Thursday Night Racing – Rules Part One

J World’ s Thursday Night Racing – Sponsored by Quantum Sails is governed by the Racing Rules of Sailing.  The purpose of the racing rules is to ensure safe and fair racing.  The value is that we all play by the same rules, which makes racing more fun.

The Racing Rules of Sailing

Every four years the racing rules are refreshed – and the new rules for 2017-2020 will be in force this season.  The rule book is made available both by World Sailing and US Sailing.  If you are a US Sailing member you can request one for free or download a free app.  You can also go to World Sailing’s site and download the rules and more.

Other Important Rules

There are other important rule considerations too.  There are several documents that contain rules everyone must follow.  The first is the Notice Of Race.  The Notice of Race (NOR) has information that sailors need to plan for a regatta.  You can find the Thursday Night Racing NOR at the online notice board.  The Sailing Instructions (SI’s) are written directions that describe how a regatta will be conducted.  You can find the Thursday Night Racing SI’s at the online notice board.  Finally, the class rules govern each individual class.  While on Thursday’s we don’t inspect boats for class rules compliance we hope that you sail within the spirit of your class rules.  Thursday’s are an opportunity to practice at a high level so practice like you are going to play.

Rule Compliance and Enforcement

Sailing is a self policing sport.  The rules are enforced by the sailor’s themselves.  One of the most important rules is that when you break a rule you take a penalty.  You don’t need a referee or even a fellow competitor to tell you that you broke a rule; nor do they need to tell you that you broke a rule in order to take a penalty.  It is important to remember that by participating in a race, each competitor agrees to be governed by rules.

Fair Sailing, Good Manners, Sportsmanship

Racing sailor must compete in accordance with recognized principles of fair play.  They must not commit any conduct that is a breach of ood manners, a breach of good seamanship or unethical.

Sailing Green

Sailors are encouraged to minimize their impact on the environment.  There is a specific rule that prohibits putting trash in the water.  Trash is anything you would throw away at home – including food items (e.g. apple cores.)


Join The Race Committee Team

J World is welcoming folks who would like to gain experience on our Thursday Night Racing Race Management Team to join us this season onboard the J World race committee boat.  No previous experience is necessary to make a huge contribution to the best weeknight one design racing taking place in the country.  Maybe even the GALAXY!

The race management team is made up of lots of people, so there is something for everyone who is interested.  No one person can run the whole thing (all though we’ve tried) and it takes a great team to make something as important as Thursday Night Racing in Annapolis happen for the J/22, J/24, J/70 and J/80 classes happen with the quality we expect each week.

Here is an outline of some of the volunteers needed each week to make J World’s Thursday Night Racing – Sponsored by Quantum Sails happen.

Mark Setter – The mark setter is responsible for operating a small powerboat while positioning and possibly relocating marks of the race course.  They may also be responsible for communicating changes to the course and even recording finishes on a shortened course.
Wind Reader – The wind reader is responsible for observing, tracking and recording changes in the wind direction and velocity and making suggestions about course axis and course lengths.  This information is relayed to the principle race officer (PRO) who will make the final decisions about course configurations.
Spotter/Recorder – Identifies and records all boats starting and finishing, including competitors who do not start or complete the race.
Signaller – The signaller is responsible for flags and other visual signals from the race committee to the competitors.  An exciting position; the signaller raises and lowers class flags, individual and general recall flags and more.
Line Sighter – Sights starting and finishing lines to track boats that are over early, returning to the start and finishing.
Timer – The timer is the “heartbeat” of the race management team.  The timer calls the time sequence aloud so the start and finish can be properly run.
Scorer – The scorer takes the recorded finishes made by the Spotter/Recorder and tabulates points and finishing times.
Sounder – The sounder is in charge of sound signals including our electronic “ollie” as well as horns and whistles in the event that there is a failure of the “ollie.”
Committee Boat Operator – The committee boat operator plays a crucial role in preparing, outfitting and operating the RC boat.  The CBO ensures that the RC is on station at the correct location and manages the boat while the other members of the race management team are focused on their important roles.
Principle Race Officer – The PRO is the chief executive of the race management team.  Makes the major decisions about the management of each race night.

If you would like to join us for Thursday Night Racing as volunteer, please contact us at 410-280-2040.  If you would like to learn more about the roles of race management teams you can check out these resources:

Join the Race Committee Team

US Sailing’s Materials for Race Officers


How do they build those sails?

Ever wonder why some sails are “crosscut” and some are “tri-radial?”  Wonder what “crosscut” and “tri-radial” means?  Well this recent webinar from Quantum Sails is a great introduction to how sails for one design boats like the J/70 are built.

There is some very interesting information provided by the designer. There is a lot of thought that goes into construction design and material choice.


Sailing a Low Risk First Beat

J World J/80 Wild Horse fights through the fleet after a tough start.
J World J/80 Wild Horse fights through the fleet after a tough start.

