Part 2–When Boats Meet contains all of the r-o-w rules that will apply between boats that are racing as they sail around the course. To make it easier to determine which rules apply to a particular situation, the rules have been organized into four sections as follows:

      Section A–Right of Way. These are the four basic r-o-w rules. (1) P must keep clear of S [10]. (2) W must keep clear of L [11]. (3) AS must keep clear of AH [12]. (4) A boat "past head to wind" (i.e., "tacking") must keep clear of other boats [13].

      Section B–General Limitations. These are the five primary restrictions on boats. (1) A boat must avoid contact if reasonably possible [14]. (2) A boat must initially allow "room to keep clear" to another boat when first acquiring r-o-w over that boat [15]. (3) A r-o-w boat must allow a giveway boat "room to keep clear" when changing course [16]. (4) A boat must not sail above a "proper course" if passing to leeward of another boat [17.1]. (5) A boat must not sail below a "proper course" if another boat is passing to leeward of her (except on a windward leg) [17.2].

      Section C–At Marks and Obstructions. These are two special rules that apply only at marks and obstructions. Rule 18: When two boats are passing a mark or obstruction the general rule is that (1) O without r-o-w must keep clear of IN, (2) O with r-o-w must give IN "room" and (3) AS must keep clear of AH. Rule 19: A close-hauled boat that needs to make a substantial course change to avoid an obstructions is entitled to "room" to tack and avoid the obstruction from another boat on the same tack.

      Section D–Other Rules. These are six miscellaneous rules, the most important of which are: (1) A boat taking penalty turns must keep clear of other boats [20]. (2) A premature starter returning to start properly must keep clear of other boats [20]. (3) A boat may not interfere with another boat that is taking penalty turns [22.2].

      Do not try to read and remember the exact language of every rule. Some of the rules are complicated and incorporate subtle concepts. Instead, try to understand what behavior each rule is trying to discourage or encourage.

      The rules of Sections A and B will govern 99% of the time that you are not at a mark or obstruction. Therefore, if you concentrate on learning those rules (10 through 17) you will know most of what you will need to get around the course safely.

      In Section C the most important rules to learn and remember are Rules 18.1, which governs when Rule 18 as a whole can apply, Rule 18.2, which gives the "general" rules for boats passing a mark or obstruction and Rule 18.4, which imposes an obligation on IN to gybe when rounding a mark.


      To help understand the organization of the r-o-w rules and facilitate choosing the appropriate rule to study for a given situation here are the numbers and official titles for all of the rules in Part 2.

Section A–Right of Way
10 - On Opposite Tacks
11 - On the Same Tack, Overlapped
12 - On the Same Tack, Not Overlapped
13 - While Tacking
Section B–General Limitations
14 - Avoiding Contact
15 - Acquiring Right of Way
16 - Changing Course
17 - On the Same Tack; Proper Course
17.1
17.2
Section C–At Marks and Obstructions
18 - Passing Marks and Obstructions
18.1 - WHEN THIS RULE APPLIES
18.2 - GIVING ROOM; KEEPING CLEAR
18.3 - TACKING
18.4 - GYBING
18.5 - PASSING A CONTINUING OBSTRUCTION
19 - Room to Tack at an Obstruction
19.1
19.2
Section D–Other Rules
20 - Starting Errors; Penalty Turns; Moving Astern
21 - Capsized, Anchored or Aground; Rescuing
22 - Interfering with Another Boat
22.1
22.2

      Also important to consider are the defined terms from the Definitions that are used in the r-o-w rules.

Clear Astern and Clear Ahead; Overlap
Finish
Keep Clear
Leeward and Windward
Mark
Obstruction
Proper Course
Racing
Room
Tack, Starboard or Port
Two-Length Zone

Part 2—When Boats Meet

Preamble The rules of Part 2 apply between boats that are sailing in or near the racing area and intend to race, are racing, or have been racing. However, a boat not racing shall not be penalized for breaking one of these rules, except rule 22.1. The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea or government right-of-way rules apply between a boat sailing under these rules and a vessel that is not, and they replace these rules if the sailing instructions so state.

– Overview This introductory paragraph to Part 2 governs when the rules of Part 2 will apply. Defined terms: Racing.
– Basic The so called "right of way" rules are found exclusively in Part 2 (When Boats Meet) of the 1997-2000 Rules. They apply between boats while they are racing and while they are sailing in the area of the race course either before or after racing. Under the definition of "racing," a boat is not racing before her preparatory signal (which is after the warning signal and before the start) or after she has finished and cleared the finishing line and marks. However, even though she is not "racing," a boat will be subject to the r-o-w rules while she is in the vicinity of the race course. But, unless actually "racing" a boat may not be penalized for breaking a r-o-w rule except under Rule 22.1 (Interfering with Another Boat) for interfering with a boat that is "racing."
– Advanced When a boat that is racing meets any other vessel that is not racing, the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea or applicable government right-of-way rules will apply between them, not the 1997-2000 Rules or any of the rules of Part 2. Other boats that are not racing are not required to keep clear of you or avoid you simply because you are racing, you must obey the "rules of the road" with respect to boats that are not racing. And, you may be DSQed for failing to follow the "rules of the road" when you meet other vessels that are not racing.
– Related If you are not actually "racing," the only r-o-w rule that you may be penalized for breaking is Rule 22.1 (Interfering with Another Boat), which precludes interfering with a boat that is racing. Note that Rule 2 (Fair Sailing) always applies, whether or not you are actually racing.

First Edition, March 1997
Copyright © 1997 Arthur Engel, All Rights Reserved