PMYC Club Racing Rules

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The PMYC racing rules are a much simplified version of the International Racing Rules of Sailing. We established these simplified rules to make it easier for our skippers to participate in the racing.

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These rules were developed in Sept 2017. They are a modified form of the official rules. They were developed in an attempt to get our skippers to follow some kind of discipline on the water. They were not adopted. I have retained them in the hope that one day, an interest in rules-based sailing will return to the Club. This could serve as a basis for establishing rules that everyone would be willing to abide by.

Jerry Walker
Past Commodore

Introduction to the Proposed Racing Rules as proposed in Sept. 2017

These rules are labeled the “PMYC Club Racing Rules” because they are a significantly modified version of the International Racing Rules of Sailing.
That is intentional as they accommodate what our members have clearly communicated during the past year (2016) — that learning the official rules is difficult and they just don’t want to be bothered. One Club member suggested that we do “Casual racing”. That essentially meant that following the official rules of racing was optional.

Using a set of rules that are not mandatory or having rules that are not obeyed because they are not known to skippers is a recipe for chaos. It can never be known for sure whether the boat that beats you did so by clean sailing or bending or breaking the rules and not acknowledging it. And, to make matters much worse, some of PMYC’s best skippers have been know to treat the official rules as optional.

But, we need some defined discipline for our racing. The remainder of this post is an attempt to provide some discipline in an easy-to-understand form. The PMYC rules take precedence over the international rules of racing. I believe they will work well for PMYC.  My sense is that they are easy to learn.

With the agreement of our members I suggest we have a focus on our racing discipline at every meeting — and perhaps every pond session. 

Note, the PMYC rules will not work for racing outside of PMYC as they are not the same as the International Rules of Racing. If you want to join the folks up in Phoenix you will have to study the official rules. They sail by them.

The PMYC Racing Rules have received one, very brief, review at the Feb. 3, Club meeting.  I think they were judged as reasonable; at least not unreasonable. They are subject to ongoing review and modification by the members so that we can have some pond discipline that our skippers are comfortable with and willing to sail by.

The biggest challenge of the PMYC Racing Rules is that they require voluntary compliance. And, compliance is easy because about the only behavior that is penalized is a collision.  And, a collision requires both/all parties involved to “take a turn”. The notion of penalizing all boats involved in a collision probably seems a bit unfair. There is validity in that notion. However, without imposing some greater set of rules, which you have all resoundingly rejected in the past these rules are just intended to allow everyone to have fun. If you are an innocent bystander, be patient. Take your turn and move on. The next time around your closest competitor will be taking the turn.

Here is something to think about. There are two secrets to not having to sail by any rules. One, stay clear of everyone. The down side of that approach is that you will be giving away the advantage to other boats. And, two, get the best start and be faster than everyone else.

PMYC racing rules

1. Starboard tack boat has right-of-way over a boat on port tack.

2. Windward boat stays clear of leeward boat.

3. There is no restriction on being on the course-side of the start line -- at the start signal. If you are on the course side of the line at the start signal, you have started early and must return to the start side of the line before sailing the race. Note, while returning to the start line you must stay out of the way of all boats that have started even if you are on starboard tack and all the other boats are on port. There is no rule indicating the course you sail to return to the start side of the start line.

4. General recalls - If so many boats start early that they cannot be individually identified, a general recall will be made - immediately ending the race. The race will be restarted. If you are over the start line early again, you will be disqualified from the race. The message is simple. Don't start early.

5. Hitting the boat to leeward of you while attempting to squeeze between another boat and the starboard mark on the start line; barging, is prohibited – take a turn.

6. Light contact between or among boats; anywhere on the course including at marks – allowed.

7. All other contact between two or more boats; anywhere on the course including at marks  – both/all involved boats take a turn - no discussion needed. The rationale is that one boat fouled and one boat failed to avoid a collision. We don’t know nor care which boat did what. If there is any doubt about whether it was a light hit , it is assumed to be in this category – take a turn.

8. Boats not racing are expected to stay clear of those that are racing. However, boats that are on the course and not racing are obstacles – stay clear of them. If you hit one you have fouled; take a turn.

9. When approaching a wall or other obstacle (debris in the water, a boat not racing) you will give boats around you the room to clear the obstacle. Failure to do so is a foul – take a turn.

10. Penalty turns are to be taken within a very short time (a minute or so) after a foul. Get clear of other boats to do it and understand that while executing a turn you do not have any right-of-way over other boats. Collisions during the penalty turns will not penalize the right-of way boats.

11. Failure to voluntarily take a turn when you don’t comply with the above behaviors can lead to broken tempers and a better boat might possibly loose through no fault of her own. You can’t be forced to take a turn but remember that, from the Racing Rules of Sailing: “A boat … shall compete in compliance with recognized principles of sportsmanship and fair play”.

12. PMYC Weed Rule - as debris in the water can be frequent and its attachment to a keel or rudder almost inevitable, it is permitted to get your boat to the pond side, clear the debris and relaunch it without penalty. The launching can be in the direction of the course leg but must not be at a speed higher than it came to the pond side.

2 thoughts on “PMYC Club Racing Rules”

  1. I posted this on behalf of Bill Brown. Something to think about.

    Jerry: Hopefully MMA rules do not prevail at the pond – the Parks Department may find it necessary to both fence the pond and the viewing areas, …and perhaps put gloves and mouth duck tape on active sailing participants. I think we need to explore alternatives. There are venues that don’t dampen the opportunity for well defined rules of objective competitive sailing. There are also venues for open course “fun races”. The answer may be in the selection of which arena individuals choose to compete. “Cruise Races”, which the Anacortes Yacht Club enthusiastically subscribe to, often take 4 – 6 hours, and involve individual skipper decision making, i.e.: consideration of wind direction, wind speed, wind shadow, tides, waypoints, time, etc. Skippers plan and plot their own solution to the particular challenge, i.e. they decided to take Hat Island to Port or Starboard with a NE wind on a flood tide? The really nice thing about these “races” is that they are ALWAYS followed-up with a Hoopla party , – with an emphasis on beverage and skippers venting of unjustified poor decisions. I know. I participated in a five hour “race” last night – I was pulling sheets in a rain on a Marit 26. We took a second out of 11 boats. Yes, we went west around Hat Island, they went east. The free trophy beer was great and the home made yacht club spaghetti helped get our carbohydrates back on board.! I think options to the MMA approach are out there and should be discussed this fall. bb

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