Your Role

Hosting a regatta or, as we say in race management, being the “Organizing Authority, is very rewarding but can also be a lot of work. Focusing appropriate attention to all the details ahead of time will make YOUR JOB much easier and will result in a much better experience for both you and your customers (the competitors).

Properly addressing these key steps will also help your Race Officials, Judges and Umpires do THEIR JOB more easily and successfully. (scroll down or click on each step below to learn more about each).

Plan the event and secure Race Officials in advance!

  • Don’t wait until a month, or even worse a few weeks, prior to your regatta to begin planning your event.
  • If your event requires or desires Race Officials with greater experience or advanced certifications, contact potential officials at least 6 months in advance!
    • In the United States, there are currently less than 125 race officers with up-to-date, advanced (Regional, National, International) certifications. Their calendars fill up in a hurry and oftentimes a year or more in advance.
    • Judges to serve on your Protest Committee are also in very short supply, especially in less populated areas. Make sure at least one or more members of your Protest Committee are properly trained. Do NOT assume that your local sailors “who seem to know all the rules” can appropriately handle protests or other requests of the Judges.
    • The US Sailing web site has an easy to use “Find a Race Official” feature that can help you find certified Race Officials, Judges and Umpires.

Identify and verify the preferences, desires, interests, habits, and culture of your competitors!

  • Every Class or group of competitors has at least a few unique expectations of the events they attend.
  • Some prefer races to be longer, some prefer to do a greater number of shorter races. Some prefer to limit the number of races they do each day.
  • Depending on the design of the boats, some classes or audiences prefer specific types of race courses.
  • The social aspects of your event should also be tailored to the unique desires of your audience.
  • Make sure your Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions align with your audience’s culture and expectations.

Create your Notice of Race (NOR).

  • This document informs competitors about your event and gives them the information they need to know if they are eligible and wish to compete.
    • Prior to publishing your NOR, it is a good idea to review this document with other key players on your team: your regatta committee, the Principal Race Officer, the Class Association leadership if that applies, and your yacht club or host venue staff. If your event involves Team Racing, Match Racing, or another less-common racing format, it is also a good idea to have your Chief Judge and/or Umpire also review your NOR prior to publication.
    • Click HERE for a quick reference guide to the role of Race Documents in the sport.
    • Click HERE to find templates for creating the Notice of Race.
  • Remember that your Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions need to comply with the Racing Rules of Sailing and any other applicable rules.
  • Establish your registration process prior to publishing your Notice of Race and make sure it captures all the information you will need from each competitor.
  • Seek out and secure all the volunteer resources you will need.
  • Lock in dates with your venue if necessary and pursue and secure any permits that may be required.
  • Click HERE to find templates for creating your Notice of Race.

Identify what resources you already have and also those resources you will need to obtain from others.

  • Your organization or the host venue may possess some or all of the resources needed to conduct the races. If you cannot provide everything necessary, work with your Principal Race Officer to secure what you need from other sources.
    • Do NOT assume your Race Official(s) will bring everything required! Helpful hint: If your race officials ask you lots of questions about who can or is providing what, that means you’re probably working with experienced veteran race officials.
    • Most Race Officials with advanced certifications travel with at least a few of the key pieces of equipment they use. A select few officials like us own and can provide nearly everything required to conduct an event. To see a list of what we own and review that list for what regatta organizers should consider owning or be prepared to provide, click HERE.
  • How many race committee boats you will need? (Signal Boat, Judge Boats, MarkSet Boats, Safety Boats, etc.). Arrange for and confirm these resources well ahead of time.
    • Make sure your Signal Boat has a reliable motor and appropriately sized anchor. Your Signal Boat anchor line should be at least 5x the deepest point in your race area.
  • How many race marks will you need? Appropriate size? Proper shape and color? Make sure all have appropriately sized anchors and long enough anchor lines. And a reliable way to properly inflate the marks.
  • The required methods for communicating with the competitors including signal flags, signal boards and automated sound devices for starting sequences. Be mindful that flags need to be an appropriate size and sounds need to be easily heard by all the competitors.
  • VHF radios so the race management team can communicate with each other, the shore, and any safety personnel.
  • Reliable wind instruments to determine wind speed and direction.
  • An easily updatable Notice Board in a location easily found and seen by the competitors.
  • Scoresheets, Protest Hearing forms and other necessary paperwork.
  • A quiet room or location in which the Judges can conduct hearings.
  • If required, reliable computer equipment and internet service to access online scoring programs and communicate with competitors via web, email or text.
  • Everything necessary (oftentimes a computer, internet service and a printer) to accurately and efficiently register all the competitors when they arrive at the beginning of the event.
  • Click HERE to learn more about making sure you have “The Right Gear”.

