Club and Racing Rules


Club rules are intended to ensure that Yorkshire Ouse Sailing Club provides a safe, fair and inclusive environment for all our members, students and guests.

The most important rules we have in the club are in our Safeguarding Policy which includes how to contact our Safeguarding Officer and can be accessed by clicking here.

The club rules are divided into Safety, Sailing Instructions, House Rules and Race Office Duties. All of these are listed in the sections below. 

Water Safety

You must wear a buoyancy aid or life jacket at all times when on the water or within a meter of the water on the slip ramp, riverbank or jetties.

It is responsibility of the person in charge of each boat (usually the helmsman) who takes responsibility for his crew, himself and his boat. This applies every time that a boat is launched with the only exception being when the helm &/or crew is participating in organised training run by the Club and is under instruction.

The river is for everyone to enjoy. Courtesy and thoughtfulness cost nothing, pay big dividends and will prevent accidents. In the unlikely event of an incident involving any boat under power, the boat’s name and description must be reported to the OD or a Committee Member who will record it and pass to the Canal & River Trust authority. If damage occurs or threatening behaviour, the Police should be informed immediately. (With thanks to the Harbour Master, Stuart McKenzie and Business Boating Manager, Richard Delves, of the Canal and River Trust for their advice in updating this information, February 2020)

An extract from the code agreed between the Acaster Motor Boat Club, York Motor Yacht Club, York Railway Institute Sailing Club, Yorkshire Ouse Sailing Club, Ripon Motor Boat Club is given below, and it is hoped that other river users will co-operate.

1. When a motor cruiser is approaching either ahead or astern, do not tack across its bows, but tack short, if necessary, to allow clear passage.
The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea apply on the Ouse and Foss Navigation, but the navigation byelaw states that, “A vessel not propelled by power when meeting, overtaking or being overtaken by a power-driven vessel shall so far as it is safe and practicable keep out of the fairway.”
2. Listen for, and understand a motor cruiser’s sound signals:
One blast - turning to starboard
Two blasts - turning to port
Three blasts - operating engines astern

When sailing dinghies are ahead:
1. Give audible warning;
2. Slow down;
3. Proceed at slow speed;
4. Keep starboard close to the river bank;
5. Maintain a steady course;
6. Take extra care in light winds, when sailing dinghies are less maneuverable.
These simple rules of behaviour for craft using the river are designed to prevent collisions or any accident liable to cause annoyance.

During organized Club sailing, the safety boat must at all times be ready for use (check the petrol). It is not to be used as a ferryboat or for sightseeing. Nobody should take it out without the OOD's permission except in an emergency.
The “KILL CORD” must be used whenever the safety boat is in use. It must be attached to the helmsman’s arm or leg using the clips provided whenever the engine is running. It is a basic safety device, essential to keep the boat under control in unforeseen situations.
If, in the OOD's opinion, conditions warrant it, the safety boat should patrol the area of the race carrying a tow rope, a bucket for bailing, a pair of oars and a crew of no more than two. Junior members should not normally handle an outboard engine except under the supervision of an adult. A first aid box and mobile phone or radio should be included in the safety boat when sailing is organized out of immediate range of the clubhouse. 


This year we are trying to encourage more participation in sailing by running expeditions and social sailing, experience days and training as well as a racing programme. The usual trophy days will be held, but we are hoping for a good turnout for our midsummer regatta, when the Dr Cameron Trophy will be won after racing on personal handicaps.

These will be organised as personal handicap racing rather than class racing, and there will be two series. The number of races to qualify for each Sunday series will be 25% (rounded up to the next whole number) of the number of races scheduled less the number of races cancelled due to adverse river or weather conditions.

The Wednesday evening points series will be held as handicap races starting at 7.15pm for the combined National 12, Enterprise and Handicap fleets, but with separate class trophies. Personal handicaps will be applied to Individual helms who have won the series in their classes in the last 5 years.
The number of races to count to qualify shall be the lower of 5 races or 33% (rounded up to the next whole number.

It is essential that elapsed times after the start are recorded for every finisher, irrespective of their finishing order. The number of laps completed must also be recorded. This will allow corrected times to be calculated and the correct finishing order from the Portsmouth yardstick or personal handicap.
In the Sunday series, members doing a second OOD duty may count two races towards qualifying, using their average placing in the series.
In the Wednesday series, members doing a second OOD duty may count one race towards qualifying, using their average placing in the series.

REMINDERS: The OOD and assistant should be on duty one hour before the start of racing. Marker buoys must be laid before the start and recovered after the end of racing for the day. Read the “Guide to the duties of the officer of the day” (Below) for further details. OOD’s are reminded that the final responsibility for the race arrangements lies with the committee, to whom they may always turn for advice.

If any member is unable to perform his allocated duty as OOD, a substitute must be found, but it remains the responsibility of the allocated member to find a suitable substitute and ensure their attendance.

