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Home / Keelboat & Cruising / Events / Race Management Essentials

Race Management Essentials


It is advisable that any member scheduled to carry out Race Officer duties during the season read these notes well in advance of the race. The Racing Secretary or other members on the Sailing Committee are happy to answer any questions you might have in order to feel prepared for the day.


Contact Clydeport before the race for information on local shipping movements (01475 726221) (Notices to mariners are on

For Naval movements. contact the Queens Harbour-master (01436 674321 extn 3206 or 6778) AIS transmissions may also be monitored. gives real time details of local movements.

The day before the race you will usually receive a list or entries from the CCC office. It is advisable to review the entry list and familiarise yourself with the entries, bearing in mind that some may turn up on the day without appearing on the list.
At the start look out for the class flags displayed by entrants, especially as some may opt for the restricted sail class. If they don't correspond to the entry list then it is the flag flown which counts. Ensure that before the start you have made contact with the finishing race officer to discuss the management of the race and swap mobile phone numbers. Rig up the flag hoisting lines (the triadic stay) so that all flags are above the boom cover and cannot tangle on stack pack lines. Be on station at least 30 minutes before the first start, longer it you have to lay a starting mark. Attach flags to the hoisting lines. Answering Pennant. Class Flags for each class. Flag P, Flag X (Individual Recall). and 1st Substitute (General Recall). Some people prefer to have Flag X and 1st Sub. attached either end of a pole such as a boathook as the flags are "either or" and have to be raised promptly after the start.

Prior to the start. tick off all the competing yachts on the list of ˜ entries, checking particularly that they are flying the correct class flag and add details of any boats not on the list. (There is always someone so take blank entry forms with you - see also Results re documentation.)


How to raise the flags 10, 5, Go System, an example with three starting times at 5 minute intervals.

1. 10 minutes before the first start time, Hoist the Class Flag(.s) or the class (es) that has the first start time as listed on the sailing instructions and sound the horn one blast. (T + 0)
2. 5 minutes before the first start time Hoist the Flag P and Hoist the Class Flag(s) of the class(es) that are listed as having the second start time; you must also sound the horn one blast. (T + 5)
3. At the second start time Lower the Class flag(s) of the class(es) starting and Hoist the Class flag(s) of the third Class to start. You must also sound the horn one blast. (T+10)
4. At the second start time lower the Class Flag of the second class(es) starting and sound the horn one blast. (T +15)
5. At the third (and in this example final) start time lower the Class Flag(s) o the third class(es) starting and Lower the Flag P. You must also sound the horn one blast. (T +20)
6. If˜ you have less or more than three starting times you would follow the same principal steps but always remember to raise the Flag P 5 minutes before the first start time and do not lower the Flag P until the last start time listed for the race.

At each start time a line observer should check that there are no yachts on the course side of the start line at their start (OCS). If there are, recall those yachts so they can start properly. The Individual Recall procedure is to hoist Flag X and sound a second sound signal, all promptly after the start signal, keeping Flag X up for 4 minutes or until all the offenders have returned if earlier.
If there were too many yachts for you to identity which were over the line at the start, you can use the (General Recall Procedure immediately after the start by raising the first Substitute flag and sounding another two blasts on the horn. It you have a problem with the flags at the start. such as sending the race off a minute early, use the General Recall procedure to restart that class; failure to make the correct sound signals is not fatal as it is the flags that count. For instructions on how to start the yachts when you have had to use the General Recall procedure see the CCC General
Regulation 8.3 and 8.4.

If in doubt about what to do in the event of a difficult situation before a start, hoist the AP flag and sound the horn twice. You then have time to examine the relevant racing rules and consider the options available to you. The AP should come down (with a single horn signal) 1 minute before the new 10 minute gun for˜ the class whose start
was interrupted.

All this this takes longer to describe than to do. !

If you have a problem with the starting line, weather, shipping or just about anything
else, you can postpone the start for all classes or the classes yet to start until all is ready
(Answering pennant) or, if the problem arises just after the start, abandon the race and
start again (Flag N for all classes). If you abandon, (very rare) be prepared to make a
VHF announcement or chase after the fleet to get them back.

If you find yourself single handed. an alternative starting procedure using a VHF script
with no flags or horns has been introduced. This is only to be used in single handed
circumstances and if you intend to use this procedure, please contact the Racing
Secretary 24 hours before the start. This is to explain why it is necessary and to allow
time to let entrants know by email that the start may be entirely by VHF on channel
77 as per GR 7.1 and 7.2. At least that will warn them to turn on the VHF and charge
up the handheld.

