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Burghfield Sailing Club
Hangar Road
Berks RG7 4AP

01189 303 604

Notes for Race Officers

Notes for Race Officers

These notes are intended to act as an aid to race officers running Wednesday evening pursuit races.

The full gudelines can be displayed and printed here.

The first thing is to familiarize yourself with the race format, which is fully explained here.

Sailing Timer/Display

We now have an electronic timer and an electronic display which should make running Wednesday evening racing much easier. Once started, this system will perform the count down prior to the first start and then the count up through the start sequence. During that period it will display the correct numbers to the competitors and sound the horn at every 30 seconds. You will need to watch the timer and manually hoist and lower the flags on the 10 minutes, 5 minutes and start hoots.


The Timer is kept in the main club room near to the filing draws and radios. It is a single ‘package’ but consists of the display unit and an attached control pad.

Place the display on to the brackets on the committee boat roof and secure it using the webbing and clam cleats.

Plug the power lead from the display in to the socket on the committee boat roof.


To prepare the timer for use, perform the following. This can all be done whilst alongside the jetty:

  • Use program 27
  • Horn at 10min, then every 30 seconds
  • Count up to 199 mins

Plug in 12v power supply then.

  1. Switch on the top left side (green led) switch. This is the main on/off switch. The green LED light must show.
  2. Switch on the top right side (orange led) switch. This is the horn on/off switch. The orange LED light must show.
  3. Note: The program selection sequence will start automatically. If you make a mistake at any time, pressing the red (reset) button will restart the program selection process.
  4. The two dots on the main display will quickly flash alternatively for a few seconds.
  5. Then the first digit of the program select display will slowly flash 1 on the main display.
  6. Press, and release, the white (select) button, repeat until the first digit of the required program is indicated, ie 2.
  7. Wait a few seconds and the selected digit will flash quickly indicating it has been stored in memory.
  8. The second digit of the program select display will slowly flash 1.
  9. Press, and release, the white (select) button, repeat until the second digit of the required program is indicated, ie 7.
  10. Wait a few seconds and both the selected digits will flash quickly indicating that they have been stored in memory. (If an invalid program is selected the timer will return to step 5 to allow a valid program to be entered.)
  11. The clock will now display the number of minutes to the start time for the selected program, in minutes & secs.

The start procedure

Having set up the system as above, the start sequence is as follows:

  1. At the start of the countdown sequence, ten minutes before the actual start time, press the green (start) button and display code flag G

  2. The timer will sound the horn and commence the countdown. From this point the display will be updated and a horn sounded every 30 seconds.

  3. When the display changes to 5, display Code flag P . You do not need to sound the horn, this is automatic.

  4. When the display changes to zero, lower both Code Flag G and Code Flag P , the race has now started.

  5. The timer will now count up, the display will be updated and a horn sounded every 30 seconds.

  6. When all boats have started, the horn can be silenced using the orange switch on the control pad.

  7. Please do not disconnect the power from the Display, this should be left running.

  8. When the display changes to 69.0, display Code Flag S . You DO need to sound the horn using the boat's button push as the Timer has been disconnected.

  9. When the display changes to 70.0, finish the first boat and proceed with the finishing sequence.

Optimist Starts

One of the aims of the Personal Handicap Pursuit format is to encourage the less experienced racers. This includes young Optimist sailors who may well have a negative personal start time, which means that they start before the flag sequence has completed.

This is the reason that the 10 minute start sequence is used; it give more flexibilty in setting the personal hanicaps and a longer warning period for those starting before the zero time.


The sailing instructions for Pursuit races do not allow for general recalls so it is only individual recalls which we need to consider.

In reality, with 50 boats starting at 30 second intervals, and with a wide variation of personal handicaps, it is very hard to be sure when a boat is actually starting.

However, if you believe a boat is starting and it is over the line when the horn sounds then a second horn should be sounded to advise them of this fact. No visual signals need to be displayed. A sound signal can be made by pressing the existing horn buttons on the boat or by pressing the red button on the roving wire attached to the Timer.

