Following last weeks blog on the basic rules, this week I am going to cover the basics of racing.

We sail two types of races at Rudyard – a pursuit race and a mass start race. Basically the course is the same, but in the pursuit race you start at a specific time depending on your type of boat and the boat in the lead at the end wins. In the other races the boats all start together and then the computer does magic stuff to work out who has won taking into account the speed of the boat (called handicaps).

The pursuit starts are easy and less hectic, just make sure you start after the time for your boat.

All races start on a line that is drawn between the poles on the top of the starting hut lined up with the Red Cross behind it. You must start between the orange bouys (inner and outer transit) but be warned; they may not be exactly on the line. Sometimes when Geoff is race officer he will do a start on the water from another part of the lake, but don’t worry about that for the time being. I’ll cover tactics for starting next week.

drawing of the different flags that may be flown at the start of a race, along with their meaningsBefore the race, a variety of flags will go up and down. Basically a flag goes up at 5 minutes before the start (class flag), another goes up at 4 mins (blue peter). The blue peter comes down at 1 minute and then the class flag comes down at the start. There is a beep on the hooter for each one. If anyone is over the line at the start, there is an extra beep. If you think it is you, go back behind the line and start again.

Then off you go. You tack/beat up to the first mark, and then you will reach around a few marks and probably do a run down to the bottom mark. Then it’s beating all the way back up the lake to the line. You do that between 2 and 4 times depending on how fast you are, and if you get a beep as you go over the line then you have finished.

Top Tip: make sure you know the course and in particular which way round the marks you go. Red means leave it on the port (left side) of the boat, starboard means the right side.  In the early days you will be following other boats who know where they are going. But be warned. The first time you are at the front of the fleet and realise everyone is relying on you to know the course is a shock.

Click on the link for the third article in the series – my top 5 tips for surviving racing.

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