Sailing World magazine has really become a great resource for racing sailors.  So has their website – where you can find hundreds of well written and illustrated articles on all sorts of racing topics.  In fact, we’ve stopped handing out a proprietary book on racing and point our students to the treasure trove of resources available on the site and others.  It is also cool that they used a J World boat – Wild Horses – as the featured image for the article.  Just sayin.

After more than 40 days of racing already this season (you read that right) you wouldn’t think an article like the one written by Steve Hunt about low risk first beats would have much impact.  Haven’t we seen it all?  Isn’t it easy by now?  But leave it to Steve, one of the best in business, to boil the whole thing down to its root and make it actionable.

If you like the right, he says, position yourself just to the right of your competitors. If you like the left, position yourself just to the left. It’s that simple. There’s no need to sail off by yourself, splitting from the majority, hoping for the horizon job, because if you’re wrong, you’ll find yourself deep at the top mark and unable to catch up. By positioning yourself in the proximity of the favored side, you’ll be in contention if you’re right, and if you’re wrong, you’ll still be close enough to have a decent comeback. Taking a huge risk by splitting creates more of an all-or-nothing outcome. Winning regattas (or simply doing well) is more about avoiding bad races than it is about winning a few and placing deep in the others.

I should have that tattooed on my arm.  I have been frustrated so many times by the simple fact that I can’t — or don’t execute my game plan or decide to swing for the fences because I am feeling way behind.

The only time sailing to an edge is safe is in really light air, when the edges tend to have more wind and the middle is disturbed. My dad, who is a light-air expert, used to tell me, “You have a 50-percent chance of getting the edge right in light air, and a 100-percent chance of being wrong in the middle.” He’s always right.

As North American sailors – especially here on the Chesapeake and on Tampa Bay – we ARE light air sailors.  So that last quote should be tattooed in our brains too.

Check out the rest of the great stuff over at Sailing World — even if it means kicking yourself the next time you are racing.






J/70 Racing Season Heats Up

Fifty-three J/70 teams traveled to Davis Island Yacht Club in Tampa, Florida for the first event of the 2016-2017 Quantum J/70 Winter Series on December 10-11. Basking in sunshine and breeze between 10-18 knots for seven races, Marty Kullman on Reach Around finished strong to secure the weekend victory with 13 points.  J World was there with a three student and one coach team as well as providing coaching and logistics support to several other J/70 teams from around the country.

Kullman was able to discard a 15 from the opening contest, and added in four bullets. Bruno Pasquinelli’s Stampede took second place with 19 points, followed by Darby Smith’s Africa with 35.

The 23-boat Corinthian division was topped by Andrew Loe.


What’s in the bag man?

Packing for an island adventure is always tough. Somehow, no matter how little I bring – I always bring too much. I have been adjusting what I bring on these sorts of trips and below is what I would suggest is “must brings” for a trip like the upcoming BVI Flotilla.

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What you bring your stuff in is actually a pretty big consideration. Schlepping through the airport, getting on/off busses, cabs and ferries and then storing it all when you get aboard are serious considerations for you bag of choice. For me, a soft duffel in the 45-90 liter range is just the ticket. I prefer the 45, but sometimes have to bring the bigger bag if I have a bunch of teaching materials. If you don’t bring your multitool – it is pretty easy to walk on with this bag.

While I wouldn’t want to hike the Appalachian Trail with the bag, it does sling on your back pretty easily. If you don’t stuff it full your carryon bag should fit inside making for a one bag transfer when you hit the ground. The most important part is that it packs flat when you get to the boat or can do double duty. Anything with wheels and hard sides isn’t going to do that. I am partial to the Patagonia Black Hole series of bags, but any duffel will do.

You won’t be wearing shoes for most of your trip. It is a fact. Flip flops will cover most of your shore side footwear (no shoes required in many places) and a pair of running shoes would cover the rest. Think light and leave the slingbacks and boots at home. This past trip I wore Astral Filipe’s and loved them for the whole trip. I brought my Astral Brewer’s… but never wore them. Had we done more hiking, I would have been happy to have them there.

You need two swimsuits. No more. One is drying and the other one you are wearing. Switch as needed. Black Patagonia Baggies or your favorite board shorts are all you will need for in the water, on the boat and at the restaurant or bar. A pair of lightweight pants can be OK for buggy nights, but frankly I think they are overkill. If you justify them as something to wear on the plane you can get away with it – but once you hit the airport…change. It gets hot quick.

Two long sleeve tech shirts, one light button down shirt with a collar (for the plane or if you want to feel fancy) and you can call it good.

I lightweight rain jacket will keep the squalls off your back, but frankly they are short lived, feel pretty good as a wash down and the charter boats are so well protected it isn’t needed.

