Cal Sailing Club members enjoy numerous opportunities to race club dinghies. The competition is friendly but not lax. Racing at CSC is an excellent way for new sailors to learn some of the finer points of sailing and for experienced sailors to hone their skills.
What's it like?
This is casual racing, with competitors themselves running the regatta. There is (usually) no committee boat to call starts/finishes, or make visual signals.
Competitors race one-design in the club's dinghies. We usually race JY15s, which are best sailed by two people. Other days we'll switch it up and race Quests, Ventures, Lasers, or all of the above in a mixed fleet. Boat handling and tactics reign supreme, and sometimes luck.
We usually set short courses around temporary buoys, sized for races lasting 10 to 15 minutes intended to provide more mark roundings, tactical decisions, and close encounters than would occur over a longer course. Typically there are 6 to 8 races in two hours of racing, so skippers and crew have experienced a physical and mental workout by the time it's over.
Drawings of our most common courses can be found here:
When are races?
Racing is held year round, but more frequently in the summer months. Start times and any race-specific information will usually be posted to the calendar and always sent to the announcements mailing list at least a day in advance.
Racing is rain or shine, but maybe postponed or canceled due to stormy weather.
In all cases, plan to arrive at least an hour before the scheduled start time to find a partner, rig a boat, and attend the pre-race briefing.
Racing is held nearly every Sunday of the year. The start time is traditionally 11:00 am, but can vary depending on tide and weather forecast. In the shoulder seasons we may switch to afternoons to chase the waning sea breeze.
Thursday night racing is held from April through October starting at about 5:00pm, followed most nights by dinner.
Occasionally in the summertime there will be an evening "round the pier" race. Each boat must be skippered by a senior skipper, since the race leaves the bounds of the Junior Area. This race usually features boats with spinnakers to take advantage of the long downwind leg. Given the requirement for a senior skipper, these races require advanced signup.
Who can race?
All club members and their guests are welcome to race. Each boat racing must be skippered by a current member with at least a dinghy Junior rating who has passed the racing rules test online or received an exception from the race committee.
Up and coming sailors, new members with a racing background, and more - anyone looking to have fun with sailing, hone their skills, and connect with their fellow club members in a friendly environment is encouraged to attend. It’s best to have at least a handful of outings on a dinghy under your belt, so consider a [Saturday lesson] first if you’re new to sailing.
The skipper doesn’t need to helm, and it’s common to switch positions several times throughout the day.
Contacts for your questions
For further information about dinghy racing please contact the dinghy race chairs at Sundays or Thursdays.. The #racing slack channel is a fairly active forum for discussion of all upcoming racing and racing-adjacent events as well as tactics and techniques.
We’ll use these instructions for races unless otherwise stated.
Rules: 2021-2024 racing rules of sailing.
Entry: No pre-registration needed. Every boat racing must have a responsible person (skipper) aboard who has 1. a dinghy Junior rating 2. passed the CSC racing rules test. Any member or guest may crew.
Signals: No visual signals will be made. Starting signal will be 3-minute audible signals sounded by an electronic starting horn buoy (Ollie*). In case of equipment failure, a whistle may be used. The signals are described in detail here: https://www.ssycjuniors.org/uploads/1/1/4/2/114266929/appendix_u.pdf
Please pass on any hails made by the race committee.
Course: The course will be announced during the skippers’ meeting. Most common courses are listed on this document. The course may be changed between races. Any changes will be audibly hailed. The start/finish line is open; you may sail through it when not starting/finishing.
No starting penalties unless otherwise specified during the skippers’ meeting. If you start too soon, return to the pre-start side either through the line (“dip the line”) or around the end.
Rule 44.1 is modified. All fouls require a one-turn penalty only. Foul someone? Take a single penalty turn with a tack and a gybe. Touch a mark? Single turn (same as the official rules). Do both at the same time? Single turn.
Scoring? Not usually. Sitting on a committee boat is no fun. Live in the moment of your victory until the next race starts.
Protests? The finer points of any rules questions arising from a day’s races are discussed informally back at the dock or over slack.
Racing Rules Test (aka Racing Skipper Written Test)
Like most sailboat racing, CSC dinghy races are conducted under the International Sailing Federation's Racing Rules of Sailing, or RRS. The current version of the RRS is 2021-2024.
All skippers racing must pass our written racing skipper test online or receive approval of the racing committee (eg. new members with previous racing experience may be granted a temporary waiver). The CSC Racing Skipper test is based strictly on the RRS circa 2010, and is open book. A pdf copy of the test is available here. You can take the test online here (you have to be logged in).
There have been updates to the RRS since CSC's handbook was published in 2010, so be sure to review the latest rules.
Study resources for the rules:
- The Rules in Practice by Bryan Willis.
- CSC has published a handbook, available here, which includes applicable portions of the RRS, as well as Sailing Instructions written especially for CSC Sunday dinghy races.
- The online racing game by Uli and Wolfi Finckh.