September 2013 - Rules Changes VI

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September 2013 - Rules Changes VI

I took two months away from discussing the rule changes. This month I will go back to those changes. Last month we were talking about finishing lines. One of the rules that changed was the definition of finish.
A boat finishes when any part of her hull, or crew or equipment in normal position, crosses the finishing line from the course side in the direction of the course from the last mark. However, she has not finished if after crossing the finishing line she
(a) takes a penalty under rule 44.2,
(b) corrects an error under rule 28.2 made at the line, or
(c) continues to sail the course.
either for the first time or after taking a penalty under rule 44.2 or, after correcting an error made at the finishing line, under rule 28.1.

The first change is pretty minor. I think in almost all cases “in the direction of the course from the last mark” and “from the course side” mean the same thing. The next part is reworded but adds a third case where you are not finished with the words, “continues to sail the course.”

In the diagram, the White boat is completing the third and final lap of a midweek race.  The finishing line is in place and she finishes at position 2.  The Blue boat is crossing the same line but has one lap to go.  According to the old definition of finish, it could be argued that she had crossed the finishing line in the direction from the last mark of the course and she had finished.  With the new definition, she continues to sail the course and therefore has not finished.  Race committees are trained to record every time a boat crosses the finishing line.  They may have to sort out later which crossing was actually the finish.

If a boat only sails two out of three laps or one out of two laps or for some other reason does not round the entire course and then after crossing the finishing line stops racing, the race committee has to record her as finishing.  The race committee or a competitor can then protest the boat for not sailing the course.  This is not a change in the rules, but is one that is often missed.  Some race committees think they can just mark the boat as “Did Not Finish”.  Some competitors think the race committee is responsible for enforcing this. Race Committees may protest but they don’t have to.  Competitors who are concerned that someone else missed a mark need to file a protest under rule 28.  Rule 28 has been completely reordered, but with very little significant change.


28.1 A boat shall start, sail the course described in the sailing instructions and finish. While doing so, she may leave on either side a mark that does not begin, bound or end the leg she is sailing. After finishing she need not cross the finishing line completely.

28.2 A string representing a boat’s track from the time she begins to approach the starting line from its pre-start side to start until she finishes shall, when drawn taut,
(a) pass each mark on the required side and in the correct order,
(b) touch each rounding mark, and
(c) pass between the marks of a gate from the direction of the previous mark.
She may correct any errors to comply with this rule, provided she has not finished. 

61.1 Informing the Protestee
(a) A boat intending to protest shall inform the other boat at the first reasonable opportunity. When her protest will concerns an incident in the racing area that she was is involved in or saw sees, she shall hail ‘Protest’ and conspicuously display a red flag at the first reasonable opportunity for each. She shall display the flag until she is no longer racing. However,

(1) if the other boat is beyond hailing distance, the protesting boat need not hail but she shall inform the other boat at the first reasonable opportunity;
(2) if the hull length of the protesting boat is less than 6 metres, she need not display a red flag;
(3) if the incident was an error by the other boat in sailing the course, she need not hail or display a red flag but she shall inform the other boat before that boat finishes or at the first reasonable opportunity after she finishes;
(4) …

The timing of flying the protest flag and hailing protest is another change in the rules.  The rules require a boat to hail “Protest” and in many cases display a red flag as soon as reasonably possible after an incident.  There was a lot of debate with the last two rule books about when the incident was.  Rule 28 says that the boat may correct any errors to comply with the rule provided that she has not finished.  The question that was frequently debated was, “Is rule 28 broken when you sail the wrong side of the mark, or is it broken when you finish without correcting it?”  A new paragraph 61.1(a)(3) was added which makes it clear that the hail and flag are not required until the offending boat finishes.   The message here is that if you are concerned about another boat missing a mark, or missing an entire lap, you need to inform the other boat before she finishes or as soon as reasonably possible after finishing.

© Copyright 2013 Andrew Alberti
Posted: 9/1/2013 2:52:54 PM by Andrew Alberti

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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 2020 are based on the Racing Rules of Sailing 2009-12 or 2013-2016 or 2017-2020 and have not been updated to reflect the changes that apply as of January 2021 with the publication of the Racing Rules of Sailing 2021-24. 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 an International 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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