Racing Rules Update with Dick Rose 4/12/2017

Dick Rose

Every four years, on New Year’s Day of the year following the Olympic regatta, revised racing rules published by World Sailing take effect. We are very lucky to be able to have Dick Rose here in Port Townsend to offer his insight on the changes in the rules that went into effect in 2017.

Dick has raced sailboats since the age of nine. For most of his life he sailed dinghies – in college, frostbiting on Long Island Sound, and then International 14s and Lasers in Seattle. More recently he has enjoyed PHRF racing and cruising on Puget Sound in his Laser 28. After many years on the faculty of the University of Washington, Dick turned his attention to the racing rules for sailing. Since 1984 he has written a monthly column on the rules in Sailing World. He served as chairman of the US Sailing Racing Rules Committee and now is chairman of the International Sailing Federation’s committee responsible for publishing the 2017 edition of the racing rules. He is a US Sailing Senior Judge who regularly judges sailing championships in the Pacific Northwest.

The talk is Wednesday, April 12 from 1800 to 2000 hrs at the Northwest Maritime Center.  Cost is $10 per person. Youth sailors get in for free.

By |2017-03-28T21:19:11-07:00March 28th, 2017|Meeting Announcement, Racing Rules, Racing Skills|0 Comments

Penalty Turns

PTSA races are run on the honor system.  We don’t have a protest room or a protest committee nor do we protest other boats durning a race.  However, boats are expected to abide by the Racing Rules of Sailing and when a rule is broken do the right thing.  “The right thing” usually means doing one or two penalty turns.

In case you have forgotten, you do one turn if you hit a mark.  You do two turns if you break a rule in an incident with another boat.  If you hit a mark while breaking a rule in an incident with another boat you still only have to do two turns.

Simple example: you are on port and another boat is on starboard – starboard has right of way – you are in a crossing situation and the starboard boat has to change course to avoid a collision, you have broken rule 10 and must do two penalty turns.

To take your turns you must get well clear of other boats and take them as soon after the incident as possible.  The turns must be made in the same direction, each turn including one tack and one gybe.

One more thing.  If you foul another boat and take your penalty turns but still end up with a significant advantage in the race or series you must retire from the race.  The principle being that you can never profit from breaking a rule.

In addition to the Racing Rules of Sailing there is a very interesting document called the CASE BOOK – INTERPRETATIONS OF THE RACING RULES OF SAILING.  It shows lots of examples, with diagrams, of real life racing protests and how they were resolved, and can be very helpful in learning the rules.

By |2016-05-29T11:42:25-07:00May 29th, 2016|Racing Skills|0 Comments

Getting off the Line and Up to Speed

A post from Quantum Sails by way of Sailing World. A reminder on how to get a good start.


In large fleets, starts can make or break a race, so make sure when you line up for go, you know exactly where you want to be, and how to get your boat moving afterwards. Remember these key aspects of every start and you’ll get off the line every time!


On the line Checks

  1. Head to wind check. Sight across the boat, which end is higher or favored?
  2. Where is the next mark?
  3. How strong is the fleet? Size/speed of competitors.
  4. What is the best course for the fastest first beat?
  5. Check laylines for the starting box – windward & leeward ends.
  6. Time the line – know how long it takes to run to each end.
  7. The Practice Start

A practice start helps assure success by creating a plan of attack for your next set up.

  1. Confirm lines of sight and bearings on the line
  2. Check laylines
  3. Confirm wind direction and close hauled headings
  4. Approximate timing for the final approach
  5. Check sail trim for acceleration off the line
  6. Confirm crew organization and communications

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By |2016-02-16T12:43:37-08:00February 16th, 2016|Racing Skills|0 Comments

Hone Your Racing Skills at Home


Screen shot of a SAILX race underway

SAILX is a sailing simulator used by racers around the world.  It’s free and is a great training tool that challenges one to use many of the same skills needed to do well in races out on Port Townsend Bay.  Most races take between five and ten minutes and you are actually racing in a one-design fleet against other sailors at home on their computers.  Races occur 24 hours a day and fleets could be as small as three boats or as big as fifty.

The system models wind, including wind shifts, and current, which change for every race.  There are four different types of boats that also change regularly:  a big keel boat, a catamaran, a laser, and a viper640.  Each behaves differently in terms of acceleration, time it takes to tack, fastest sailing angle, and use of spinnaker.

No special equipment is needed on your computer.  The boat is controlled via keys on your regular keyboard (I have found, however, that the boat is more responsive with a wired keyboard rather than a wireless one).  While you are learning you will be in “ghost mode”, which means the you race like normal but if you crash into someone else it won’t effect them.  Once you have some experience you exit ghost mode and you get a world ranking.

The system knows the rules.  So if there is a collision, for example, it will flag the party at fault who will be required to do a 360 or be disqualified, and it will show the rule that was broken in a text window. Help is available on the SAILX web site and there hare a number of videos on YouTube that can be very helpful too, especially when you are just starting out.

I have been finding it both fun and challenging and I think the experience it provides will be a big help when the PTSA racing season gets underway.

Jim Heumann (Thatuna)

By |2016-01-28T23:33:26-08:00January 28th, 2016|Racing Skills|0 Comments

How to Store Your Sails for Winter

A post from Quantum Sails

Sails need to be stored where they are safe from moisture, temperature extremes, and pests. Any combination of these can ruin a good sail.

