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Sailboat Racing Right of Way Situations

Sailboat Racing Right of Way Situations

How to use this material.

These scenarios are intended to show right of way issues which arise from the application of the Racing Rules of Sailing 2021-2024 to radio control sailboat races. They are intended for sailors at all levels of knowledge of the rules. For each scenario, consult the Rules, and identify the issues which arise to determine which boat has right of way at each point. In other words, what questions must be decided to determine the rights and obligations of each boat? What are the best tactics available to the boats in each scenario?

A digital version of the Rules may be downloaded from World Sailing’s web site. It is best to consult the wording of the rules whenever sailing issues arise to keep them fresh in your mind. When racing, you will not have time to consult them when decisions are required.

To learn to apply these (or any) Rules, learn to spot the issues rather than trying to memorise the outcomes of these scenarios. You need to be able to quickly identify issues during a race so as to determine your rights and obligations in the circumstances of the moment.

It is important to consider the rights and obligations of each boat at each step of the scenario, as these often change, and the previous rights often determine the later ones. Take note of any assumptions you must make about facts not shown to complete your identification of the issues. As well, before leaving each scenario, identify racing situations where you can achieve right of way and avoid penalties by applying the Rules.

These materials also apply to non-radio sailing, that is, racing full-sized boats with people on them. The principal difference is that the mark zone radius is enlarged to four boat lengths for RC sailing from three boat lengths for non-radio sailing.

The illustrations were prepared using the program Boat Scenario which its author Thibaud Gridel has kindly made available for free download and use at

This material was prepared by David Allsebrook of the Metro Marine Modellers of Toronto, Canada. It was designed to simulate club discussions of the Rules on Zoom, but may be used in other ways. Please email any suggestions for improvement to This document is subject to copyright and moral rights. Permission is given for its non-commercial publication and use to all who find it helpful.

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