BLSC Sailing Instructions and Race Committee Procedures


  • These sailing instructions are specifically for BLSC club racing usually using a shore based start/finish. Details may be changed for one-design or inter-club regattas. Unless otherwise specified, the ISAF Racing Rules of Sailing (2013-2016) shall apply. For the ISAF rules 2013-16, click on this link, and for the Sail Canada Prescriptions, click here.
  • Sound signals are not obligatory e.g. in the event of equipment failure. Times will be taken from the flag signals, not the sounds
  • All participating skippers MUST register with the Race Committee and identify their boat on the race sheet.
  • All skippers and crews MUST wear PFD’s at all times while racing
  • Leave the lake if there is a danger of a lightning storm
  • Go to the aid of any person or boat in danger
  • A quick chart showing the main flags used at BLSC can be seen here: Flag Sequences.
  • These Sailing Instructions and the Race Committee Procedures below are also available in Word files.

Starting Sequence

Assumes two starts: handicaps 87 or less, and Lasers if 3 or more have registered to sail in a Laser fleet, start first.

  • 5 minutes to first start – class flag raised and horn sounded.
  • 4 minutes to first start – class flag lowered, prep flag raised and horn sounded.
  • 1 minute to first start – prep flag lowered and horn sounded.
  • First start – class flag lowered and horn sounded.
  • If a second start - second class flag raised while first start flag lowered.
  • 4 minutes to second start – prep flag raised and horn sounded.
  • 1 minute to second start - prep flag lowered and horn sounded.
  • Second start - class flag lowered and horn sounded.
  • NOTE: if fewer than 3 boats in one or other category, or if fewer than 8 boats altogether, the Principal Race Officer (PRO) may decide upon only one start, at 5 minutes after yellow flag raised. PRO must ensure every boat knows of the change.
  • Anytime after all start sequences - raise blue flag.

Other signals that may be used.

  • Warning of starting sequence – 3 sound signals 20 to 60 seconds before the starting sequence.
  • Postponement – Answering pennant and one sound signal.
  • This race complete – lower blue flag.
  • Racing over or abandoned – wave white flag and give three sound signals.
  • Early starters – one sound signal, raise Individual Recall flag.
  • Many early starters - two sound signals, raise General Recall flag.
  • Course changes/shorten course – verbal information using the power horn.

Race Courses

  • For most club racing a shore based start will be used as described below, although committee boat starts are encouraged to better align start line to wind and utilize the racing area.
  • Whether a shore start or committee boat start is used, the start line shall be between the orange pipe at the lectern (NOT the flagpole) or the orange flag on the committee boat and the start buoy.
  • The course is designated by the letter boards on the racing lectern. Up to three letters A, B C, show the marks and are repeated to show the number of laps. A green triangle indicates marks to starboard and a red square marks to port. Mark A is the windward mark, B the gybe mark and C the leeward mark. The marks do not have letters on them and each boat is responsible for identifying the location of the marks. An alternative Windward Leeward course will have A as the windward mark, and either one mark as the leeward, or two marks (one of which may be the start mark) as a gate, to be passed through and rounded in either direction.
  • The starting buoy is a mark of the course for the start and finish only, and may be passed on either side at other times.
  • A minimum of three boats starting is required to constitute a race. If only one finishes, then that boat is the winner.
  • Boats not finishing within 20 minutes (multiplied by their handicap/100) of the first boat to finish (in their start) may be scored DNF at the discretion of the PRO. For example, a boat with a 70 handicap would have 14 mins more to finish, but one with a 120 handicap would have 24 minutes more to finish after the first boat.

Scoring Club Racing

  • Finishing positions are determined by the boat's time corrected with the CLASS HANDICAP.
  • For an individual race, each boat receives the number of points equal to its finishing position.
  • For a series of races, on the same day, total points and overall position is determined by adding up points for each race.
  • DNF (started a race and did not finish) equals number of finishers in that race +1
  • DNS (did not start a particular race) equals number of finishers in that race +2
  • DNS (did not start all races on a particular day) - may have registered on the race sheet - no result
  • Series results are based on the following (calculated at the end of the season)
    • More than 12 race days – count the best 10 days.
    • 10-12 race days – count the best 9 days.
    • 9-10 race days – count the best 8 days.
    • Less than 9 race days – count all days.

Racing Rules Overview

This list covers the basic rules only. It is recommended that all racers study “The Racing Rules of Sailing” 2013-16 which will apply unless stated otherwise.

