Sailing Rules

Established in 1972

We race a handicap fleet, which means all is fair and equitable.  This includes but is not limited to, two races on Saturday afternoons and one race on Wednesday evenings.  We have a variety of courses and special races, as well as days when groups from the local community join us for sailing.  See the documents at the bottom of this page for details.

There is sometimes a barbecue in the boat pen after sailing on Saturdays, to which all are welcome - please come and join us.

We also have a regatta once a year when visiting boats are also welcome to take part.  

Of course, visiting boats are welcome to sail with us during any of our races, provided your details are passed to the Race Officer prior to the race.

If you would rather simply enjoy the sailing in the most picturesque bay in the country at your own pace, then our safety boat crew and the occasional dolphin will keep a watchful eye over you.

Portsmouth Yardstick Numbers for dinghies used in the club, plus one or two that usually turn up for our regatta and summer sailing are available to download at the bottom of this page.

Please be aware that all races are timed races; no lap races until further notice.

Timed races finish like this: Red and amber lights will be illuminated when the leading boat approaches the finish line. Thereafter each boat that finishes will be acknowledged (one sound) and scored as having finished.

Current Sailing Instructions, Notice of Race and PY numbers will be uploaded when the Club returns to sailing activities. 

A Fleet of sailing dinghies with bright sails crosses the start line in a race.

A Handicap Fleet crosses the start line.

A seal swimming in St Ives Bay

St Ives Bay gets a Seal of Approval


1    RULES

1.1 Racing will be governed by the rules as defined in The Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS).

1.2 St. Ives Sailing Club Notice of Race (NoR) and Duty Rota (DR) will apply.

1.3 Racing rules RRS 26, 29.2, 30, 30.1, 30.2, 30.3, 30.4, 32.2, 33, 40, 44.1, 44.2, A2.1, A4, A4.1, A5 and A9 are changed according to the rules set out in these Sailing Instructions (SI).


2.1 Notices to competitors will be posted on the club website or on the noticeboard in the boat pen.


3.1 Safety Ashore

       No person shall ride as a passenger aboard the launching tractor.  No person shall park a car in the boat pen on race days, and in a way that obstructs the movement of boats on other days.

3.2 Buoyancy

All boats shall have securely fastened positive buoyancy complying with class standards and sufficient to support both craft        and crew.

3.3 Personal Flotation Devices

RRS 40 will be changed as follows:  Sailors shall wear personal flotation devices at all times, except briefly while changing or adjusting clothing or personal equipment.  Wet suits and dry suits are not personal flotation devices.

3.4 Safety organisation

       The race officer or assistant will remain in the lighthouse for the duration of racing.  Members shall not swap duties from those identified in the DR if this results in a less competent duty team.  The safety boat will have at least two persons on board at all times; racing will not take place without the safety boat.  Sailors shall comply with instructions from the safety boat.  The race officer and the safety boat helm have the authority to abandon a race.


4.1 Dates of racing will be 30th March – 26th December 2019.

4.2 Further details regarding race series and times of warning signals will be given in the NoR.

4.3 Sailors intending to take part should signal this intention to the race officer at least one hour before the start of the first race.

4.4 A minimum of three boats assembled at the start line at the preparatory signal will be required for the event to be classed as a race.

4.5 A minimum of three races will be required to be completed for the races to constitute a series.


5.1 The diagrams in Attachment A show the courses, including the approximate angles between legs, the order in which marks are to be passed, and the side on which each mark is to be left.

5.2 In the event of a special course, a briefing will be given ashore by the race officer prior to sailing.


6.1 On race days, the St. Ives Sailing Club flag will be displayed from the lighthouse flagstaff; the lighthouse is the older of the two, halfway along Smeaton’s Pier.

6.2 Unless SI 5.2 applies, flag boards indicating the course letter, predominant side of leaving marks, and whether the race is timed or comprises a number of laps, will be displayed on the side of the lighthouse.  Attachment B shows these flag boards.  Other signals using lights, flags and sounds are detailed elsewhere in these SI.

7    MARKS

7.1 Marks are described in Attachment A, and are black, yellow and black, yellow or orange buoys.

7.2 The starting and finishing marks will be a striped yellow and black buoy (the Inner Distance Mark; IDM) and an orange buoy (the Outer Distance Mark; ODM).


