Sailboat Racing Flags

Knowing these basic flags is essential for a successful Race Committee and important for competitive sailboat racing. We've put together a collection of the most important flags to know, often flags will be supplemented with a hail or VHF from Race Committee. The hails and radio communication aren't required but are often done as a courtesy. As a competitor the most important flags you should know are the Starting Penalties and Recall flags for On Course Side. These flags are very common in one design racing but are also used in Handicap racing.

Penalty Flags – Starts – On Course Side

I-Flag - (Rule 30.1) A boat over the line during the minute before the start must sail to the pre-start side of the line around either end of the starting line before starting. If they fail to do so they will be scored OCS
Z-Flag - (Rule 30.2) A boat within the triangle formed by the ends of the line and the first mark during the minute before the start will receive a 20% scoring penalty
Black Flag - (Rule 30.3) A boat that is in the triangle formed between the starting line and windward mark during the minute before the start will be disqualified without a hearing.

Recall Flags – On Course Side

X-Flag: Individual Recall - This flag is used to signal that individual competitors who were judged over the line at the start. It is common for the race committee to hail the sail numbers of boats judged over the line. Boats that were over early (On Course Side) must return to the starting line and start properly in order to be scored. The X-flag is accompanied by one sound signal.
First Substitute - "General Recall" the flag is used to signal competitors of a restart because many boats were over early making individual recalls too difficult. Two sound signals are made when the general recall flag is raised and one sound signal when it is lowered, the warning signal will be made 1 minute after the flag is lowered.

Postponement AP Flags

AP Flag - Postponement. Races not yet started are postponed. There will be two sound signals when the flag is raised and one sound signal when lowered
One Pennant - used with the AP flag to signal a one hour postponement. There will be two sound signals when raised with the AP flag and one sound signal when lowered.

Abandonment Flags

N-Flag: Signals that all races that have started are abandoned accompanied by 3 sound signals. Return to starting area for a new start. When the N-Flag is lowered it is accompanied by 1 sound signal. The first warning signal will be made 1 minute after N is removed.
A-Flag: Used with the N-Flag and 3 sound signals to signal all races are abandoned. No more racing today.