How much room to give racers when you can't see the course? - SailNet Community

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Old 07-23-2008
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How much room to give racers when you can't see the course?

We were sailing this evening, and we know there are races on Wednesdays, we come outside the breakwall and sure enough, there they are, all in a big group, as we were sailing out we end up on the edge of the racing groups, crossing in front of a normal permanent bouy that they seemed to be using as a mark, while a boat with actual racing bouys on it was a few hundred yards away. Nobody yelled at us so I would assume we were not in anyones way, normal rules apply?

I race cars as my other hobby and I know if grandma in her buick somehow found her way onto the track all hell would break loose, instant red flag, race stopped
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Old 07-24-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eMKay View Post
We were sailing this evening, and we know there are races on Wednesdays, we come outside the breakwall and sure enough, there they are, all in a big group, as we were sailing out we end up on the edge of the racing groups, crossing in front of a normal permanent bouy that they seemed to be using as a mark, while a boat with actual racing bouys on it was a few hundred yards away. Nobody yelled at us so I would assume we were not in anyones way, normal rules apply?

I race cars as my other hobby and I know if grandma in her buick somehow found her way onto the track all hell would break loose, instant red flag, race stopped
For you, the normal rules apply. As a matter of courtesy to the racers, as well as safety, it's best to stay clear of the racers. Some of their racing rules are slightly different from your ROW rules, and they might not know which apply to you. Also, the racers will be sailing much more aggressively than the average sailor, crossing your bow or stern much more closely than usual. Also, just before the start of each racing class, there are a lot of boats sailing in every direction in a very confined area, and, if you aren't accustomed to it, it can be intimidating or even dangerous. When I'm not racing, I always try to avoid getting into a position where I'm giving a racer disturbed air off my sails. It's not required that I do so by any rule. It's just that the race is important to the racers, and I don't want to be a factor in it, and ruin his fun. Technically, you have all the same rights as the racers to sail wherever you want, whenever you want, but it's always appropriate to extend courtesies to others and to exercise sound and safe judgment.
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Old 07-24-2008
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You are free to sail across the course, just try to leave room for other boats, avoid obvious bouys they are sailing toward. They will be following the same Inland Waterways rules as you!
Unlike land races which haave fences around them, sailboats can go in any direction. But there will not be any red flags and the race will not stop!
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Old 07-24-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailormon6 View Post
Also, just before the start of each racing class, there are a lot of boats sailing in every direction in a very confined area, and, if you aren't accustomed to it, it can be intimidating or even dangerous.
That part I can see, especially with the huge local J-22 fleet. they like to sail really close to eacother It did make me a little nervous when everyone was finished and we were all heading toward the harbor entrance at the same time, close enough to have casual conversations with other boats, that was pretty cool.
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Old 07-25-2008
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Kudos to Sailormon6. Be aware that racers are indeed use to sailing close to other boats, and if you are on the course they may get real close to you, feeling there is plenty of room.

Know your rules (the COLREGs and Inland Waterway rules, not racing rules). If you are the stand-on vessel then you should be able to do just that. If you are give-way, racers will generally expect you to do so although they won't completely trust you to know what you are doing.

On the boats I have raced with good communication and trust between helm and bow a crossing with inches to spare is not out of the ordinary.

On my own boat, I try to avoid start and finish lines, and turning marks and to pass behind racers on the course.

sail fast, dave
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Old 07-25-2008
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If you're flying the National Ensign on your stern, is that still a generally accepted sign that you're not racing?
Paul
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Old 07-25-2008
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If I was cutting through a racecourse, I would give way to everyone and try to keep from feeding someone dirty air. Otherwise, just go around. You don't have to, but it would be the polite thing to do. The racers probably won't notice, but if you call 'starboard' on them and you're not racing, you can bet you're going to get a stink eye from the racing crew.
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Old 07-25-2008
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Dodging racing fleets is standard getting in and out of Annapolis on a weekend. There are usually at least three or four fleets racing. I try to stay heads up and out of the way - they are racing and I am just out for a sail. I know that I would hate to lose a race because of a boat moving thru the fleet.

I use the same philosophy with working boats in situations where I have right of way. I figure that they are trying to make a living and I am out having fun. I maneuver early to avoid them so there is no confusion.
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Old 07-25-2008
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On a race course

Sailormon6 mentions something that is very important, and that is the effect of "dirty air" on another boat. A boat in your wind shadow can be slowed down very much by the disturbed or decreased wind caused by your sails. I have had one instance where some one planted himself just to windward of me, and I simply asked if he was racing. He said no, and immediately got what I was saying and headed off, getting a big "thanks" from me. However another time I had a boat with a mast about twice as tall as mine, motoring with the main up, get about two boat lengths in front of me in a light air race, effectively stopping me dead in the water, and not even noticing. He was oblivious to anyone else, figuring if he didn't actually hit any boats it must be okay, I guess. I went from a possible first to a fourth in that one. I always try to notice where I am in regards to any racer and stay as far away as possible. It's just courtesy.
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Old 07-25-2008
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Courtesy rules! just stay away from the race whenever possible. Keep up the illusion that sailors are smarter and more courteous, and power boaters are A-holes! They generally do their part!
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