Floating through sparkling waters and competing with the wind is a very pleasurable moment for any sailor. Explore more about the rules and regulations of sailing in this write-up.


Though formerly used solely as a means of transportation, sailing has become an ardently followed adventurous water sport world over! London Olympics 2012 will be hosting the sport of sailing at the flickering waters of Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour. It was the first London 2012 Games venue to be ready for Olympics. 380 sailors (237 men, 143 women) will participate in it and there will be 10 sailing events (six for men, four for women), scheduled from Sunday 29 July till Saturday 11 August, 2012. It will be a delight for the spectators to see the zealous sailors, drifting in their dinghies, keelboats and windsurfing boards! Each event involves a series of races and points in each race are given according to the position: the winner scores one point; the first runner-up scores two, and so on. Points are doubled for the final race (Medal race). During Olympics, there are different Sailing Classes (Boats) such as Mistral Class Sailboard, The Europe, The Finn, The Laser, The 470, 49er, The Tornado, The Star, The Yngling, etc!

Sailing Rules And Regulations
Olympic sailing discipline has certain rules and regulations that need to be strictly followed by the sailors. These rules are:
  • The most important rule in the discipline of sailing is the rule of ‘Right of Way’. There are three basic right of way rules:
  • The boat on starboard path has the right of way, when the boats on opposite tacks meet.
  • In a situation where boats on the same path are next to each other, the boat which is nearest to the wind must stay clear.
  • When two boats are in the same direction but are not besides each other, the overtaking boat must stay clear.
  • If a boat contravenes the ‘right of way’ rules, it may be penalized instantly. This means the boat will be turned in two full circles (also known as 720). This penalty can be enforced on any boat except 49ers and Tornadoes which have to complete only one circle (a 360). If a sailor is not ready to accept this punishment, he/she may be disqualified. These significant ‘right of way’ rules are relevant both during the competition and before the race begin when the boats are in the attempt to place themselves for a speedy start.
  • If a sailor crosses the line ahead of time, he/she should round the beginning buoy and resume the race. Otherwise, the athlete may be disqualified. If a race committee is unable to judge which boats have crossed the line before time, a general recall is sounded.
  • If a sailor has a strong opinion that another one has broken the rules and regulations of the sport, he/she can object. To do so, the protester must shout "protest" at the supposed offender and hoist a red protest flag. At the end of the race, the protester has 90 minutes time to lodge the complaint, which is the looked upon by an independent panel of five International Sailing Federation jurors.
  • During the competition, there is on-water umpiring, which comprises of the umpire boats trailing the competitors and penalizing them on the spot if such a situation arises.
  • Only the Mistral sailboard is permitted to touch a buoy. The penalty for other boats is 360, except in cases where the sailor is able to persuade the jury that the boat was enforced into the buoy by another boat.
  • It is mandatory for the sailors to wear buoyancy aids and there are certain weight limits set with respect to the outfits and equipment worn by the athletes.
  • There specific time frame within which the races must be concluded. For instance, an hour for 49ers and Mistrals, 1.5 hours for Europes, Lasers, Tornadoes and 470s and two hours for Stars, Solings and Finns. While planning out the courses for the races, the race committee takes these time limits into consideration.
  • The authority can modify or condense the courses or discard the race altogether, after taking on-water conditions into consideration. The athletes will be informed about these changes by flowing a system of flags from the committee boat.
Sailing History
Till 1660, sailing was just used as a means of transportation. It was King Charles II who explored it as a sport in England after encouraging some sails while living in exile in Holland for 10 years before the re-establishment of the monarchy. He brought a Dutch jachtschip, or 'pursuit ship', back to England, which became the first of his 25 Royal Yachts. Sailing was known as 'Yachting' until Atlanta Olympics 1996. This sport came to be termed as 'Sailing' from Sydney Olympics 2000 onwards. Sailing made its maiden journey in Olympics in 1900 and except for St. Louis Olympics 1904, Sailing has been a part of every Olympics games ever since. Women also participated in the early Olympics Sailing races, but the events remained mixed until the Seoul Olympics 1988 when the first absolutely women's race was showcased. Since Beijing Olympics 2008, the 'two-man Tornado' and 'three-woman Yngling' classes have been discarded, and the Women's match racing class 'three-woman keelboat' is included.