Small Boat Scene
The Race Committee Is Not Your Mother
ace Committee does a heck of a lot for us racing sailors. From organizing and taking care of the equipment needed to run races, to researching the conditions in the course area, to holding competitors’ meetings, to coordinating with other organizations who may be holding on-the-water events, to setting the courses (and changing them as the wind shifts) and running the races, to monitoring the weather for safety purposes, to inputting and calculating scores, to sometimes tracking down qualified people to serve as a Protest Committee, to washing down boats and marks and more at the end of the day… it’s a lot of work. Sometimes they offer water for competitors between races. Sometimes they tow the fleet back to the dock if the wind fails. Sometimes they serve as a “crash boat” when sailors have issues out on the water. For nearly all regattas, race committee officials and staff are volunteers. They get paid only by kind regatta organizers who budget to include a regatta dinner for them, through “thank yous” shouted across the boat park or at the finish line by competitors, and through their sense of supporting a sport they love. Never should they assume the role of your parent or coach. Think of it this way: race committees shouldn’t be doing your work for you, on shore or on the water. Start your regatta experience off on the right foot. Even before you arrive at the event site, be sure to read through the Notice of Race (NOR). Sometimes the Sailing Instructions (SI) are available well in advance as well. Always attend the Competitors’ Meeting (information on when and where—including potentially being 82 August 2021 SpinSheet.com
By Kim Couranz
virtual these days—will be in the NOR) and arrive on time. Those meetings often include key information that will prove super handy for a successful day, such as which of a few potential course locations they’re planning on using and which courses they’re likely to set. Don’t be “that guy” who asks questions that are answered in the NOR or SI. And definitely don’t be “those people” who are talking during the meeting while the rest of the fleet strains to hear the important information.
Remember the part where I mentioned most race committee people are volunteers? Yup. Please don’t waste their time; we want and need them to volunteer again (and again, and again). When they offer assistance, help the race committee help you. Are they organizing tows to help everyone back to the harbor? As much as possible, make your way toward a location where they can easily pick you up without straying from their direct course home. Have your tow line already rigged up and ready to go when they get to you. In many dinghy classes, towing happens ##Help the race committee help you... and don’t forget they are volunteers. Photo by Will Keyworth only infrequently; if it’s a new concept for you, be sure to ask class stalwarts for tips for positive towing experiences. Race committee offering drinking water? “Please” and “thank you” are golden words, even for grownups. Have a place onboard where you can securely stash your trash so that it doesn’t end up in our Be sure to check out the boats the race Bay. Is the race committee being super committee will be using. Know what nice and accepting trash? Make sure it is the signal boat looks like so that you securely in their hands before loosening will know when you have arrived in the your grip on the item you are transferright place for your racing. In busy areas ring. such as Annapolis, often there are several Maneuvering around motorboats courses set up fairly close to each other. that are running? A typical three-blade Some kind race committee support boats propeller running at 3200 rpm can inflict may divert from their regularly scheduled up to 160 cuts in one second. Take tasks to let you know where you should your time and be careful when close to actually go for your start; others may not running outboards; communicate your do this, leaving you to potentially miss intentions to the driver. Don’t rush the your starts. race committee either, as they may be Speaking of missing your starts, get moving slowly and deliberately in order out there on time, okay? I’ll be blunt: to keep you safe. Being late to the starting area, unless And remember the big picture. Race there are strong mitigating circumstances committees are out there to run high(such as absolutely no wind or the only quality racing in a safe environment. hoist to get you on the water being broAnything that distracts them from that ken), is disrespectful to the race commitprimary goal may diminish the quality of tee. Let them get races started on time. the racing. Don’t be that distraction!