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Racing For Beginners

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This information is to help non-racing IBRSC members (and of course new members for the club) to join in the fun on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays. This is not a racing tutorial, more of a survival guide to let you get a taste for it all.

For more details on racing visit the full racing for beginners guide .

Dinghy racing is a great deal of fun, and there's no better way to improve your sailing. The sport is equal for all ages, shapes and sizes, and a handicap system allows different types of boats to race each other. Even the least competitive of personalities will soon find themselves drawn in. IBRSC is a friendly fleet and always welcomes new racers.

To start racing, all you need is reasonable control over your dinghy, and understanding of the following three basic rules and corresponding shouts:

Starboard tack boat has priority over port tack boat ('starboard!')

Windward boat gives way to leeward boat ('windward boat keep clear')

Water at the mark ('water!') - the inside boat has right to room to go round the mark, if she had an overlap on the outside boat when the first boat was three lengths from the mark.

The upshot of the 'windward' rule is that the leeward boat may luff up as much as she likes, meaning that the windward boat also has to, probably to the point of being forced to tack away. You may hear a cry of 'up up up' from the leeward boat, as he forces you over the start-line too early.

Water at the mark does not apply at the start line; you have no right to barge in next to the boat or buoy and demand room. So there.

There are also two penalties you need to know:

Touching a mark with hull, sail, person or anything else requires a 360 (i.e. one complete turn with a tack and a gybe)

Other rule infringement - not giving way, bumping someone, anything that you know you have done wrong - requires a 720 turn (two complete turns with two tacks and two gybes). You may hear 'do your turns' if someone thinks you merit this, but generally you're expected to realise and exonerate yourself.

Penalties should be done as soon as possible but out of the way of everyone else - sail clear first because you have no rights while doing a penalty. Naturally, if you don't do your penalties, someone will protest you and you will be disqualified, so if in doubt, spin and stay in!

These three rules and two penalties are pretty essential and you should understand these before racing. It isn't very complicated.


See our racing for begginer series of hints, tips and advice


Further reading
Mark Johnson's 'Racing Basics' - an excellent public-domain publication, available on the web as a pdf download.
IBRSC Sailing instructions  Available  here .
John Caig and Tim Davison 'Racing Basics'
RYA Dinghy Racing handbook - a small but perfectly formed publication with all you need to know.

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