Many casual recreational sailors probably think that racing requires a club, a race committee, and scorekeepers, not to mention blue blazers and ascots. Well, nuts to that. Fun, casual racing among family and friends is easy to organize, requires a bare minimum of equipment, and is a great way to spend an afternoon or evening on the water. Here’s what you need:
1. A race course
The shorter the better, so you can run more races in a given amount of time. And short, quick races keep the fleet packed together, making it more interesting. The simplest course to create is a “windward-leeward,” which only requires two marks. Keep it to a maximum of 100 meters, top to bottom. Set the leeward mark, where you will start, in waters that will allow an unobstructed course to windward as the boats tack back and forth, then drop the windward mark the desired distance, as close to directly upwind as you can manage. This isn’t the Olympics, so don’t be too fussy.
2. The marks
A bleach bottle will do, or spring for a bright red inflatable mooring buoy, about 30 cm in diameter, at your local marine supply store (about $35). Braided clothesline makes for cheap and serviceable anchor line. Any anchor will do, but a good solution is a 4.5-kilo plastic-coated barbell weight, which is cheap (about $5), has a nice hole in the middle for tying on the anchor line, and can be carried in a dinghy without fear of scratching the gel-coat.
3. The start
Forget about a race committee boat, flags, sound signals, and all that stuff. Just use the “rabbit” system. One boat is designated the rabbit. It sails up to the start mark from the left side (looking to windward) and, after passing
below the start mark, steers onto a close-hauled course (i.e., pointing as close to the wind as possible while still sailing) on port tack. The rest of the competitors have to approach from the right, on starboard tack, and sail between the start mark and the stern of the rabbit. That’s it. The rabbit has a slight advantage so, in a series of races, give the last-place finisher in the previous race the rabbit’s job for the next race, as it will give them the best possible start.
4. The rules
Stick with these two basic ones:
(a) Boats on starboard tack (the wind is coming over the right side of the boat) have right of way over those on port tack.
(b) A boat with its bow overlapped inside another boat’s stern as they come within two boat lengths of a mark must be given enough room to round the mark. That’s a grossly simplified system, but it will get you racing.
5. The finish
Whoever is first to round the last mark is the winner. Race as many times around your little course as people wish. Once around is a good way to start things, but if the race is close, you can talk it over among yourselves on the second leg and agree to do another lap.
A club can also employ the “honor system” as each boat records its finish time and
Who cares about who finished where? Just enjoy the wind, the water, and the friendly competition
Aryborn2 CAN148 (a 2012 Petticrows) launches at English Bay, Vancouver on a smoky day. Hope they can figure out all those strings!
Ayrborn2 (Ayrborn squared, curse you superscripts), a 2012 Petticrows Dragon has arrived in Vancouver. Owner Jim Burns is enjoying Christmas in August, crew Chuck is looking forward to those high floors (don't forget to duck a bit lower for the boom) and crew Glenn is hunting down the perfect beer for the christening. Just don't call it Mellow Yellow.
by David Dale-Johnson
July 21 and 22 offered almost perfect conditions for the July One Design Regatta. Mostly sunshine with wind speeds from the west in the 8 to 12 knot range made for a great sailing weekend. Most expected the westerly to die toward the end of each day but that did not happen. Perfect Dragon sailing conditions for English Bay.
The race committee set the course to the west of the club to avoid the usual collection of anchored freighters and to increase the likelihood of a steady breeze. And the strategy worked. Stars and Martin 242s joined the regatta on Saturday with Stars and a couple of 6 Metres out on Sunday. The westerly was pretty consistent and there were not excessive currents at the weather mark. The only weird sailing condition was an occasional header at the layline on port tack to the weather mark making an early tack from the beach a winner.
Nicola is the new owner of Dragonfly, USA315, a 1948 McGruer. She is moored on Martha's Vineyard in Vineyard Haven harbor. She will be having extensive work done on Dragonfly this summer at Gannon & Benjamin (gannonandbenjamin.com), who will be replacing her backbone, garboards, a couple of planks up from the garboards and a large percentage of her frames. This year is her 70th birthday and she had gotten to the point were this work needed to be done in order for it to be safe to launch her. So far, they have already removed the keel. Soon she will be turned over so that they can begin removing the back bone and planks. Photos to come...
We had 4 boats out this year for CRW June 16 and 17
USA 277 Al Hensel
USA 256 Tom James
USA 253 Ken Focazio
USA 261 Mark DeYoung
We shared a course with J22’s and Stars. The CRW race committee did a great job in the most challenging conditions on Saturday. Only 2 races on Saturday counted. One was abandoned. Wind directions were all over the place - 160, 220, 330, 0, then back to 330. 5-10knots all day. Wind was Clocking 30 degrees every ½ hour all day then backing at the end. After racing was fun with plenty of Rum and Vodka.
Long postponement on shore with hardly a breath of air on Sunday. Finally got towed out to the course and got 1 race in and a drifter 1 lap race. Bleah.
The Cleveland Dragon Fleet races on Sundays and Wednesdays and usually have 5 Dragons at the start.
...some become bars in Yacht Clubs. Shearwater, CAN78, an 1959 Abeking & Rasmussen became the bar in Britannia Yacht Club in Ottawa after her sailing days were over.
Congrats to David Howard on his induction into the 2018 Canadian Sailing Hall of Fame.
Winner of 1954 Canada’s Cup in the 8-Metre Venture II, Skipper 1956 Olympics in Dragons, Sailing Master on off-shore racers Inishfree and Bonaventure (Bermuda races and SORCs), Skipper and syndicate member of True North in 1969 Canada’s Cup trials, Skipper and Syndicate member of 1975 Canada’s Cup challenger Marauder, Past Commodore and Honourary Life Member of RCYC, one of the original four founders of the Nonsuch class (RCYC)
After years searching for his Dragon Tomahawk from the 56 Olympics, David restored Ludmilla CAN115 and renamed her Tomahawk II.
Tomboy, after a lengthy Racing record at the Royal Canadian YC, disappeared until about 2005 when she was sold at auction in Campbellton NB then disappeared again. She turned up on Kijiji in late 2017 and was quickly bought by William Borden of the Chaumont NY area and the Crescent YC. The CrYC has a lengthy Dragon history back to John Foster Dulles days (the 60s) and more recently (the 80s) was one of the stops in the Dragon Passage races from Rochester to Picton in 1977 and 1988. Bill lives in Charleston SC and summers at Chaumont where he has a lengthy Family history. This is where he will keep Tomboy - now USA319 , and now named SPARKS (a family name).
Ballerina KC105, another ex RCYC Dragon was part of that auction and has been racing recently in Charlottetown PEI. The third Dragon at that auction was called Red Dragon and has been traced back to the UK as Red Dragon K274; she was built by Lallows yard in Cowes. She is now CAN146 ,YVONNE and is also racing handicap in Fredericton NB. She is pictured above.
Anne Garrett is the National Secretary for the American Dragon Association and has been sailing and racing Dragons since the early 80s.
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