October 4, 2023
1. I hear so many organizers worry about bands and swag, and sometimes even the race officer. Very infrequently do they worry about mark setters, a panel of judges or the resources and equipment these important parts of a regatta need to operate. When fleets are organizing a regatta or series, you end up getting the quality of racing you plan for.
2. Make sure your Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions are correct and comply with requirements of your class or handicap association, your organizing authority, and your national sailing authority. These documents are more important than most are aware. It is also easy and recommended to use the templates available from your Racing Rules of Sailing Book in Appendix J (NOR) and Appendix S (SI’s).
3. Make sure to verify that boats are properly insured for the event and have valid Measurement Certificates and Handicaps. These are basic requirements for most races and the insurance coverage can become particularly important if something bad happens.
4. Race organizers almost always approach their planned chief judge at the last moment and almost always say “We don’t have protests, so have a great weekend; you won’t have anything to do!”. The best racing always has protests and there is always work for the Jury. Some certified judges won’t bother to attend such a regatta since they often need to log protests for a regatta to count towards their recertifications.
5. Every fleet has some yellers and screamers. Reign them in because they do turn sailors away from a fleet or a class. It is especially bad form to turn new and old fleet members sour on the fleet.
6. Beware the cliques within the fleet. It is great to go race with and against your friends at a regatta and hang out with them, but having a tight clique that ignores the rest of the fleet doesn’t make newcomers or some of the mid and back fleet sailors feel that welcome to the crowd. I have even seen some fleet racing with groups from certain clubs teaming up on particular boats to keep them off the podium. This is very visible on the racecourse, and against the rules. If you don’t abide by the Racing Rules of Sailing, you aren’t playing the game correctly.
7. If you are one of the faster boats, take some time and give some coaching or at least do some pacing with some of the slower boats to get them up to speed. More competition is more fun, and small successes and improvements are what keeps sailors coming back for more events.
8. There is an annoying predisposition for competitors to hate having protest hearings after racing or making other sailors feel bad for delaying their awards presentation. It is really easy to deal with protests on the water, take your penalty turn or turns if you did something wrong! Even better, don’t hit other boats, don’t dive bomb the leeward mark and don’t break rules.
It isn’t often the person filing the protest that is causing a delay, it is most often the person protested since they did not take a penalty on the water or in arbitration.
If you are fouled, you need to protest, it is part of the rules and the sport. If you don’t protest, the other competitor may think that they did nothing wrong, or that the rules only apply to other people at more “serious” events. This does not lead to a fleet where you really want to sail.
9. Have fun and encourage more people to sail! We all know how much fun racing sailboats can be, let’s try to share this fantastic family sport with others.
Keven Piper, two-time Shark 24 World Champion, founded Hamilton, ON-based Bay Sails in 1998. Email: email@example.com