Racing Rules Explained – Rule 21 & 22

Rule 21 – Exoneration

  • This rule protects boats sailing within the roomor markroom allowed by the rules. If you are entitled to room or markroom, you will be exonerated from taking a penalty if you break rules 10-13, rules 15-16, or rule 31.
  • This rule could apply in any situation that requires a boat to give room or mark-room.


Rule 21 : “When a boat is sailing within the room or markroom to which she is entitled, she shall be exonerated if, in an incident with a boat required to give her that room or markroom,

(a) she breaks a rule of Section A, rule 15 or rule 16, or

(b) she is compelled to break rule 31.”


Rule 22 – Starting Errors; Taking Penalties; Backing a Sail

  • This rule essentially removes the right-of-way protections for boats that must re-start, take a penalty, or are moving backwards/sideways by backing a sail.

22.1  A boat sailing towards the pre-start side of the starting line or one of its extensions after her starting signal to start or to comply with rule 30.1 shall keep clear of a boat not doing so until she is completely on the pre-start side.

22.2  A boat taking a penalty shall keep clear of one that is not.

22.3  A boat moving astern, or sideways to windward, through the water by backing a sail shall keep clear of one that is not.”

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