Sailing Instructions

 Sailing Instructions for Handicap Dinghy Racing Events

       1.  Rules

Racing takes place under the current at the time International Sailing Federation (ISAF) “Racing Rules of Sailing”, Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Prescriptions and Racing Charter, these MSC Sailing Instructions and the appropriate Class Rules.

  1. Entrants

Racing in Club Series Events is open only to those catamarans and dinghies (hereafter referred to as dinghies) whose owners are Full Members of MSC. Guests may crew and use the facilities of the MSC Clubhouse a maximum of 6 times, in any one year. If they wish to take part on more occasions they must apply for Club Membership.

Regattas will be Open Events, not restricted to MSC dinghies.

  1. Insurance

It is a requirement of Owners that their dinghies must carry insurance cover of not less than £2,000,000 in respect of third party and crew liabilities.

  1. Notices to Competitors

Notices to Competitors along with The Sailing Instructions and any changes to the Sailing Instructions, will be put on the Club Noticeboard and handed out in the Clubhouse, They may also, along with the Race Results, be displayed on the club website, be sent by e-mail or sent by post.

  1. Safety
    1. Safety shall be paramount, you must give all possible help to any person or vessel in danger.
    2. All boats are required to sign-on before and sign-off after going afloat each day.
    3. All boats must have a suitable tow rope of at least 6mm in diameter.
    4. Competitors are required to wear appropriate Safety Equipment (in particular Life Jackets or Buoyancy Jackets) at all times on the water or slipway.
    5. Dinghies may be subject to a safety inspection and may be refused entry to the race at the OD’s discretion.



Rule 4 “Decision to Race” of the ISAF Racing Rules of Sailing states: “The responsibility for a boat’s decision to participate in a race or to continue racing is hers alone.”

Sailing is by its nature an unpredictable sport and therefore involves an element of risk. By taking part in the event, each competitor agrees and acknowledges that:

  1. a) They are aware of the inherent element of risk involved in the sport and accept responsibility for the exposure of themselves, their crew and their boat to such inherent risk whilst taking part in the event;
  2. b) They are responsible for the safety of themselves, their crew, their boat and their other property whether afloat or ashore;
  3. c) They accept responsibility for any injury, damage or loss to the extent caused by their own actions or omissions;
  4. d) Their boat is in good order, equipped to sail in the event and they are fit to participate;
  5. e) The provision of a race management team, patrol boats, umpires and other officials and volunteers from MSC does not relieve them of their own responsibilities;
  6. f) The provision of patrol boat cover is limited to such assistance, particularly in extreme weather conditions, as can be practically provided in the circumstances;
  7. g) [For offshore races] They are responsible for ensuring that their boat is equipped and seaworthy so as to be able to face extremes of weather; that there is a crew sufficient in number, experience and fitness to withstand such weather; and that the safety equipment is properly maintained, stowed and in date and is familiar to the crew.
  1. Scoring

Low  Point Scoring System ie. 1 point for each place position, i.e.1 point for first,  2nd place 2 points, 3rd place 3 points.

  1. Handicaps & Timing

Handicapping will be based on the RYA Portsmouth Yardstick System.

It is the duty of Skippers to declare to the OD any changes which may affect their handicap (e.g. uni-rig, single-handed or crew numbers).

  1. Courses

The principal method of communicating with skippers and crews will be by a verbal pre-race briefing and the course blackboard. The Officer of the Day (OD) will announce the Course to be sailed at least ten minutes before the preparatory signal.

It is up to skippers and crews to ensure that they attend the briefing and are in or near the Starting Area in good time.

  1. Starting Procedure

When the Club Committee Boat is being used by the OD, appropriate Flag and Sound Signals will be used. When there is no Committee Boat, then a combination of Lights and Sound Signals will be used from the Race Office.

Committee Boat – Flags and Sound Signals

5 Minutes – Warning Signal – Flag Z up (or a class flag), plus One Sound Signal.
4 Minutes – Preparatory Signal, – Flag Z up + Flag P up, plus One Sound Signal.
1 Minute –   Flag Z up + Flag P down,  plus One Sound Signal
Start –         Flag Z (All) down, plus One Sound Signal.