Bring your phone. I travelled this past event and used my phone (iPhone 7plus) as my email, camera and navigation tool. I have a travel keyboard which makes email easy. Arrange international service with your provider before you go for no hassle comms, and take tons of photos and video. You don’t need your computer. If you can’t do what you need to do from your phone, then it will wait for when you return.

They charter company has plenty of snorkel gear. You don’t need your own. But if you think you will snorkel one other time this year… bring your own mask and snorkel. Use their fins, unless you are also using fins in your masters swimming practice.

Hat and sunglasses are key. Bring a hat you don’t have to return with. It will likely get blown off, crushed or left on the dance floor.

In addition to your normal toiletries – bring campsuds. Most of your showering will take place on the back of the boat. Jump in. Get out. Wash down. Jump in. Get out. Freshwater rinse. Campsuds make that process better.

OK, so that’s my bag… what are you bringing?

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You’ve Never Really Been There and Done That

After many trips to the BVI’s – I am pretty sure I just had the best one ever.

Culebra – part of the Spanish Virgin Islands
Culebra – part of the Spanish Virgin Islands

What made it so good? The people made it special, we had an onboard cook who made simple but MIND-BLOWING meals, but I realized you can really never “been there done that” if you dig deeper – was what made this trip the best.

I am so excited to be returning with the J World Flotilla in February to do it and more again.

I live in Annapolis, but I opted to fly out of DCA. My flight left DCA at 0600. Often in the past I have opted to stay the night at a lower cost hotel near the hotel, but this time I decided to drive. I left Annapolis at 0400, but construction on US-50 put me a little behind schedule. I ended up in garage parking – which is expensive. If I had planned better I might have saved $30 dollars spending the night somewhere nearby – but I would have left my wife a night early and had the hassle of getting to/from the airport.

You have to consider what is most important to you. You also have to make sure you are prepared for the little things that do add up.

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Ian and the Melges – Part Three – MOVING DAY


Day 3 Races 7-9:  On the way out the team was quiet.

Clearly a bit worn out and contemplating how to move up. I grabbed one of our laminated tactical note sheets and wrote down the 8 boats ahead of us and the 3 boats behind us. I told the team, “This is our neighborhood, if we want to move up, these are the boats we have to beat. We have to hit a few base hits before we swing for the home run.”

Race seven gave us a better understanding of what it means to be in the weeds. We had another decent start but quickly lost every lane we had and got spit out the back. Clearly something was wrong. With the crystal clear water here in Miami we can easily see the keel when we hike. So we were hiking hard to see if there was a hunk of sea grass on our keel, and we could see nothing. Whilst trying to remain focused on the shifts and where the breeze was we were getting increasingly frustrated by our lack of point and speed. What could the problem be?! Finally, on the starboard lay line I was hiking my butt off as we fell back to second to last place and I caught a glimpse of the rudder out of the corner of my eye. There was a giant grass monster holding on to our rudder! I jumped back to the rudder and shot my hand down the leading edge as if I was snatching a salmon from a stream. With salt water spewing up into my nostrils and eyes I was able to clear a good three pound hunk for grass from the rudder. Voila! Our speed and point returned to normal.

Now the challenge was shaking off the first leg and climbing through the fleet. Down wind we worked hard to stay in breeze, surf the waves, and pounce on any opportunity to pass boats. By the time we reached the leeward mark we were nipping at the heels of some familiar faces. We were back in our neighborhood. Coming out of the leeward mark we escaped by making a couple tacks shortly after the mark to get clean air. Up wind we played some shifts and were happy to have our normal boat speed back. At the windward mark we played it conservative and had to duck a few boats that we had caught but we ended up finishing close with this gaggle of boats. We were certainly in the weeds but we shook them off and were able to go from second to last to 51st in 3 legs.

Lesson learned: Everyone has a crummy leg every now and then. No matter the reason, there is always more race to go. Do not allow you or your team to spiral. Keep your eyes forward(or back ward if you’re going down wind) and sail as you would otherwise. If you continue to work hard you will reel the fleet back in.

Overall we continued to start fairly well. After the start we worked on anticipating lane loss and deciding whether it was a tack out or a foot off situation. This seemed to help a bit, although we could still improve on this. We seem to have a habit of getting off the start line well then perhaps tacking once and extending for a long while, sometimes sailing on the outside of a shift. Looking ahead we will see a top boat and say, ” they’re going this way, we must be doing something right.” I often voice my opposition to this as I believe those boats are sailing in a different race and there are top boats on both sides of the course. On the flip side of that there had been a couple occasions when we ping ponged a bit and sailed up the middle of the course, to similar mediocre results.

We are doing a good job of holding our mid fleet position, but as anyone would, we want to move up. I am certainly open to ideas.

On the fatigue front: after 9 races in 3 days and a seemingly marginal forecast for this morning the PRO graciously granted the fleet a warning no earlier than 1300 today. Well rested, our goal today is to improve our down wind legs.

Three races to go, it would be nice to peak in race 12.

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