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Right of Way Rules and Safety Hints

Collision regulations and by-laws

It is advisable to avoid busy waterways and shipping lanes, but if it is unavoidable, be considerate and keep up windsurfing's good image. Sailboards are still governed by rules for sailing vessels and it is an offence not to observe these:

  1. A vessel must restrict its speed to 5 knots if
  • within 200 metres of a public beach
  • within 30 metres of persons in the water
  • within 30 metres of all other craft
  1. All vessels over 500 tons in harbour limits have right of way
  2. Overtaking vessels give way
  3. Head on - each vessel shall alter it's course to starboard (ie. to the right)
  4. Windward vessel gives way

International Yacht Racing Rules

  1. A sailboard coming in to the beach/ramp shall keep clear of a sailboard leaving it.
  2. A sailboard on port-tack (left hand closest to mast) shall keep clear of a starboard-tack sailboard (right hand closest to mast).
  3. An overtaking sailboard shall keep clear of the overtaken sailboard.
  4. Except when gybing around a mark, a sailboard that is tacking or gybing(changing course) shall keep clear of a sailboard on a tack.
  5. When both sailboards are tacking or gybing at the same time, the one on the port hand side shall keep clear.


Wave Sailing Rules

  1. A sailboard picking up a wave first has right of way.
  2. When two sailboards catch a wave at the same time, the one closest to the peak has right of way.



Beach Courtesy

  1. It is advisable to set up your rig, launch and return in an area which is well clear of other beach users.
  2. Slow right down when returning so as not to alarm people who are unfamiliar with the manoeuvrability of boards.
  3. Always be courteous or you may give windsurfing a bad image.



  1. Know your limitations. Beginners should learn in flat water and light onshore breezes, and always check the weather report before venturing out on long journeys. An ability to swim is essential.
  2. Sailing with others is advisable, or tell someone where you have gone and when you are likely to return.
  3. Make sure you are adequately protected from:
  • - hypothermia with a wet/dry suit, gloves and hat,
  • - muscle injury by warming up before sailing,
  • - head injuries by wearing a helmet in windy conditions,
  • - the sun by wearing good sunglasses and waterproof suntan lotion.

4 Check your equipment for signs of wear and tear, carry a towline.

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Windsurfing NZ