Dinghy Racing Beginners Guide

With our sailing season gaining momentum it is probably worth refreshing ourselves on racing rules:


What rules do I need to know?

A boat on port tack (the wind coming from the left, the boom on the right) gives way to one on starboard tack (wind from right, boom on left).

A boat on Starboard tack with right of way may shout ”Starboard” if you are on Port tack and they think you are about to get in their way.

A boat to windward (closest to where the wind is coming from) gives way to a boat to leeward (the boat further away from the wind).

At a mark, the boat on the inside, nearest the mark, will usually need to be given room to round the mark without hitting it or you!

These basic rules should prevent most collisions.

What course do I sail?

The Race Officer will set a course and will brief you on the day.

A typical course is a race around the three buoys in our sailing area with the start/finish line between the committee boat (rib with the Race Office and Flags) and the blue buoy.

How do I start?

Our starting sequence is as follows:

  • 5 minutes to start – hoot of horn and 1st (warning) flag up.
  • 4 minutes to start – hoot of horn and 2nd (preparatory) flag up. This will be a blue flag with a white square in the centre.
  • 1 minutes to start – hoot of horn and 2nd (preparatory) flag down
  • The start – hoot of horn and 1st flag down and the race is on.
Where is the finish?

Sail back across the start/finish line to finish the race.

Dinghy Racing Beginners Guide

This guide is a available from our download page. It may help to print it out and put it in a waterproof cover for reference.

Further Reading

The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) have a published a one-page set of Introductory Rules for Racing designed to help newcomers to sail-boat racing. View Introductory Rules for Racing Here.

Rules Of Racing Video

Racing Rules explained – Rule 10 – Port and Starboard