Racing - Getting Started
The Sailing Instructions (set out in full on the Club website BSC Standing Sailing Instructions 2021 cover the formalities), but here are a few pointers to get you started:
First, only enter a race when you start to feel confident about your personal sailing ability, because you are responsible for yourself, your crew and your boat. If you need to gain more confidence, then consider some of the training courses offered by the Club, especially Start Racing. It may be possible to crew for a more experienced helm or even persuade a more experienced helm to crew for you in your boat. The Class Captains are always open to a conversation and can guide you in the right direction.
Secondly, have an appreciation of the rules. When meeting other boats in the harbour and beyond, and there is a risk of collision, you will need to apply the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (IRPCS) or ColRegs. If you are racing then you'll need the Racing Rules; try to understand the basics of the 'Racing Rules of Sailing' (copies available from chandleries/RYA) and there's a simplified version produced by the RYA called the 'Handy Guide to the Racing Rules.' The Club runs shore-based training covering Racing Rules.
Thirdly, remember to learn to read the key flags. In very simple terms each race start is based on the following sequence below.
So it is helpful to know at least your class flag and the preparatory flag but also other important communication is made by use of flags and sound signals. Consider sticking a guide to these flags and sound signals on to your boat. Invest in an easily operated and easy-to-read, waterproof countdown watch - then you'll be able to make well-timed starts.
Fourthly, know the course that you are intending to race, including the location of the marks. Equip yourself with a BSC Course Card - clear- laminated, moderately waterproof copies are available to purchase from the Office. It's a good idea to keep one on the boat (maybe another item to tape to the boat) and to have another with your gear for handy reference. Then, when you're in the lead, you will know where to go, without relying on following others to the next mark!
Finally, don't forget to sign-on before going afloat ahead of the race, otherwise you will not be counted as racing by the Race Officer, even if you cross the start line. You should allow enough time to reach the start line and read and understand the course instructions displayed on the letter/number boards at the Raptackle starting platform, or at Cobnor, or on the Committee Boat which is usually anchored some way beyond the mouth of Bosham Creek.
Having had a fun and exciting race, it's very easy to forget to sign off but don't do this because it's equally important as signing on for many reasons. Your sign off confirms that you have either formally retired or properly completed the course which in turn gives you a place in the race. However the most vital reason for signing off, is safety. It lets everybody know you are back.
Check the results to see how you fared - they're posted on the website as soon as possible after the race and, most importantly, enjoy your time on the water.
Last updated 18:26 on 9 January 2021