Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Starting Signals (1)

Starting Signals (2)

Starting Signals (3)

The Club and the Race Committee

To host a recognized race within the world of sailing, the race organizer must be part of US Sailing (or the equivalent national authority under ISAF).

A local yacht or sailing club is known as an “Organizing Authority” when it hosts or organizes a regatta.

The Organizing Authority appoints Race Committee. The race committee or organizing authority appoints the Protest Committee.

The race committee plans a regatta, completes paperwork, recruits and trains volunteers, obtains equipment, runs the skippers’ meeting, sets and adjusts the race course, runs starts, records finishes, issues scores, and may participate in protests.

On-the-water activities may be led by a Principal Race Officer, who is a race officer trained and certified by US Sailing (or ISAF).

Racers and the Race Committee

When registering for a race, racers and the host club make an agreement.

Both agree to follow and be bound by the rules.

Racers agree to follow the rules when meeting other boats and before, during, and after racing.

The host club and race committee agree to follow the rules and run the races fairly and according to the rules.

Racers and the race committee agree to resolve disagreements by following the rules for protests.

Signals During Racing (1)

Signals During Racing (2)

What is a Rule?

 The Racing Rules of Sailing, 2005-2008, including Definitions, Race Signals, Introduction, preambles, applicable appendices

ISAF Regulations

National Authority Prescriptions

Class Rules and Handicap Rules

Notice of Race

Sailing Instructions

Championship Rules and Conditions, other documents

Numeral Pennants

When do the racing rules apply?

Between racers and non-racers, government rules apply – not racing rules.

Most of the rules apply whenever boats are racing, preparing to race, or between races.

Penalties for breaking some rules (most of Part 2, “When Boats Meet”) apply during racing from the preparatory (4-minute) signal to the finish.

Some rules apply specifically to race management or to protests and appeals.

Special rules apply for special races such as match racing.

Lake Update

Sailing days total so far in 2008: 12 days sailing, plus one race committee weekend and some club meetings and socials plus lots of work to prepare for the Mallory eliminations.

Most recent sailing casualty: traveler car exploded last race weekend. One spinnaker twing broke and was replaced right before that. Topping lift still needs to be replaced. A replacement traveler car is expected to arrive by Friday.

Next regatta: Spring Series 3, April 25--26, 2008.

Elephant Butte Lake
0414 2100
4,340.30 feet elevation above benchmark, 508,528 acre feet
up +0.16'/1.9" +2097 a.f. in 24 hours
up +0.46'/.+5.5"
+6,011 a.f. in 71 hours
–1,870 cfs, outflow from dam
San Marcial Floodway inflow 1,620 cubic feet per second [1570-1730 cfs range]

The Butte has risen 3.36 feet since February 8.

Heron Lake on Monday, 0414 2300
7,147.11 ft. elevation above msl, 207,746 a.f.
up +0.08'/1.0" +325 a.f. in 24 hours
up +0.19'/2.3"
+767 a.f. in 71 hours
Azoteal Tunnel flow in cfs, 376 [146-376 range]
Willow Creek flow 237 cfs [162–269 range]

Last weekend I visited Heron Lake; did a bit of work at the tail end of the work party, enjoyed seeing the lake rising, discussed ideas for fixing up the gangway with a couple of people, brought up some books and tools, and took some flags for cleaning/fixing and using in the Mallory. It's only been a couple of weeks since the last ice left the lake and water temperatures were only 39 degrees.

Snowmelt is still erratic and in an early phase; water is being withdrawn from the lake by water contractors, yet overall the lake has risen 2.6 feet and 10,348 acre feet in the past 2 months (since February 8).

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Committee boat position on the starting line

Shown above is a typical starting line for a small, mixed fleet of boats racing on handicaps. The orange pin buoy (buoy shown larger than to scale)is on the left end of the line and the committee boat, shown as green, is to the right. Each square represents 10 feet in this illustration.

The line is longer than the sum of the lengths of the boats, which allows more boats a chance of a good start, and reduces the risk of collision or fouling. The line should be relatively long when a variety of boats sizes and types, and crews of widely different experience levels are starting together. If the line is not square to the wind, it will give an advantage to boats starting at one end, but a longer line will still help to relieve congestion and the chance of collision. The line can be proportionately shorter for a large fleet of maneuverable one-design boats managed by expert crew.

Shown below is a less-desirable line. With modest but steady breezes, no current or waves, and a small number of boats with good crews, the race committee may well escape without a major incident. But...

Setting the line with the committee boat on the left side of the line creates a hazardous trap for boats on starboard tack near what would normally have been the pin end. On a normal line, the leeward boat is the right of way boat, and has luffing rights (limited by rules 15 and 17.1 as applicable). If she's very close to the pin, it only takes a very tiny luff to ease away from it.

But, with the committee boat flipped to the wrong side, the starboard leeward boat finds herself in a terrible predicament. Now she's faced with a huge obstruction.

