Beginner's guide to racing at Carsington

A Beginner’s Guide to Racing


  1. When are races held?
  2. What boat can I sail?
  3. How good at sailing do I need to be?
  4. How do I let people know I’m new to racing?
  5. What rules do I need to know?
  6. How do I enter a race?
  7. What course do I sail?
  8. How do I start?
  9. What about those horrible crowded start lines?
  10. How do I finish?
  11. How do I find out where I finished?
  12. How do I qualify for a series?
  13. Any other questions?


  1. When are races held?    
  • Dinghy racing takes place on Sundays and Wednesdays. Cruiser racing on Saturdays with a dinghy start – full details are on our website – see racing calendar.


2.    What boat can I sail?

  • Any boat on the approved list may be raced (see web site for details). We use a handicapping system to allow boats of different types to race against one another and still let the best sailed one win!

3.    How good at sailing do I need to be?

  • So long as you know what happens when you waggle the stick at the back, you’re good enough! Racing is by far the quickest way of improving sailing skills and every one of us started off knowing very little and we’ve all got more to learn!

4.    How do I let people know I’m new to racing?

  • We are planning to use the green sticker for placing on the bow.

5.    What rules do I need to know?

  • We have put together a simplified set of racing rules for beginners – this can be downloaded from our website – essentially these are:
  • A boat on Port Tack (the wind coming from the left, the boom on the right) gives way to one on Starboard Tack (wind from right, boom on left).
  • A boat on Starboard Tack with right of way may call out ”Starboard” if you are on Port tack and they think you are about to get in their way. Sometimes if you are on port tack you may be told to hold your course.
  • A boat to windward (closest to where the wind is coming from) gives way to a boat to leeward (the boat further away from the wind).
  • At a mark, the inside boat, nearest the mark, will usually need to be given room to round the mark without hitting it or you! They may call out “Water” if they overlap within 3 boat lengths of the mark
  • These basic rules should prevent most collisions. There are many more and as you become more experienced it is worthwhile investing in the latest copy of the racing rules book.
  • If you’re displaying your green bow sticker then the more experienced sailors will be prepared for the fact that you are not familiar with the rules.

6.    How do I enter a race?

  • All you need to do is turn up to the start line – just look out for your Fleet Flag to indicate 4 minutes to start. Details of your Fleet are on the Club website.

7.    What course do I sail?

  • The Race Officer will set a course and display it on a board usually on the Committee Boat. The board will display the number of the mark to be rounded and the direction in which it is to be rounded.
  • If the number has a RED background pass the mark on the left side of the boat. If the number has a GREEN background then pass the mark  to the right of the boat.
  • Sometimes an X and Y mark will be used if it is difficult to use one of the fixed number marks.
  • On Sundays if you sail a Fast Asymmetric boat then they sail windward/leeward courses only (i.e. first and last mark on the board). We also use a spreader mark (Yellow Flag) on a Sunday at the windward mark to spread the fleets out and make it safer coming in to the mark to round it.
  • Take note, all races require you to sail through the start-finish line at the end of each lap.
  • There is a map on the Club website and Noticeboard showing the approximate position of the marks. If you are unsure, ask someone to point out the buoys to you from the shore or even on the start line (We’ve all had this done for us at some point!).
  • When on the water, follow someone who looks like they know where they are going!

8.    How do I start?

  • The start line is a straight line extending from the flagpole on the Committee Boat with the Orange Flag to the flag at the other end of the race line (Red mark & Flag).
  • The starting sequence goes as follows:
  • 4 minutes to start – hoot of horn and 1st (warning) Fleet flag up.             
  • 2 minutes to start – hoot of horn and 2nd (preparatory) flag up. This will be a blue flag with a white square in the centre. Also the next Fleet flag warning
  • 0 minutes – The start – hoot of horn and Fleet flag down and the race is on. This is also the 2nd warning for the next Fleet start.
  • Details of the start sequence and order of flags are shown on the Club website and can be downloaded.

9.    What about those horrible crowded start lines?

  • When you first start racing, you could hang back a bit at the start, crossing the line after all the keen ones have finished getting in each other’s way. However as the winners are really decided by who gets off to a good start you will need to work on improving your starts.

10.    How do I finish?

  • In Handicap racing, the finish line is normally the same as the start line. You’ll finish after the Race Officer has sounded 2 long hoots on the horn and put up the finish flag (a blue finish flag).
  • Each boat that finishes received a hoot unless they were over the line at the start (OCS), or have been seen not to have sailed the correct course!

11.    How do I find out where I finished?

  • Handicap races need to have calculations made by the Results Officer to make allowances for the different types of boat racing. This is usually be done after racing and results are made available as soon as possible on the website.

12.    How do I qualify for a series?

  • At our Club you need to do 1/3 plus 1 of the total races for that series to qualify for prizes. We have a prize allocation system in operation according to the number of boats qualifying. We are also looking at having Gold, Silver and Bronze categories depending how many boats in a fleet race and whether there are any novice racers in the fleet. Look out for details on our website.

13.    Any other questions?

  • If you have any questions please contact your Fleet Captain – details are on the web site or the following:

     RC Sailing – Phil Munton (

     Sailing Committee Secretary – Keith Appleby (