8.1 The green New Pier buoy, located near the start line in front of Smeaton’s Pier, marks an obstruction and shall be passed to the east at all times whilst racing.

8.2 The Eastern Carracks rocks, off Porthminster Point, are near the surface at low tide and should be avoided.


9.1 RRS 26 is changed as follows:

       Races will be started using the following signals.  Times shall be taken from the visual signals; the absence of a sound signal shall be disregarded.

Minutes before Visual Light signal from Sound signal Means

starting signal Smeaton’s Pier lighthouse

5       Red One Warning Signal

4 Red & Amber One Preparatory Signal

1     Amber   One Long One Minute

0     Green One Starting Signal

9.2 The starting line will be the line extending from the lighthouse, through the IDM, and bounded by the ODM.

9.3 The warning signal will not normally be sounded until the safety boat launching crew, if they are intending to race, have sailed to the starting line.

9.4 A boat that does not start within ten minutes after her starting signal will be scored Did Not Start.


10.1  Individual Recall

       When at a boat’s starting signal any part of her hull, crew or equipment is on the course side of the starting line or she must comply with RRS 30.1, the race officer shall promptly illuminate a white light with one sound. The light shall be displayed until all such boats have sailed completely to the pre-start side of an extension to the starting line in compliance with RRS 30.1.

10.2   General Recall

       When at the starting signal the race officer is unable to identify boats that are on the course side of the starting line or to which RRS 30 applies, or there has been an error in the starting procedure, the race officer may signal a general recall (illuminate red and amber lights with two sounds). The warning signal for a new start for the recalled race shall be made one minute after the lights are extinguished (one sound).  This changes RRS 29.2.


11.1   I Flag Rule

       RRS 30.2, RRS 30.3 and RRS 30.4 do not apply. RRS 30.1 always applies, though flag I will not be displayed. This changes       RRS 30.


12.1   RRS 32.2 is changed as follows:  If the race officer signals a shortened course (displays flag S with two sounds), the finishing line shall be,

(a) at a rounding mark, between the mark and a staff displaying flag S; or

(b) a line the course requires boats to cross; or

(c) at a gate, between the gate marks; or

(d) a line level with a staff displaying flag S carried by the safety boat; or

(e) a finish line that one or more boats have previously crossed.

Except in the case of SI 12.1 (e), the shortened course shall be signalled before the first boat crosses the finishing line.  The        safety boat will attempt to hail boats with information about the revised finishing line.

12.2       Return to harbour

             In conjunction with the race being shortened or abandoned, the race officer may call boats back to harbour because of foul weather, lack of wind, deteriorating conditions, reducing visibility or any other reason affecting the safety or fairness of the race.

12.3   Return to harbour will be signalled by illuminating the amber light and repeating a group of two (for a shortened race) or three (for an abandoned race) sounds every five seconds until all boats have been observed to be returning to harbour.

12.4  When returning boats to harbour, where possible, if one or more boats have completed at least one lap, or one significant leg of a longer race, the race officer will consider shortening the race in preference to abandoning the race.


13.1   The race officer may change a leg of the course by changing the position of the next mark (or the finishing line) and signalling all boats by displaying Flag C on the lighthouse, accompanied by repetitive sounds.  If possible, the safety boat will hail the leading boat.  This changes RRS 33.


14.1   The finishing line will be a line extending from the lighthouse through the ODM.

14.2   Red and amber lights will be illuminated when the leading boat approaches the finish line.  Thereafter each boat that finishes will be acknowledged (one sound) and scored as having finished.


15.1   For all classes, RRS 44.1 is changed so that the Two-Turns Penalty is replaced by the One-Turn Penalty.

15.2   For Jumbo sailing, RRS 44.2 is changed as detailed in Attachment C.

(no longer applicable and taken out)


16.1   If the leading boat in any lap takes 45 minutes or more to complete that lap, the race will be abandoned.


17.1  Final positions will be calculated using the Porthsmouth Yardstick Scheme.  Where boats have sailed different numbers of laps, average lap times will be used to calculate equivalent elapsed times for boats sailing fewer laps.

17.2   Discards

Rule RRS A2.1 is changed so that each boat’s series score shall, subject to rule RRS 90.3(b), be the total of her scores                   excluding her worst n scores, where n is 25% of the races constituting that series rounded to the nearest whole number (0.5     is rounded down).

