Open Letter to Thursday Night Racers

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Thursday Night Racers –

Thank you for joining us for another season of the best weeknight one design racing in the world. Seriously – we are proud of our more than 60 registrants and look forward to continuing to grow Thursday Night Racing in Annapolis.

For J World Annapolis, Thursday Night Racing is more than just a tradition. It represents who we want to be in the community. We host Thursday’s to provide a fun learning environment for our alumni who race on our boats and for the rest of the community. Thursday’s offer a low cost opportunity for experiential learning. Low stress and loads of fun. Not too serious – but high quality and always education minded.

As you probably know, we offer Thursday Night Racing to our students for free. If you have taken a class with us, you can call us Thursday morning and get on a boat for the evening. A free way to gain valuable experience and hopefully a good way to meet other racers in other classes and plug into the community. If you are looking for new crew – let us know and we’ll happily send you some new and willing crew.

The sailing instructions and their amendments provide all of the information needed to go racing, but this year we thought a little explanation of why we do what we do might be welcomed by the racers. So the following is a little explanation of each of the sections of the Thursday Night Racing sailing Instructions.

1. Rules

It is standard practice to use the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) and we have opted to follow that practice. The same rules that govern when boats meet apply on Thursday Nights that apply at weekend regattas and even championship events.  A downloadable copy of the racing rules of sailing is available on the Thursday Night Racing page on our website.

The exceptions to these rules relate to penalties. We have reduced the penalty for a breach of a Part 2 rule to one turn – unless it occurs within the Zone. The reason for this is that we want to settle as many protests as possible on the water (a one turn penalty turn should cost you very little – if it is well practiced) AND we want to have orderly mark roundings. We hope the increased penalty for fouls at the Zone will help dissuade racers from high risk low reward moves at marks.

2. Entries

Racing with J World Annapolis on Thursday’s is supposed to grow the sport and because of this we have set a pretty low bar for participation. This means that we aren’t measuring boats, weighing crews or enforcing whether you are a member of US Sailing or your local class association. That said – please join US Sailing and your local class association. Both are crucial to improving racing locally and abroad. Neither costs very much and the benefits are great.

If you aren’t currently a member of US Sailing you can join through the J World Annapolis website. You get a discount and we get credit for helping to grow memberships. If you aren’t a member of your local class association – contact your fleet president or secretary and join today.

3. Notices To Competitors

We are striving to improve our communication with participants. The Official Notice Board where we post amendments, protest announcements and other information is located at J World Annapolis. We also post the same information to our Online Notice Board located at jworldannapolis.com. These are easily accessed information centers where you can find all sorts of information – not just the official information. Further we announce postings on Facebook, Twitter and our website blog – The Learning Center.

4. Changes

Any changes that will be made will be posted by 0800. This way we can react as late as possible, but still provide plenty of time for competitors to get the information. Checking the J World site Thursday mornings is just as important as checking it Friday mornings (for scores and protests.)

5. Signals Made Ashore

We aren’t a yacht club (no flag pole) and few non-alumni participants come by the J World offices prior to racing. Because of this we have skipped the shore signals. Whenever possible though we will post information to our Facebook and Twitter pages. Sign up to get the latest.

6. Schedule of Races

We start and finish the season based mostly on available daylight. We want to get as many quality races in each season, but we don’t want boats without running lights coming home in the dark. In general, we strive to get three good races in each evening. This means that each individual race is approximately 25 minutes long.

7. Divisions, Class Flags and Initial Starting Order

Thanks to the generous support of the Eastport Yacht Club we are able to offer two race courses and divide the four classes into two divisions or circles. This helps us achieve our goal of multiple races each evening and limits crowding on the start lines and marks.

In the average conditions of the Chesapeake Bay the fleets are not likely to connect and the starting order will be what it has been since the time of bloopers. In some conditions (e.g. when J/70’s plane but J/80’s don’t) we may switch up the starting order. Further, if there was a problem and we needed to combine race courses and use on race committee we have written the SI’s in such a way that we have the flexibility to get races off. Pay attention to the class flags and you should have no problems knowing when to start.

Speaking of class flags – we would love to have actual class flags for each class. We aren’t in a position to purchase them, but if the classes would like to donate class flags to the organizing authority we could clarify who is starting even more.

8. Courses

Windward/Leeward courses are the courses most often sailed at weekend regattas and championships. Because of this, we offer windward/leeward race courses.