Sails need to be stored where they are safe from moisture, temperature extremes, and pests. Any combination of these can ruin a good sail.

Fall is a beautiful time of year, but for many the change in colors signals the end of the sailing season. Many owners take great care in making sure their boats are properly “winterized” and stored, but their sails are not always given the same care. Here are our expert tips to make sure your sails are ready to go with the first sign of spring!

When you’re ready to store your boat for the winter, make sure you take care of your sails too. There are three main factors to consider when planning what to do with or where to store your sails at the end of the sailing season.

  1. What is the general condition of your sails?
  2. Are there any modifications you’d like to make?
  3. Where will you store your sails?

1. Sail Condition

Off season is the time to get your sails checked and maintained so they’re ready to go in the spring.  A large percentage of repairs that we see during the sailing season can be avoided by a thorough winter check and service.

Dirt, stains, and salt are not only unsightly, they can shorten the life of your sail. Grit and salt crystals can – and will – chafe fibers in the sail cloth. This damage is small and slow acting, but it can add up over time and make a difference in how long a sail lasts.

Salt also attracts moisture. Moisture and warm temperatures lead to mildew. Mildew won’t necessarily shorten the life of your sail, but who wants to unroll their genoa and see a Jackson Pollack?

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By |2015-11-13T17:29:16-08:00November 13th, 2015|Racing Skills|0 Comments

5 Tips: Getting a Good Start – and the 60 Seconds After That

If a good start is the key to good race, the last tack into the start and the first 60 seconds out of it are crucial, explains top America’s Cup sailor Terry Hutchinson. From Yachting World.

Photo from Yachting World

The subtleties of a good start are more complicated than identifying a good spot to leeward and starting next to someone who is going to give space and be happy to be rolled – although they both seem to help.

For me, consistent starting comes from repetition of the process and having a team that is working together without the need for constant communication. Simple buzzwords such as ‘kill high, aggressive turn here’, or ‘smooth tack to upwind’ are just a few things that help to get the point across succinctly.

But a good start is as much about boat positioning before the start as it is about the 60 seconds after the start. For this piece we are going with the concept that a nice hole has been carved out for the slingshot.

Within this scenario I want to focus on a port approach and the 60 seconds after the start.

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By |2015-10-12T12:07:41-07:00October 12th, 2015|Racing Skills|0 Comments

Tips for Sailing Upwind – Geometry and Wind Shifts

In this podcast the presenter reviews laylines, ladder rungs, and the danger of getting too close to the edge of the course.   Additionally, it shows just how much a lead can change when there is a big wind shift, and it talks about the danger of trying to build “leverage” against the fleet.


This is one of over thirty racing video podcasts from  In this and other podcasts you will see graphical representations of actual races which were recorded using Raceq’s free iPhone or Android apps.  Several racers in the PTSA fleet have been using this app to record and review races held here on Port Townsend Bay.


By |2015-08-04T16:39:20-07:00August 4th, 2015|Racing Skills|0 Comments

Flow Control of the Kite

A post from Mike Ingham in Sailing World

In run mode, wind flows vertically in the spinnaker, entering near the head and exiting from the foot. Photo by Paul Todd/Outside Images.

In run mode, wind flows vertically in the spinnaker, entering near the head and exiting from the foot. Photo by Paul Todd/Outside Images.

In the previous issue we visited Cornell University’s wind tunnel to see how wind flows around an asymmetric spinnaker. We learned a lot, of course, especially the importance of being dynamic with our trim, so we went back to the tunnel to explore some key points of symmetric spinnaker flow and trim.

Before stepping into the tunnel, I had a naïve vision of attached flow on both sides of the spinnaker. What I quickly discovered, instead, was that the smoke showed large areas of stagnation and early flow separation. Thinking our 3D printed plastic test spinnaker was too rigid, or its shape flawed, we went out and placed telltales on my J/24 spinnaker. Our real-world tests confirmed our wind-tunnel findings: The flow is there, but it’s less than ideal. The difficulty in getting flow to go the way we want, and keeping it attached as long as possible, emphasizes how important and attentive trimming really is.

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By |2015-07-21T10:42:52-07:00July 22nd, 2015|Racing Skills|0 Comments

Columbia River Man Overboard

Coast Guard image

Coast Guard image

A post by John Selwyn Gilbert on Scuttlebutt.

I was knocked overboard – at dusk – about 25 years ago in the Governor’s Cup on the Chesapeake Bay when the J/35 I was racing death-rolled to weather while I was trimming the spinnaker. As soon as I hit the water, I knew the boom was coming down and I actually pushed myself as far under as I could to avoid it. When I came up, the boat was already far away from me.

I initially tried to swim to the buoy they threw, but realized there was no way I could catch up with it heading downwind in 25+ knots of breeze. What really helped was actively telling myself, “Don’t panic, just float with the breeze & current. They will be back to get me.” It really did seem like an eternity (It was less than 7 minutes, I think) but they did make it back and my firefighter/EMT bowman pulled me back on board. I couldn’t lift my arms for hours – I was exhausted.

By |2015-06-30T17:05:52-07:00June 30th, 2015|Racing Skills, Safety, Uncategorized|0 Comments