Officer of the Day Duty


1) Only run racing when it is safe to do so. 
2) Only arrange racing when there is some wind to sail with. 
3) Start races on time
4) Sound horns and put up/take down flags on time. 
5) Keep good records 
6) Set a good simple course
7) Set a fair and long start line
8) Watch out for competitors sailing the wrong course. 
9) Shorten course before competitors give up.
10) Finish as many competitors as possible. 
11) Give the results to the Sailing Secretary
12) Return equipment to the Committee Room 

1. Only race when it is safe to do so

The Officer of the Day (OOD) is responsible for the safe management of racing on each day. The OOD has to consider the current and expected weather conditions, the skills of competitors and the level of safety boat cover. If the risks of high winds, lightening strike, mass capsize, gear breakage and slow recovery of people is high then racing should not be run. You can cancel during a race too. 

2. Only arrange racing when there is some wind to sail with.

Sailing Competitors do not like floating around at less than walking pace. They don’t like being kept ashore waiting for wind to arrive either. Look at clouds and the weather forecast then decide.

3. Start races on time

OOD’s should arrive at the club at least an hour before the scheduled start, get the radio, race sheets, watches, binoculars and instructions with the race bag and go out to the start area half an hour before the scheduled race start.  They should then decide and put out the course and lay a start line slightly biased towards the Port End. The first start should be very close to the scheduled start time unless there are exceptional reasons.  Don’t wait for last boat to come from club. 

4. Sound horns and put up/take down flags on time. 

Whenever possible there should be someone to help the OOD on the Start Boat. One person should be responsible for starting and monitoring the Startwatch and the other to raise and lower the flags. The two people should discuss to confirm they are doing the correct flags at the right time.  Don’t forget to take the flags down after the last start.

Read the racing signals part of the Racing Rules before you go out and have a copy with you to refer to. Remember that most of our races use 6 minutes, 3 mins , start signals. 

Be aware of what to do if a competitor starts early or the whole fleet starts early. Remember to take the individual recall flag down 1 minute before the next start. 

5. Keep good records – Especially  times of Finish

By keeping records through the race of the position that boats complete their lap or their time should prevent boats being given an incorrect place at the finish even if some boats do more laps than others. If someone complains of an incorrect placing the records can shed light on this.

6. Set a good simple course

The simplest course is a windward buoy to leeward buoy ,anticlockwise with the start just upwind of the leeward buoy. The addition of a wing mark half way down the run, but further left is the standard triangle course. This gives a beat and two broad reaches. Having a fourth mark at right-angles to the windward mark upwind of the wing mark gives a beat, reach, run and broad reach. 

Other courses could be considered to lengthen the time taken for a lap, or for variety but you will find some sailors will sail the wrong course if it is complicated. 

Don’t rely on a lead boat showing the way around a complicated course. The first boat will be shown but the rest can easily get left behind lost. 

Only use buoys you know are there. Sometimes our buoys sink or break their moorings. 

7. Set a fair and long start line

A start line should be long enough for all the boats starting to start at the same time with at least half a boat length between each boat. This is about the combined length of all boats starting.

The start line should be set with a slight bias for the Port end boats to compensate for the fact they have to cross the whole fleet on Port tack to get to the windward buoy lay line. The larger the fleet the greater the bias (up to about 30 degrees) as it is more difficult to cross the whole fleet.  

Use the average wind direction as shown by the waves, to set the angle of start line. 

8. Watch out for competitors sailing the wrong course. 

Some competitors will have written the course down wrong or be working from memory so there will always be one sailing the wrong course. It is normally a beginner so the rescue crew could be told to point out the error and how to unwind it. Experienced helms will know that have made a mistake but may wait to be disqualified rather than retire. It is ok for boats to wait for boats behind them to show them the right course. 

9. Shorten course before competitors give up.

Deciding when to shorten a race is a balancing act. Young sailors in slow boats are wanting to gain as many hours sailing as possible, but they may also get tired faster when its windy conditions.

It is better to have the main competitive group all completing the same number of laps as changes in wind strength can significantly affect average lap times. 

Try not to have too long a spread of time between first and last boat finishing. First to finish will have wanted to do another lap. 

10. Finish as many competitors as possible. 

Many races have a time limit after the first boat has finished that other boats must finish too.

In a mixed fleet with very fast and very slow classes of boats this penalises the slow class boats. Use your discretion to finish as many boats as possible.  

As boats finish it is normally quitter, so you could use the bell rather than the horn , so as not to disturb the peace too much. 

11. Give the results to the Sailing secretary for him to compute and publish.

12. Return equipment bag and radio to the Committee Room.



  • 6 Minute horn … put up red and yellow triangular flag. (Handicap Fleet Flag)
  • 3 minutes horn … put up blue square with white square in middle (Blue Peter)
  • Start Horn…. Take both down.

b) PURSUIT RACE (Slow Boats start first) 

  • 6 minute horn for slowest class… put up red and yellow triangle (Handicap fleet Flag)
  • 3 minute for slowest class .. put up blue square with white square in middle
  • Start … Take both down but then horn every 30 seconds.


Assuming start sequence is Flying Fifteen, Handicap, Lasers, Toppers

  • 6 minute horn Flying fifteen class flag up… Bllack & white chequered
  • 3 Minute horn Handicap flag up (Their 6 minute) ….Red & yellow  AND Blue Square with white square in middle (Blue Peter).. 3 minute 
  • Start .. Flying 15 flag, black & white chequer down.Laser Flag up (White with red laser symbol).
  • Start -3 Handicap Flag Down … red & yellow triangle
  •             Topper Flag (French Flag ) up
  • Start -6 Laser Flag down 
  • Start -9 Topper flag down. & Blue Peter down too. All flags should be down now. 

Blue Peter can be substituted with yellow with black dot, or all black.

Yellow with black dot is “Sail around the ends rule” if you are over start.

Black flag is no part of boat shall be inside triangle formed by start line and first buoy during the last minute . Anyone so identified is disqualified.

Shortened course flag is White square with blue square inside it. It can have a single class flag under it meaning just that class. 

Recall Flags – when people are over the start line at the start. 

  • White square with blue cross = some boats (1 extra horn) 
  • Triangular blue flag with yellow centre = General recall.  (2 extra horns)