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Friday racing

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Friday racing (for those aged 7 and above and able to sail a triangular course)


Racing takes place on Friday evenings throughout the summer and starts at 1830h although in September we generally pull this forward to 1800h to make sure we have enough light.

Briefing normally takes place at 1815h in front of the clubhouse where we explain the course and a reminder of the flags we will be using, so it is best to have your boat rigged and ready to go by then.


Before you sail, you should also put your name, type of boat and sail number (if it has one) on the signing-in sheet which should be on a table in the clubhouse.


The start line is generally between a yellow ‘outer’ buoy and the centre flag pole by the racing hut, and the course will also be put on the side of the hut.


A red number means you have to round that buoy with it on the port side of your boat and a green number means you have to round that buoy with it on the starboard side of your boat.


  • If there is an ‘X’ after the course numbers, this means you have to pass between the yellow ‘outer’ buoy and the race hut at the end of every lap.

During the racing, Kayleigh will be in the safety boat offering words of encouragement and help to those who need it, whilst you may also hear us shouting additional help or guidance from the race hut if you are near enough to hear us.

Races generally last about 60 minutes.


  • At 5 minutes before the start the Buccaneers flag or Jolly Roger is hoisted or unfurled at the top of the flagpole.

  • At 4 minutes before the start, the Preparatory flag is raised and this is when the racing rules come into force.

    At 1 minute before the start, the Preparatory flag is lowered and then the race starts when the Jolly Roger is lowered. All this hoisting or lowering is accompanied by one sound signal, normally a horn.

    We don’t tell you how many laps to do before the race because it very much depends on the wind strength which is often changing. However, when you hear 2 sound signals and see the shortened course flag raised, it means that you will finish the next time the front of your boat crosses through the starting line. If there is any doubt we will let you know.

The Racing Rules can appear to be quite complicated, but to start with you just need to know:

  • A boat must give way at a mark to another boat overlapping it on the inside.

  • If you touch a mark you should do a complete turn as soon as possible with one gybe and one tack – even if no one else sees you!

    If you hit another boat, you should do 2 complete turns as soon as possible.

  • As you get more experienced and if you start competing in different races you will learn that there a quite a few extra things you need to know, but don’t worry at the moment, we are all there to help you.

As long as we have sufficient numbers racing, and as soon as we can see how competent you are, you will be allocated to one of three fleets - gold, silver or bronze and we will keep the list updated for you to see. This means you should generally be racing against people of similar ability, but if you feel you are in the wrong fleet, let us know.


Racing results are scored on a system called handicap which means that faster boats have to finish the race in a shorter time than the slower ones. For example, if you are in a Topper and finish in 60 minutes, somebody in a Laser 4.7 should have finished around 6 minutes earlier to beat you on handicap! So don’t worry if they appear to be going much faster than you.


Wind Conditions
When wind speeds approach 15mph (decided by the RO in conjunction with the Safety Boat), no Oppies will be allowed on the water, and Toppers will be reefed. Depending on the strength of gusts and mean wind speed, racing may be abandoned. The RO/SB decision is final.

 © Haversham Sailing Club 2005-2018