Ultimate Disc Sailing
(Ultimate Frisbee played with sailboats)
SummaryThis is a great game for light wind in summer, and for testing and improving sailing skills. It's also a heck of a lot of fun!
The general idea is to play the well known game of "Ultimate" (also known as "Ultimate Frisbee"*) using sailboats. There are two teams (or "fleets"), with an equal number of boats. Each side has a goal (a bouy) which they try to hit with the Frisbee (sort of like Frisbee Golf). At the end of play the fleet with the most points wins the game.
A boat in possession of the Frisbee may not hold on to it more than a given time limit, usually 15 seconds. They must try to throw the Frisbee to another boat in their fleet. If they throw the Frisbee to another boat but the other boat does not catch it then the opposing fleet is allowed to take possession of the Frisbee wherever it lies in the water. If a boat in possession of the Frisbee does not throw it within the time limit then they must drop it overboard at their current position; they cannot throw it away from their position after the time limit.
To avoid two boats just throwing the frisbee back and forth between them, a boat may not throw the Frisbee back to the same boat from which it was received unless one of the two boats has changed course by either a tack or a jibe.
The rules of nautical right-of-way always apply. Any boat which violates those rules must take a penalty of a 720o turn as soon as practical after the violation.
Collisions are to be avoided, so if two boats make contact then both must make 720o turns.
- Teams. The game is played between two teams (or "fleets"). Each fleet should have the same number of boats, and the same number of boats of the same type (eg. the same number of JY-15's and the same number of Lasers, or of single-handed JY-15's).
The leader of each fleet is generally refered to as the "admiral" of that fleet.
- Playing Area. The playing area will be wide enough and long enough for the boats to maneuver freely. There should be no obstructions between the goals (such as islands or shoals).
The goals are placed so that a line between them is as perpendicular to the prevailing wind as possible. Thus it should be possible to sail from one goal to the other on a beam reach.
- Starting. Before the game a coin is tossed, and the fleet which wins the toss takes possesion at the middle of the playing area.
- Scoring. A fleet scores a point by throwing the Frisbee at their goal bouy and hitting the goal. The Frisbee must be in free flight in order to score -- it cannot be held in the hand -- and it must strike the goal before it touches water (skipping doesn't count). If the Frisbee misses the goal and lands in the water then the opposing fleet takes possesion at that point.
Once a goal is scored by one fleet the other fleet takes possesion of the frisbee at the middle of the playing area and play continues as at the start (but see rule 10 below).
- Change of Possession. The frisbee is to be thrown from one boat to another boat in the same fleet. The frisbee should be caught by someone in the other boat, or at least land in the other boat. If the frisbee lands in the water then the other fleet takes possesion at that point. If a boat from the opposing fleet catches a pass then they take possesion of the frisbee at that point. If the opposing fleet does not catch the frisbee and it lands in the water then they still take possesion at that point.
- Hold Time. After catching the Frisbee, a boat must throw it away within a fixed time limit, usually 15 seconds. If they fail to throw it away within this time limit they must drop it overboard at their current position, and the other fleet takes possesion at that point.
The time limit can be changed by the mutual agreement of both teams (see the "Admiral's clause" below). A limit of 15 seconds works well for dinghys such as the JY-15, but can be increased for larger boats. A good rule of thumb is to allow one second for each foot of boat length. The limit could also be increased for a single-handed boat (eg. an extra 5 seconds allowed).
- Change of Course Required for Return. A boat may not throw the Frisbee back to the same boat from which it was received unless one of the two boats has changed course since the Frisbee was received, either by a tack or a jibe.
- Right-of-Way. The rules of nautical right-of-way always apply. Any boat which violates those rules must take a penalty of a 720o turn as soon as practical after the violation.
- No Contact. If two boats make significant contact then both shall make a 720o turn as soon as it is practical before continuing the game. This does not apply to minor contact between boats in the same fleet.
- Changing Goals. After either fleet scores the fleets will trade goals. The fleet which was scored against takes possession of the frisbee at the middle of the course, as at the start of a game. This rule can be ammended or voided by mutual agreement of both teams before play begins (see "Admirals' Clause" below).
- Out of Bounds. If the Frisbee is thrown or carried out of bounds by a member of one fleet, then the other fleet takes possession at a point as close as possible to where the Frisbee first went out of bounds.
- Admirals' Clause. A game may be played under any variation of the rules agreed upon by the leaders of the two fleets (the "admirals"). In tournament play, such variations are subject to the approval of the tournament director. Such things as length of game, dimensions of the field of play, changing goals, or the time limit for holding the disc can easily be altered to suit the level of play or weather conditions. All such changes must be agreed to before play begins.
- Spirit of the Game. Just as is the case on dry land, Ultimate Frisbee stresses sportmanship and fair play. Competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of safety, respect between players, adherence to the rules, and the basic joy of play.
- It helps a lot to use a Frisbee that floats. Not all of them do.
- If someone is holding on to the Frisbee too long then counting out the seconds helps get things going.
This game was invented at the University of Michigan Sailing Club in the summer of 2001.
For more info about Ultimate Frisbee (on dry land) see the Ultimate Players Association web pages.
* "Frisbee" is a Trademark of Mattel, Inc. (www.mattel.com)
Last modified: 27 May 2015
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