Possible start procedure changes


Ken Smith:
Dan Heaney, an experienced PRO and iceboater, has taken on the task of PRO for the Western Regional Regatta.  We have had some discussions among us and I wanted to share some of the discussions with everyone.  Dan is thinking through how to run a fair regatta with minimum delay between starts, consistent with the rules (IDNIYRA and NIA).  If you are not familiar with these rules, go to DNAmerica.org and follow the opening page link to the archives, where you can find all of them.  Other discussions involve equipment issues, how to open the start line for the safety area, and such.
  The items quoted below, however, are basically proposing a few procedural rule changes, which requires a vote at the annual argument and a subsequent member vote to adopt.  What do YOU think?

In general: 
  Post the required information (course length, time limit, laps etc) with the start positions prior to each race to minimize verbal information.

  Post fleet rotation.  If it changes (race committee option) announce.  Use fleet flag with the starter to minimize confusion.  (We have had improper starters on the line from time to time, confused about the fleet starting)


Dan's comments/proposal:

            New Thought

            Recommended Sailing Instruction – “Rule Modification”

            NIC Racing Rules – Part II, Management of Races

            Item E

Paragraph (3)

                        Requires Race Committee (Shall)  announcement of; The Course, Number of Laps, Lap Time Limit,       

                        And instruction to keep Safety Zone Clear.


            Recommended Modification RE E(3) Announcement.

Because, as a rule, competitors cannot hear “verbal” announcements when on the starting line the requirements of NIC, Part II, E-(3) shall be fulfilled by placing a “Written Notice” on the Starting Position list posted for each race of each fleet. Notice format to be:

            Course: Windward – Leeward

            Course Length: (1) One Mile (or as GPS Measured)

            Laps: (3) Three laps

Lap Time Limit: (Based on IDNIYRA Lap time Rule (6 Minutes-30 Seconds Per Mile) Example: (1) Mile Course – Lap Length (2 Miles, Lap Time Limit: 13 Minutes)

Safety Zone Shall remain Clear At All Times


Posting can be accomplished by: Preprinting a self adhesive label (3” X 3”) with the six items to be announced with the actual information written by the race committees for each posting.


Procedure for start shall be posted:

            Fleet Rotation shall be Posted at the beginning of each day

            Note that fleet rotation may be changed at the discretion of the race committee

            Next starting fleet, Fleet Flag shall be flown at starting line center.

When race committee is ready for start – Starter shall carry fleet flag to starter position near leeward mark identifying that all competitors of the fleet to start, shall be at the line “ready to start” Starter shall indicate his intention to start with a sound signal – whistle/horn/whatever.

When the fleet is at ready, the starter shall alternately face each of the line and make an arm and sound signal to confirm that the start is proceeding and confirm that the competitors are ready.

If a competitor is not ready the starter will allow a short (reasonable pause) and repeat the ready signal fo4 each side of the line.

After a short pause the starting flag will be raised.

While the flag is up, the starter shall scan the line – if no problem is apparent, after a short pause the flag is to be dropped for the start.

The final scan and pause shall be constant for each start. 


The Modification indicated and the procedure should be clearly written and submitted as a “Change” to the NIC and IDNIYRA Governing Committee for consideration and subsequent IDNIYRA member vote.

Geoff Sobering:
These suggestions all sound very reasonable to me.

I've personally always found it a bit amusing that before each race the starter makes the "boilerplate" announcement of the number of laps (it's essentially always 3 in organized DN regattas - has it ever been something else?), course length (I can see the windward mark), and time limit(who cares?  I don't check my watch during the race ;D).

I think retaining the "Ready on the left... Ready on the right" announcement as a "final warning" is very good thing.

Paul Goodwin - US 46:
I've helped with a lot of regattas, and worked with Dan many times.  A lot of interesting ideas, although I'm not sure they will shorten the time to start a race significantly, and may some of the proposed changes could cause delays or confusion.  All of the proposed procedural changes only affect the time it takes to make the verbal announcement at the start of a race, which takes what - maybe 15 seconds?  Plus it actually adds to the time required for the RC to prepare the start a race, since someone has to make a posting, and in theory every sailor has to subsequently read before going to the line.

Another thing to remember, some local races are conducted using the basic format for the big regattas.  This has the advantage of getting the sailors trained to follow the standard starting procedure.

I always listen to the "boilerplate" announcement, and at local level racing, the number of laps does change depending on the conditions.   Usually this means reducing the number of laps to get more races in, since after a couple laps the finish order is pretty well established.  Plus the beginning stages of a race are where you can gain the most from practicing, after that it is pretty much based on boat speed.  It can be difficult to hear the announcement on the end of a 50 boat starting line, however having a good bullhorn allows most sailors to hear it.

Announcing the course length can be critical.  Seeing the weather mark doesn't mean you can gauge how far away it is.  Knowing the course length gives you a feel for how far to sail before tacking, even if you can't see the weather mark.

I like using fleet flags at big regattas.  It makes it very easy to know who should be on the starting line, and it's easy to lose track when an hour or two passes between your starts.  This could be added to the rules, but then it becomes a requirement.  There is nothing wrong with adding it to the Sailing Instructions on a regatta by regatta basis, as we have done in the past.

Having individual race info posted at the starting line is nice, but things can change rapidly out on the course.  For instance if the boats are lined up while an RC member moves the weather mark, an announcement before the start can relay the info immediately.  If the info has to be posted, and time allowed for all the sailors to go the "shack" and look at the new posting, there will be a significant delay.

As for starting with "The final scan and pause shall be constant for each start" -- this is a bad idea.  The final pause should be varied between races, otherwise sailors will start to anticipate the flag drop, leading the premature starts.  The current rules call for the flag to be held up for one minute before dropping.  I don't know if you've ever started a race, but that minute is a loooong time.  I don't know of any RC in recent memory that actually waited that long.

As a member of the race committee that has run the past 10 (give or take) NAs and North American Worlds, I would object to adding any additional requirements especially postings (have you tried to write on wet paper with cold hands, etc).  Adding a requirement to post the course, etc will only add to the time to start a race.  How many times have we changed both course length and direction with the fleet on the line ready to go.  This would easily delay the race 15 to 20 Min by the time everyone has run back to the Ice Hut read the posting and returned - pity starting position 60.  If the intend of the Class is to run as many quality races as possible in a day then let's look to reducing requirements on the ice.  How many regattas have ended with the 7th Gold Race being started with a minute or so to the sunset time limit?  Do you really want to give up that for posting of a course which is announced? 

Why is it even necessary to announce the lap time as everyone knows that it's 6 1/2 min per mile.  Calculate it yourself and besides how many racers look at their watch too know if the time limit is met even if they can see when the leader rounded the leeward mark.  Announcement of the course length and number of laps as well as the Fleet and race number should all that is required. 

We definitely should change the requirement of holding the flag for 1 minute.  I can't remember any time that we held the flag for more than 10 seconds and that would have been for someone not ready.  If we are going to specify a time it should be less than 10 secs and leave the actual time to the starter. 

The one comment I have received from a number of racers is that they really appreciate announcing "Ready on the ..." twice.  So If your looking for a proposal then How about doing away with the lap time (only the scorers need to know this), announce Fleet, Race Number, Course Length, Number of Laps and reduce the flag hold to less than ten seconds.

Use of Fleet flags is great but a number of times they have not been on the ice for us.

See you at the worlds


[0] Message Index