Teaching the Racing Rules

By: Dave Perry, Author of the North U Rules and Tactics Seminar Workbook, North U Intro to Match Racing Workbook, Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing through 2016, Dave Perry’s 100 Best Racing Rules Quizzes, and Winning in One-Designs.

On the Water

• Practice starts with “live coaching” (vary the favored end)
• Starting line too short for all boats to fit at same time
• Extremely short beat (upwind start) or run (downwind start) – or start upwind, then reverse fleet and have
them race to a nearby leeward mark
• Videotape races or sessions and do debrief on shore
• Pull boats aside right after incident and debrief while still fresh (have small dry-erase board in coach boat)
• Race around tiny track, keeping boats compressed
• Have sailors raise hands as they enter the zone; give feedback
• Create drills for ducking / slam dunking / lee-bowing
• Simulate rules situations right off the dock (with good sailors in boats and class on dock watching with an
instructor doing “play by play”)

On Land – outside

• “walk” boats through scenarios – use actual boats when possible
• set up marks, zones (with line), starting lines, etc.
• have sailors move boats, give explanations, etc.
• put smaller kids in the boats for more fun and interaction

On Land – indoors

• use magnetic dry-erase marker board and model boats (available from US Sailing)
• have kids give an explanation of a rule (give them a day to prepare)
• put scenarios on board (live or hypothetical) and work through them
• look at video of situations and work through them
• create a “Rule of the Day” poster. Put pictures, rules quotes, appeals quotes, etc.
• create “mock hearing”
• do a quiz format (use quizzes from my book “100 Best Racing Rules Quizzes” published by US Sailing)

Make it age and level-appropriate

  • Ages 8-11 or beginner: show the patterns and “what” to do (not necessarily the “why”) – make it situational. Don’t discuss numbers or memorizing text.
  • Ages 12-14 or intermediate: discuss the structure of the rules and what they actually say – focus on the “biggies:” rules of Part 2, Section A and B; basic rules in Section C; rules on touching marks (31), taking penalties (44) and propulsion (42); rules on how to protest (Part 5).
  • Ages 15 and up or more advanced: expand into more tactical uses of the rules, and the nuances in the appeals for a deeper understanding and application.

Resources (all available from US Sailing):

The Racing Rules of Sailing (the rules book)
The Appeals Book and ISAF Cases
Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing, by Dave Perry (includes the rule book and appeals quotes)
Dave Perry’s 100 Best Racing Rules Quizzes
• Dave Dellenbaugh’s Learn the Racing Rules (a DVD also available from www.northu.com)
Model boats 
• Boat drawing programs (google TSS or Boat Scenario)