How to go about organzing a race for non yacht club members? - SailNet Community
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How to go about organzing a race for non yacht club members?

One of the perks of being in a club is that their is organized race nights, which happen frequently around Toronto. Can a marina hold a friendly race without running afoul of the law? I'm sure there is a couple dozen out of the 300 sailboats at my marina who would be interested, but I have no idea how to go about organizing such an event beyond finding interested parties.

I'm talking about mixed fleet racing around some inshore/offshore markers for a couple hours. I suppose you need to clear it with the local yacht clubs to make sure you're not racing when they are. All the information is available to club members, but not to non-club members. I have no idea who to approach. It may be that you need to be a yacht club to organize such a thing, but I duuno...

I think we can sort out PHRF ratings, markers, and a committee boat, but really new to this whole thing having raced only a couple times.
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Re: How to go about organzing a race for non yacht club members?

I got some good advice from Jeff on this last year.

I am not going to repeat his advice, but I will tell you what I learned after the discussion here.

I ended up working with a group of other interested sailors. After much discussion we decided to go with a run what you brung (no handicap) type cruise in company. By calling it a cruise and keeping it simple we think our solution was a bit simpler than a race. For our purposes we went with a fairly long race because we wanted an overnight component to it.. If you want to do something short, you are well positioned at your marina to use Gibraltar point bouy, and then maybe a one of the outer buoys in Humber Bay. That should give you a nice boomerang shaped course and keep you out of the traffic.

I don't see any reason you would need to notify the local yacht clubs. As I am sure you know, RCYC, QCYC and IYC run their races inside the harbour Tuesday-Thursday so I would avoid that. In fact, I would avoid racing inside the harbour at all.

Edit: I just remembered something else. They used to race Albacores out of Toronto Island Marina. I suspect they still do. They kind of formed a yacht club within the marina with their own little club house and all. Might be worth talking to them.

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Re: How to go about organzing a race for non yacht club members?

Thanks man, ya definitely keeping it out of the inner harbour. Occasionally RCYC runs a race out to the channel marker at the end of spit and back. Not often though. I'm out there enough to get a gauge on who races when.

I think we'll just keep it simple and low key and see how she goes. Not looking for a serious race.
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Re: How to go about organzing a race for non yacht club members?

The yacht club Arcb mentions is https://hcyc.ca/

An inexpensive membership will also get you reciprocal rights at all the yacht clubs on the lake.

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Re: How to go about organzing a race for non yacht club members?

There's been an informal race every Thursday year 'round just outside the harbor in Dana Point for more decades then I care to remember. We use the courses laid out for buoy racing by the Yacht clubs, starting line is the green buoy and an 'A' frame on the cliffs above the harbor, everyone starts as close to the buoy as possible, of course. Catalina 30's start at 2 PM, everyone else gauges their start based on how their rating compares. Higher rated boats start before 2, low ratings after 2, you basically start with the boats similar to your own. First boat across the finish is winner and chooses the course the following week. If you start too early a couple self appointed marshals will let you know over radio. Starting countdown conducted on VHF channel 69.

Sanctioned races are at 6pm Thursday and many boats use the 2 O'clock as a tune up/warm up, organized races also held on Saturdays.

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Re: How to go about organzing a race for non yacht club members?

No reason why you can't organize this yourself. And no need to talk to the yacht clubs. Just do it. Use the bouys already out there. No real need for race marks to begin with. Decide if you want to start everyone at once or run a pursuit race. It will be a bit of a learning curve for the race committee until they have run a few races.
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Re: How to go about organzing a race for non yacht club members?

In Santa Cruz, like Dana Point, we have been doing this for years. They are called Catalina Tuesdays, but many types of boats participate, including one fellow who comes out on a Finn!. The rest are in the 20 to 40 foot range.

We post fliers around the harbor inviting everyone to join in with the fun.
We use pretty much the racing course the yacht club uses. We have the courses printed up on laminated sheets.
We also use channel 69 to communicate.
We start on eithor a line from a start mark to shore, or lately one of the guys sets a second bouy for a line.
We use RaceQ to keep track of finishes. About half of us have this app on our phones.
No protests. Participants are encouraged to play nice and not cause any damage!!
After each race, we meet at a local restaurant for food and talk (mostly lies).

Some more recent developments:

One person (thank you Barry) has taken this on as a labor of love for about three years. He is really fun and adds a lot.
The RaceQ is just starting to catch on. It adds an interesting depth of data.
Barry writes a blog that talks about each race, and then a learning topic based on observations from the race.
The last Tuesday of the month is a BBQ at the local yacht club (Santa Cruz Yacht Club). A lot of the racers are in the club (I am).
The club connection is a great mixer. Regardless of club membership, we are all members of the same sailing community.
The club encourages this partnership, and hopefully some people might like to join the club. Win-win.



