Posted: 7/30/2010 2:46:34 PM
Last time I talked about the meaning of the term “proper course”. This month I want to talk about its use in the rules.   It is not uncommon for me to hear in a description of an incident one boat claim that the other “was not sailing her proper course”.   Many times when I hear this I give a slightly confused look and ask what rule requires the other boat to sail her proper course. Technically there are no rules that require a boat to sail her proper course. There are several rules that use term. Most of them provide limits, but they usually allow some other courses other than just the proper course.   Often when I hear this from a boat involved in an incident, none of these rules apply. The first lesson therefore is that unless some specific rules apply (which we will discuss here), boats are not limited to sailing their proper course.
by Andrew Alberti
This page provides links to a set of articles original published in Kwasind magazine. The versions here include animated diagrams. The original articles can be found within the original magazines which are available online back to January 2007. 

Articles before December 2016 are based on the Racing Rules of Sailing 2009-12 or 2013-2016 and have not been updated to reflect the changes that apply as of January 2017 with the publication of the Racing Rules of Sailing 2017-20. A copy of the new rules can be found on
Andrew Alberti has been writing these monthly articles in the Kwasind since early 1997.  They explain the Racing Rules of Sailing. Andrew is a National Judge and National Umpire. He is a member of the Sail Canada Rules and Appeals Committees. The interpretation of the rules contained in the articles is Andrew's and not that of the RCYC or any of the committees he sits on. 

Send your questions to Andrew at


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