The challenge of sailing is to get your boat to go from point A to point B, even when the wind will not cooperate. Racing helps force you to learn how to get your boat from point A to point B to point C in as short of a period possible. The fastest way to learn new skills is by following a better racer (and it is great way to place in the race). These guys are often better for a reason, and there is much to learn. Follow them, figure out why they went the way they did, or why they didn’t do what you would have done. If you can’t figure it out on your own, ask them after the race. Most of the club members are happy to share tips with more than just a quick answer. Many times, when a person begins to race, they will follow a faster boat and finish second or third. However, for some reason this stops, and they drop back in the fleet. It may be that “beginner’s luck” runs out. But, more than likely, they just stop following faster racers.
Finish – A boat finishes when any part of her hull, or crew or equipment in normal position, crosses the finishing line in the direction from the last mark either for the first time or, if she takes a penalty, after complying with rule 31.2 or rule 44.2.
Obstruction – An object that a boat could not pass without changing course substantially, if she were sailing directly toward it and one of her hull lengths from it. An object that can be safely passed on only one side and an area so designated by the sailing instructions are also obstructions. However, a boat racing is not an obstruction to other boats unless they are required to keep clear of her or give her room.
Proper Course – A “proper course” is one the boat would sail to finish as quickly as possible. Since different sailors often have different ideas of the quickest route to get to the finish line there can be more than one proper course for a boat at any particular point in time. Thus, two boats sailing side by side may have different proper courses because of differing views on how best to get to the finish line as quickly as possible.
A boat has right of way when another boat is required to keep clear. The following rules cover some special situations where a boat must keep clear.
- If you hit a mark while racing, you must take a penalty as soon as possible by doing one 360-degree circle (Racing Rule 31). While doing your penalty circle, you must stay clear of all other boats.
- If you foul another boat while racing, you must take a penalty as soon as possible by doing two 360-degree circles, or turning 720 degrees (Racing Rule 44). While doing your two penalty circles, you must stay clear of all other boats.
- 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.
- POYC Racing Rule 2010 – Have fun and learn while racing. This is a year to commit to having fun with your boat or one of the club boats and race. Club racing is meant to be fun and help develop skills and that will be the focus of the race program this year. If you don’t feel comfortable racing your own boat come on out to the club on race day. Many racers are always glad to have crew aboard on race day. Come out to the club on race morning and it is guaranteed you will be asked to either crew on a boat or work the committee boat.
Now you are ready to start racing. But if you want that extra little boost of confidence, come out for the introduction to sailboat racing class in April. We will talk about the rules, the marks, as well as racing strategies and tactics with some of the best racers in the club. Look for more information in the next newsletter.
Doug Roberts – Racing Chairman