Race Officer Instructions


Preparation for the Start

Try to arrive at least ½ hour before the start time in the calendar.  The key to the Starter’s hut is hanging on the Clubhouse wall adjacent to the activities notice board.

Assess the weather.  If conditions are too bad, abandon the race.  (Usually after discussion with participants.)

Check that the clock is working and set to the correct time or a little slow.  A race must not be started before the advertised time.

Check the lights and horn are working. The VHF radio should be on Channel M1 and set to low power; please read the instructions provided.  The radio call sign is ‘Forth Cruising Club’.  If required, participants can be talked to prior to the beginning of the start sequence.  You can confirm courses, times of start etc, but not after the starting sequence has commenced.

Check all necessary flags are present and you are familiar with their procedures (see separate Flag instruction sheet – OOD Flag doc).

Fill in the Race Result Sheet with the race name, date, start time and OOD’s name.

The boat name and sail number can be filled in as competitors make it known to you that they intend to race.


For Dinghies – Decide on a course round marks E, O & W starting into the wind. Put course letters in the East window of the starters hut. Check that the Club boat, Osprey, is available and manned by a competent crew.  A dinghy race must not start until the Club boat, or other designated boat, is ready and crewed.

For Cruisers – Select a pre-arranged course listed in the FCC Yacht Race Courses list.

Make up the course number (e.g. W1, E2) from the letters and numbers provided and place them in the Starters’ hut window.  Make sure the competitors know the course and that the relevant marks are in place.  If 2 races are being run, the cruiser course is displayed in the East front window, the dinghy in the West front window.

The Start

Decide the time of the start of each race.  This may be a little later than the published time, but not earlier. Raise flag ‘AP’ if necessary. Choose a time which coincides with 5 minute steps on the clock.  The second race starting sequence commences after the first race has successfully started.

The starting line is formed by a transit between the flag pole on the Starter’s hut and the outer distance mark ‘O’.  The length of the line is the distance between the outer distance mark and the inner distance mark ‘N’.

Note:  All start times and light signals must be correct to the second.  (The sound signal is to draw attention to the light signals.)  Check you have recorded all the boats preparing to race.

 Starting Sequence for each class

  • 5 Minutes before the start – Switch on all 3 lights and make one sound signal.
  • 4 Minutes before the start – Switch off one light and make one sound signal.
  • 1 Minute before the start – Switch off a second light and make one sound signal.
  • Start – Switch off the final light and make one sound signal.

The Race

If any boats start to cross, or are over the line, before the start sound signal make a second sound signal immediately after the start signal, raise flag ‘X’ and leave the final light on until all the early starters have returned and crossed the line correctly. Then switch off the final light and lower flag ‘X’.  If a boat which starts early ignores the early start sound signal and continues to race, mark the race sheet accordingly and switch off the light.

If so many boats have started early that you are unable to identify them, make a General Recall by switching on all lights and make several sound signals.  If there is a General Recall the race should be restarted as soon as possible after all other races have started.  Restart the race, using the above starting sequence.

If any boats are noticeably late in crossing the start, record this on the Race Results Sheet.

During the race, monitor the boats competing.  Check as far as possible that the correct course is being sailed.  If any boat encounters difficulty during the race this should be monitored and recorded on the Race Results Sheet.

If it seems unlikely that the leading boat in any race will finish within approximately 3 hours of the start, or the wind is getting much stronger, the course should be shortened by switching on one light, making two long sound signals and raising flag ‘S’ (see flag appendix).

This signal instructs the lead boat to round the mark at the end of the leg on which it is sailing, then head directly for the finishing line, crossing from the direction of that mark.

Note:  Avoid any confusion by making sure the lead boat is well away from any mark when you make the signal.

If for any reason after the race has started the race has to be abandoned, switch on all the lights and make several sound signals.

Finishing Routine

 As the boats complete the course, record the time as they cross the line and give each one a single sound signal.  Do not signal any boat which did not start correctly.  Boats are finished when the first part of the hull crosses the line.

Look for protest flags.  Record any you see and the time reported to you.  If a protest is brought to your attention the protester must complete a Race Protest Form, found in the OOD’s desk, within 2 hours of the completion of their race.  This form should be given to the Vice Commodore as soon as possible.  The OOD does not make any decisions regarding protests, though their observations may be asked for by the Vice Commodore during his deliberations.

Switch off the power at the socket, take down the course letters and lock up the Starter’s hut.  Return the key to the Clubhouse.  Pin the results on the notice board in the Clubhouse for the Vice Commodore to collect.

Updated July 2013