Create your Sailing Instructions

  • Remember that your Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions need to comply with the Racing Rules of Sailing and any other applicable rules.
    • Class Associations typically have Class Rules that are unique to their organization.
    • High School and College sailing have Procedural Rules that apply to their events.
    • Several organizations also have Championship Conditions, Prescriptionsguidelines or policies that must also be followed.
    • Don’t forget that your Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions are part of the Rules for your event! Avoid or be careful when including social, lodging, food, and other information in these race documents.
  • Before publishing or posting your Sailing Instructions, your Principal Race Officer and Chief Judge need to review and verify that your Sailing Instructions are correct and appropriate.
  • Click HERE for a quick reference guide to the role of Race Documents in the sport.
  • Click HERE to find templates for creating your Sailing Instructions.

Establish a proper Emergency Action Plan (EAP)

  • Unfortunately, a clear plan for what to do in the case of an emergency is one of the most forgotten tasks that are the responsibility of the regatta organizer(s).
  • How many safety boats will be needed to ensure prompt emergency responses on the water? The ratio of safety boats to competitor boats needs to align with the age, skill, and number of competitors on the water. A ratio of no less than 4:1 or 5:1 is standard practice for most youth events. Make sure all safety boats have proper equipment such as a VHF radio, flotation devices, tow lines, etc.
  • Make sure the safety boat operators are trained in on-the-water emergency procedures. Click HERE to learn more about safety boat training.
  • Depending on your location, different governmental organizations may provide emergency and rescue services. The Coast Guard, County Sheriff, or another organization may be the designated “first-responders”. Make sure you know which applies to your race area – and make sure you know the appropriate method for contacting them if necessary (VHF, phone, 911, etc).
  • There are many resources that can help you establish and craft an Emergency Action Plan for your event. Click HERE for some helpful information and to view some Emergency Action Plans we have created for one of the organizations we serve.

Remember to recognizereimburse or reward everyone who contributes

  • Competitors often forget that officials and volunteers are very rarely paid for their service. In addition to conducting races and hearings during the regatta, officials invest a great deal of time in advance to review the race documents, coordinate with other officials, prepare for, and travel to/from the event.
    • The expertise expected of certified officials requires them to pay course fees and to invest many hours becoming and remaining appropriately trained and certified in all aspects of the sport, including safety and their obligation to report instances of harassment.
    • In many cases, officials also invest their own money to purchase key pieces of equipment they most commonly use.
    • The personal expenses officials typically incur when serving an event range from as little as gas for the drive to/from the regatta, to much more including lodging, meals, airline travel, ground transportation and any special pieces of equipment required. Obviously, the cost of these expenses increases as the length of the event increases.
    • It is also very worth noting that officials often take unpaid time away from their regular paying “day jobs” to serve.
    • If your race officials provide their own boats, the gas to operate these is yet another expense they incur. Officials and others who regularly tow their own boats to events are also much more likely to incur ongoing maintenance and repair costs for their trailers and tow vehicles.
  • When asked what they receive in exchange for their service, many officials reply “a soggy sandwich, a free T-shirt, and/or the adoration of the masses and, if we’re lucky, more than one of these three”.
    • The simple words “Thank you” and “Great job!”, especially when spoken publicly in the presence of all the competitors not only remind sailors that officials make the sport possible, they also dramatically increase the willingness of your volunteers and officials to serve again in the future. Acknowledging the importance of “giving back” is also an excellent opportunity to encourage future generations of officials.
    • In addition to being acknowledged and recognized for their efforts, officials are extremely grateful to have their travel, lodging or other expenses provided or reimbursed. Covering some or all of your officials’ expenses makes it much easier for them to say “yes” more often.

US Sailing has developed a very thorough REGATTA MANAGEMENT HANDBOOK. Because its scope includes all the elements required by large events or major championships, this handbook covers more detail than many regattas require. However, it does contains many useful reminders and checklists that are very valuable for every regatta organizer or host. Click HERE to view and/or download the handbook.


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