If she waits too late to luff, the boat to windward of her may not have time to hail boats further to windward to luff. That would leave starboard leeward some very bad choices... crash into the committee boat, foul on the committee boat's anchor rode, find a way to stall and slow down so she can fall behind the rest of the fleet and tack out, or fall off and miss the start.

But, if the leeward boat luffs too soon, she may tempt another boat to come in to her leeward ... into the potentially fatal DANGER ZONE.

Additionally, for starboard tack boats, the starting line with the flipped committee boat is effectively shorter and more congested, increasing the risk of mishap. The only beneficiaries of this arrangement are bargers, since right-of-way boats don't have a convenient committee boat on hand to peel off someone who tries to commit a barge.

So what if the start line's a little crooked...

With the line 25 degrees off from perpendicular to the wind, the port side has a huge advantage and can be favored by several boat lengths. But, port tackers must beware of the starboard tackers, who'll be tightly confined by the skewed start line. Because of the angle of the line to the wind, for starboard tackers the effective width of the start line will be less than half of normal! This means a hugely greater potential for accidents, collisions, fouls, or bad starts.

The start is even more miserable when a skewed line is compounded by a misplaced race committee signal boat. This is a massive accident waiting to happen. Throw in a few random big puffs, some chop, and a current moving from right to left, and you just might be able to get the whole racing fleet to crash into the committee boat!

Deadly Sins of Race Management

The flip side… The Deadly Sins of Race Management

X Forgetting to check permits, insurance, volunteers, notices

X Omitting written instructions or using NORs & SIs that don’t meet standards

X Not training volunteers

X Not checking r.c. boats and equipment before the race

X Changing NORs or SIs during a skippers’ meeting

X Using a start line that is out of square or the wrong length

X Setting marks or anchors badly

X Putting the signal boat on the wrong end of the line

X Mismatching courses to weather and boats

X Starting or continuing a race when boats can’t maneuver safely

X Not correcting an error in the start sequence

X Not shortening, changing, or abandoning racing when needed for fairness, safety, or practicality

X Making improper communications … not knowing what to say or not say

X Leaving conditions or incidents unrecorded

X Failing to finish, record, or score boats correctly within the limits of the rules

X Not following correct protest procedures, not protesting when appropriate

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


In a surprise move, the New York Circuit Court of Appeals has announced a settlement among Club Nautico Real de Valencia, Team Alinghi, America's Cup Management Ltd., Oracle Racing Team, and the Golden Gate Yacht Club. The compromise has resulted in the naming of the Boat Owners of Cochiti as hosts for the prestigious event honoring sport's oldest and most venerated trophy. BOC Commodore Dusty Arrington ("El Polvo de Rano Azul") announced plans to build a world-class America's Cup harbor with funding that the Cochiti Pueblo has secured from Leyland-Maffioli Gaming Ventures, a leading developer of Las Vegas-style casino and hospitality complexes. However, informed sources note that this facility will be a return to the classical meaning of a casino as merely "a meeting place"; the conservative tribal government will not permit gambling at the cup harbor and resort.

Theresa Begay, development director for Cochiti Pueblo Enterprises, Inc., said that the new facilities will present outstanding employment opportunities for pueblo residents. Additionally, plans are afoot to provide funding for Sail New Mexico to teach fundamental to advanced racing skills to hundreds of Native American youth, who have been historically under-represented within the ranks of the sport. Former NCAA champion and US Olympian Laurence Jessee predicted that the Santa Fe Indian School inter-varsity sailing squad might soon rival storied programs such as William and Mary, MIT, UCLA, U. Hawaii, and the US Naval Academy.

In a further unprecedented move, the framers of the compromise have announced that the racing will utilize the classic 12 Meter yachts, rather than the previously anticipated large catamaran craft. Nostalgia for the classic Twelves and the memories of the great races among the likes of Ted "The Mouth of the South" Turner and Dennis Conner are said to have led to the reversion to the much loved old boats.

Confidential sources within the International Sailing Federation revealed that the surprise move was designed to facilitate "NASCAR style bumper-bashing, fire-breathing racing" to counter the sport's elitist image and make sailing appeal to the same audiences who've propelled sports such as stock car racing, bowling, pool, basketball, and professional wrestling into the national spotlight.

The lake's relatively modest surface acreage and rock-bound shore are being touted as a great advantage for the big America's Cup 12 Meter yachts, which will be required to utilize race courses comprising as many as twelve to twenty short legs, with corresponding mayhem and carnage at the many mark roundings. Yachting great Dennis Conner observed, "No longer will the Cup be a boring business of billionaires on split tacks and one-sided blowouts. This time, the guys with the big pockets will have to dig deeper, because there are going to be a hell of a lot of crashes and broken boats." And, the high-altitude lake's notorious wind shifts will represent a real trial of fire for navigators, tacticians, and all crew members.

Happy April 1st, Pat