Saturday, January 12, 2013

Rio Grande Yacht Club Race Committee thoughts for 2013

For racing, the duties of the race committee are to run a fair and fun race program:
Schedule races, get permits, write instructions, schedule and lead skipper/crew meetings, schedule race committee boat crews, train racers and RC crews, buy and maintain equipment, order prizes, handle protests and disputes, administer handicaps, score and publish results.

Races are more fair and fun when the courses are unbiased, do-able and suitable for the racers, and when the racers and race committee all know and follow the rules, and when the race committee is on hand to serve, help, and educate racers.

— Racing and cruising are vital to the health of the club, make the club visible in the area, and attract new members.
— Racing and cruising should be supported by the club, and at least partially subsidized.
Ideally, race fees would pay for prizes but the club would pay for equipment, training, and other costs.
— This is a good year to do safety and training. We have new and relatively new racers and are being met with a revised set of Racing Rules of Sailing for 2013-2016. Using the racing and safety rules and educating sailors about safety and racing is good because it will

• Make racing more fair and predictable;
• Reward good sailing;
• Help people get better at sailing;
• Reduce the danger of collision, damage, or injury;
• Meet the requirements for being allowed to run races by the State Parks;
• Reduce the chance of the club, leaders, and volunteers being found negligent and held liable in a legal action;
• Protect our reputation in the community;
• Put the club and our sailors in synch with how sailing is done throughout the world of sailing;
• Help US Sailing, SAIL Denver, and our insurance company support us in case of a problem.

To do this, we can
• Spread the race committee’s work among several people, with roles that meet all the RC’s jobs;
• Commit the club to support following the rules, running races properly to the best of our ability, providing training, supporting safety, and making a safety policy;
• Write Notices of Race, Sailing Instructions, and sign-ups that are clear, suited to our racing, and in harmony with the Racing Rules of Sailing;
• Teach racers the rules and how to use them via short talks at skipper/crew meetings, race committee training, the Foghorn and website, and being there to answer questions; focus on making the basic rules clear and on teaching “old hands” the changes to the rules;
• Train RC volunteers to set good courses that make the best of our conditions;
• Make sure volunteers have good equipment and information to run the races;
• Offer arbitration as a tool to teach the rules and prepare racers to use the protest system in a positive, low-key, less stressful way;
• Teach racers and the club to use the protest system as a teaching tool and offer alternative penalties where appropriate, and make protests less painful and more productive.

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For cruising, the race committee chairman is tasked by our club’s rules to support cruising.
In years past we had raft-ups, as well as the “Got Water?” cruises during drought years. Cruising is also supported by good relations with the marinas and other sailing groups, including adding support for the yacht club tradition of reciprocal hospitality. Safety and seamanship training and cruising programs also help cruisers. Cruising activities such as raft-ups are a good way to reach out to sailors who are most active in the summer, when our racing program hasn’t been active.

This would be a good year to revive the RGYC’s cruising program by having cruiser events such as:

• Warm-weather raft-ups, where the club provides some food and supplies for gatherings in a cove or marina;
• Cruiser events such as a treasure hunt/pirate cruise, poker run, cruise to a marina/restaurant, predicted time race, handicapped start, or creative handicap race;
• Volunteering to do on-water events with groups such as the Parrotheads, power boaters, CG Aux, Hobie fleet, Windriders, etc.;
• Hosting an open-house for prospective sailors in conjunction with a marina; • Hands-on and interesting safety demonstrations working with the state parks, volunteers fire depts., CG AUX, or similar;
• Work with marinas, other clubs, and our cruising sailors to give us a welcome when traveling;
• Host “trailer cruises” to other lakes or to the ocean, especially if water issues limit what we can do during part of the year at the Butte.

Issues for both racing and cruising are the fun factor, and helping grow the club and keep members. Ideas:
• Publicize race results, and regattas and cruises to area news media;
• Consider alternative prizes to traditional trophies, especially for cruiser-oriented classes or events;
• Find ways to add value to memberships;
• Get more pictures of events on the web site and Foghorn, and more reliably; • Your idea here….

Thoughts for the Race Committee, Racers, Cruisers, and RGYC board:
• We should stick with Portsmouth; PHRF has more potential for arguments/fights and is much harder (and more expensive) to do right, especially the time-on-distance flavor of PHRF;
• Offering arbitration as a protest alternative could defuse some issues;
• Modifying penalties/handling for the new trash rule (and alternative penalties in general) might be a very good idea;
• We need to inventory, organize, and replace equipment – and do it again and again;
• Also needed will be new rule books, plus rule summary cards and maps to give out to racers;

• We should have good ramp use and water for the spring, but fall events may need changes depending on spring runoff and summer irrigation. We may not be able to have a full-scale Sunrise Regatta 50/25-miler in the fall and might want to make the “Sunset Regatta” into something fun for people who don’t usually race.


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