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Racing takes place regularly at Fisherrow - see the Calendar section for details of the program. Those without much racing experience should not be deterred from competing, since the race course is never crowded and people are always very tolerant of others not too conversant with the rules of racing.
Newcomers to racing sometimes worry about being protested, but any such fear is unfounded. At Fisherrow protests are almost unheard of and in the vary rare event of one occurring between more experienced sailors, it does not carry any implication of cheating. A novice will never be protested for unwittingly breaking the rules. In order to race, a novice does not need to understand the Racing Rules of Sailing, though if they want to win it certainly helps. The maxim is - if you're good enough to fun sail, you're good enough to race!
For dinghies, average laps are used. Basically boats go round the course until they see the S flag displayed, after which the next time they go through the start/finish line their race is finished. For more information see below.
Members are of course welcome to race any of the Club’s dinghies, e.g. a Pico, Laser, 420 or Mirror. There should also be opportunities for members, experienced or not, to sail as crew on yachts belonging to FYC members. For more information see Club Boats.
Results are calculated taking into account handicaps and number of laps. Races are scored using the widely used freeware Sailwave program, though other programs could equally be used. Times should be recorded as clock times (not elapsed duration) to minimise the risk of errors.
A procedure exists to sort out disagreements on the water. Such incidents should not be seen as a big deal. Experts are expected not to protest novices for unwittingly breaking a rule. For more information see below.
The Safety Boat and the Race Officer will use VHF Channel 08 to communicate with boats.
All racing will use the average lap system. The main advantage of this is fairer racing, since there tends to be a smaller range of race duration between competitors and so changing conditions have less effect. Both fast and slow boats spend a reasonable time on the water, neither too short for fast boats or too long for slow boats. As well as making for better and fairer racing, average laps also make the job of the Race Officer easier, e.g. the number of laps does not need to be decided at the start of a race and changing wind conditions can be easily taken into account.
If the S flag (a blue rectangle on a white background) is raised, a boat finishes its race when it next crosses the line. Otherwise it will do another lap after crossing through the line. Once the S flag has been raised, all boats crossing the line finish as they do so. If more than one class is racing, but only one class is having its races finished, the class flag will be displayed along with the S flag.
If the wind dies or other circumstances affect the latter part of a race, the Race Officer may wind the results back to a previous lap in order to produce a result or a fairer result. To allow this to be done, the Race Officer should record the time every time a boat passes through the line.
Dinghy races will often have different numbers of laps for different competitors due to the large range in boat speed and the fact that capsizes inevitably occur. Generally keel boats, with their limited handicap range at FYC, will all do the same number of laps (usually one).
All sailing clubs have or should have a protest system that follows the procedures laid down by the RYA and ISAF - its aim is to resolve any perceived infringements of the racing rules. Protests can be regarded as part of the game and do not usually carry any implication of cheating. At Fisherrow protests are almost unknown, but if one does occur there are clear procedures to be followed as described in the Sailing Instructions and the ISAF Racing Rules of Sailing.
Although protests should not be seen as a big deal, the RYA is encouraging the introduction of two simpler and less formal procedures. An advisory hearing can be held by a Club member acting as an advisor - this does not require any protest form to be filled in. An arbitration does require a protest form to be filled in, but can apply an exoneration penalty rather than a disqualification, which is the only penalty a protest committee can normally apply. Further information is in our Sailing Instructions and on the RYA website.
Whatever procedure is adopted, rules disputes are likely to remain rare at Fisherrow. However sailors should not feel inhibited about asking for a procedure to be applied, if they feel they have been disadvantaged. Adherence to the rules makes for fairer and more enjoyable racing as well as making it safer. Finally there is a long standing tradition that novices should not be protested for accidental infringements of the rules.