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Race Officer and Rescue Duties

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Race Officer Responsibilities

Dalgety Bay Sailing Club Race Officers (ROs) play a lead role in the successful delivery of every club race they're asked to manage.

Read the Sailing Instructions

The following information is intended to offer a detailed timeline of what needs to be done in advance and on the day of the duty:

5-7 days before the club racing

Contact all members who are on duty with you to make sure they're aware of their commitment and can attend (please ensure you get a response from everyone on duty).

If anyone's unavailable, that's never a problem but ask them to try to find someone to cover their duty by requesting a swap via the website and/or speaking to members they know.

Ask them to let you know if they've managed to find someone at least two days before the duty date.

2 days before the club race (only applies if one or more of your duty crew is unavailable)

If you've not heard from the member(s), contact them to find out if they managed to find a replacement.

If they can't find a replacement, ask if you can add their name to the short-notice availability list. That means the next time another race officer is short of a volunteer, that member (and everyone else on the short-notice availability list) will be notified. They may prefer to volunteer for a duty later in the season instead, which would also be fine.

To add a member to the short-notice availability list, please send their name, email address and duty they missed to and the duty manager will add them manually.

In terms of the immediate vacancy, it is now your responsibility to try to find a replacement.

Begin by emailing existing members on the short-notice availability list using the mass email function in Sailing Club Manager (SCM).

Here are instructions on how to use the mass email facility -

When you're preparing the email, please make it clear:

  • When help is needed (date and time)
  • Duty vacancy e.g. rescue boat driver
  • Skills or qualifications needed e.g. Powerboat Level 2

If there's no response to the email after one day, try sending a second email and making an appeal on Facebook. Sometimes people will volunteer the day before or even on the day.

If no-one has volunteered on the day, you have four options when you get to the club:

  1. Have a single crewed rescue boat (assuming you are short of a rescue assistant).
  2. Use one rescue boat rather than two (if you are short of a rescue boat driver) but make sure the second rib is tied up at the jetty if needed (but keep an eye on the RIB as the tide rises or falls).
  3. Ask around the dinghy park if one of the competitors, who is expecting to go sailing, will be willing to volunteer (you could also post the vacancy on the blackboard where you list the course).
  4. 4.Cancel the racing on safety grounds (last resort but understandable if someone doesn't come forward).

1 day before the club race

You should familiarise (or refamiliarise) yourself with the instructions for running a race with Sailing Club Manager (SCM) there are resources at the foot of this page but here is a direct link to a PDF version:

(Please note that these instructions are also printed and in a black folder in the starter's box.)

You also need to know if you will need a tractor driver on the day to launch and/or recover one or more of the RIBs. You can do this by checking the club webcam to see if the RIBs are at their moorings, in which case you won't need a tractor driver unless you've been asked to recover the RIBs at the end of racing.

You can access the webcam by downloading the Sricam app full instructions can be accessed by going to this link:

If you can't tell from the webcam if the RIBs are afloat then ask on Facebook and someone will let you know.

If you do need to launch and/or recover the RIBs then you will need a tractor driver.

Start by checking the names of your duty crew against the approved tractor driver list, which you can find in the document "Tractor Guidance" which is in the 'Safety' section at the foot of this page.

For convenience, here is a direct link to the document:

There is also a printed version in the starter's box.

If you don't have a tractor driver, make an appeal on Facebook, asking if anyone is available on the day of your duty and detail what time you need help e.g. only to launch RIBs or to launch and recover them.

Finally, check the weather forecast and what the tide will be doing during the race.

On the day of the club race


Arrive at least an hour (preferably 1.5 hours) before the start to open up the Starter's Box (keys in the 1812 cupboard). When you go into the box, you will need to turn on the power the switch is on the top left-hand side of the door. Please only use the switch with the light grey housing there should be writing to highlight which is the power switch.

On the day, you should:

  1. Assess wind direction and strength.
  2. Decide if conditions are safe for racing to go ahead this will need constant consideration during the day. If there's no wind or too much wind, you can decide to postpone or cancel the racing. You can consult with the competitors to get their views but it's your decision about what happens and safety must always be the top priority.
  3. Put out a printed race entry sheet for competitors to use (these should be in the black folder in the starter's box).
  4. Ensure duty crews turn up and report to you so you can provide instruction on which rescue boats to take out.
  5. Decide on a course which will provide the best and/or most interesting day for competitors. A key feature of this should always be a true beat to windward and you should consider asking your duty crew to lay extra club marks if these help improve the course. Always make sure the start/finish is in front of the starter's box so you can take times for each lap completed.
  6. When it comes to the start, remember that you can ask your duty crew to move the starting mark (yellow buoy, just off the club) to make the line as square to the wind as possible so line bias is kept to a minimum and competitors aren't forced to pile up at one end to get a decent start.
  7. Use chalk to write down the course on the blackboard (starter's box door) for competitors to see.
  8. If it's an on-shore start, the start line is between the yellow buoy, just off the club, and the flagpole in front of the starter's box. It's important that you line up the red and white transit pole on wheels between the flagpole and starting buoy. As the race officer, you should set the transit pole long before the start sequence gets under way.
  9. If the wind is from a southerly direction, consider having an on-the-water start so the start line can be set square to the wind. This can still use the yellow start buoy but the other end of the line would be set by one the safety boats, which would need to anchor. The sound signals can come from the starter's box, as usual, but, if anyone's over the line at the start, the safety boat crew would need to let you know immediately whether it's an individual or general recall. However, if it's windy and you need both safety boats available to rescue boats and/or sailors then a heavily biased start line will have to be the compromise.
  10. Brief rescue crews on your plan for the day and what you need from them.
  11. Perform a radio check with all rescue crews and check they're aware of the Emergency Recall Light (see below).
  12. Once all competitors have entered and made it clear which rig they're using (particularly for Aero and Laser/ILCA sailors, add their names and boats to SCM (see separate instruction document at foot of this page) if they've not already entered that particular series.
  13. Add the shorten course flag to the foot of the flagpole so it's ready to be raised when you want to shorten (i.e. finish a race).

