Racing Corner – Month 4 Taxonomy of the Race Course by Doug Roberts

Taxonomy of a Race Course

Here are some of the terms you may hear when people talk about race courses.
Committee Boat: The end of the starting line marked by the Race Committee boat.
Usually the starboard end of the line when facing upwind. The Committee Boat flies the flags and sounds the horns to signal the racers and records start and finish times.
Pin: The end of the starting line marked by a buoy. Usually the port end of the line when facing upwind.
Open Line: Racers are allowed to cross the start/finish line during the race. This is the case unless the Sailing Instructions say otherwise.
Closed Line: Racers are not allowed to cross the start/finish line while racing except while starting or finishing their race. This is sometimes called a Closed Gate.
Weather Mark (or Windward Mark): The mark buoy that is the most upwind.
Lee Mark: The mark buoy that is the most downwind.
Gybe Mark: The second mark on a triangle course, where you have to gybe to stay on the course.
Windward Leg: A leg of the race where you must sail closehauled and tack to reach the next mark.
Reaching Leg: A leg where you can sail on a reach and do not need to tack or gybe to reach the next mark.
Downwind Leg: A leg where you must sail more or less straight downwind to reach the next mark and you may need to gybe one or more times.
Marks Left to Port: When you round a mark, you pass it so that the mark stays on the left side of your boat. Most fleet racing courses are designed this way, particularly for the first windward mark.
Marks to Starboard: When you round a mark, you pass it so that the mark stays on your right side. Match race courses are designed this way, particularly the America’s Cup.

Race Course Diagrams

Race Course Diagrams

2010 Port Oliver Yacht Club Race Instructions
These instructions are intended to provide information necessary to coordinate and participate in the POYC racing program. A good understanding of these instructions will help prevent some conflicts during the season.

A. A race should be fair and sporting for all competitors. Good sportsmanship is expected from all participants.
B. All boats entered into a race shall be subject to the direction of the Race Committee (RC). However, it shall be the sole responsibility of each skipper to decide whether or not to START or CONTINUE a race.
C. All races will be conducted under The Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS), the class rules, and rules modifications as determined by the POYC Race Committee.
D. All required safety equipment shall be carried aboard all boats participating in a race. Each skipper is responsible for the safety of his/her crew and boat. If the Race Committee determines that conditions require the use of life preservers, it shall hoist the Y flag or a life preserver/vest.
E. Races shall be sailed back-to-back each racing day.
F. A minimum of four boats are required to form an official race class.
G. P.O.Y.C. Race Courses are typically windward/ leeward or triangle courses. If other course configurations are used, the configurations must be explained in the skippers meeting before the race.
H. Starting signals shall be covered in the skippers meeting. The starting signals usually consist of a combination of Class flags, a Preparatory (P) flag, and sounds. The sounds are optional.
The class flags are as follows:
a. Red flag – Cruiser
b. Blue flag – Dinghy
c. Yellow flag – Multi-hulls

The starting process is as follows:

d. 5 minutes before the start, the class flag is raised and a warning signal may be sounded.

e. 4 minutes before the start, the P flag (blue with a white square in the middle) is raised and a warning signal may be sounded.

f. 1 minute before the start, the P flag is lowered and a long warning signal may be sounded.

g. The class flag is lowered to signal the start the race. A warning signal may be sounded.

I. The RC will hail early starters, but the burden of a proper start is the responsibility of the skipper.

J. The RC may score all boats remaining on the course 20 minutes after the first boat of the class crosses the finish line as DNF (Did Not Finish) and recall the boats to prepare for the start of the next race.

K. The handicap factors used will be the Portsmouth Yardstick, D-PN factors. No penalty for under-crewed boats. If your boat has modification factors, please indicate on the registration form.

L. Awards will be given for individual races as well as a season champion for both Cruiser and Dinghy class racers. Multi Hulls awards will be available for individual races, when a class exists.

M. The top scores for each skipper for 50% of the races in the 2010 season will count toward the calculation for the season championship in each class. Season points shall be awarded for each race of the day as follows:

a. 1st place = 1 point
b. 2nd place = 2 points
c. 3rd place = 3 points
d. So on through all boats placing.
e. DNF shall be awarded the number of boats finishing + 1

If there is a tie between two or more boats, each boat’s race scores shall be listed in order of best to worst, and at the first point(s) where there is a difference the tie shall be broken in favor of the boat(s) with the best score(s). No excluded scores shall be used. If a tie remains between two or more boats, they shall be ranked in order of their scores in the last race. Any remaining ties shall be broken by using the tied boats’ scores in the next-to-last race and so on until all ties are broken. These scores shall be used even if some of them are excluded scores.

N. Protests may be filed with the RC at the conclusion of each race. Hearing of protests will be held at the end of the race day. Please keep in mind rule 14 “You must avoid contact with other boats if possible.” Intentional violation of this rule will disqualify you from filing a protest.

Need more help with the rules? Introduction to racing class Thursday evening May 13, details to follow.

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