Safety Information

World Sailing Offshore Special Regulations

A  primary obligation of the US SAILING Safety at Sea Committee is to scrutinize the International Sailing Federation Offshore Special Regulations Governing Offshore Racing including US SAILING Prescriptions and to make recommended changes via the US SAILING Board of Directors to the ISAF Offshore Special Regulations Sub-Committee following the guidelines of ISAF Regulation 36, Special Regulations Administration.

11 May 2012 ISAF Offshore Special Regulations

The US Sailing Board approved US Prescription to clear an ambiguity in the 2012-2013 version of ISAF Offshore Special Regulation 4.20.5 e) which calls for an annual inspection by an approved manufacturer’s agent of valise packed liferafts. “Inspection” is not a defined process for life raft certification. Racers are being forced to do an early servicing to comply.

“US SAILING prescribes: A life raft built to ISO 9650 Type 1 Group A and packed in a valise shall be serviced in accordance with its manufacturer’s recommendations at least as frequently as is recommended by the manufacturer. US SAILING reminds persons in charge of their responsibilities under OSR 1.02.1 and OSR 1.02.2 and notes that there have been reports that the integrity of valise-packed life rafts can be compromised by mishandling, poor storage, and other factors, and that such conditions may indicate a need for servicing more frequently than is recommended by manufacturers.”

This replaces the ISAF version printed below. Emphasis added:

A liferaft built to ISO 9650 Part 1 Type Group A packed in a valise shall be inspected annually by an approved manufacturer’s agent and serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions but NOT less frequently than every three years.

The US Sailing Board of Directors approved the following Prescription on 12 March 2012:

US Sailing prescribes that the requirement for a highly-visible colored material or patch covering 50% of the area of storm jibs in ISAF OSR 4.26.2 (a) is a recommendation in the US. After January 1, 2014, the requirements for new storm sails in ISAF OSR 4.26.2 (a) shall apply to CAT 0, 1, 2, and 3. This requirement grandfathers all storm sails made prior to January 1, 2014.
This prescription modifies 2012 OSR 4.26.2 High Visibility

(a) Every storm jib shall either be of highly-visible coloured material (e.g. dayglo pink, orange or yellow) or have a highly visible coloured patch at least 50% of the area of the sail (up to a maximum diameter of 3m) added on each side; and also that a rotating wing mast should have a highly-visible coloured patch on each side. A storm sail purchased after January 2014 shall have the material of the body of the sail a highly-visible colour. (** – All Categories)

What’s New in the 2012 ISAF Offshore Special Regulations, New Procedures

  • ISAF has added the requirement to nominate a person to take over the responsibilities in the event of incapacitation of the Person In Charge/Captain (OSR 1.02.1)


  • A spare magnetic steering compass independent of a power supply has been added by ISAF (OSR 3.24.1 b)
  • ISAF requires that all rechargeable batteries replaced after 1/12 must be sealed (OSR 3.28.4 b)
  • ISAF has added a requirement to have a fire blanket adjacent to every cooking device with an open flame. (OSR 4.05.4)
  • ISAF requires that a Man Overboard Alarm capable of recording a position must be available at every helm station. (OSR 4.28.3)


  • ISAF has described the Plan Approval or Review process for new yachts over 24 m (OSR 3.03.1b and OSR3.03.2 b)
  • ISAF has defined minimum clear opening sizes for new yachts (OSR 3.06.2)
  • ISAF has redefined what synthetic rope can be used for lifelines and how to splice it (OSR 3.14.6 a & e)
  • ISAF has added high modulus polyethylene rope to the list of approved materials for Jackstays/Jacklines. (OSR 4.04.1 ii)
  • ISAF has combined light requirements for searching for a person in the water and for collision avoidance into a single searchlight. (OSR 4.07.1 a)
  • ISAF has redefined the description of Radar Reflectors and Radar Target Enhancers.  US SAILING’s prescription is unchanged and still applicable (OSR 4.10)
  • ISAF has defined a ship’s 406 MHz EPIRB as one that has water and manual activation (not a PLB) (OSR 4.19 d)
  • ISAF has clarified that liferafts must be serviced every three years (minimum) and that valises must be inspected annually (OSR 4.20.5 d and e)
  • ISAF is recommending that lifebuoys should be of a safety color in the yellow-red range (not white) (OSR 4.22.5)
  • ISAF has declared that 50% of the area of every storm jib must be high visible colored material (OSR 4.26.2 a)
  • ISAF has defined the sheeting guidelines and sizes of storm jibs and storm trysails (OSR 4.26.4 b, c, i, and k)
  • US Sailing has prescribed what lifejackets are allowed as options to the redefined ISO 12402 PFD requirements of ISAF (OSR 5.01)
  • ISAF has redefined the medical training requirements to accept STCW 95 First Aid Training (OSR 6.05 ii)
  • ISAF has included a model first aid training course curriculum, for consideration (OSR 6.05.4)