Subscriptions or entry fees for open meetings must be paid before any person is allowed to participate in racing.

THE HANDICAP FLEET shall consist of any recognized mono-hulled dinghy with a PN Number with a whole size restriction of 15ft. 

Duties of the Officer or the Day.

(To be read in conjunction with the Sailing Instructions)

Authority of the OOD
The OOD is in charge of the day's sailing, but if the OOD is faced with unusual problems a meeting of the Race Committee should be called.

In general, the OOD should anticipate arriving at least one hour before the start of racing and not being free to leave until at least one hour after the end of racing. If you are unable to do your allocated duty, then it is your responsibility to swap with someone who can, and to ensure that the Race Committee are aware of this.
The main responsibilities of the OOD are to:
• Assess the suitability of the weather and river conditions for conducting fair, safe races. The Race Committee should be consulted if this is in doubt, as the final decision is theirs.
• Organize the racing punctually, in accordance with the Racing Rules and Sailing Instructions and with due regard to the safety of all afloat.
• Ensure that the safety boat is fully equipped and operational (see Additional Information).
• Set out course marks at named positions. If in doubt, lay marks at Ship, Bridge, Club and Yacht Services. Decide start line, course to sail and number of laps for each class (consult Race Committee if necessary).
• For York races, the York mark should be in front of the York Motor Yacht Club for National Twelves and Enterprises. For the Handicap class at the OOD’s discretion (after discussion with the Race Committee).
• Attach required flags in the OOD Box
• List competing boats before the start.
• Follow the guidelines in the OOD Box for order of flags to raise and lower, sound signals to give and the timing of these.
• Log the time and position of each boat as it completes each lap and crosses the finishing line. Should any be unreasonably overdue, send the safety boat to investigate.
• Keep the race length so that it does not normally exceed one hour for the leading boat. Shorten the race as indicated in the Sailing Instructions using flags ‘S’ or ‘S’ over ‘H’. The race can always be shortened, but never extended, so set the number of laps accordingly.
• Record the finishing order and time of each boat along with all retirements. Although it has no significance, custom dictates that the bell is rung for each boat as it crosses the finishing line.
• Signing off is for the helm to confirm the finishing position and to check that the correct helm and crew have been entered for the boat. Any incidents should be logged in the results book (see sailing instruction 22). Anybody wishing to protest should be given a protest form and the senior officer of the Race Committee informed.
• A complete, fair copy of the race results should be made in the Race Book. The OOD should sign and date it.
• Clear up and return all equipment to the correct locations. Check that enough petrol is left for the next OOD. Petrol can be purchased and the invoice sent to the Treasurer for reimbursement. Any equipment problems should be reported to the Mate. Lock up and put all keys back on their correct hooks.

Additional responsibilities:
• Bring some milk as the OOD needs to provide teas at lunchtime and following sailing. Please wash and dry the pots and put them away.
• Attend to visitors and prospective members, in the absence of Flag Officers.
• Ensure at all times, but especially when members leave, proper security of the Clubhouse and Club property.
• Deal with any unforeseen situations, including emergencies as appropriate.
• Put wheelie bin at the top of the slipway if it is a Sunday when it needs to go out (list of dates in OOD’s box). 

Additional Information
The Race Committee, set up by the General Committee to manage racing, consists of those of the following who are available: the Commodore, the Vice Commodore, the Sailing Secretary, the three Class Captains and the OOD.
Along with the Sailing Instructions, the Racing Rules of Sailing (a copy of which is in the OOD box) govern the management of all races and should be adhered to. All OODs should familiarise themselves with these well before their duty day.
Races must start punctually, except in extreme circumstances when the postponement signal must be flown.
Handicap races must be accurately timed from the start to finish of each boat and should be sailed over identical courses for each boat.
Where there is only a single representative of recognized classes they will start with the handicap fleet but by default still compete in their native fleet series. If a helm would prefer to race in the handicap series when there are no other boats from his class to compete against, he can elect to compete in handicap fleet instead of the relevant native series, this must be clearly communicated and recorded in the results book by the OD prior to the race start.

A lower number of complete laps may be sailed by slower boats and times adjusted accordingly, but the courses of each lap sailed by all boats must be identical.
In pursuit races, the slowest boats start first, progressing to the quickest.
For interclass racing, e.g. Handicap, Enterprises and National Twelves, the exact intervals should be decided by the Portsmouth Yardstick numbers for the classes. The race should last for at least one hour, to a finish line laid by the OOD wherever on the course the lead boat will beat the end of the set period." 

Sailing Instructions

All races shall be sailed under the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) 2017-2020 and the prescriptions of the RYA except as modified by these instructions, together with the rules of the National Twelve Development Class, the International Enterprise Class, and other classes as appropriate, except that the rule requiring the helmsman to be a member of the Enterprise Association shall be waived.