Over the last few years, the participation of our race has grown from about 10 racers to about 20. That's a pretty big group! We have a large spectrum of experience and (how to say this...) competitive drives. What we do share is a common evening of fun racing and a sense of fellowship and commraderie
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Last edited by Scotty C-M; 4 Days Ago at 11:59 PM.
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Re: How to go about organzing a race for non yacht club members?

I see races listed in our local notice to mariners (USA) all season. Some are notice of repetitive races, same time each week. Others are one off. I assume one just calls the USCG to get these published, but I doubt they are actually necessary. These races almost never come with any restricted area. The only exceptions have been major ones, like the AC qualifying races. There has also been temporary restrictions for things like the swim across the Bay.

I'm also sure that just because they are published, doesn't afford any privileges to the racers. All collision rules apply and anyone is permitted to sail right through the course. It's not polite, but it's allowed.

It also wouldn't be polite to beat a standing race to their course, but I'm not even sure that is enforceable.

I'd be curious to hear more about how this works IRL.


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Re: How to go about organzing a race for non yacht club members?

This is my post that ArcB mentioned above. It specifically included items that related to what he was doing, but there still may be useful information here as well:
I have organized races from scratch a few times in the past. In some ways it is not as easy as it used to be, in others its easier. In the past, I simply put posters up at local sailing clubs, called the local news paper, held an organizational meeting, and who ever showed up, raced. It was very casual, but turn out tended to be small.

In recent years, the internet makes in much easier to get the word out. Regional and national sources are much more accessible through their online webpages. Resources like Scuttlebutt gives you access to a very large number of people. That is the upside. The downside is that in these litigious times, you ideally will need to carry insurance to protect the race organizers, and volunteers. and it seems to be very difficult to get that insurance if the organization isn't incorporated. (I have been on the board of CHESSS, Chesapeake Shorthanded Sailing Society for over 3 years now and we have just gotten incorporated and are working on obtaining insurance.) Ideally, it is most expeditious if the race can be run under the auspices of an existing organization that already has insurance in place.

But beyond the organizational issues, there are a large number of basic items to resolve. If you are running a normal race, its not too bad, but if you are running a race that deviates from being able to use US Sailing's standard adopted rules, then you need to be thoughtful about the implications of those deviations and in how those deviations are written. A race like the one you are proposing should have its own supplementary safety rules as well as rules that define the box of what is permitted vs not allowed. For example you use the term 'sail and oar' does that include paddles and are pedal powered boats allowed? Is there a crew size limit? How is the actual course defined? (This can be a problem since small shallow boats can go places that they probably shouldn't without adding greatly to the risk, but how to you police that?) And you will find when it comes to safety issues, if there is a group working on the safety rules, it can be very hard to reach a consensus. (We went through that with CHESSS when we wrote our safety rules.)

There are always the rule of unintended consequences. For example the first race that I was involved in initiating was a single-handed race. Historically, 19th century races began with the boats at anchor and for reason's that I no longer remember, we decided to start that race from being at anchor. That led to all kinds of craziness that we had not anticipated, such as boats being anchored with a concrete block and crab trap line, and when the gun went off, and the sails were raised, the crab line was simply released, the concrete block abandoned, and the boat was off. They met the literal language of starting at anchor, but nothing required them to being the anchor and rode with them.

There are organizational functional aspects of this as well. Are there chase boats? Is there a central radio base monitoring 24/7 for boats in trouble? Are competitors required to check in with position reports? Are these coded so other competitors can't use the info strategically? How about issues like PFD's and Harnesses? Does the race committee seek out specific locations along the route where competitors are allowed to stop and rest or are they allowed to stop anywhere they feel like? If designated stopping and camping grounds are set aside, are competitors required to check in, or can the skip that site and keep going? If not, how do you prevent competitors from pulling up in places which do not legally allow landing? How are repairs handled? Do they have to carry all of their gear to camp for the night, and spares to make a repair along the way, or can they have a pit crew carrying their gear and spares to where one of the stopover points? Will you have multiple classes racing? Will your provide trophies? Will there be a rating system to correct for clearly faster or slower boats? How do you address something like a foiler that can do the race in 3-4 hours?

My sense is that in the old days a race like this could have been pulled off pretty quickly and for nearly free. These days, my sense is that there is a lot more cost and time required to do something like this safely and successfully.

Jeff


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Re: How to go about organzing a race for non yacht club members?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scotty C-M View Post
We use RaceQ to keep track of finishes. About half of us have this app on our phones.
No protests. Participants are encouraged to play nice and not cause any damage!!
After each race, we meet at a local restaurant for food and talk (mostly lies).
Hey Scotty, so with the RaceQ, does that mean you don't need someone at the finish line to record finishes, (assuming everyone has the app I guess).

Will it show someone starting too early as well? I really don't want to over complicate things with a restart or having an official flag someone who busts the line. I'd rather just impose a 30 second penalty or whatever, post race, after viewing the start on the app. I imagine most of us would just like to not hit each other at the start. I don't think we'll have the skill or experience to have us all crossing the start line within seconds of each other. More like minutes, lol...
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