This list applies to Monohull Category 1 sailboats racing in accordance with the 2012-2013 ISAF Offshore Special Regulations which are being prepared for publication and distribution by the Offshore Office at US SAILING.

October 2011 ~ 2012 OSR Changes.

When the U.S. needs are different from the international agreed upon regulations and recommendations US SAILING modifies the ISAF book with what is called a “US SAILING Prescription”.

Extracts for each Category are posted here – Insert Link

July 2011 ~ Recent Changes to the US SAILING Prescriptions of the 2010-2011 ISAF Offshore Regulations (OSR)

The following changes to US SAILING Prescriptions to the 2010-2011 ISAF Offshore Special Regulations (OSR) have been approved by US SAILING’s Board of Directors:

  1. Change US SAILING Prescription following OSR 5.01.4 to read:
    “US SAILING prescribes that all personnel on deck shall wear properly fitted personal floatation while starting and finishing. At other times during the race, floatation shall be worn on deck except when the Captain of the boat directs that it may be set aside.  (**)”
  2. Add the following US SAILING Prescription to OSRs 3.03.1 b) and 3.03.2 b):
    “US Sailing prescribes that yachts with LOA over 24m and built after 1 January 2010 shall be designed, built, repaired and maintained in accordance with the ABS Guide for Building and Classing Offshore Racing Yachts, 1994, including Notice 1, or an equivalent rule for sailing craft published by a member of IACS in effect at the time of initial Plan Approval or Plan Review. A certificate or letter indicating Plan Approval or Plan Review by ABS, another IACS member, or a notified body recognized by ISAF or US SAILING shall be carried on board. (Mo0,1,2)”
  3. Delete current US SAILING Prescription to OSR 5.01.1 b):
    “US SAILING prescribes that OSR 5.01.1 b) shall not apply but recommends that lifejackets have a crotch strap or thigh straps until 1 January 2014 when crotch/thigh straps will be required.  (Mo 1,2,3)”
  4. Replace the current US SAILING prescription below OSR 5.01.4 with the following NEW prescription:
    “US SAILING prescribes for Categories 0,1,2,and 3: either a lifejacket defined above (See Note 1), or a USCG approved Type I non-inflatable personal flotation device (PFD), or a USCG approved yoke-type inflatable with 33lb (150N) or greater buoyancy with or without crotch strap, face guard, or buddy line. Each inflatable PFD shall be inflated and inspected annually. Service dates shall be marked on each PFD. It is recommended that all inflatable PFDs be integrated with safety harnesses (see OSR 5.02) (See Note 2).  (Mo 1,2,3)

    1. Note 1: ISO 12402 is not currently approved by the USCG. Boats operating in US waters are not exempt from USCG requirements.
    2. Note 2: Many inflatable PFD’s with built-in harnesses are designed for people greater than 5′ 5″ in height and are potentially dangerous if you are below that height.
    3. Note 3: Inflatable PFDs with the required buoyancy will generally have inflation cylinders containing 33g or more of CO2.
    4. Note 4: “Yoke-type” is defined as a PFD that is designed to keep its wearer face-up and head-up in the water and that provides buoyancy in front of the chest and behind the neck immediately when inflated.”
  5. Questions or comments to DanNowlan@USSAILING.ORG and