Developing the Racing Rules of Sailing for 2021-2024

Stu Gilfillen (US Sailing Education Director, left) and Matt Hill (US Sailing Race Administration Director, right) hard at work proofreading new Racing Rules of Sailing.

An interview with US Sailing Race Administration Director, Matt Hill

Want to know how the new Racing Rules of Sailing for 2021-2024 all came together? Learn more about all the work put in by US Sailing committee volunteers and staff to make this happen every four years in this conversation with US Sailing Race Administration Director, Matt Hill.

1. Can you explain how the rulebook development process works?

US Sailing and other national authorities submit proposed rules changes to the World Sailing Racing Rules Committee for consideration for the next rulebook. Many of these suggestions come directly from sailors and race officials. The Rules Committee collects these submissions and votes on the final changes to the racing rules. In the year of the summer Olympic Games, World Sailing publishes the rules that will be in effect for the next quadrennium, or four year cycle (in this case, 1 January 2021-31 December 2024).

2. World Sailing also puts out a rulebook. What’s different about the US Sailing version?

The US Sailing edition includes the U.S. Prescriptions, which apply to racing in the United States. Our prescriptions include topics like PFDs, due process requirements, the US appeals system and the Audible-Signal Racing System (three-minute “dinghy starts”).

3. Who is involved with the rulebook development?

In the U.S., the heavy lifting is done by the US Sailing Racing Rules committee (Rob Overton – Chair, Jim Capron, Dave Dellenbaugh, Art Engel, Kevin Hawkins, Rob Long, Dick Rose, Mary Savage and Peter Wilson). We have also relied on a small focus group of beta testers, representing many segments of the sailing community, to give feedback. In the US Sailing office, rulebook production is managed by the Education and Racer Administration staff.

4. What’s new in this year’s rulebook?

The biggest change is our Racing Rules App – a robust mobile app that is the primary distribution vehicle for The Racing Rules of Sailing in the U.S. This app includes not only a mobile-optimized, searchable rulebook, but it will also be possible to submit a protest from the app, access explanatory content from Dave Perry’s Understanding the Racing Rules Through 2024, and explore a wide variety of other racing-related content through the Media Library. Of course, we will also have printed rulebooks available at a nominal cost for anyone who wants one.

Some significant rules changes for the coming “quad” include the definitions of start and finish. A boat starts and finishes when any part of her hull crosses the line – the crew and equipment are no longer used for this purpose. Another change is the new definition Sail the Course, which defines the string rule (previously part of rule 28). There are other changes that refine existing rules, such as the addition of a final sentence to rule 18.1 that clarifies the mark-room rule.

5. What other products are produced with the rulebook?

Related rules products include the ever-popular Sailor’s Guide to the Racing Rules, Dave Perry’s Understanding the Racing Rules Through 2024 and Dave Perry’s 100 Best Racing Rules Quizzes, and a variety of supporting products such as the Rules in Brief card and Race Signals sticker.

Learn more about the new Racing Rules of Sailing for 2021-2024.