The Racing Rules of Sailing includes two main sections. The first, Parts 1–7, contains rules that affect all competitors. The second, the appendices, provides details of rules, rules that apply to particular kinds of racing, and rules that affect only a small number of competitors or officials.

A term used in the sense stated in the Definitions is printed in italics or, in preamles, in bold italics (for example, racing and racing).
Each of the terms in the table below is used in The Racing Rules of Sailing with the meaning given.

Term Meaning
A sailboat and the crew on board.
A person who races or intends to race in the event.
National authority
A World Sailing member national authority.
Race committee
The race committee appointed under rule 89.2(c) and any other person or committee performing a race committee function.
Racing rule
A rule in The Racing Rules of Sailing.
Technical committee
The technical committee appointed under rule 89.2(c) and any other person or committee performing a technical committee function.
Any boat or ship.

Other words and terms are used in the sense ordinarily understood in nautical or general use.

A language other than English may be used for a hail required by the rules provided that it is reasonable for it to be understood by all boats affected. However, a hail in English is always acceptable.

The notation ‘[DP]’ in a rule means that the penalty for a breach of the rule may, at the discretion of the protest committee, be less than disqualification. Guidelines for discretionary penalties are available on World Sailing website

The racing rules are revised and published every four years by World Sailing, the international authority for the sport. This edition becomes effective on 1 January 2021 except that for an event beginning in 2020 the date may be postponed by the notice of race and sailing instructions. Marginal markings indicate important changes to Parts 1–7 and the Definitions in the 2017–2020 edition. No changes are contemplated before 2025, but any changes determined to be urgent before then will be announced through national authorities and posted on World Sailing website.

When the rules of an appendix apply, they take precedence over any conflicting rules in Parts 1–7 and the Definitions. Each appendix is identified by a letter. A reference to a rule in an appendix will contain the letter and the rule number (for example, ‘rule A1’). The letters I, O and Q are not used to designate appendices in this book.

World Sailing Regulations
The Regulations are referred to in the definition Rule and in rule 6, but they are not included in this book because they can be changed at any time. The most recent versions of the Regulations are published on the World Sailing website; new versions will be announced through national authorities

World Sailing publishes the following authoritative interpretations of the racing rules:
• The Case Book – Interpretations of the Racing Rules,
• The Call Books, for various disciplines,
• Interpretations of Rule 42, Propulsion, and
• Interpretations of the Regulations, for those Regulations that are rules.
These publications are available on the World Sailing website. Other interpretations of the racing rules are not authoritative unless approved by World Sailing in accordance with Regulation 28.4.

World Sailing has established a single internet address at which readers will find links to all the documents available on the World Sailing website that are mentioned in this book. Those documents are listed below. Links to other rules documents will also be provided at that address.
The address is:

Document Mentioned in
Guidelines for discretionary penalties
Changes made to these rules after 1 January 2021
World Sailing Regulations
The Case Book
The Call Books for various disciplines
World Sailing Regulations with the status of a rule
Definition Rule (b)
Interpretations of Rule 42, Propulsion
Rule 42
World Sailing Offshore Special Regulations
Rule 49.2
Equipment Rules of Sailing
Rule 55
Appendix TS, Traffic Separation Schemes
Rule 56.2
Hearing Request and Hearing Decision Forms
Part 5 Preamble
Rules for other windsurfing competition formats
Appendix B Preamble
Standard Notice of Race for Match Racing
Appendix C Preamble
Standard Sailing Instructions for Match Racing
Appendix CPreamble
Match Racing Rules for Blind Competitors
Appendix C Preamble
Test Rules for Umpired Radio Sailing
Appendix E Preamble
Rules for other kiteboarding competition formats
Appendix F Preamble
Up-to-date table of national sail letters
Appendix G
Notice of Race Guide
Appendix K Notice
Sailing Instructions Guide
Appendix L Notice
Guidance on conflicts of interest
Appendix M2.3
Guidance on misconduct
Appendix M5.8
World Sailing Judges Manual
Appendix T Preamble