Posted: 6/1/2012 1:02:08 PM
You are sailing upwind on port tack and you attempt to cross a starboard-tack boat but they have to alter course to avoid you – what do you do now?   At the beginning of the rules section of the Racing Rules Of Sailing, a brief section titled “Basic Principle” states, “A fundamental principle of sportsmanship is that when competitors break a rule they will promptly take a penalty, which may be to retire.” When I first learned to sail, retiring was the only choice open to you, but today you can take a penalty  and these are covered in Rule 44. The rule that you broke was rule 10, On Opposite Tacks (commonly referred to as “port-starboard”), found in Part 2. Rule 44.1 tells us that on breaking a rule from Part 2, you can take a two-turns penalty. This is commonly called “a 720” but is properly described in rule 44.2. 
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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