Start racing

I’m thinking of going yacht racing, how do I start?

So you’ve decided that it’s time to try racing, either in a local race or in an open event. It can all seem a bit daunting once you start looking at the paperwork! DON’T be tempted to ignore it all and hope for the best, as you may end up not being able to take part after all, or even worse fall foul of the Racing Rules of Sailing.

Racing your boat will involve putting in the entry, compliance with Special (ie. safety) Regulations and anything else stipulated in the Notice of Race, and a handicap or rating certificate unless you will be racing in a One Design Class. Of course there are also the issues of familiarising yourself with the Racing Rules of Sailing, and getting yourself and the boat to the start line in a suitable condition, but this article will not go into any details about preparation of your boat (or yourself); it will look solely at the ‘paperwork’ side of things.

• Choose the event you want to do.
• Obtain the NOTICE OF RACE – it will usually be published on the organising club’s website.

NOTICE OF RACE
Read it through thoroughly and highlight relevant sections.
• Check the requirements for a rating or handicap.
• Check deadline dates for sending in the entry and the rating/handicap. Being late is likely to cost you money!
• Check whether there are any requirements for a Stability Index (STIX) number or minimum Safety & Stability (SSS) number for the race. If there are, and you are not sure whether your boat will comply, contact your Rule Authority for advice.
• Check whether the boat has to comply with a particular Offshore Special Regulations Category (they range from 0 to 5, with 0 being the highest category). You can find the regulations themselves on the World Sailing website: http://www.sailing.org/specialregs
• Check whether you need an ‘Endorsed’ IRC certificate for the event. Endorsed means that the measurements and weight have been verified by an official measurer. For most popular production boats the standard hull data is acceptable for Endorsed certificates (but this may vary in different countries) and it is only the rig and sails that need to be measured.
• If you DO need an Endorsed certificate, check with your Rule Authority to find out what measurement will be required.
• Check that your boat insurance covers you for racing.

RATING or HANDICAP
• If you need a local handicap, talk to the organising club to arrange it. If you need a Spinlock IRC rating, this website contains the information you need.
• If you are outside GBR then applications go through your local IRC Rule Authority who will be able to help with application questions.