An example with times (including Flag L and an announcement to change GR 8) is
included in the "Race Management Appendix -" VHF Script below

Flag L means "Come within hailing distance or follow this boat". If before the start you need to make a change to the Individual Race Sailing Instructions or the Grs., hoist Flag
I. and communicate the change by shout and VHF broadcast. Many consider that starts in less than 5 knots windspeeds are not fair, and therefore not in accordance with the RYA
Charter. Postponing the start until a steady Wind sets in is one option but at the start of a passage race, it may be preferable to hoist flag L and motor the fleet (and start
line) down the course to find wind, and help ensure a finish at a reasonable time at the
published finish line. which is normally not too distant from any subsequent muster.
A VHF broadcast helps explain what you are doing.

It is essential that you pass a list of starters (and any OCS and change in the starting
times) to the race officer at the finish for safety and practical reasons and keep a copy of the list for the Club office. It may also he useful to pass to the race officer at the finish any other relevant information about the progress of the fleet around the course.


When anchored at the finishing line described in the Individual Race Sailing Instructions, a blue flag should be hoisted on the main mast, or on a spreader halyard. This flag is not required if the course is shortened. The finish line is described in the Individual Race Sailing Instructions. There is no polite answer˜ to the question "when will the boats finish?",
so you will have to judge your own timing from the starting time, length of˜ course, weather conditions and likely boat speeds. It is better to be early than late.

If the weather is light and some or all boats are unlikely to finish within the time limit most
courses can be shortened at an intermediate mark. It may be wise to go to a mark on the
course which may suit the weather conditions on the day first before going to the described
finishing line. You can confer with the starting officer and or the CCC Racing Secretary.
There may be occasions when in order to get a race result, some or all of˜ the classes need to be finished at a mark on the course before the described finishing line, a "shortened course".
To set up .a finish line for a shortened course, anchor on the side of the mark that the yachts will pass, leaving space for them to pass it, and hoist flag S with 2 sound signals before any yacht has passed the mark. If the water is too deep to anchor, you can lay a distance mark to provide a transit and manoeuver beyond that distance mark to form the shortened course finish. The finishing line will be between the mark and the flag S. If shortening course for some classes but not all, hoist the numerals of the classes to be finished at that shorten course line.

At the finish, record the yachts as they cross the finishing line giving each class guns or sound signals corresponding to the number of entries in that class. - 1 gun for 2 or 3 starters, 2 guns for 4 or 5 starters and 3 guns if there are more than 6 starters. If you have a rush of boats all you need to record are the sail numbers and finishing times. If you have a real rush, concentrate on the order of sail numbers and fill in the times when you can. Increasingly events will have yachts taking their own time at the finish. If this is the case, it should be made clear at the start by the committee vessel. In this case, any course alteration such as a shortened course should be made before the start.


No competitor can be given a result until they have signed an entry form (which includes an undertaking by the skipper) and, where required, a race declaration form. This is imperative for the safe and fair management of racing, and the safety of the competitors, the race team and their vessels, and the Club. Competitors will be keen to see their results so confirm with the Racing Secretary who is to enter the finishing times into the on-line results tool. If it is not to be you, find a way of getting a copy of the finishing times(no need to work out elapsed times) to the Racing Secretary at the event and he/she will post the results to the club website. If the RS is not available, they will let you know who is to get the list of finishing times. If this is to be you, arrange access to the on-line results tool and obtain the user-name and password, check for any missing handicaps on the CYCA or IRC lists and remember that some yachts qualify for a result in both the CYCA and IRC.


Finally, please find a way of returning the Race Bag to the Office or the person the Office directs, promptly and in the condition you had hoped to find it.

VHF Start - example script

The following is an example to illustrate the method of starting a race via VHF only. It is for a three class start for 10.00 am first signal, and can be adjusted for other start times, of the day, number of classes etc.



10.00 "Competitors for the Troon Race" (repeat 3 times)

"Changing general regulations 8, there will be no flag or sound signals for the start and all starting signals will be by VHF Channel 77 with start sequences following individual Race sailing Instructions."

10.05 Countdown the last 5 seconds to 10.05 "5, 4, 3, 2, 1", and repeat the announcement above

10.10 Countdown the last 5 seconds to 10.10 "5, 4, 3, 2, 1", and repeat the announcement above

10.15 Countdown the last 5 seconds to 10.15 "5, 4, 3, 2, 1", and repeat the announcement above

10.19 "One minute to warning signal for class 3"

10.20 "Warning signal for Class 3 (Repeat slowly and distinctly twice)

10.24 "One minute to Preparatory signal for class 3 and warning signal for class 2"

10.25 Countdown last 5 seconds to 10.25 and "Preparatory signal for class 3 and warning signal for class 2"

10.29 "One minute to start signal for class 3, preparatory signal for class 2 and warning signal for class 1"

10.30 Count last 5 secs, and "Start signal for class 3, preparatory signal for class 2 and warning signal for class 1"

10.34 "One minute to start signal for class 2 and preparatory signal for class 1"

10.35 Count 5 seconds & "Start for class 2 and peparatory sugnal for class 1"

10.39 "One minute to start signal for class 1"

10.40 Count down last 5 secs and "Satrt for class 1"

Last updated 13:08 on 31 March 2024

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