Racing Corner Month 1 by Doug Roberts – POYC Racing Chair
This is a year to commit to having fun with your boat or one of the club boats by racing it. Club racing is meant to be fun and help develop skills and that will be the focus of the race program this year. When a sailor begins to race, many questions come up, such as, “How do the sails work,” “Why do I always get passed rounding the mark,” and “What is rounding the mark?” This section of the newsletter over the next few months should provide some quick answers to basic questions in a relatively painless and comprehensive way. Once you look behind the curtain, you will find that sailboat racing is not all that mysterious and you can have great fun.
Let’s start with some definitions.
· Tack, Starboard or Port – Simply a boat is on a tack which is opposite of the side its main boom is on. If the main boom is on the port (left) side the boat is on a starboard tack. If the main boom is on the starboard (right) side the boat is on a port tack
· Leeward and Windward – A boat’s leeward side is the side that is away from the wind. However, when sailing downwind, her leeward side is the side on which her mainsail lies. The windward side is the side that the wind hits first or when sailing downwind it is the side opposite of the main boom. 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
· 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
· Overlap, Clear Astern and Clear Ahead – One boat is clear astern of another when her hull and equipment in normal position are behind the aftermost point of the other boat’s hull and equipment in normal position. The other boat is clear ahead. Boats overlap when neither is clear astern.
Rules of Sailboat Racing:
There are three guiding principles that underlie the Racing Rules. All competitors are expected to compete within the framework of sportsmanship, fair sailing and helping those in danger. If you’re new to racing, you only need to know a few basic rules to handle most situations you’ll encounter on the race course. As you gain more experience, you’ll learn more about the subtleties and limitations of these and other rules.
Racing Rule 14 – Avoiding Contact
You must avoid contact with other boats if possible. Even if your boat has right of way you must avoid contact, but you don’t need to act until it becomes obvious that the other boat is not going to keep clear.
Three of the basic rules of the road for sailing also apply to racing.
These rules are:
* When boats approach each other on opposite tacks (one starboard tack and one port tack), the boat on port tack shall keep clear of the boat on starboard tack (Racing Rule 10). The port-tack boat keeps clear, if the starboard-tack boat does not have to change course to avoid a collision. (Just like driving an automobile you yield to the right – yield to the boat whose boom is on its starboard (right) side)
* When boats are on the same tack and overlap each other, the windward boat shall keep clear of the leeward boat (Racing Rule 11). If your boom is on the side toward the other boat, you are the windward boat. Don’t run your boom into another boat.
* When boats are on the same tack and don’t overlap each other, a boat that is overtaking from behind shall keep clear of the boat that is clear ahead (Racing Rule 12). The overtaking boat must change course to avoid running into the back of the other boat. If the boat from behind continues to overtake the other boat and they become overlapped then the windward-leeward rule (Racing Rule 11) applies – the windward boat must keep clear of the leeward boat. If you are overlapped and your boom is pointing toward the side the boat is overtaking you, you must keep clear.