2 is there to discourage people from acting cute. 3 is there to reduce bunching at the windward mark. They seem to work.



Is the Footy the Right Class


I think so. Isn’t it a part of the yachting associations and by what it reads on the Website does it not intend or look at being a part of the ISAF-RSD Classes?

They just don’t go fast enough mister… Let’s bash & crash instead… ???

See it all the time at Boat Displays and regattas. Mostly from 5-10 year old though. I hoped after that age the destructive attitude would have gone. Seems not…

My local club has an age limit of 18 years unless accompanied by a Parent or Legal Guardian. It’s a legal thing as they aren’t classified as adults just yet. Keeps out the mouthy younger brigade who only want to test the limits of everybody’s patience by rubbing paint and deliberately flaunting the rules. Safety rules don’t apply to them either and their first option is to swim for their damaged boat and complian about it even when they cause the problem.

To me, even considering or contemplating Rubbing of Paint and a Get Out of my Attitude has no place in any racing class or for that matter any sporting event.

To go about testing the theory to see if it’s a FUN thing to do is a rediculous idea and one, as I see it, bound by the frustrations of modelling and Model Yachts specifically.

They just don’t go fast enough mister… Let’s bash & crash instead… ???

It seems however that most people tend to agree that simple rules for local clubs are a benefit and where there are other more formal events, possible international, that yes the more detailed rules need to apply.

I believe this was the intent of the initial thread and more so to assist those with the argy bargy ideas (unfortunately the younger ones), an instill a growing tolerance and understanding that rules are needed in all adult pursuits.

NASCAR or even contemplating NASCAR Rules has no place on the water., regardless of the size or value of the Model.

Anybody who wants Nascar style rules then make your Nascar float… Haven’t seen an amphibian vehicle that runs more than a very slow walking pace. Boats with wheels do exist and can be modelled. With Sails? Hmmmm, I’d like to see that…


i presume this is a piece of self anti-marketing. It’s all about perceived value, you know.