17.3   The Low Point System detailed in RSS A4 applies.  RRS A4.2 and RRS A9 are changed as follows:

Circumstances described Abbreviated as Points awarded

Did not finish DNF Two more than the last placed boat

Retired RET Two more than the last placed boat

Did not start DNS Four more than the last placed boat

On course side OCS Four more than the last placed boat

Disqualified DSQ Five more than the last placed boat

Did not compete DNC Eight more than the last placed boat

17.4   In addition to RRS A5, helms who have sailed fewer than 40% of the races constituting a series will not be considered to have completed that series, and will be awarded points equal to the last placed boat for the following activities during a race.  Helms who have sailed a minimum of 40% of the races constituting a series will be awarded average points (total of helm’s points in that series divided by number of races sailed by that helm) for the following:

Activity described Abbreviated as Notes

Race officer or assistant race officer RO Only those two people named on the DR

Safety boat helm or crew SB Only those two or three people named on the DR

Undertaking training T Notify the race officer prior to sailing

Helming or crewing a Jumbo J Notify the sailing secretary in good time

Competing in an RYA affiliated event elsewhere EE Notify the sailing secretary in good time

Assisting any person or vessel in danger A At the discretion of the race officer

17.5   Less experienced and infrequent sailors self-identifying as such, with the agreement of the race committee, shall be allowed to compete in a special category in series where the NoR provides for such.


       RRS 4 states: "The responsibility for a boat's decision to participate in a race or to continue racing is hers alone."

Sailing is by its nature an unpredictable sport and therefore inherently involves an element of risk. By taking part in the               event, each sailor agrees and acknowledges that:

18.1   They are aware of the inherent element of risk involved in the sport and accept responsibility for the exposure of themselves, their crew and their boat to such inherent risk whilst taking part in the event;

18.2   They are responsible for the safety of themselves, their crew, their boat and their other property whether afloat or ashore;

18.3   They accept responsibility for any injury, damage or loss to the extent caused by their own actions or omissions;

18.4   Their boat is in good order, equipped to sail in the event and they are fit to participate;

18.5  The provision of a race management team, patrol boats and other officials and volunteers by the event organiser does not     relieve them of their own responsibilities;

18.6   The provision of patrol boat cover is limited to such assistance, particularly in extreme weather conditions, as can be practically provided in the circumstances;

18.7   It is their responsibility to familiarise themselves with any risks specific to this venue or this event drawn to their attention in any rules and information produced for the venue or event and to attend any safety briefing held for the event.


19.1   Each participating boat shall be insured with valid third-party liability insurance with a minimum cover of £3 million per incident or the equivalent.


Course "B" Port Hand Course

Course "B" Starboard Hand Course

Course "C" Port Hand Course

Course "C" Starboard Hand Course

Course "D" Port or Starboard Hand Course

Course "L"



The below listed flags are detailed on boards for the purpose of the race officer signalling to the helms out on the water. The signals are there to be used at the discretion of the race officer and displayed in a suitable manner.

AP   This is the answer pennant flag.  Races not started are postponed.  The warning signal will be made 1 minute after removal unless at that time the race is postponed again or abandoned.

If postponing the race and signalling boats to return to harbour (amber light), the sound signal is repeated every five seconds. 

C   The position of the next mark has been changed.

Following the movement of the mark this board will be shown to indicate the change to the helms.  Repetitive sound signals will be made. 

C   The position of the next mark has been changed.

Following the movement of the mark this board will be shown to indicate the change to the helms.  Repetitive sound signals will be made. 

F   This is the F flag, shown at the start of a race, when the race officer has chosen to have a timed race. 

S   The course has been shortened.  RRS 32.2, amended by SI 12.1 is in effect.

The S flag is displayed when shortening and ending the race.  If shortening the race and signalling boats to return to harbour (amber light), the sound signal is repeated every five seconds. 

The starboard signal for advising the helms on which side the marks are predominantly to be left.  

The port signal for advising the helms on which side the marks are predominantly to be left.  


The number boards signalling the number of laps the race officer has set for the race. 


The letter board displayed shows the course set by the race officer, detailed in Attachment A.