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Old 09-09-2010
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Hand signals for a bow person

Hey Guys,

can you help me out here. After a year of racing my crew is pretty okay in boat handling and becoming more and more proficient in trim. We're moving up in the fleet so everything is going well. What I am wondering about is what hand signals are you guys using for the bow person to communicate in the pre start to the driver and tactician? I.e. distance to the line, luffing and bearing, accelerating, de-accelerating. We're still working out a system and some tips would be helpful.

BR,

Martijn
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Old 09-09-2010
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Two little hand held radios...would work great...cobra's

Just a thought, they work great for anchoring and picking up a mooring too

Better yet, if you get voice actuated headset radios, then you have hands free.
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Old 09-09-2010
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There’s a big distance between the helm and the bow on a 50-foot yacht. So when the helmsman needs to communicate with the bow crew in an anchoring or mooring situation, especially in a 30-knot breeze, voices are often raised to full volume and sometimes instructions and countermands are reduced to shouts of rage and screams of frustration… unless a system of sign language is used. It is a real pleasure to watch an experienced team on a large yacht anchor or moor perfectly without as much as a shout or hint of profanity.

As a sailing instructor Charlie is rigorous at teaching proper anchoring and using correct hand signals but recently he had a group of European sailing students who pooh-poohed this aspect of instruction, “We anchor in ze Med all ze time, no problem,” said the Claude, a Frenchman. The Bulgarian couple from Sofia nodded in agreement so Charlie just glossed over this aspect of the course thinking he must have experienced students.

Next morning, anchored in Gorda Sound, it was time to raise the anchor and Charlie told the ‘experienced’ neophytes to go ahead using the appropriate hand signals. The maneuver worked well at first but then the chain slipped off the gypsy and the entire length ran out into the sea (the bitter end was tied off, thank goodness). The Frenchman at the helm shouted at the Bulgarian anchorman and was quickly reprimanded by Charlie, “Seulement gestures,” (only gestures) he said in passable French. On the second try the anchor chain came up nearly all the way but then stopped ten feet from the roller. “Now what!” shouted Claude just as the anchorman gave the clenched fist in the air – meaning to most of us that the anchor is up… but to the Frenchman it meant ‘Up Yours.’

Claude, now completely forgetting the etiquette, shouted loudly at the bow, “Ees all OK?” and made the diver’s sign of ‘All OK,’ a circle of thumb and forefinger. Apparently in Eastern Europe this means something to do with your mother’s anatomy and Ivan, the Bulgarian, was not happy. Just then, he bent down to secure the anchor locker and his pants (this is absolutely true as told to me by Charlie) and fell to his ankles displaying an almost perfect moon to the French couple. He was wearing those ridiculous low rider shorts and they do tend to be loose. At this stage Claude lost it. “You are not a Bulgarian,” he said, “You are a Vulgarian.” Ivan shot back with F---ing Frogs and Charlie had his hands full for a while.

The next day Charlie devised a new set of hand signals to communicate between bow and stern, “When the anchor is up and at the roller you can give the sign of the middle finger of your right hand,” he gestured with a perfect ‘bird.’ After a moment of silence and a few inquisitive stares they all roared with laughter.
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Old 09-09-2010
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Knows a few finger signals that car drivers use quite often... but yeah.. if your really into racing.. get headset talkies.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by martijnburger View Post
Hey Guys,

can you help me out here. After a year of racing my crew is pretty okay in boat handling and becoming more and more proficient in trim. We're moving up in the fleet so everything is going well. What I am wondering about is what hand signals are you guys using for the bow person to communicate in the pre start to the driver and tactician? I.e. distance to the line, luffing and bearing, accelerating, de-accelerating. We're still working out a system and some tips would be helpful.

BR,

Martijn
What kind of boat, what kind of racing? (phrf, od, etc) How many boats?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by martijnburger View Post
Hey Guys,

can you help me out here. After a year of racing my crew is pretty okay in boat handling and becoming more and more proficient in trim. We're moving up in the fleet so everything is going well. What I am wondering about is what hand signals are you guys using for the bow person to communicate in the pre start to the driver and tactician? I.e. distance to the line, luffing and bearing, accelerating, de-accelerating. We're still working out a system and some tips would be helpful.

BR,
.
Martijn
Keep it simple. You need boat lengths to the line (pinky through index finger), and 'up' or 'down' (thumb pointed in the direction needed) . On a race boat, everyone needs their hands free, so a radio w/o a headset is a non-starter. Headsets happen on some large boats with large budgets, but I can't recall seeing any locally. Hand signals or a tap on the deck are also good for initiating jibes, tacks, etc... in tactical situations when silence is golden. The bow doesn't usually have anything to say about acceleration as they're not watching time. When driving, I'll take a look at my watch in the sequence, as will the tactician, but having someone dedicated to doing the final minute (5, 4:30, 4, 3:30, 2, 2:30, 1 min, 45sec, 30sec, 20sec, 15, 10, 5,4,3,2,1sec....) is very helpful.. again, loud enough for the afterguard and trimmers to hear, no more. Good boats are quiet boats.
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Old 09-10-2010
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You need to come up with your own code that everyone on the boat understands. Try to keep it to one handed signals (it's hard to stay on the pointy end when you can only use one hand, it's really hard when you busy doing sign language). Don't specify pinky, or index to mean different things. In gloves you can't tell the difference between an index finger and a ring finger. Just refer to the number of fingers up.

Thumbs up/down = come up/down
Arm/hand straight out = hold course
# of fingers shown = boat lengths to the line
Crossed forearms = over the line or 1/2 a boat to the line, you pick.
windmill motion w/ arm/hand = speed up

others can be made to fit whatever you need them too. Just remember that the bowman has the best view, and make sure the crew and skipper know this, and trust his/her judgement.
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Old 09-16-2010
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Originally Posted by ste27 View Post
What kind of boat, what kind of racing? (phrf, od, etc) How many boats?
It's an X-Yachts X-99. International One Design Class, 10 m LOA, 6 person crew. National starts with 8 yachts, International 40 yachts.
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Old 09-16-2010
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I communicate the tactician WHO decides what the helmsman should do

If its really URGENT i will yell directly at the helmsman

This works on a 35'
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