IF YOU'VE NEVER RACED WITH US BEFORE,
If you are thinking about racing, but don't quite know how to go about it, here's what you need to know. Come and try it; it's fun!
When: We have a special series, called "Learn to Race," for new racers. The regular MSC series races are on Saturdays, starting at 10:30 AM, usually two or three races a day with lunch in between. The race dates are published in Batten the Breeze, the MSC newsletter.
Where: We set up the course in the area between Watts Bay and the Rt. 422 bridge. Look for the MSC Race Committee (RC) boat and the colored buoys in the water. Just follow the "regulars" out from Watts Bay to the race course.
Course: The course diagrams are shown on the "Racing" page of the MSC website. We normally set three colored buoys or barrels (called "marks") in the water, and we sail around them counter-clockwise. The starting line is an imaginary line between the RC boat and an orange flag in the water. We try to set the first mark directly upwind from the starting line. So the first leg of the race is a beat. You will have to tack ("come about") back and forth when sailing the beats. The remaining legs depend upon the course. Just look at the course layouts under the "Course Diagrams." Also, it is a good idea to read the "Sailing Instructions" on the Racing page of the MSC website.
Starting: All the Flying Scots start together in the first start of each race, and all other boats start together in the second start. Five minutes before the start, a horn sounds and a Flying Scot class flag is hoisted on the RC boat. At four minutes, another horn is sounded and blue flag with a white square is hoisted. At one minute, another horn is sounded and the blue flag is lowered. At the start, a final horn is sounded and the remaining flag is removed. This sequence is then repeated for the second start, with the "Open" flag used to designate the five minute signal for all other boats. You want to be going full speed across the starting line right at the start! A stopwatch or a watch with a countdown timer comes in handy. Most race committees blow a few short blasts of the horn just before the first five minute horn, to alert everyone that they are about to start the sequence.
Right-of-way rules: We sail by the international Racing Rules of Sailing, published by US Sailing and available on their Web Site (www.ussailing.org). This is to prevent contact when two boats are on a collision course. The four basic rules you need to know are pretty simple. A starboard boat (boom on the port side of the boat) has right-of-way over a port boat. (That is why most boats start the race on starboard tack.) If boats are on the same tack, a leeward (downwind) boat has right-of-way over a windward (upwind) boat. Except at the first mark, the boat closest to the mark has right -of-way over any boats she is overlapped with two boat lengths from the mark. Finally, you cannot tack or jibe so close to another boat that you force her to alter course. Above all, avoid collision.
Why should you race? You will greatly improve your sailing skills by watching and talking to others. Any MSC member will gladly try to help you out and answer your questions. You will gain the confidence you need to be able to sail your boat well in very light air and on very windy days. But mainly, you will have a lot of fun and meet some great people to share sailing tales with!