A Beginners Guide to Racing
- When are races held?
- What boat can I sail?
- How good at sailing do I need to be?
- How do I let people know I am new to racing?
- What rules do I need to know?
- How do I enter a race?
- What Course do I sail?
- How do I start?
- What about those horrible crowded start lines?
- What’s a Pursuit race?
- How do I finish?
- How do I find out where I finished?
- How do I qualify for a series?
- Any other questions
When are races held?
There is racing almost every Sunday of the year. In the summer months there are 3 races starting at 11am for the Juniors, and then one at 1pm and 3pm.
In the winter months there are 2 races starting at 12 noon and 1.30pm
In the summer months there is also racing on a Wednesday evening at 7pm.
What boat can I sail?
Virtually any monohull dinghy may be raced. We use a handicap system to allow boats of different types to race against one another and still let the best sailed one win.
How good at sailing do I need to be?
So long as you know what happens when you "waggle the stick at the back!" you’re good enough. Racing is by far the quickest way of improving sailing skills and every one of us started off knowing very little and we’ve all got more to learn!
How do I let people know I am new to racing?
Sam Hocking or any of the regular racers will be happy to provide you with some red and white tape to fly from your mast or boom which says to people "Be nice to me please I am new to racing".
What rules do I need to know?
- A boat on Port Tack (the wind coming from the left, the boom on the right) gives way to one on Starboard Tack. A boat on Starboard Tack with the right of way may shout "Starboard" if you are on Port Tack and they think you are about to get in their way.
- A boat to windward (closest to where the wind is coming from) gives way to a boat to leeward (the boat furthest away from the wind).
- At a mark the boat on the inside nearest the mark will usually need to be given room to round the mark without hitting it or you!
These basic rules should prevent most collisions. There are many more and as you become more experienced it is worthwhile investing in the latest copy of the racing rules book.
If you are displaying your red and white tape then the more experienced sailors will be prepared for the fact that you are not familiar with the rules.
How do I enter a race?
The Race Officer who is in charge of the days racing will put a signing on sheet on the race table in the clubhouse. Fill in your name, class and sail number of the boat you will be sailing.
Your boat must be insured and you must a wear a buoyancy aid.
What course do I sail?
The Race Officer will set a course on the board in the clubhouse and will also use the board on the back of the committee boat. It will show a series of numbers which are the buoys that are going to be raced around.
On the board in the clubhouse each number will be followed by an P or S this will tell you which way round the buoy to sail. (Port or Starboard).
On the committee boat the numbers are different colours if they are red the buoy must be rounded to port (buoy on left side of boat) and a green number indicates starboard (buoy on right side of boat).
There is also a moveable black buoy, this is the windward mark. It is maker on the board as WM. As the buoy can be moved you might what to check where it is before going on the water.
Take note of whether you need to pass through the start finish line each time, this will be indicated by the letters S/F.
How do I start?
The start line is between the committee boat (which normally forms the starboard end of the starting line) and a yellow buoy which has a small white “stick” on the top. Always start in the direction of the first mark.
The starting sequence is as follows (full details):
- 5 mins to start – hoot of horn and first flag goes up (1 flag up).
- 4 mins to start – hoot of horn and a second flag goes up (2 flags up).
- 1 min to start – hoot of the horn and second flag comes down, get ready to go (1 flag up).
- START – hoot of horn and first flag comes down, your racing! (no flags)
If the Round-the-Ends rule is in effect. A boat over the line during the minute before the start must sail to the pre-start side of the line around either end before starting.
During the summer months there are often 2 starts one for the fast fleet and another for the slow.
So the sequences are the same the Fast fleet go in the 5 mins and the Slow Fleets 5mins start at the ‘go’ of the Fast Fleet. If in doubt ask, everyone is willing to help.
What about those horrible crowded start lines?
When you first start racing you could hang back a bit at the start, crossing the line after all the keen ones have finished getting in each others way. This way it will be quieter and you can see what actually goes on at close quarters.
However there is another way …Pursuit races.
What’s a Pursuit Race?
Between March and June the second race on a Sunday is normally a pursuit. This could also be known as Hare and Hound racing. Using the handicapped systems the boats taking part start in order of speed with the slowest going first e.g. topper or optimist and the fastest boats e.g. Phantoms go last, with everyone else spread out in-between. The aim of the race is to overtake the slower boats and to prevent the faster boats overtaking you. The race lasts for one hour.
The starts, because they are staggered, are much quieter for the beginner and the starting intervals are displayed on the committee boat and announced by the horn...
How do I finish?
In Pursuit races everyone finishes at once when the horn hoots, but keeps sailing until the committee boat has noted your place. Your position is when the horn goes - so no overtaking afterwards.
In Handicap racing the finish line is normally the same as the start line. You’ll either finish after the number of laps on the course board or if the race was going to take too long, after the Race Officer has sounded 2 long hoots of the horn and put up the shortened course flag.
Each boat receives a hoot as it goes over the line. Your race is over!
How do I find out where I have finished?
In Pursuit racing the results are as seen on the water; the boat in the lead wins the race.
Handicap races however need calculations to be made by the Race Officer after the race in the clubhouse. He/she will post them on the race board and now is the time to dispute if the need arises. The results are regularly updated and posted on our website where you can watch how you are doing in each series.
How do I qualify for a series?
Simply by sailing the number of races for each particular series as detailed in the racing calendar as number to count.
Any other questions?
Just talk to anyone who gathers near the race table or any dressed for sailing at the club! They’ll help if they can. Promise!!