Forum: Race Officers

Start Sequence

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Paul Zupan
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Umpire
  • International Judge
  • National Judge
Here is a question we received from Lisa Cowell of Western Australia

It is a twilight race meant to be social; a nominal fee applies and we are racing for trophy at end of season. There is one course. All yachts sail this one course, and yachts range from 17 foot to 60 foot. There are two starts, first start is all yachts UNDER 30 foot; five mins later all yachts OVER 30 foot.

It's a very short course so it doesn't take long for larger yachts to.pass the smaller yachts and this creates chaos at marks especially when the larger yachts' sails block the wind for the much smaller boats and thus the smaller boats have decreased control.

My question is, are any rules being broken in the starting procedure? It has been requested that larger boats go first but the race committee is not willing to change. The smaller boats (I am a 24 footer) are a minority and the larger boats don't understand how difficult conditions are. With one course and two starts, what size yacht goes first?
Created: 18-Mar-02 16:15

Comments

Craig Daniels
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • National Umpire
  • Regional Race Officer
  • National Judge
1
I don't believe there is a rule that would apply here. I will say that in our area, we would start the faster boats first. I wonder if the Race Officer's Handbook covers this. It would be guidance though and not a rule. We have some judges on here that are certified as Race Officers. I am curious what they will say.
Created: 18-Mar-02 16:40
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
3
Last season I had an identical dialog with an OA about a change they made to an event where they "flipped" the starts. Their main concern was getting everyone to the party closer together. Eventually I was able to persuade them to start the big-boats first.

Lisa, if you are listening, maybe you can use some of my arguments to persuade your OA as well...

I'm assuming these boats are racing under PHRF or another handicap scheme (the argument doesn't hold-up as well if these are 2 OD fleets).

The important point to make to the OA is not to cry tears that it's not fun to get shadowed by the faster boats, but rather this condition creates an unfair race within the small-boat fleet and to a lesser extent the big-boat fleet as well.

Handicaps only work (to the extent they do) when boats are racing in the same conditions. The problem with starting the small-boats first is that it unfairly benefits the faster small-boats within the small-boat fleet. This happens because the slower small-boats will spend more time being slowed (being shadowed, forced to take extra tacks/gybes) by more large-boats than the faster small-boats. Depending on the geometry of the course, some faster small-boats might even escape being effected by the big-boats at all, while the slower small-boats get rolled/shadowed one after another.

These effects also tend to compound themselves, as the slower small-boats fall further and further behind and thus deeper and deeper into the big-boat fleet.

This gives the faster small-boats an UNFAIR advantage within their fleet range which is not compensated-for by the handicap system.

One could argue the reverse is also true .. that this starting sequence also penalizes the faster big-boats vs the slower big-boats within the big-boat fleet as the faster big-boats will have to work their way through more small boats than the slower big-boats. This unfairly slows them down.

Both of these conditions, especially the small-boats, are not a fault of the racer .. they are not slower than their competitor due to inferior sailing, but rather by and through the design of their boat.

An OA/RC's first responsibility is to provide a fair race, not good party logistics.

Try making the above arguements .. in the end that approach worked for me.

Ang

PS .. Lisa if this race is supposed to be a "social", maybe suggest that they convert to a pursuit-start. That's a lot of fun for a social-race with the idea that a wide range of boats/boat-speeds finish close together.
Created: 18-Mar-02 16:49
Pat Lymburner
Nationality: Canada
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
  • National Race Officer
1
I agree with all that has been said, in addition, the safety of the fleet is also a factor especially in heavier seas and winds. Creating fair and reasonable splits in the start sequences can mitigate a lot of the safety concerns. Adding that to the request may cause the RC to reconsider.
Created: 18-Mar-02 17:44
Martin Smethers
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • National Judge
  • National Race Officer
0
I do not see why the race committee do not start the faster (larger) boats first, then the slower ones. That is common practice when you have mixed classes.
Created: 18-Mar-02 17:44
Lloyd Causey
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
1
Lisa,
I agree that the pursuit-start is a great way to get most boats to the finish close together. Judging many races I cannot do a serious race campaign so I also do Wednesday night beer can races. We don't do the pursuit-start because the finishes are always after dark and very hectic which the RC doesn't like.

A better solution would be have the big boats start first with different length legs for each. Say 2.5 for the big boys and 1.2 for smaller boats (adjusted to what you have available). We will have 7 regattas of 5 weeks each this summer starting very soon.
Lloyd Causey
Created: 18-Mar-02 17:46
Paul Hanly
Nationality: Australia
0
Put out extra marks outside the existing marks to make a second course outside the first course and start the big boats first but doing the longer "outside" course. The outside marks should be positioned so that there is little extra time/distance for the committee boat to lay them and pick them up. Or is there and extra island the big boats can sail around? Or do an extra lap of?
It is often not only about finishing at about the same time it is also about a roughly equal length of time on the water. Eg the big boats don't want to only sail 40 minutes while the slow boats get an hour.
Two clubs I sail at start faster boats first but with longer courses using the techniques described above.
Created: 18-Mar-02 21:37
Nick Hutton
Nationality: Australia
Certifications:
  • International Race Officer
2
And after all that stuff, helpful and otherwise, Lisa, the answer to your question is 'No rules have been broken.'
Created: 18-Mar-02 23:54
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