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Safety and Liability Risks under Rule 46

Published Tue 17 Mar 2020

Safety and liability risks are amongst the biggest challenges facing sailing clubs around Australia. How club office bearers approach these risks is of critical importance. The pending changes to Rule 46 will play an important role in the mitigation of these risks. 

A recent news article at announced that from 1 January 2021 all crew in any race will be required to be a member of an affiliated club and registered with Australian Sailing.

One of the main drivers behind this rule change was the learnings made from recent incidents and how non-members and clubs were impacted. These varied from sailing related incidents to unrelated health issues that happened during racing. Here are some real cases:

•    A yacht welcomed a newcomer to sailing by taking them on an afternoon social race, with the newcomer unfortunately suffering heart failure. When the club activated its incident response plan, they found that the person was not a member of the club and the only details the crew or club had was their first name and that there were no other personal or emergency contact details. 
•    In a major regatta there was a man-overboard incident. When the club activated their race committee’s on-water incident plan they discovered that the person was not a member of their club and that no-one at the club knew who the person involved in the incident. 
•    During an offshore race there was an incident which sadly left two crew deceased. Whilst one of the crew involved was a club member, the other was not.

Clubs have a duty of care for those partaking in the races they organise. Best practice includes knowing who is on the water at those times. With the introduction of the SailPass technology at clubs, there is now an easy way for clubs to manage the process and ensure some of the risks involved in club racing are mitigated.

Having casual and introductory sailors be members of a club is not too different to signing on and off as most dinghy sailors have done in every dinghy race they have sailed. Clubs can use SailPass to make this easy no matter the size of the boat and number of people on board. 

In the above there were two cases where the family received no support through insurance as those impacted were not members of a club affiliated with Australian Sailing. The insurance through Australian Sailing provides a lump sum of $75K in the event of a death, even for those registered as members for a single day with SailPass. The insurance also provides cover for costs related to injuries.

By making changes to rule 46 and requiring all crew on board in a race to be a member clubs are in a much better position to address safety and liability risks. 

Australia Sailing has provided SailPass to clubs so that they can offer flexible membership options and simple registration processes to the casual and introductory participant.

Information about Australian Sailing’s insurance for club members in on our website at

Read more about the change to rule 46 at and about SailPass at

For help getting your club set up contact your Regional Manager