Guidelines for Race Officer

Timetable for Sunday Racing

Please note that preparatory signals should be given five minutes before the scheduled start times mentioned below. For example if a race is scheduled to start at say 11:30 that means the preparatory signal should be given at 11:25

The Frostbite (late October to end December) and Icicle series (January to late March) comprise two races. For the Frostbite Series, the usual start is at 11.30am with one race before lunch and one after. For the Icicle Series,  start at 11:30 and 13:30 with lunch at about 12:30. From January 2020 there should be a separate start for Rising Racers 5 mins after the main start.

During the rest of the year we run two back-to-back races before lunch and two back-to-back races after lunch. The first race in the morning is scheduled to start at 11:00 (and it is very important that this time does not slip otherwise we will be late for lunch which is not fair for the caterers). Morning races should both be about 35 minutes long whilst afternoon races should be about 45-55 minutes long. Some thought needs to be given to the length of the course with respect to the wind conditions and the shorten course might need to be flown earlier than anticipated if slower boats would take too long to complete another lap. If in doubt consult a member of the sailing committee who are all experienced racers.

Typical Timetable

A typical timetable for the day looks like this (intermediate signals omitted for clarity):

Race Time Signal Comment
Race 1 10:55 Preparatory Do not delay too long even if some boats still ashore
11:00 Start
11:35 Shorten course Approximate time depending on conditions and average lap times
11:45 All boats finished
Race 2 11:50 Preparatory Approximate time
11:55 Start
12:30 Shorten course Approximate time depending on conditions and average lap times
12:40 All boats finished, everyone in for lunch by 12:50 at the latest
Lunch break approx. 12:45 – 13:45
Race 3 13:55 Preparatory Do not delay too long even if some boats still ashore
14:00 Start
14:45 Shorten course Approximate time depending on conditions and average lap times
14:55 All boats finished
Race 4 15:00 Preparatory Approximate time
15:05 Start
15:55 Shorten course Approximate time depending on conditions and average lap times
16:05 All boats finished

In order to raise the first preparatory signal of the day at 10:55 you will probably need to have set the course by 10:30 and launched the committee boat by 10:35 to give yourself time to get to the start line, anchor, adjust your position etc. Make sure that you have the second course board with you on the committee boat in case you need to change the course for the second race.

Signal for shortening course

The procedure for shortening course is that as the first boat you wish to finish is approaching the penultimate mark of the course you issue two sound signals and raise the shorten course (S) flag. In some circumstances there may not be a convenient gap between boats; in this case you should start finishing boats that cross the finish line after you have raised the shorten course flag.

Signals for Recalls

If a small number of boats are On Course Side (OCS) at the start signal and you can identify and write down all their sail numbers you may issue an individual recall. The procedure for an individual recall is one sound signal at the same time as raising the individual recall flag, both to be completed within 4 or 5 seconds of the start signal. After all the offending boats have returned and re-started you may lower the individual recall flag. If you are unable to identify the individual boats, or do not manage to complete the individual recall within the specified time, you may issue a general recall – the procedure is two sound signals and raising the general recall flag.

Race Officer Briefing Notes – from April 2012 seminar

Main responsibilities include: Safety of all participants, enjoyment of all participants, security of club property,

Contact all members of your duty team about one week before hand and discuss:

  1. Arrival time, leaving time / prepare for full day on the water
  2. Suitable clothing !

Check weather forecast (few days before and then on the day itself) – pay special attention if the forecast is for either extremely strong or very light winds

Note – on the majority of occasions a duty safety boat driver will have done a lot of the opening up & getting the safety boats ready / re-fuelled etc.

Arrive early – at least half an hour before you think you need to arrive

On the day

Sign in to the duty book

  • Liaison with other activity leaders (Training etc, …)
  • Special requirements for the day e.g. larger number of youths?
  • Introduce yourself to the galley – ask if any special requirements
  • Meet team / introductions, remind them to sign duty book
  • Assigning roles (safety team should be pre-assigned)
  • Check and issue radios (safety boat, OD note same channel used by training and Bewerly Park for common communications)
  • Safety cover for entire period water is open
  • If it is an open meeting liaise with class captain or similar
  • During the day, if any incidents arise please record them in the duty book

Prepare race equipment:

  • signing on sheets to desk by office
  • committee boat:
    • watch / stopwatch for recording times
    • check flags on board
    • check auto-hoot working
    • ensure fuel has been checked
  • course map board displayed on front of clubhouse facing water → note that any course changes must be displayed on the committee boat (and fly flag C)

Set a course

  • if unsure about setting a course, consult experienced racer, member of sailing c’tee etc.
  • display course on course boards
  • basic principles of course setting:
    • first leg should be as close to a perfect beat as possible, with start line set at 90 degrees to mean wind direction
    • if suitable, the first windward mark should be rounded to port
    • two main course types are ‘windward / leeward’ or ’round the cans’, different boats have different preferences in different wind strengths
    • set a larger rather than smaller number of laps, then shorten the course appropriately .. but choose a sensible part of the fleet to shorten, i.e. not in the middle of a certain class of boats
    • using the start line as a gate will make finishing procedure easier
    • get on the water in plenty of time to re-check the course (wind direction may have changed) and set the start line, and ready to start the race on time.
      • if some uncertainty, fly the postponement flag whilst waiting for wind to settle
      • note that for some races there may be multiple starts (e.g. Sunday afternoons, general handicap and Laser fleet, each has a different class flag)

Start the race

Record lap times for all boats

  • usually easiest to write sail numbers down in the order they finish the first lap
  • record finishing times
  • please make all records highly legible
  • photograph the race results and sign on sheet and send to
  • lodge race results in the “Race results” folder in the office
  • repeat for subsequent races (committee boat can ride at anchor between races)

At the end of the day

  • pack away all race equipment
  • when escort boats are coming off the water, inform any remaining members especially windsurfers that the escort cover is being stood down – if they wish to continue sailing they must be in “buddy sailing mode” – let them know that the clubhouse will be closed and locked – they may have own keys, but if not, it’s time to leave!
  • check tables / chairs stacked in clubroom
  • start the exit procedure – note that often some members may wish to remain – they may offer to lock up for you if they have own keys
    • check the exit log sheet by the front door
    • lock the equipment store (used to be called the “oil store”). For the clubhouse, the lower door must be locked from inside using the thumbscrew, turn off the lights in the clubroom, galley, boat garage and stairwell – all other lights are automatic – and set the alarm then lock the main door.
    • lock the main gate

Many thanks – hopefully you enjoyed the day, had plenty of fresh air and have a great sense of achievement for a job well done !