Club boats manoeuvring in the vicinity of the starting line at the commencement of a race shall be assumed by the OOD to be competing in that race. Nevertheless, it shall be each helmsman’s own responsibility to ensure that he is recorded as competing in a race.
Two members may jointly sail a boat in races as a syndicate regardless of which one is helming; for this they shall both be in the boat during a race, shall have informed the OOD before the start of a race and shall both sign off after that race.

Course Signals, Start and Finish Lines
The course board, in front of the OOD’s box, shall display the directions in which the start and finish lines are to be crossed, the marks of the course (reading from left to right gives the sequence in which they are to be passed, while the colour of their background shows on which hand they are to be left) and the number of rounds to be sailed.
Should the board show two courses, the upper row shall be that for the National Twelves and Enterprises, the lower one being that for the handicap fleet.
The marks shall be designated by letter:
B Bridge
C Clubhouse
L Lock
S Ship Inn
W Willow Tree
Y Yacht Services, or alternatively a turning mark for York race. The York race shall be in front of the York Motor Yacht Club clubhouse for the National Twelves and Enterprises and at the first bend upstream of the A64 road bridge for Handicap fleet and Toppers, or as decided by the Race Committee on the day.
Y1 An alternative turning mark specified by the Race Committee on the day and displayed on a board adjacent to the course board.
Blank - as designated by the OOD.

Start times shall be as stated in the sailing program of the year.
The attention of the helmsman is drawn to the World Sailing Fundamental Rules, particularly regarding their responsibilities. The starting sequence used shall be in accordance with Racing Rules of Sailing 26, with the warning signal given five minutes before the starting signal.
The starting line will be between the wire in the middle of the window of the starting hut and a post with triangle on top on the opposite bank OR between a temporary flagstaff and a mark or flagstaff towards the opposite bank. Boats must not sail between any distance mark laid in the vicinity of the starting line and the nearest bank. One starter is sufficient to constitute a race.
The starting sequence used shall be in accordance with RRS 26, with the warning signal for each succeeding class being made with the starting signal of the preceding class.

Individual recalls for premature starters shall be indicated by an additional sound signal after the starting signal, and Code Flag X will be displayed until all entrants have started correctly. The OOD cannot guarantee audible warning to premature starters. General recalls shall be indicated by two additional sound signals and display of the First Substitute Code Flag.

Time Limits
For York races, the course shall not be shortened and there shall be a time limit of five hours. For all other races there shall be a time limit of two and a half hours. At such time boats still racing shall be deemed retired and awarded points accordingly. Any boat not finishing within thirty minutes of the leading boat shall be deemed to have retired.

Signing off is not obligatory, but all helmsmen are advised to confirm that helm and crew names and finishing position are correctly entered on that day.

Points in a class shall be awarded to members helming a boat in that class. 0.75, 2,3,… points shall be awarded to the 1st, 2nd, 3rd,…boat in that class. A sailover shall count as 1 point. Retirements and disqualifications shall be treated as follows:
        Retirements shall count as the number of starters in the race plus 1
        Disqualifications shall count as the number of starters in the race plus 2
        Rule Infringements
The 720 degree turns alternative penalty as provided in RRS Rule 44 shall apply.
However, when a yacht touches a mark, the one turn penalty for infringing RRS Rule 31 shall not apply and in its place shall be substituted the following:

"When a yacht touches a mark surrounded by navigable water, she may exonerate herself by completing the rounding of the mark, leaving it on the required side and thereafter re rounding it or repassing it without touching it, as required to sail the proper course in accordance with RRS definition."

A yacht which has touched a mark and is exonerating herself as prescribed above shall keep clear of all other yachts that are about to round or pass it, or have rounded or passed it correctly, until she has rounded it completely and has cleared it and is on the proper course to the next mark.

When a boat breaks a rule of part 2 and rule 31 (as substituted above) in the same instance then RRS rule 44.1(a) shall not apply and both penalties (re-round mark and 720 degree turns penalties) shall be taken.

Abandoned and Additional Races
Normal points races which are abandoned may be re sailed only on the same day. Trophy races which are abandoned for the day shall be re sailed seven days later unless otherwise advertised on the Club Notice Board. If trophy races to York are abandoned because of adverse river or weather conditions, but points racing is still practicable, then points racing shall be substituted. The abandoned trophy races to York shall replace the next scheduled points races in the calendar.

All protests shall be in writing and shall be handed to the OOD within thirty minutes of the last boat in the appropriate class finishing the race.

Attention shall be drawn to all signals by a bell or other sound signal.