We have two courses to choose from, and have historically used a “modified” course that places the start/finish line in the middle of the course. This course fits within our geographic space, keeps the fleets separate and helps with recording finishes (upwind finishes are much easier to score.)

As mentioned above, it also helps us get three races off in most conditions. The course lengths are set with 25 minutes of total race time in mind. Of course, conditions do change and we will change the course length between races as necessary.

Please note that when the “modified” course is being used the start/finish line is closed to boats that are not starting or finishing. This is for the safety of all and for the benefit of the scorers who volunteer their time to help make this all happen.

9. Marks

We use a hodgepodge of marks to create our courses – if you have a question about what is what – feel free to ask one of the race committee volunteers. In recent years we have added offset marks after the windward mark. If you or your fleet would like to donate marks for Thursday Night Racing so we can have uniform marks on all courses – contact Kristen Berry at kristen@jworldannapolis.com.

10. The Start

We use a three minute start sequence to save daylight and get more races in each evening. We use sound signals to help those boats that have forgotten their time pieces at home.

11. Recalls

We do our best to call on the VHF radio or via verbal hail any boat that was found to be OCS. Keep your radios on after the start. NOTE that the sailing instructions indicated that Bravo Division (J/22 and J/24’s) would be on channel 71. Amendment 1 has changed that broadcast frequency to channel 73.

We are trying to get off as many quality races as we can. If your fleet has a general recall, you will go to the back of the starting order so we don’t penalize the next fleet.

12. Retiring From a Race

Please let the RC know if you are retiring from a race. Safety is our number on concern and we want to make sure all boats are accounted for. Further, we want to get races off, but we don’t want to exclude anyone – so let us know if you are leaving the scene so we can get your fleet started as soon as possible.

13. The Finish

If you have questions about the finish feel free to contact us.

14. Protests

Sailing is a self policing sport. It played best when the participants call their own fouls and take their penalties on the water immediately after the incident. It doesn’t always work that way. We take playing by the rules seriously and are interested in hearing any protest. Forms are available on the website or here in the offices. We provide plenty of time to get them to us (0900 the next morning) and will accept emailed submissions or forms taped to our font door.

The Eastport Yacht Club is extremely helpful in providing accredited protest committees and the full due process including appeals is available.

15. Post Race Scoring Penalty and Protest Arbitration

In consideration of wanting the highest level of fair play we have expanded our protest management this season. First, you can now take a scoring penalty if you decide after racing that you broke a rule. Further we will be providing conference call arbitration this season that will hopefully improve response time, rules understanding and outcomes.

As with any arbitration, if the protest involved damage or injury, requires witnesses or the arbitration judge feels that more information is necessary – the protest will be referred to a full protest committee.

16. Scoring

We want to encourage participation and respects that weeknight racing sometimes conflicts with real work – did somebody say WORK!? So our scoring system allows for a team to miss a night and not be out of the series by scoring by the night rather than by the race.

17. Radio Communication

Please bring your radios. Please turn them on to the proper channels (72 for Alpha and 73 for Bravo.) Please do not use the radio to communicate unless there is an emergency. Further, turn you phone off – you’ll thank us later.

18. Prizes

We love giving prizes. As sponsors come onboard we will provide more prizes. Help us find sponsors and we’ll have more prizes to give out!

19. Media Rights

By agreeing to participate you are agreeing to help us promote Thursday Night Racing. We aren’t the paparazzi – so if you don’t like an image we use, just let us know.

20. Disclaimer of Liability and Injury

Welcome to the modern litigious society. We want to put on races, but recognize that Thursday Night Racing is often the first stop on a racers pathway.   With safety as our highest priority, we won’t go racing when their are dangerous winds, the likelihood of lightning on our race course, severely limited visibility, locusts and more.  In general though, we sail in the rain, but not in the thunder.  We will try to make a final call on whether or not we intend to attempt racing at 1700 each day.  Posting announcements on our Facebook and Twitter feeds.  Always remember that it is your responsibility to decide whether or not to race. If conditions are such that you don’t think it is safe to be sailing – don’t go.

OK – Hopefully you have a little more understanding about how and why we do the things we do. If you have ideas on how we can make racing better on Thursday Night – we would love to hear them. If you have questions about Thursday Night Racing – just give us a call at the office or swing by the committee boats on the water.

Sail fast and have fun!

 

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