Setting up the race course
I am working to start a local regatta in my area, and need some basic information on how to setup a race course. I read that you can easily make racing markers out of empty plastic bottles. What is the best way to get the markers set in the correct positions, and what is the best way to weigh them down? Do I need to bring a kayak out to the course, or can I set it up from the shore? What is the suggested distance between markers?
Also, what are throw outs, and how many should be set?
Capt. Jack – I have seen and made them all from casual sailing destination buoys – to national championships buoys where precise placement is critical as well as the buoy itself.
In the beginning, you can use just about anything that floats but it should be at least the size of a 1 gallon jug. The anchor can be a brick, and the line no more than simple fishing line. To avoid catching passing boat keels, the anchor line should go straight down under the buoy. To do that a small counter weight on the opposite end on the line from the anchor, which is routed through a turning fitting on the buoy, will keep the tension in the anchor line, and the buoy relatively close to vertically above the anchor.
As to where ~ in championship racing we are concerned first that markers are no further from where the skipper is standing than 300 feet. Actually in club racing, 200 feet is more manageable. If you can walk up and down the shore, then the markers can be further apart than 200-300 feet, it is depth perception that is the factor here, thus it is range from the skipper that really counts.
Where buoys are for championship racing, positioning is based on which way the wind is blowing. One end of the course is located where the wind is coming from, the other end straight down wind from the first. It is always beneficial if the wind blows in a direction parallel to the shore where the skippers are. Then put a starting line in the middle – start tacking into the wind to the windward mark and then go down wind to the leeward mark, and then return to the start/finish line. Because inland lake sailing is plagued with lots of shifting winds, clubs often put out an array of buoys (our club uses 10), so we can pick the marks for each race based on where the wind is blowing from.
Often clubs put out permanent buoys – our club has permanent anchors but because surrounding residents don’t all appreciate our brightly colored marks on their lake, we use snap-on buoys and decoy ducks. After sailing, we simply snap on the duck, and snap off the buoy, and we have a bunch of ducks floating around looking quite natural.
Throw-out buoys are another thing, and I will be glad to explain those to you if you will question directly. A person that is experienced in throwing throw-out buoys can only get them out about 80-100 feet from shore. And it takes a technique that takes a little learning. Thus there isn’t much call for throw-outs unless there is a real need to launch and retrieve all buoys every time you sail and they can be within 80 feet from the shore.
Yes, a kayak or small boat is invaluable for launching and retrieving buoys. Some clubs have built RC power boats with special hooks to launch and retrieve marks and anchors, but most are very inefficient and not worth the effort in my view.
Hope my 14 years of messing with RC sailboat buoys helps.