International Code Flag T - Warning signal for National Twelves
International Code Flag E - Warning signal for Enterprises.
Numeral Pendant 6 - Warning signal for Handicap Fleet
Numeral Pendant 1 - Warning signal for mixed fleets
International Code Flag P - Preparatory signal of class whose warning signal is flying.
First Substitute Flag - General recall. (RRS Rule 29.3 shall not apply. Those classes which have not yet started shall do so at their advertised times. The new start for the recalled class shall be five minutes after the last scheduled start or five minutes after the voided start, whichever is the later.)
International Code Flag S - The course for the class is shortened to the end of the lap being sailed by the leading boat of that class.
International Code Flag S above Code Flag H - A class shall finish at the prescribed finishing line in whatever direction it is next crossed by the leading class as it sails normally around the course.
International Code Flag F - The race will finish between the temporary flagstaff and the nearby buoy, which may be either a mark of the course or a buoy laid specifically to create a finishing line.
Answering Pendant - All races not started are postponed. The warning signal will be made one minute after this signal is lowered.

Abandonment signals as per RRS Race Signals N, N over H, N over A.

If any of this latter group of signals is intended for a specific class then it will be flown over the appropriate class flag. The absence of a class flag makes such signals applicable to all classes.
Should there be a small lack of synchronization between visual and sound signals during the starting sequence for a race, timing should be taken from the latter.

No boat shall be permitted to race unless it has valid third party insurance coverage of at least £2,000,000 or some such larger figure as may be specified for the class rules of the boat.

Dinghy Buoyancy
Each class dinghy must have been satisfactorily immersion buoyancy tested or have passed the buoyancy test as stipulated in the class rules, within the last twelve months.

Without prejudice to any other method of varying these instructions, a notice signed by the Club Secretary on the authority of the Club Committee may vary these instructions 28 days after the display of that notice in the Club House and shall constitute notice to all club boats under RRS rule 88.2(c).

Ladies Race, Crews Race and Cadet Cup
Helmsmen shall compete for only one of these trophies. Prior to the start they shall inform the OOD for which race they are to be entered.

Commodore's Cup, Acaster Challenge Cup, York Trophy, Fulford Bowl, Ebor Cup and Saynor Trophy
At the discretion of the Race Committee, paddling may be permitted between two marks laid for that purpose. In this case only one paddle per boat may be used and no boat clear astern at the first mark shall establish an overlap whilst paddling. All attempts shall be made so that boats leave paddling marks with the same spacing as when they entered.
If in any fleet, the last boat finishes a York race before 13.30 the race officer may decide to hold a points race in the afternoon for that fleet.
York Hospitals Challenge Cup
Normal Starting sequence will apply.

Winter Meetings
Wet suits or dry suits must be worn by all competitors at winter sailing events.

Crews are defined for the purposes of trophy events as those persons who normally crew and who have not completed a series as a helm.

Moored boats
Any member who, whilst afloat, touches a non-participant boat (excluding any mooring lines, pontoon, or non-fixed fenders) with any part of his boat shall:
a) Inform the OOD,
b) Log full particulars of the occurrence in the incident book (or results book on the page facing the results for that day’s racing). The entry must be signed off by the helm to confirm the accuracy as logged.

If the non-participant boat was moored at the time of the collision (other than on the slipway or clubhouse river frontage), the competing boat shall automatically be disqualified immediately from that race. (This instruction does not detract from the helmsman’s right to protest other boats involved, nor to seek redress - the collision being deemed to have caused physical damage for the purposes of RRS Rule 62.1(b)).

Please note that under the Ouse and Foss Navigation byelaws, a vessel not propelled by power when meeting, overtaking or being overtaken by a power-driven vessel shall so far as it is safe and practicable keep out of the fairway. Redress may be available for incidents with powered vessels, when the International Collision Regulations would normally apply. 

House Rules

No sailing clothes, wet shoes, or pets are allowed in the lounge (assistance animals excepted).

A lost property box is maintained by the Club and any unclaimed items will be disposed of, as is seen fit, at the end of the season.

The OOD is asked to bring some milk as tea is provided at lunchtime and following sailing

When special catering is being provided, for example at Open Meetings, only nominated members are allowed access to Galley and food preparation areas.

Only Committee Members and nominated persons are allowed to open the bar. Permitted opening hours are as follows:
Monday to Saturday all day 10.00am-11.00pm
Sunday all day 12.00 noon – 10.30pm

Particular attention is drawn to the licensing law:
No young persons under 18 years of age is to be served with alcoholic drinks, or have alcoholic drink bought for them. Non club members need to be signed in at the bar by a member. A member can only sign someone in 4 times a year.

Every Wednesday - Join “The Wednesday Knights” in the Clubhouse for the regular social gathering at the bar; all members & guests welcome.

Sundays during sailing season - Non-sailing members and guests always welcome. Bar will open subject to demand.


Yorkshire Ouse Sailing Club. Ferry Lane.
York YO19 4PN

Fleet Classes

National 12

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