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Quick and easy RRS 2021 synopsis?

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Where is everyone’s preferred summary of the 2021 changes? There are a lot of very dry YouTube videos and complete lists posted. I’d love to find a cliff’s notes version (video or text) to read and then drill down into the actual rules if I need more. 

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Just now, gbkersey said:

How about this?

From the preface:

This document is designedto help you learn and understand the changesthat have been made in The Racing Rules of Sailingfor 2021-2024.


Page 1 of 291... I was looking for a little bit more of a 30,000 foot view

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The document shows the changes highlighted.   Doesn't take long to read the changes.  Most pages didn't change.   Guess you could extract all the annotations into a document of a few pages if you were so inclined.


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Here is a quick summary of the changes that may affect the club racer - with links for more info.

Summary of changes for the new RRS 2021 - 2024.
The new rules may be downloaded from
As you read them, most changes are noted by a change bar in the right margin.
The study version is also available with all the changes but also with the background references as to why.


These new rules come into effect on Jan 1st , 2021, however any event that began in late December 2020 into 2021, may continue to use the 2017-2020 version.

Overall impressions – Some re-numbering. Some wording changes for style that do not affect the meaning.
Some items have moved to consolidate ‘like’ items. Some wording changes are meant to clarify rules to eliminate highly technical interpretations for Protest Hearings.
Some items have moved to Definitions.
Revised Definition of Start - Only hull counts as starting, not crew, nor equipment. – (Affects 29.1 Individual Recall, Rule 30, (I Z U and Black Flags).
"Sail the Course" ‘the string rule’ is now a definition. Moved from RRS 28.
Hails 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.

Changes to Part 2 – the main racing rules section,
Some wording changes for style, but the intent of the new wording is similar to the old version. Items involving Exoneration have been moved from R 14 and R 21 and are now consolidated under RRS 43.1. As a result, R 21 was eliminated, and then R 22 through 24 were renumbered to 21 through 23.
Other wording changes to clarify when and how Exoneration applies. With the substitution of 'is exonerated' for 'shall be exonerated', and the removal of the 'when a boat is compelled' provision from R 64.1, it is now clear that Exoneration is immediate, and a penalty not required. Exoneration occurs at the time of the incident, and boats acting in the belief that they are exonerated are not breaking rule 2.
R 16.2 is reworded (P ducking S)
R 18 ends when mark room has been given (moved to 18.1 from 18.2)
R 18.3 “Tacking in the Zone” has been changed to “Passing Head to Wind in the Zone”. The effect is exactly the same, and reflects that a tack begins when you pass HTW.
Protest Hearing Changes
Hearsay allowed in hearings
Standard of proof, PC chairman gets additional vote to break tie.

Removes the DSQ option for R2, so the only penalty for that will be DNE (Do not Exclude- ie non-

New Scoring Option - RC may score a boat that does not complete the course as NSC (did not sail the
course) without a hearing.



extracted from my web site



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  • 3 weeks later...

Good summary of changes important to sailors on the water in the January version of Spinsheet, available online.

Spoiler alert - there's not much. Main one being that over early and finish will be based on the hull rather than previous "hull, crew or equipment".

Most of the rest is mainly rearrangement and nitpicky stuff mostly of interest to judges.

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4 hours ago, Varan said:

Is a fixed bowsprit considered part of the hull?

Nope. World Sailing Q&A 2020-002 clarified that the definition of "hull" from the Equipment Rules of Sailing should be used (vs. Webster's, for example) and that sprits, either fixed of retractable, are spars. Wings on a skiff, either fixed or retractable, are part of the hull.

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  • 3 weeks later...

A couple of other changes that impact sailors on the water:

16.2 "anti-hunting" rule now only applies on a beat to windward and applies when the keep clear boat has changed course to "pass to leeward" (rather than "pass astern") of the ROW boat.

Old rule 55 (Trash Disposal) has been renumbered as rule 47.  It now applies to support persons as well as competitors but may still carry a penalty less than disqualification. But the big change here is that rule 47 has been added to rules listed in rule 86 that can't be changed by NA prescriptions, NOR or SI.

This change was introduced specifically to address the practice of some OAs changing the rule to allow disposable biodegradable sail stops (elastic bands or wool yarn). Those are characterized as trash and a boat can be protested and penalized for using them.

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