From 1st of January 2021 a few changes were made to the Racing Rules Of Sailing. Full details can be seen in the RYA video beneath. However there 3 significant changes and one new rule that have been made. These are:
The hull is of primary importance
The rules now state the hull of the boat is the part that is counted for cross a start or finish line. Therefore items such as a bow sprit or crew hiking out do not count at the start or the finish of a race for crossing the line. Importantly, the rules still state 'equipment in it's normal position' for establishing an overlap.
A race committee can now assign a boat a score of NSC (did not sail the course) without a hearing
The race committee can score a boat NSC if they did not sail the race course. Previously this could only be given if a full protest meeting was held. Other boats as well as the race officer still have the right to raise a protest if they believe any boat did not sail the course.
Former rules 14 avoiding contact and 21 exoneration have been combined into 1 new rule 43 Exoneration. This now states 'When as a consequence of breaking a rule a boat has compelled another boat to break a rule, the other boat is exonerated for her breach'. This is also clarified to include if a boat hits a mark as a consequence of avoiding contact when water should have been given, the boat is not required to take a penalty.
20.4 Room to tack at an obstruction
A new rule has been introduced to avoid collisions. If a boat requires room to tack to avoid an obstruction and her hails for room cannot be herd, she is required to give an alternative signal. This rule is more likely aimed at larger boats/yachts.