Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Racing rules revisited

What good are those racing rules anyway? The ISAF RRS? Why would we want to use those rules? It's a question rarely asked in RL, where most people simply accept the rules as a given fact. Even the Knarr sailors use the ISAF rules, though they've been kinda reluctant to join the local ISAF family tree.
A good place to think?
However, it appears to be a question frequently asked in virtual sailing. For a long time I have avoided posting about this topic, hoping the subject could be dealt with through dialog and lobbyism. Now, the topic seems to emerge again, so I went to a quiet place and gave it some thought.
Thinking about RRS
Let's set the scene. In the red corner we have the ISAF RRS. Hated and loved, used, abused and supported every day by millions of sailors. Adjusted every four years by world class sailors in order to promote fair, fun and exciting races. Kids on the entire planet are taught these rules. They have proven their usefullness over years and years.
Thinking about RRSSL
In the blue corner we have RRSSL. A subset of the RRS, deviced by a single individual, consisting of only  rules 10, 11, 13, 16, 18 and 19, several of these reduced to catchy one-liners. These rules are only used in SL virtual sailing, they are not taught anywhere, they have no call books, no backing organisation, no proven track record, and they were defined four years ago for a virtual sailing environment much more primitive than what we have today. They are simply an easy to understand reduced ruleset.
Pros and cons
All the pros and cons make for a rather lengthy speech. Mainly two arguments are seen.

The first argument is that virtual sailing is not perfect, therefore we are better off with RRSSL. The story goes that virtual sailing in SL is in fact so weird that it does not make sense to use real rules. Obviously, I think this is wrong, and I have addressed that issue on my page dubbed Virtual Sailing. SL virtual sailing is not perfect, but it's pretty good. Using simplified rules solves no problems. It adds even more problems...

The second argument is that those RRSSL rules are good enough. Obviously, I disagree. The RRSSL has at least two problems. Firstly, RSSSL is a ruleset which in fact reverses ROW in a number of frequently seen situations. Secondly, RSSSL change the sailing game by promoting a bumperboat sailing style. I have addressed the reversed ROW and the bumperboat issue on the page dubbed ISAF rules. RRSSL is indeed rules upside down. Defunct.
Concluding anything?
So, I don't buy any of those arguments. Using defunct or upside down rules certainly won't make virtual sailing any better. Unhindered luffing anytime, anywhere?? Really... I can see the ISAF rules might seem complex to beginners, but those are the rules of the game. If you wanna play, then learn the rules! The rules aren't there to restrict you or to get in your way. The rules are part of the game. They facilitate a fair and fun game. The rules stop bargers, prohibit collisions and protect against bullies. That goes for any sport from chess to tennis.

Sure, beginners class can use rule 10 and a few more "essential" rules when training, but Yacht Clubs teaching and promoting such defunct rules?? Graded events using upside down rules? Who are they to not acknowledge the enormeous work and experience put into the RRS? I cannot see any reason why entities calling themselves virtual Yacht Clubs should teach and promote any other rules than the official ISAF RRS. Pushing anything but the RRS is wrong, confusing, makes sailing worse, and it simply makes no sense.

What do you think?

Not sure what to think of it all? Here's something to help you out. First, check What's in a virtual Boat, then see New fanatics start Here. If that's not enough, here's live action.


  1. Way to go Noodle... you are 100% correct...and as sailing improves in SL... the rules become even more important as the competition gets a bit more agressive and tight! Skip a rule, and you create a gap that promotes abuse, the rules dovetail....and fill gaps where there are weaknesses. I personally won't bother racing unless the full rule set is in place!


  2. Thanx Hawk. I obviously feel the same way, and I suspect many sailors do.

  3. OMG, this post (and the related links) are like a big breath of fresh air.... YaY full RRS!


    1. Thanx Diamond, - fresh air and free wind is what I like best ;-)


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