  • A port tack boat must keep clear of a starboard tack boat even when rounding a windward mark.
  • A windward boat must keep clear of a leeward boat.
  • A boat that is tacking must keep clear of one that isn’t.
  • When two boats are tacking at the same time the port side boat must keep clear.
  • A boat clear astern must keep clear of a boat clear ahead when on the same tack.
  • A right of way boat, when altering course, must give other boats time to keep clear.
  • A boat must avoid contact with another boat if reasonably possible however a right of way boat shall not be penalized unless there is damage or injury. Damage implies loss of value or functionality. A touch is not damage.
  • At a mark, the outside of two boats overlapped must give the inside boat room to round. The overlap is established when the first boat reaches the three boat-circle "the zone" from the mark. Mark room continues to apply based on the position of the boats when the first one reached the zone, it cannot be broken if the overlap is lost while continuing to sail to the mark. There are three exceptions. 1) At a windward mark, when on different tacks, the starboard tack boat has right of way 2) At a starting mark, surrounded by navigable water, the inside boat is not entitled to room 3) The boats meet when one is leaving the mark and the other is approaching.
  • A boat that is over the line before the start may restart by re-crossing the line by dipping the line or rounding the end mark. A boat that is returning to re-cross the line after the start must give way to all other boats until it is on the pre-start side of the line.
  • If a boat touches a mark it must get clear of other boats and do a complete circle as soon as possible.
  • A boat finishes when any part of it crosses the finish line, after which it must clear the line in either direction. However, if in doing so it touches a finish mark, it must first take a 360 penalty, then go to the course side of the line and refinish.
  • A boat that has broken one of the above rules (Part 2 of The Racing Rules of Sailing) may take a penalty by getting clear of other boats as soon as possible and making ONE turn in the same direction including one tack and one gybe. This overrides the standard two-turns penalty p[rovision in the Racing Rules of Sailing.
  • A boat may protest another boat that has broken a rule in Part 2 of The Racing Rules of Sailing and MUST hail “Protest” at the first reasonable opportunity. The offending boat may accept the penalty by doing ONE turn. If the offending boat does not accept the penalty, the offended boat may lodge a written protest within one hour of the end of the last race. Protest forms are available in the Race Committee manual. The protestor is responsible for contacting one of the following people to organize a protest committee: the Race Captain, or the PRO of the day.




  • Sign up for at least one PRO duty for each series that you intend to race – Wednesday and/or Sunday.
  • Please arrive at least 1 hour before the scheduled start to allow time to set the marks.
  • The PRO should arrange for at least one helper to make up the race committee to assist with timing, flags and marks, also to be available to operate the rescue boat in an emergency.
  • Person driving a club boat must have a Canadian Pleasure Craft Operator’s License.


  • A minimum of three boats starting is required to constitute a race. If only one finishes, then that boat is the winner.
  • The ultimate decision to race or not rests with the individual skipper. A PRO is under no obligation to organize a race if he/she thinks that conditions are UNSAFE, even if three or more skippers are willing to race. However, wet or cold conditions aren’t normally sufficient reason for a PRO to cancel racing if three or more skippers want to race.
  • If conditions become unsafe during a race the PRO should abandon the race by waving the white flag and making three long sound signals.


  • Obtain flags, power horn and RC equipment box from the second garage – see “List of RC Equipment” in the RC binder. Familiarize yourself with the operation of the power horn and stop watches.
  • Launch the committee boat with 4 marks, ropes and concrete anchors aboard. When both club boats are available with engines already mounted, use the aluminum boat for setting the marks. The inflatable rescue boat should be kept ready to launch with the garage door open. Check both boats for fuel and re-fill if necessary.
  • Put the course boards in the slot at the top of the lectern. If you change the course for the next race make an announcement from the end of the dock using the power horn.
  • Make sure that all boats competing have registered on the race sheet. It is acceptable for a boat to register by hailing the RC however a boat that has made no attempt to register is not racing should not be added to the race sheet.
  • Record the date and PRO name on the race sheet.
  • Record the wind strength in MPH using the “Wind Wizard”. This is needed to submit data to US Sailing for calculation of Portsmouth handicaps.


  • The course length will depend on the wind conditions and time available. Consult an experienced BLSC member if in doubt. Aim for at least two races on a Wednesday and at least three on a Sunday. If conditions are right, don’t be afraid to set a long course for the first race.
  • Ideally, courses should be ABCAC (triangle and sausage) although it may be necessary to set an AC course if time is short.
  • The most important part of a good course is a starting line that is long enough at 90 deg to the wind, and a true beat to the A (windward) mark.
  • Don’t set a mark unless the concrete anchor hits bottom – either move the mark to shallower water or add extra line. Always clip the anchor line to the lead weight below the mark, not to the mark itself.


  • Start the race using the two-start procedure as per the Flag Sequence in the RC binder.
  • Remember to use the Warning Signal, Postponement Flag, Abandonment Flag, and Early Start Signal as per the Flag Sequence in the RC binder.
  • Use one stopwatch to time the start and start a second stopwatch when the flag goes down for the first start. Leave both stopwatches running as a back up. Shade them from the sun else the display will fade.
  • If the wind dies, SHORTEN COURSE rather than abandoning the race. The race must still finish on the normal finish line. You can shorten course as long as the leading boat hasn’t reached the last mark before the new finish, either by announcing by power horn from the end of the dock or going out onto the course in a club boat. If no boat crosses the finish line, even after shortening, then the race is abandoned.
  • Write down the individual finishing times for each boat on the race sheet – please time accurately, it can make a difference when handicaps are close.

    1. The start/finish line is between the starting buoy and the flags on the lectern – NOT the flag pole.
    2. Write time for ALL boats, even the Laser fleet, from the first start. One minute will be deducted from the elapsed time for each boat in the second start in a second column on the race sheet.
    3. See the bottom of the race sheet for how to record DNS and DNF.
  • You may calculate corrected times (on the back of the results sheet for example as there is no column for this) using the Portsmouth handicaps (see list in RC binder), record results for each race separately and calculate the overall results for the total number of races. Else wait for the Race Captain to do the calculations and to email the results out.


  • Retrieve the marks and wrap the anchor lines round the concrete anchors.
  • Put the boat(s) back in the garage and leave the engines mounted
  • Put all RC equipment back in the second garage.
  • Post the race sheet on the racing notice board OR give to Race Captain OR give to the designated person who will get it to the Race Captain. NOTE: do not give the sheet to anyone else and do not remove it from the club premises.