By Airwaves writer Taylor Penwell
Sailboat racing involves many different roles in order to be successful. We have the skippers, crew members, shore crew, and of course, the race committee. Finding qualified people to be apart of the race committee can be difficult task. Often the most experienced candidates for the race committee are those who’d rather compete in a sailboat rather than be on the committee.
All of us sailors have attended the race where the race committee just didn’t “have it together.”
Here are some key points when it comes to being part of the race committee.
What is the Race Committee?
The term “race committee” includes any person or group in charge of “managing” a sailboat race. This includes everything from writing the sailing instructions to actually conducting the race.
What skills are required?
-Ability to focus on a specific task
-Ability to follow instructions
-Ability to adjust quickly to changes
Do I need to know anything about sailboat racing?
No! Just be willing to learn and take directions.
How important is race management in sailboat racing?
No race is possible without the effort of the race committee. A race committee must be able to properly run and operate an orderly event for the satisfaction of the competitors. Without this, sailors might decide to not attend that regatta or race with the poor race committee.
What are the race committee’s goals?
The prime goal is to offer fair competition for all. A good race committee starts on time, delivers clear racing instructions and signals, sets a precise course and adjusts promptly to changing wind and weather. A well-organized race committee does a lot to set the tone for fair competition.
Another important goal is to give satisfaction to competitors. This is done by setting a good start line, setting a good course and finish line, and providing a racing event that is safe and fun, ashore and afloat. It requires foresight, detailed planning and above all, teamwork.
What are the rewards?
-Being out on the water
-Action, fun, new friends
The Race Management Team
Mark Setter- Positions, sets, and relocates marks of the course. Relays changes in wind to the race committee.
Wind Reader- Observes and records wind direction at regular intervals
Principal Race Officer (PRO)- Chief executive of the race committee team. Makes the major race management decisions.
Line Sighter- Sights starting line to identify boats “on the course side” and tracks boats returning to the start. Sights finish line to determine order and moment of finish.
Sounder- In charge of sound signals (gun, horn, or whistle) that draw competitors’ attention to visual signals.
Scorer- Tabulates points and finishing times for finishers and calculates handicaps if required.
US Sailing is committed to ensuring successful race committees. They administer a national program of race management training and certification. The certifications make sure that race committees meet a standard. Having these US Sailing Race Management Certifications can build your skills, be invited to run all types of racing, and make friends.
For more information on US Sailings Race Management Training check out their website.