Race Office – Lights and Sound Signals

5 Minutes – Warning Signal,- Red Light Signal, plus One Sound Signal.
4 Minutes – Preparatory Signal, – Red plus Yellow Light Signal, plus One Sound Signal.
1 Minute –  Red, Yellow and Blue Light Signal, plus One Sound Signal
Start –        All Light Signals off, plus One Sound Signal.

  1. Recalls

Individual up to three boat Recalls will be indicated by Flag X and One Sound Signal or  Light Signal (Blue), plus One Sound Signal.

General Recalls will be indicated by Flag 1st Substitute and Two Sound Signals or Light Signal (Red, Blue, Green, Yellow)  plus Two Sound Signals.                                             A General Recall will be followed by a new Starting Sequence 1 minute after the 1st Substitute Flag is lowered or the Red, Blue, Green, Yellow lights turned off.

  1. Start & Finish Line

The Start and Finish Line will be identified by the OD, during the pre-race briefing and displayed on the course chalk board by the race office. Races will normally start to windward.

  1. Finishing Procedure

The OD will indicate the order in which marks are to be taken. Normally the Finish will be to windward in the same direction as the Start.

In the event of a Shortened Course, when the leading boat begins the final leg of the course, if practicable  the OD will station the Committee Boat in the vicinity of the final buoy, and show Flag S with a Sound Signal.  If the OD is based in the race office Light Signal (Green) plus One Sound Signal will be given and the race will finish when competitors round the next buoy (or cross the original Finish Line in the case of courses being shorted by a whole lap(s).

When finished please keep clear of the line so as not to impede other dinghies trying to finish.

  1. Time Limits

The R.Y.A .Average Lap Racing Rules will apply.

The time limit will be set by the OD at the race briefing.

In the case of very light weather with a dropping wind, or worsening weather, the Officer of the Day may, at his own discretion, either Shorten Course or Abandon the Race.The OD may also Abandon the Race, at his own discretion, on safety grounds at any time.

  1. Race Abandonment

Race Abandonment shall be indicated by Flag N or Light Signal (Green and Yellow) and Three Sound Signals.

  1. Penalties

Penalties for infringements shall be as follows:-

  1. For touching any Mark of the Course, the Dinghy must do a 360 degree turn.
  2. For infringing the rights of other Competitors, the Dinghy must do a 720 degree turn – i.e. two complete 360 degree circles.

Penalty turns should be taken as soon as possible after the incident and in any case must be made before the end of the race.

When doing penalty turns a dinghy must keep well out of the way of other competitors so as not to risk a further infringement.

  1. Protests

Protests shall be made in writing on the appropriate Form in accordance with Rule 61.

A Protestor must inform the Protested promptly after the infringing incident by hailing “Protest!” to the infringing dinghy, “Do Your Turns” can be added, yachts over 6m in length must also fly a Red Protest Flag until the end of the race. The Protestor must inform the Officer of the Day at the end of the race if he intends to pursue the Protest. The written Protest should be given to the OD within One Hour of the race finish. A copy must be provided for the Protested. The Protest will be heard as soon as possible after crews return to the Clubhouse. If there is a problem in finding sufficient experienced people to form a Protest Committee, the OD will advise a time, date and place for the Protest to be heard.

  1. Retirements

Any dinghy retiring from a race should inform the OD as soon as possible.

  1. Sportsmanship & Fair Sailing, Misconduct & Bad Language

The Racing Rules of Sailing are written to encourage sportsmanship and fair competition. (See Part One – Fundamental Rules). It is also the intention of the ISAF that the rules should impose on all Competitors the obligation to avoid collisions and damage to dinghies (see Rule 14). Right of Way dinghies should be aware that they may be penalized if they deliberately cause a collision and make no attempt to avoid contact. If you break a rule then you should promptly take the appropriate penalty.If you do not play fair, use bad language or bring the sport into disrepute then you may be penalised severely.

  1. Penalties imposed by the Sailing Committee

In the event of a serious dispute, whether arising from a Protest or not, the Sailing Committee may impose whatever penalties it deems fit on a dinghy or owner who it considers has transgressed the rules.

  1. Acknowledgement

By taking part in a race all competitors acknowledge that they have read, understand and will abide by these Sailing Instructions in their entirety.

Updated July 18