Monday, July 05, 2010

The birth of a Race Officer

OK so I am down on the duty roster to be RO on the 14th July and I have never done it before; I've been on the team, helped with the flags, timings and processed the results many a time but never been the RO with all the weight of responsibility for the course etc. We have an open day coming up on the 10th and I though I could get some top tips and handy hints and maybe a bit of practice then so I was feeling quite relaxed about the prospects of being RO.
That was until last Saturday when I received a call from a member of the club who was down to be RO on the following Wednesday and for family reasons needed to swap with someone and would I do it. OK well I knew that I had to do it so I said yes. I meant to read up on the RO instructions and even downloaded the pdf from the club website, I even skimmed through it but not enough to really know it. But work pressure pushed it back and in the end I planned to give it my full attention on Wednesday afternoon after the informal races and before the evening race for which I was to be RO. I never got the afternoon races and arrived at the club with just an hour to prepare for the race.
Fortunately a long standing member of the club with lots of experience was on hand and gave me a run down on what to do. Gradually the rest of the team turned up and I began to assign tasks and responsibilities.The winds were light and from the SSE direction, which was excellent for the club start line, but it meant that there were a number of dead patches close to the south and east banks, also the north end of the lake had dead patches pretty much all around the edges. I set a windward mark in the middle of the south end and laid a course which stuck to the areas where I could see there was wind and put the course up.
Pretty soon we had started the start sequence, fast handicap fleet first then the slow handicap fleet. Everything went smoothly, two boats over the line in the slow fleet and only one went back, the other, even though he was clearly ahead of all the boats, decided that as he hadn't heard his number called continued.

All was going well, I even had time to tack some pictures, until I noticed that the windward mark was no longer where it was supposed to be and the lead boat was on the last leg of the first lap! We called up the rescue boat to reposition the wayward mark and watched in agony as they did their best to get past the fleet at dead slow speed to avoid creating the annoying wash that disturbes the sails in light winds. With only a few minutes to spare the mark was repositioned and this time with enough warp to stop it from drifting again.

The rest of the race went without a hitch. We shortened course after 45mins and all the boats finished within the hour just as the wind piped up! Typical!

With the aid of a teenage mind with a calculator the corrected times were computed and then checked with the aid of an older, slower and more experienced mind (and a calculator) and the few errors corrected. Job done. Not exactly a baptism of fire but the beginnings of a new skill maybe.

The lead boat demonstrates how to roll tack in light winds - so smooth!

The funny thing is that as it turns out my youngest son has his graduation on the 14th of July. Hmmm. I get the idea that there is a far greater mind at work in the apparent accidents and incidents of my life.

1 comment:

Tillerman said...

It's always fun to move the windward mark while boats are racing towards it. I've heard some very interesting nautical expressions that way.