Safety Note: Safety is always the number one priority and you must be confident there's sufficient rescue cover available for the competitors in the conditions on the day. While RYA guidelines suggest one rescue boat for 10 competitors if they're children, or 15 competitors if they're adults, the club aims for one rescue boat per 10 competitors, regardless of age.

However, depending on the wind strength and competitor ages/abilities, that might not be sufficient so it's important to use your judgement to provide the best support for competitors on the water. This will include doing what you can to find out about the abilities and experience of your rescue crew and competitors on the day. Where children and/or less experienced sailors are participating, advise your rescue crews to monitor them carefully while keeping an eye on the rest of the fleet.

If conditions worsen and there are a lot of bots in distress, advise your crews to prioritise rescuing people rather than boats.

Emergency Recall Light if you lose contact with your rescue boats e.g. radio communication problems, you can switch on the emergency recall light in the starter's box. This will flash continuously and should signal to safety boat crews that they are to contact you immediately (unless actively involved in a rescue). If communications cannot be established remotely, they are to return to the jetty for further instructions. This light is also used when one (or more) competitor is over the line at the start of a race and should flash continuously until they've restarted, when you can manually switch it off.

The position of the recall/strobe light and its switch is highlighted below:

During the race

  • Start the race(s) using the old PC in the clubhouse press "S" to start the sequence and it will count down automatically and display the correct light and sound signals at 5, 4, 1 and 0.
  • As a precaution, have a second independent timer going e.g. on your phone in case something goes wrong with the PC or you hit the wrong key.
  • When the starting signal sounds, if one or more boats are over the line and they can be identified, press the 'Horn' button to give the fleet an additional sound signal straight after the first. At that point, you would also operate the emergency recall/strobe light (see earlier notes). If the whole fleet is over the line, or so many boats that individual identification is impossible, you will need to sound a general recall. Do this by giving the fleet two additional sound signals (press the horn button twice for a sufficiently long period of time for racers to hear). If you have a general recall, reset the computer by pressing Ctrl Alt Del and starting again.
  • Once you've had a successful start, keep an eye on all the competitors and alert rescue crews if anyone gets into trouble. You will have an elevated view in the starter's box and access to binoculars so it's important to work with your rescue crews to keep competitors safe.
  • Club races are scored based on the best average lap and competitors repeat the course you've set until you raise the shortened course flag.
  • Make sure you take the time of competitors whenever they go through the start/finish line i.e. complete a lap. You can use the PC to help you do this by pressing 'L' on the keyboard and then noting down the time on the race entry sheet. However, be very careful that you only press this key as it's easy to press the wrong one.
  • There is a time limit for each race of 75 minutes but aim to have most competitors finished within 45 minutes. Faster competitors may do more laps within the time limit.
  • If it's very windy and/or cold then consider shortening the race so everyone is finished well within 45 minutes.
  • Monitor weather conditions during the race and, if rescue crews are becoming overwhelmed with rescues, consider shortening the race early or abandoning it altogether. Safety is more important.
  • If you're changing the course, hoist flag C at the flagpole and ask the safety boat crews to inform competitors about the new course. If you have time, it will probably be easier for everyone if you write out the new course on a small whiteboard and ask one of the safety boats to take it out to show competitors. Once everyone is aware and the start gets under way, ask one of the safety boats to lead the fleet round the first lap.
  • When competitors are finishing, clicking F on the computer will present you with a finishing time on the screen and automatically give a sound signal. However, the sound signal is very brief and competitors will often miss it. An optional workaround is to use the horn (operated by the red button at the foot of the window) which will make a sound signal for as long as you press it. While competitors do expect to hear a sound signal on finishing, it's not an official requirement.
  • Add the times of competitors to SCM using the Raspberry Pii computer in the starter's box (see later picture) which should work out the positions the results will be automatically uploaded to the website at the same time.
  • Now switch on the laptop connected to the TV screen next to the bar in the lounge area and navigate to the results page on the website. If you've had two races, open each race result in separate tabs so they can be displayed side by side.

IMPORTANT: Please check members will be able to see the results if there is an issue with getting these to the PC in the bar area in time, consider writing out the results and leaving them at the bar as a stop gap measure. If you are having problems, speak to a member of the committee.

After the race

  • Make sure rescue boats remain afloat while the last competitors finish their races and return to shore.
  • If competitors are choosing to stay out after the race then, when rescue crews are about to go ashore, they should inform them that there won't be any further rescue cover.
  • While sorting out the results, it's important to keep an eye on the competitors coming ashore and make sure no-one has got into trouble without being spotted.
  • If the rescue boats are to be recovered i.e. aren't being left on a mooring, it will be your responsibility to ask the tractor driver to recover them and inform the rescue boats when they're to come in and in which order (so the correct trailers are used).
  • If the rescue boats are brought ashore, check your duty crew is going to run fresh water through the engines and, once the RIBs have been 'parked', leave them with their engines in the 'down' position for stability.
  • If any of the rescue boats have sustained damage, it's your responsibility to record the damage in in the Safety Boat log in the starter's box while also emailing
  • After you've done the results, work with your rescue crews to make sure everything is taken off the rescue boats (fuel, oars, rescue lines, etc) and locked away in the lower boatshed along with the keys to the boats.
  • Keys for the starter's box and boatsheds are locked away in the cupboard outside the Gents changing room.
  • Have a drink in the social area with the competitors to find out how they got on!


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