As one of the aims of Wednesday evening racing is to encourage those who are new to racing, we should be prepared to take a lenient view. Bear in mind that the start is not such a key factor in a race of this nature.


  1. Build your course around the beats - make them as long as and as square as is reasonably possible.

  2. When setting downwind legs, it is easy to favor one particular class. For example, if all the downwind legs perfectly match the RS400s' gybe angles and there are no runs they will do well. Conversely, if all the reaches are very tight, the Blazes will do well. The easiest way to avoid this is to try and include a variety of downwind legs, ideally a fairly square reach, a broad reach and a short run.

  3. Long laps are favors for pursuit races as it reduces the amount of lapping which goes on and, therefore makes finishing easier.

  4. It is likely that the Optimists will complete a lap while the start sequence is still going on. This can lead to problems if the leeward mark is in close proximity with the start line. Try to keep the start line either up wind or down wind of the leeward mark. This problem is heightened if the approach top the leeward mark will be on Port tack.

  5. Think about legs which cross one another. Some crossing is inevitable but try and avoid it occurring near other marks of the course, especially gybe marks. Avoid three way crosses.


With the introduction of the electronic display, determining the finishing time is now very easy - the race finishes when the display reads 70.0. This means that the S flag should be displayed (with a manual sound signal) when display reads 69.0 and the first boat should cross the line when it reads 70.

Prior to the finish, try to position the committee boat so that the leading competitors can also see the display. This will allow them to know when the finish is due and reduce any debate about the length of the race.

As the fleet is growing and the personal handicap system is levelling everyone out, we are seeing some very condensed finishes which are extremely difficult to record. It is important for the slower boats that we complete the finishing procedure as quickly as possible, here are some tips which you may find useful.

  • One person call numbers, usually the SRO who is also driving the Committee boat.
  • All other people record results.
  • Be prepared to abbreviate sail numbers to the last three digits.
  • There are dictaphones available to record the procedure
  • If possible, give the rescue boat crew a pencil and paper and ask them to also record results.
  • The rescue boat can "get ahead" by recording boats before they get to the finish.
  • If in doubt of finishing positions, favor the slower boat.
  • If one boat is a long way in front, Some time can be saved by recording them in 1st place (do tell them) and then position the committee boat ready to get the 2nd place on 70 minutes
  • The Committee boat should be on the "inside" of the course so that the rescue boat, as the outer end of the line, can wheel round the outside.

Back up

As with all electronic systems, there is a chance of failure. The sailing instructions have been written to allow us to switch back to the manual boards in the event of a failure. Switching to a backup should be as prompt as possible but missing a limited number of display changes does not invalidate the starting procedure and you should continue with the race.

To be able to achieve this, you will need to do the following:

  1. Ensure that the Number boars and easel are in the committee boat
  2. Ensure that the laminated sheets used to display ".0", ".5" and "-" are in the committee boat
  3. Start at least one other stop watch when the timer is started.
  4. Monitor the display during the sequence.
  5. While setting up the boards, continue to sound the horn and call the time.


After the race, your fun really starts. The result positions from your sheet need to be transcribed on to the signing in sheet. It is worth getting on to this as quickly as possible so that queries can be resolved while the competitors are still around. Consider splitting up so that some of your race team start on the results while the others pack the committee boat away.

As the object of a Wednesday evenings is to encourage people into fun racing, we prefer not to disqualify people for not signing on. If you have results for people who have not signed on, please add them to the signing list with a note and give them a place. Repeat offenders may be disqualified but that decision can be taken later. Giving everyone a position also allows the personal handicap system to do a better job.

Average Points

This is at the end of the page as a reward for reading all the way down...

You and your helpers should sign on the results sheet and place DUTY in the declaration in order to be awarded average points for the race which you miss by performing your duty.

Created on 28/11/2005 07:04 PM by Burghfield Admin
Updated on 15/04/2013 03:22 PM by Rob Martin
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