Do you know the rules of racing and race procedures? It’s come to our attention that many racers either don’t know some basic rules or don’t pay attention to the signals from the Committee Boat. Many racers have become complacent and accustomed to the procedures followed by committee boats in the past or ones from clubs they may have belonged to in the past. It’s vital that all racers understand what signals can be given by the Committee boat and what they mean to maintain safety and make racing fun and enjoyable.
WYC follows the latest edition (2021-2022) of the Racing Rules of Sailing that you can find at this link.
The most important rule in racing is that the Committee Boat is in charge at all times. All racers should observe the Committee Boat prior to starting a race and obey all signals and commands when given. Remember, commands may be given by radio, hail, flags, horn or cannon. For WYC races, boats should always monitor VHF channel #69. However, radios malfunction and signals are not always received. If a racer is not responding to a radio hail racers nearby the boat being hailed should relay the message, if possible.
“Safety” guides all rules and racing procedures. All racers must do whatever it takes to avoid a collision at all times. No privilege or rule of the road gives you the “right” to collide with another boat or racer. If another boat or racer violates a racing rule and causes you to change course or miss a mark you may protest that boat but you must avoid a collision if possible to do so. Redress will be made after the race if the violator does not take a proper redress on the course.
All racers are required to check-in at the committee boat prior to first warning. Do not check-in during any starting sequence. So, it is important that all racers be at the starting area sufficiently early to check-in prior to first warning.
All racers are assigned to a racing section. WYC uses three sections when sufficient racers are present. When checking in, the racer should announce the boat name and section it is racing that night. If possible, racers should fly the number pennant associated with their assigned section.
The number 1 flag is a white pennant with a red dot. Section 1 is a Spinnaker section for the fastest PHRF racers.
The number 2 flag is a blue pennant with a white dot. Section 2 is a Spinnaker section for the slower PHRF racers.
The number 3 flag is a red, white and blue pennant. Section 1 is a section for the non-spinnaker racers. Racers in spinnaker section may fly a spinnaker or choose not to. Racers in Section 3 may not fly a spinnaker during the race at any time.
The starting sequence is determined solely by the Race Committee on the Committee Boat. While the First Warning and Start Time is published in the Notice of Races and on the website, the Race Committee may change this at any time without prior notice. Please observe and obey signals given by the Race Committee on station.
The starting sequence normally starts with Section 3 (slower boats) and finishes with Section 1 (fastest boats). If insufficient racers are present, Sections 1 & 2 may be combined to save time.
The starting sequence starts when the Section flag or pennant is raised with a horn signal.
First warning Section 3
Section 3 pennant is raised, one (1) horn blast.
Prep Flag Raised
One (1) minute after First Warning. One (1) horn blast.
Prep Flag Lowered
Four (4) minutes after First Warning. One (1) horn blast.
Section 1 Start
Five (5) minutes after First Warning. One (1) horn blast or one (1) cannon blast.
When Section 1 starts, the starting sequence for Section 2 commences in the same fashion.
No racer may cross the starting line prior to the start for their section. A boat that does is considered over early and must turn back and recross the line. During this procedure the racer may not interfere with any other racer either in their own section or the section in its starting sequence. The Race Committee may signal that a boat is over early by voice or radio hail. All racers should monitor VHF channel #69 and relay the signal to any offender if they do not hear the hail.
When condition are unfavorable for starting a race the Race Committee may decide to postpone the start anticipating that conditions will improve. In that situation the Committee Boat will fly the AP flag.
When you see the AP flag it indicates the race is postponed temporarily. When this flag is lowered, it indicates that the first warning will be given in one (1) minute.
When conditions have not improved or degrade to a point where it is unsafe or impossible to start or finish a race the Race Committee will fly the November (N) flag.
When you see the November (N) flag it indicates the race is abandoned for the night and boats are free to return to the harbor.
Click here for a handy website resource for what racing flags can be used and what they mean.
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