Sailing Rules


Note: This document does not currently contain some parts of the NIA rules. Please see an NIA rulebook for a more complete listing.

Please contact: Bob Pegel, National Iceboat Authority P.O. Box 40, Williams Bay, WI 53191 Phone: 414-245-6242

When one of the terms defined in Part 1 is used in its defined sense in the definitions or rules, it is printed in CAPITAL LETTERS. All definitions rank as rules.

ACTUAL WIND – The natural wind.
WINDWARD-LEEWARD COURSE – A course sailed around two MARKS, an imaginary straight line drawn between the two MARKS is parallel to the ACTUAL WIND.

ON-THE-WIND – A yacht heading less than 90 degrees from the direction from which the ACTUAL WIND is blowing is ON-THE-WIND.

OFF-THE-WIND – A yacht heading more than 90 degrees from the direction from which the ACTUAL WIND is blowing is OFF-THE-WIND.

STARBOARD TACK – A yacht is on a STARBOARD TACK when the ACTUAL WIND is approaching from her right side.

PORT TACK – A yacht is on a PORT TACK when the ACTUAL WIND is approaching from her left side.

WINDWARD YACHT and LEEWARD YACHT – When two yachts are on the same tack, the one on the side from which the ACTUAL WIND is blowing is the WINDWARD YACHT, the other is the LEEWARD YACHT.

TACKING – A yacht is TACKING from the moment she is beyond head-to ACTUAL WIND until her mainsail has filled on the other side.

JIBING – A yacht is JIBING when, with the ACTUAL WIND aft, the foot of her mainsail crosses her centerline until it has filled on the other side.

OBSTRUCTION – Any object a yacht cannot safely sail over.

MARK – Any object which a yacht must round or pass on a required side to properly round the course.

OUTSIDE – In rule 8 of the Right-of-Way Rules, any yacht to the right of another yacht is the OUTSIDE yacht.

CANCELLATION – A CANCELLED race is one which cannot thereafter be sailed.

POSTPONEMENT – A POSTPONED race is one which is not started at it’s scheduled time and which can be sailed at any time the Race Committee may direct.

ABANDONMENT – An ABANDONED race is one which is stopped while it is in progress and which can be re-sailed at the discretion of the Race Committee.


The purpose of the following rules is to prevent collisions. Any infraction of these rules is cause for disqualification.

A. Fair Sailing – In all situations the Judges, Race Committee, and contestants must act in terms of common sense, safety, and good sportsmanship.

B. Right-of-Way Rules

1. A yacht in motion shall keep clear of a yacht stopped.

2. A yacht sailing OFF-THE-WIND shall keep clear of a yacht sailing ON-THE-WIND.

3. When two yachts are sailing ON-THE-WIND, the yacht on the PORT TACK shall keep clear of the yacht on the STARBOARD TACK.

4. When two yachts are sailing OFF-THE-WIND, the yacht on the PORT TACK shall keep clear of the yacht on the STARBOARD TACK. When two yachts sailing ON-THE-WIND are on the same tack, the WINDWARD YACHT shall keep clear. When two yachts sailing OFF-THE-WIND are on the same tack, the LEEWARD YACHT shall keep clear.

5. A right-of-way yacht shall not alter her course so as to mislead or prevent a non-right-of-way yacht from keeping clear. When a faster moving yacht approaches another yacht on the same tack from the rear, the faster yacht must not sail so close that the slower yacht cannot keep clear.

6. A yacht may not TACK or JIBE so as to involve the probability of collision with another yacht which, owing to her position or speed, cannot keep clear.

7. A yacht approaching and unable to clear an OBSTRUCTION with out fouling or endangering another yacht may signal the other yacht for room to clear. The signaled yacht shall at once give room and if it is necessary for her to TACK or JIBE, the signaling yacht shall also TACK or JIBE immediately thereafter.

8. When approaching or rounding a MARK, an OUTSIDE yacht shall keep clear and a faster moving yacht approaching another yacht from the rear shall stay clear of a yacht that has started her rounding maneuver. Each yacht shall be entitled to room to cross the finish line.

9. After finishing a race, a yacht shall keep clear of the course and yachts still racing.

C. Sailing the Course

1. At the start, a yacht must be laid off (headed) similarly to other yachts on the line. A skipper may demand that the race committee require another yacht to change the degree to which she is laid off.

2. A yacht shall be disqualified without protest if she starts prematurely.

3. A yacht fouling a MARK (except when avoiding an accident), not leaving a MARK on the required side, or not rounding all MARKS in proper sequence, shall be disqualified.

D. Propulsion – A yacht may not employ any means of propulsion other than the action of the wind on the sails. However, the crew (unassisted by anyone except for reasons of physical disability as authorized by the Judges) may push the yacht to leave the starting line or to return the yacht to wind propulsion when necessary. Other pushing shall be cause for disqualification.

E. Ballast – A yacht must start and finish a race with the same ballast and crew.

(Added by the NSIBYC)

Darling Mark

Darling Mark – a mark of the COURSE to prevent Starboard TAck yachts from forcing INSIDE overlaps at the LEEWARD MARK.  REQUIRED by NSIB&YC and many other clubs that were members of the EIYA; not required by the NIA.

BRIGHT GREEN flagged MARK over 3 1/2 feet high located 100 yds to windward and 10 yds to left of LEEWARD MARK.