There is not a rule for every little thing so here are some of those finer points of VSK racing etiquette that might ensure that you do not feel your ears burning while other skippers are bad-mouthing you when you are not online!
Asking for a restart
When you view the list of servers you see green sails alongside one server and so you click that server to join it. By the time you actually are part of the fleet some time may have passed and the pre-start may have progressed to within 2 minutes of the starting gun. You have no idea whether the early-bird skippers have been jockeying for the best starting position for 1 minute 3 minutes or 6 minutes. All you know is that you are keen to race and you "just missed out" joining this fleet. You don't know if the fleet has already suffered on or more restarts before you arrived.
So you ask for a restart and all the skippers groan at your request!
- If you have arrived within 2 minutes of the starting gun then don't ask for a restart. The host can see just how many latecomers are waiting to join the race. The host knows how many restarts he's made the fleet wait through already. If the host thinks it is worth increasing the fleet size for this race at this late stage then the host will decide whether or not to have a restart without your prompting/nagging/begging.
More races here?
This might be the most frequently asked question in chat. When a newcomer to a server arrives they don't know if the question was only just answered for the umpteenth time ... so they ask! It's a reasonable question to ask and it will save you waiting around only to learn that the host plans to close the server after the last boat finishes the current race.
- Abbreviations like RST?, RESTART? make you appear impatient or even rude and REST is plain ambiguous. (Many skippers enjoy a short rest after a race!) Offer a greeting and then ask your question in your best english. Even something brief like "Hello! More races here?" creates a better impression than the terse acronyms listed earlier.
Giving room at an obstruction
This is less a point of etiquette and more a shortcoming of the auto-umpire to recognize when one boat is driving another boat aground at an obstruction such as land or a very large ocean liner or cruise ship. Rule 19 allows an overlapped boat to hail for ROOM as two boats approach an obstruction. The hailed boat must change course to allow room for the hailing boat to maneuver between them and the obstruction.
Some hosts will kick you from the race if you do not respect that rule.
Finish any race that you start
We all have unexpected emergencies while playing a game and we understand those taking priority over some online entertainment. Excusing yourself from a race for such an unexpected interruption in your real life is one thing but quitting a race because you had a bad start or because you received an unfair penalty or simply because you have fallen too far behind the leader to have any chance of placing well is bad sportsmanship and show little respect for those skippers who are competing in the race.
If you start a race then resolve to finish the race.
Thank the host for hosting races
The so-called "public servers" are nothing other than users like you who have taken the time to choose a selection of race courses to host races. Review the article Hosting online races to gain an appreciation of what a host must deal with. It is common courtesy to thank the host for hosting the series of races before you leave a server.
Tolerate users for whom english is a second language
Sailing is an international sport and this is quite evident from the VSK online screen as it shows the number of servers from each zone and it identifies the zone for each skipper. Standard hails such as STARBOARD, ROOM, TACKING and YOU TACK are universally understood in any sailing community but keep in mind that many skippers will not necessarily speak english as a first language and some may not speak english at all.
- Review the Acronyms article for a list of frequently occurring abbreviations. (Please consider adding to that article greetings in your mother language.)
Offer to "go spec" if all ahead of you are finished
Going spec means switching to spectator mode. This effectively retires you from the race and for the purpose of ranking (hardly anybody really cares about the ranking score on public servers) it will record your boat as a DNF (did not finish). If you are clearly working hard to finish the race then other skippers will usually encourage you to do so. This is a matter of good sportsmanship on the part of those skippers who finished ahead of you.
- You can show your respect for the waiting skippers time by offering to retire so the next race can start a little sooner.
On the other hand if you have abandoned your boat and it is sailing off into the sunset while you are enjoying happy hour with your spouse then the host and the skippers waiting for the next race may wonder what your ghost ship is doing still in the fleet. You should feel your ears burning if you go AFK (away from keyboard) in the middle of a race!
- If you do go spec be sure to immediately toggle the spectator mode. This will ensure that you are part of the fleet when the next race begins. If you forget to do this then a late arriving skipper may slide into the spot you just vacated!