Burghfield Sailing Club : Racing at Burghfield
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Home / Sailing / Racing at Burghfield
Home / Sailing / Racing at Burghfield

Racing at Burghfield

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A brief summary of the various types of racing events that take place at Burghfield:

Club Series - Frostbite, Spring, Summer and Autumn Sunday Racing

Sunday's are when the main racing at Burghfield takes place.

The morning series is either a 100 minute pursuit format with the first start at 10:30am or Class Handicap with a start of 11:00am.

The afternoon series is Class Handicap. The classes are Asymmetric, Fast Handicap, Slow Handicap and Junior (during the summer)

Bank Holiday Series

Specific series over bank holiday weekends.

Wednesday Evening Pursuit Series

From early to late summer we host a Wednesday evening pursuit series with the first start at 6:30pm.

Club Championship

We have a series of individual trophy events scheduled throughout the year forming an overall Club Championship Series.

Open Meetings

We have a number of class specific events which are open to sailors from other clubs.

Open Championships

Burghfield as one of the Thames Valley's leading clubs hosts National Championships, Inland Championships and Area Championships for a number of different classes each year.

Brief Guide to Racing at Burghfield

Check the calendar. Make sure the race you are expecting is taking place on the day you expect it to. Also check the club website to see if something changes at the last moment.

Read the Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions These provide important information about the specific race or series. It includes number of planned races and discards, etc.

Check the weather on weather sites to make sure the weather is suitable for your skills and ability!

Gear. Make sure you take everything you need to the Club: Boat, sails, rudder, centre-board, sheets, life-jacket, boots, gloves, wet-suits, spray-top, helm, crew, watch, waterproof tape etc.

Time. Get to the club in plenty of time: typically, an hour or more before your race starts.

Preparation. Check you boat carefully to make sure nothing needs replacing, everything is working as it should and you have everything ready.

Register On-line. You need to pre-enter the race and/or series by on-line via the Burghfield Sailing Club website.

Get changed. Make sure you have the correct clothes for the weather conditions. Wear clothing based upon the water temperature making allowances for the chill factor caused by the wind. In the summer remember to apply sun block on sunny days.

Check the course

The course is shown on the board, at the front of the club-house, below the balcony. The numbered buoys go around the lake in an anti-clockwise fashion.

The odd-numbered buoys are Pink, and the even numbers are Yellow.

  • 1.Port and Starboard - Rule 10
  • 2.Windward / Leeward Rule 11
  • 3.Room to round a mark Rule 18

Port and starboard

Port tack is when the wind is on the left side of the boat: this is typically when the helm is on the left of the boat. Many people when starting to race write "STARBOARD" in big letters on the right side of the boom, and "PORT" on the left side. If the helm can see "starboard" while sailing, then you are on starboard tack and have right of way. Do you need to shout? No, but it is a good idea. A clear call of "STARBOARD" does help to tell other people that you are there. If you are on starboard tack and have shouted clearly, then you can expect the boat on port tack to avoid you - the usual method is for the port tack boat to bear away and to pass behind the starboard tack boat. Do NOT be surprised when the port tack boat misses your rudder by a foot or so, and many boats will shoot across your transom judging the gap to within 2 or 3 inches.

Windward boat keeps clear of leeward boat

The windward boat is the one that is nearer to the wind than the leeward boat. If you are the helm of the windward boat (the one who has to keep clear), you will most likely be sitting in your boat so you can see the leeward boat (as long as it's not blanketed by your sails). The helm of the leeward boat would need to twist around to see the windward boat. Remember: Windward / leeward applies both to two boats on the same leg of the course and also to two boats on different legs of the course: one on the beat and the other on a reach or run. The Port / Starboard rule has priority, but if you are both on the same tack then windward / leeward applies. This means that the boat on the reach or run has to keep clear of the boat on the beat.

Room to round a mark - outside boat keeps clear of inside boat at a mark

The tricky bit of boat racing is at the marks. This is where boats converge from many different angles to all try to be in one place at the same time, and it is also where many places can be gained or lost, so a good rounding is very important. The simple rule is: if you are on the inside, then the boat on the outside has to keep clear. So the inside boat watches the buoy and sails around it as close as they can, while the outside boat watches the inside one, and sails around close to them. This should mean that you only need worry about what is happening on just one side of your boat. There are many other rules involved in going around marks, so it's well worth looking them up and reading further details.

These three rules are NOT an exhaustive list - there are many more to learn. But these three should get you out onto the water and around the course safely

Do your turns

What happens if you do something wrong? Rather than ruin your whole days sailing, to correct an error (as long as there has been no damage) you need to perform a "720". That is: you sail in two complete circles in the same direction, and then you can carry on with the race. If you hit the mark while going round it, then you have to perform a "360". That is you sail one complete circle. These "turns" should be done away from the other boats who are still racing, as you have no rights while you are doing your turns.

Fundamental Rules

There are also a list of "Fundamental Rules". These apply at all times and are designed to help ensure that the racing is as safe and as fair as possible for all competitors. For example:

A boat or competitor shall give all possible help to any person or vessel in danger.

A boat and her owner shall compete in compliance with recognized principles of sportsmanship and fair play.

A boat shall avoid contact with another boat if reasonably possible.


Clear Astern and Clear Ahead: Overlap One boat is clear astern of another when her hull and equipment in normal position are behind a line abeam from the aftermost point of the other boat's hull and equipment in normal position. The other boat is clear ahead. They overlap when neither is clear astern. However, they also overlap when a boat between them overlaps both. These terms do not apply to boats on opposite tacks unless rule 18 applies.

Keep Clear One boat keeps clear of another if the other can sail her course with no need to take avoiding action and, when the boats are overlapped on the same tack, if the leeward boat can change course in both directions without immediately making contact with the windward boat.

Leeward and Windward A boat's leeward side is the side that is or, when she is head to wind, was away from the wind. However, when sailing by the lee or directly downwind, her leeward side is the side on which her mainsail lies. The other side is her windward side. When two boats on the same tack overlap, the one on the leeward side of the other is the leeward boat. The other is the windward boat.

Room The space a boat needs in the existing conditions while manoeuvring promptly in a seamanlike way.

Tack, Starboard or Port A boat is on the tack, starboard or port, corresponding to her windward side.

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