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Home / Sailing / Club Racing / Race Officer Guidance / Setting the start line, starting and finishing the race
Home / Sailing / Club Racing / Race Officer Guidance / Setting the start line, starting and finishing the race

Setting the start line, starting and finishing the race

For Sunday lap-timed handicap races, the start / finish line must be to windward of the leeward mark. Ideally it should be positioned so that boats can not fail to cross it, having rounded the leeward mark. The start line becomes the finish line - you do not need to move the committee boat.: The line should be positioned far enough up the beat so that boats reaching / running / gybing into the leeward mark do not interfere with the start / finish line or committee boat.

Anchor the Committee Boat

The committee boat should be anchored at the starboard end of the line.

  1. The anchor will drag. Be careful!
  2. Motor to a position at least 30 yards to windward of where you want the boat.
  3. Stop with reverse engine.
  4. Once the boat is drifting back, LOWER the anchor to the bottom.
  5. Once the boat has drifted back a little further (and the anchor has started to bite) throw over the rest of the anchor line. Typically, use it all! There is less chance of the anchor dragging with more line down.
  6. Motor back, or let the boat drift back on the anchor line. Make sure the anchor is held firmly.
  7. If you have managed to drop the anchor on top of some slippery weed, you will drag. So you will need to pull the anchor up, clear off all the weed, and repeat the exercise.

The start line should be at least the length of all the boats, and ideally 1.5 times this length. This means that for 15 to 20 Fast Handicap boats of 5 metres each, it should be 100 to 150 metres long The line should be at right angles to the wind, and with a SMALL bias to the port end. The line can be set by:

  1. Find a clear place on top of the committee boat with no wind interference from the cabin.
  2. Hold the burgee at arms length in your right hand directly in front of you.
  3. Hold your left arm out pointing straight sideways. Your 2 arms should now make a right angle.
  4. Turn your whole body gradually until the burgee is pointing straight at your face.
  5. Sight along your left arm, and see what tree / pylon / island it is pointing to. You now know where to place the buoy. Think about moving the buoy 5 to 10 yards up wind of this right-angle line, in order to get 5 degrees of port end bias.
  6. Direct the rescue boat by radio to place the ODM (Outer Distance Mark) far enough away to get the right length and at the right angle for the line.

Once the ODM is in place, carefully re-check the line: You can alter the ODM up to the 3-minute gun of the Fast Asymmetric class if needed.

Starting the Race

Try and start the race on time. If there is one boat on the line, then it is unfair on that competitor if you delay and wait for the laggards. It is the responsibility of the competitors to be at the start on time. On time means the first gun at 6 minutes to 11 and at 13:24 for the afternoon race. Do NOT wait for e.g. the Lasers to launch - they have 12 minutes before their start after you fire the first gun.

Allocate duties to the AROs. Different duties for the start and for the rest of the race.

  1. Time keeper - Call out the time every 30 seconds, and more often in the final 30 before the start. Also, position all helpers so they can see the electronic timer if they need to.
  2. Line watcher - Probably the Race Officer: Identify any boats that are over the line, and call for the individual recall (X) or general recall (1st Substitute) flags if they are required. You can often tell 30 seconds before the start whether people are pushing the line or not - a loud shout of "5 boats over" 20 seconds before might help to clear the line.
  3. Hooter man - Often the same person as the line watcher. Not an onerous task anymore, as the electronic timer does most of the hoots for you automatically.
  4. Flag hoist - Pull the right flag(s) up at the right time - as indicated in the red Race Manual. Prepare the next flag ready for hoisting.
  5. Flag drop - Pull the right flag down at the right time, and remove from the hoist if another flag is needed.
  6. Recorder - To record the times of the starts, any boats over the line, any other incidents that might be going on.

Once the races have started: re-allocate duties to the AROs. Everyone now becomes a monitor / recorder: writing down lap positions and times. Allocate each person a fleet to watch. Get them to write down the start time and to watch the boats around the course - but at busy times get as many people to write down as much as they can!

The Race Officer is responsible for the timing of the race (there is nothing you can do about the course now!), so keep watching the fleets and the times.

Finishing the Race

  1. Remember to record the time of all handicap boats every lap. This is your opportunity to practise the recording procedure before the actual finish.
  2. Remember to record the position of all fleet boats (Lasers) every lap.
  3. Remember to record the time of ALL BOATS at the finish. Although, if there is a big rush of boats, it is better to not record the times for some of the Lasers than to miss some of the handicap boats. Once the rush has died down, please go back to recording all the times again.
  4. The race length should be between 50 and 75 minutes for all boats. This means you need to be preparing to fly the shorten course flag at a convenient break (which will never come!) about 55-60 minutes after the first start.
  5. Record the times and the number of laps each boat has completed. Some people find it easier to write down the numbers and times as they finish, rather than hunting for the boat number on a pre-prepared hand-written sheet.
  6. You can shorten individual classes: by flying their class flag with the shorten course flag S. You might need to shorten the Optimists separately to other boats.
  7. Boats do not need to do the same number of laps - once the shorten flag is up, all boats will finish the next time they cross the line.
  8. As you motor back after the last boat has finished, use the time to:
    1. Prepare the recorded finish time sheets, so they can be used to set the results.
    2. Brief your AROs for when you will be going back on the water.
    1. Check the beat, so you are ready for the next race.
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