to Race (with a large dose of
Before a Race
- Start by turning up on a race day -
- Get hold of a crew – anyone will do!
At Haversham there is sometimes a
notice on the board about this.
- Or, if really insane, sail with
brother, sister, partner, friend!
- Sailing set courses depend entirely
on the wind direction, and the whim of
the Race Officer! At Haversham the
Race Officer is helped by a useful
menu of courses a copy of which can be
found in the RO silver briefcase –
usually lying about somewhere. Or
download one from HSC website.
- Be aware that at Haversham the wind
direction can be totally different in
a least five different places on the
lak e– just think how easy it will be
when you go to sea! Put a burgee on
top of your mast.
- Details of the race course chosen
are marked on the blackboard showing
the outline of the lake and the
approximate position of the marker
buoys – numbered 1-9.
- At HSC yellow marker buoys usually
indicate the end and or beginning of
the starting line – these are also
lined up with mast where the
starting flags are displayed.
- At HSC there are three staring huts
and which one is used depends on the
wind direction – and how far the Race
Officer feels like walking!
- On nearly all occasions races start
into the wind - wet your
finger and stick it up, in the air –
careful where you do this – best near
the shore line, or out of sight of the
- The start will begin with
a beat into the wind - and
the 'start' line will usually be laid at
right angles to the wind.
- The Race Officers will
display coloured flags to indicate
starting times and display the course in
numbers on the starting hut. The numbers
may also be on the blackboard back at
the Clubhouse – but beware, these may
change, so always check when you first
sail up to the line and have a look at
the numbers by or on the starting hut.
- The numbers will either
be white on red or green which indicates
which side of that numbered buoy you
should leave it as you sail round ie red
to port (left), green to starboard
(right). As always in sailing there are
exceptions – the numbers may also be in
black and white - but these are not
buoys, instead they may indicate number
of laps. An 'X' on the course indicates
that you must cross through
the starting line each time you complete
- The countdown to the
start are reflected in which flag or
combination of flags is up or down. The
flags, not the sound, of the hooter or
bell indicates the exact instruction
- Unless otherwise
instructed there will be a warning
signal (at HSC both a flag and a sound)
before the start, followed by a
preparatory signal and a one minute
signal and then the starting signal.
- If there are say two
starts together for different class
fleets you need to know your class flag
as well so that you join the correct
During the Race
- When you first start
racing – just hang back from the main
group at the beginning and be content
with following procedures, keeping out
of the way and generally keep safe.
Enjoy following the main fleet around
and then try to catch them up! I've done
this for years!
- Always bring along a
strong voice for the occasion! A few
choice expressions always go down well –
ie 'Starboard'!, Water on the
bank'!, 'I'm a Wayfarer - give way'!, or
shout very loudly - 'I'm a novice'! or
if all else fails shout, I'm a Wayfarer
Novice out of control – that should do
the trick! Of course the answers and
replies you get back might in no way
reflect the situation you are – just
give a big smile and say you don't
understand French! Generally
speaking all experienced helms at
Haversham will be aware of novices on
the water and will try to avoid
- Practice sailing up to an
improvised start line until you can hit
the line at full speed on the starting
signal. In a real race specific rules
apply to who has rights of way just
before the start – more later.
- The first leg of any race
is the most important – the closer you
can eventually get and keep up with the
main fleet, the better overall you will
do. Windward starts of course mean close
hauled – so practice that as well.
- If you are sailing slower
compared to other boats around you, look
at how they have their sails set and
where helm and crew are sitting in the
boat and try to copy (I have lots of
experience of this!).
- Just because you and your
boat don't go as well as some others on
a particular leg doesn't mean that on
other aspects of sailing you won't do
- And, always remember that
just sometimes the gods see fit to just
give you the wind when no one else has
it – pray a lot!
- Finally – be nice to the
guys who drive the safety boats – one
day that drink you bought them for
sitting around all day while you were
having fun, might just pay off!
ex Commodore OUSC, ex
Laser sailor, ex winter series ....
Get a crew -
preferably very light and agile!
The start -
keep out of their way!
Buy him a drink!