Saturday, June 30, 2007

April Folly

Talking of poor race management, I give no apologies for republishing this post originally written by me as an article for our club newsletter one April a few years back. I guess most readers quickly recognized it as a spoof and thought they were so smart for spotting my April Fools joke. But if they thought I had made it all up the joke was on them because every outrage described in the article actually happened. And they were all perpetrated by the same race officer in one single evening of Wednesday night racing.

All members scheduled to serve as race committee on Wednesday nights should become familiar with the following guidelines.

1. Fishermen at our lake have a boring life. All they do is stare at the water. Try to make their life more interesting by setting the start line between some anchored fishing boats. Fishermen love to watch the boats sailing nearby and to chat to the sailors.

2. In light winds, make sure you set very, very long courses. If you don't, you'll only have to run more races making for unnecessary work.

3. Most sailors hate to tack. Try and set the first leg of the course so that they can reach the first mark without tacking.

4. Most sailors find it really hard to work out which is the upwind end of the start line. Help them out by setting a start line so that they have to beat to get to one end. Then it is so much easier for the sailors to identify the favored end.

5. Start sequences can be very boring for the sailors. Try livening things up by stopping a 3-minute sequence at any time and restarting it without warning. Another option is to make the 2-minute and 1-minute signals at some random interval after the 3 minute signal. This keeps the sailors on their toes.

6. Don't bother to call any boats that are over the start line. It's not really your job. Alternatively call out a few sail numbers that are over and add "and those other boats that I can't see". Keeps everyone guessing and that is a lot of fun for everyone.

7. Liven up the first leg by driving the committee boat up to the windward mark, and then when everyone is halfway up the beat and spread out on both side of the course, pick up the mark and move it. This is really exciting for the sailors who guessed wrong about where you were going to drop the mark.

8. Have a good rest while the sailors are racing. You have earned it. Chat to the sailors that showed up late for the race. Don't bother to watch the racers. The first boat will always give you a shout when he or she is about to finish.

9. Set a really long finish line. Don't worry if it is so long that you can't read the sail numbers at the other end of the line. You can always ask the sailors to shout out their numbers when they know they have crossed the line.

10. If you get bored, you can always shorten the course. To do this, drive over to the mark that the sailors are approaching and put it in the committee boat. Let the racers guess how they are supposed to finish. Makes them think - which is good for them.

11. If any guests or potential new fleet members show up to race, remind them that the races are for members only and that they should keep clear of the racecourse. This is especially important if the newcomers are juniors, because kids need to be put in their place.

12. If any of the anchors on the buoys look old or dirty, just untie the line and dump the anchors in the reservoir. The rear commodore will be delighted to supply new ones.

13. Set the course as far away from the club launching area as possible. You can usually rely on the wind to die later in the evening, and the sailors really appreciate the chance to practice their light air skills on a long sail back to the beach in the dark.

14. Remember when you are race officer, you are always right. Do not be distracted by advice and comments from any of the sailors. If a sailor persists in telling you how to do your job, it is OK to teach him or her some new nautical terms that may not be in the dictionary.

15. Please make sure that these new race officer procedures are used for all races on or after April 1st 2003.

Happy Sailing!

Aaaah -- Sunfish racing -- so much fun -- Lasers are so serious by comparison.


JP said...

Very good! a few more:

16. Make sure the race course goes through a major shipping channel at least once

17. When giving out instructions on VHF radio, make sure the set has a dodgy connection so only half your words get transmitted

18. On light wind days, time the race so that the tide is against the fleet most of the way so the smaller boats have no chance of finishing on the same day as the big boats.

19. Just to make sure the small boats can't finish in time to get a berth at Cowes, set them off last

Katinka said...

*laughing out loud*

Sailors must be very patient individuals. Those sloppy race management practices would be enough to tempt me to give members of the committee some well-earned free swimming lessons. ;)

Chris Vance said...

Awesome list of RC mistakes! Maybe this was their first time RCing?

Thanks for collecting these. I just started racing and haven't been through enough to experience bad race committees.

Tillerman said...

Actually it's the opposite reason christopher. This particular guy is one of the oldest members of the club and has been sailing and RCing for decades. Hope I never get like that. (Or perhaps I aleady am?)

Tim Coleman said...

20. It doesn't matter what flags you use, the fleets all know the correct starting sequence, in fact why bother with any flags, they only listen for the sound signals anyway.

21. Try mixing up the start sequence, it gets boring with all the fast boats going off first. Reverse the order just for fun! Those fast boats will enjoy the thrill of doging those slower boats! And the slow ones will get to see the fast boats up close!

22. Handicap races are a bore, they are always won by the Cats so don't worry about briefings on the start, the course, number of laps, etc, it just slows up proceedings and only those in the know need to know! Everyone else can just follow!

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