Officer of the Day Notes

The Duties

All sailing members are required to take a turns at ‘OD’ and Safety Boat duties (Min RYA L2 required to helm) as listed by the Dinghy Captain. If you cannot attend on the date you are allotted, the onus is on you to agree a swap directly with another member, before the day.

The following notes below will help you to understand what these duties entail. Although it may look a little intimidating, once you are on the scene it all falls into place. An experienced member will always be available to help inexperienced members to complete their duty.

If any, or all, of these do not make sense, or worry you, then ASK for help. There was a time when NO-ONE understood what to do and we have all learned from each other.

The following is offered as a guide to help you understand the task of an Officer of the Day (OD) duty.

  • Firstly familiarise yourself with the Club Sailing Instructions which can be found in the Clubhouse and in the Dinghy Section on the club’s website.
  • Remember an OD officer has the authority to abandon [end] racing if they consider the conditions to be hazardous or if an accident or serious incident has occurred. In some cases it may be necessary to abandon racing before it has even started, if this should happen please place a clear message on the club course board informing members of this decision. All races abandoned should be recorded on a race sheet along with the reason.
  • It is a helm’s ultimate decision on whether his dinghy takes part in any event.
  • Check the local weather forecast on the morning of race day.
  • Arrive about one hour before the published race start time.
  • Get the Race Office key from the key cabinet in the ladies toilet in the clubhouse.
  • Check the Safety Patrol Boat Crew is preparing the boat and are OK and there is a boat tow available. Note- Two Safety boats will be requred for X bay and other large events.
  • OD is best done from the Race Office or in light conditions it can be done from the Safety Boat.
  • At the Race Office put the signal flag pole out with the RYA flag flying
  • Put advertising Training A-board out
  • Power up and check instruments (wind, vhf radio, starting lights, sounder, timing watch) and do a
  • RADIO CHECK with the safety boat before the boat is launched.(Call signs are CAMBASE, SPARROWHAWK, SAFETY PATROL 2)
  • Ask sailors to assist with the launching and recovery of the safety boat.
  • Set a Course
  • Re-check the wind direction and strength, design the course (try for at least one true beat and reach), erect and mark up the race chalk board (at least 20 minutes before the start). If you are new to this, always ASK, keep the course simple, you will find it much easier to clock the boats round each lap. A compact course with the safety boat staying towards the centre is safer for everyone, particularly if it is windy. If the race is run from the race office, it leaves the safety boat free to attend capsized boats.
  • Assist the safety boat crew, by using the radio, to position the course buoys correctly.

More details can be found on this website and in the race office about race starting sequence, PYN’s (Portsmouth Yardstick Numbers) etc.

  • Prepare the Signing On & Race Result Sheets.
  • All helms racing must be sailing members of M&HSC.
  • All those racing must sign on including helm and crew full names, class of boat and sail number, PYN if known. If you notice at that someone is ready to race and NOT signed on check with the crew and if necessary it is ok to sign them on so they will be recorded and can race.
  • Remind people using club boats to leave the money for the Treasurer. If visitors are sailing encourage them to view the clubs website and join the club.
  • Race Briefing 15 minutes before the start can include confirmation of the expected wind/weather, the course, the tide, the start sequence/signals, race duration /shortening, recalls, explanation of starting procedure for subsequent races, use of the Safety boat to pass further instructions.
  • Start the race start sequence at the allotted time, hopefully when all dinghies are ready, using the Signal Lights in the race office or Flags in the boat.
  • Keep track of the dinghies and mark the race sheet with the time each boat completes a lap (hours, minutes, seconds elapsed from the start). This enables a shortened race to be decided on average lap times.
  • Mark any retirements and did not starts on the race sheet.

If the course is not followed correctly, or a Racing Rule is breached, or a Protest is raised, then the OD should refer to the sailing instructions and try to sort it out in a sporting and fair way but feel free to hand this over to one of the RACE COMMITTEE members to deal with and accept their advice on any penalties. Consultation for advice from un-involved experienced members is permitted.

To finish a handicap race – When the race duration is run, the next time the leading boat completes a lap it finishes (1 short sound signal) and finalises the number of laps for the race. The following boats finish (1 short sound signal when each completes the same number of laps). It is probably a good idea to finish all boats after the leader has crossed the line as each boat crosses the line. They will not do as many laps but their average lap time can be used to record the same number of laps as the lead boat.

To finish a pursuit race – Sound signal when count-down reaches zero, all boat finish at that point. Note on the race sheet the position (sequential place) of each boat at the finish (to credit any overtaking on a boat’s last lap).


After the racing –

  • Ensure all racers are ashore & signed off and buoys and Safety boat are recovered.
  • Safety boat crew to wash down and prep boat for next use ALL engine hours to be logged and any problems to be reported ASAP

How to adjust Average Lap times to find the Correct Elapsed Time.If the fast boats complete (say) 4 laps but a slower boat is far behind, and (say) slower boat will complete 2 laps you can finish the race. Then just divide the time, in seconds, of the slow boats’ 2 laps by 2 and then multiply the result by 4 to get the correct elapsed time (averaged) for the slow boat and this then will be comparable with the faster boats time.

Or if the slower boat does 3 laps and the faster boats 5 then divide the slow boat time elapsed by 3 and multiply by 5 (always work in seconds).

Work out the Full Race Result according to the handicaps – (Corrected Time = Elapsed time in secs * 1000 / PYN) the race result is then determined from these corrected times.

  • Leave the Race Result Sheet in the club room for collection or as requested by the Dinghy Captain.
  • Recover wash / clean all equipment to its storage location ready for next time.
  • Turn off all power / instruments
  • Lock the race office.
  • Check the dinghy compound is locked and the alarm is set, if everyone is clear.
  • Check that any borrowed equipment has been returned to the store (Any damage etc to be reported ASAP) and check the clubhouse, changing rooms, equipment store and gate are locked .
  • Return keys to the Key Box.

Pass any money collected to the Treasurer.