Duty Officer 3

3. Hollowell Races


3.0 Thursday Personal Handicap

These are pursuit races using personal handicaps. For the 2022 season we will implement the following changes:

  1. No fee to be paid.
  2. It is recommended the DO use the Committee Boat and a timer. (see below)
  3. The timer and flags will be set for the usual Hollowell 5 min countdown start (showing the 'P' flag). The first boat to start will go after the 0 min signal has sounded.
  4. The race will finish as soon as possible after 35 mins (set from '0' on the pursuit book) AND when the leading boat reaches its next marker on the course.
  5. The Committee Boat sounding the horn at each finisher. Up to this finish line boats may still racing and therefore still overtake.

Please note that this rule must be consistently adhered to as previously on the sounding of the finish horn some boats turn back and head for the shore (that will now be a DNF). Stragglers in the fleet may be told by the DO that their position has been noted and can also now head back.

Equipment required;

  • A fully equipped and manned Safety Boat
  • Committee boat with course board / flags and timer of your choice.
  • The 'Thursday Book' containing the countdown numbers.
  • A seperate clock or watch will be useful
  • The entry form from the T-Bar, on which participants have registered (name, sail number and personal handicap). Use this to record the finish positions.

Setting up

  • Choose a course which should be fairly long to avoid 'lapping'.
  • Establish from entry form what 'time' your first boat is starting from.

Starting the race with the new timer (Eight Dog): FOLLOW THIS LINK

Starting the race with the old timer:

  • Set the timer to P4
  • Press START as near as possible to 6:30pm.
  • The timer bleeps and counts DOWN from 5.10.
  • At 5.00 hoist the Pursuit Flag as the horn sounds.
  • At 4.00 hoist the Preparatory Flag as the horn sounds.
  • At 1.00 lower the Preparatory Flag as the horn sounds. EXAMPLE: Show the first number plus 1, this gives boats starting at -5 one minutes notice (Remember, when racers number goes OVER - they go OVER the line).
  • At 0.00 lower the Pursuit Flag and start changing the PY number over at every minute sound.
  • When the last craft has gone press START and SELECT together and the horn will stop sounding.

How long is the race?

  • 35 mins from when '0' is turned over on the Pusuit book
  • SUGGESTION: Set a stop watch to record the start of this '0' time.
  • On the timer - say for example, the first boat went off at -10 and after the 5 min start sequence you press START (this resets the timer to 0, (but still sounds horn at one minute intervals) then on the timer scratch boats leave at 10 mins on the the timer so the race will finish when the timer shows 45 mins
  • When the last boat has gone press START and SELECT to stop the horn sounding.

Finishing the race.

  • As 35 minutes approaches, situate your boat at the buoy being aimed for by the lead boat.
  • Set up a line pertpendicular to the finishing boats.
  • As boats cross the line record their position in the fleet. If on your own just shout 'finished' leaving your hands free to use the clipboard.
  • Record the results on the computer and display on the results notice board.

Initial numbers are allotted by discussion and agreement between entrant and duty officer.

The table below indicates bands of handicap numbers for classes sailing a 35 minute race. The system is based on a middle of the fleet Laser sailor being a scratch boat.

Handicap Table – Minutes started before or after the scratch boat (book goes from -17 up to +6):

Laser scratch time range -02 to +4 Wayfarer scratch time range -04 to +2 RS 400 scratch time range +2 to +05
Sailboard scratch time range -06 to +06 Topper scratch time range -09 to -03 Solo scratch time range -06 to +00
Optimist scratch time range -17 to -11 Laser Radial scratch time range -05 to +00 Enterprise scratch time range -06 to +01

Results and Adjustments—

Results are tabulated. Handicaps are adjusted as follows:
• First place adds one minute.
• Last place subtracts one minute.

3.1 Personal Handicap Races

These are usually one-day events in the sailing programme, such as the RNLI Personal Handicap and Sail4Cancer.
There are 3 handicap races, 2 to count. Each entrant when signing on will please take note of your Gold Silver or Bronze allocation. You will be given a percentage uplift on your PY number according to your allocation. The winner will be the boat with the best aggregate score over 2 races. The GSB allocation are published and will be on display on the notice board. The Commodores decision being final. PY numbers are calculated as follows: Gold fleet (RYA PY 2014) Silver fleet (RYA PY + 10%) Bronze fleet (RYA PY+ 15%) The DO will need to calculate each entrants PY number for the day and enter this into Sailwave for the days sailing event.

3.2 Pursuit Racing

In a pursuit race, boats of different speeds start at different times based on their RYA Portsmouth Yardstick rating (PY number). All boats are finished at the same time and the boat that is in front at that time is the winner. In theory, every boat would be at the same place at the finish time but vagaries of wind, tactics, personal performance etc. means the boats are usually well spread out.

Pre-Race Briefing

Inform competitors that the races are Pursuits with a verbal pre-race briefing AND tell competitors that when 'their PY number goes' thet go. Establish from sign-on sheet what boat will be first off (slowest in fleet). The time length of the race will be dependent on that boats PY eg Topper (at 2021) is 1365 this means 137 minutes (rounded up) for full pursuit and 69 mins for a half-pursuit.

Round down e.g. 1101 = 110, Round up if .5 or above 1155 = 116

Ask them to remember who was immediately in front of them at the finish sound signal as they do not have to sail to a finish line.

Competitors should know to START when their PY display goes. E.g. a Solo on 116 (corrected from 1155) starts as 116 disappears and 115 appears on the PY display (and the horn is sounded automatically by the timer). A Solo should know that displaying 116 means there are 30 seconds, 45 seconds or 1 minute, depending on the pursuit, prior to their start.

Lazy sailors will ask you what their PY number is - refer them to the PY list on the notice board in the vestibule.

If a youngster wishes to sail half of the pursuit, start them at ½ their PY and double the completed laps to calculate their positions. Timing each lap will also allow ‘adjustment’ for position on the water at the finish. It will be very difficult to be exact as to their position, but it is important to encourage juniors as much as possible.

Setting a course

1. See section on ‘Race Courses’.
2. For a Pursuit race in a good wind set a long course with a start either at Bay or Middle, as it is easier to monitor the positions and pick up the leading boat for the finish than a start at one end of the pond or the other.
3. In light airs a simple triangular course is best avoiding crossovers as it makes finishing much easier.
4. Set a start line with space for boats to wait their turn whilst avoiding conflict with racing boats.


Open the PY number book at the PY number of the first craft to start (number rounded to three digits). Numbers run highest to lowest. In a full pursuit show number to competitors with one minute to go horn. In half and quarter pursuits wait until full sequence has started - horn will sound automatically at 30 secs.




At least 5 minutes before the display nears the predetermined race time prepare to move the start/finish line to ahead of the leading craft on the water by using the Committee Boat at one end of the line and if possible a safety boat as the other end.
Drive back up the course until all craft have been logged in order. Finish all craft as the finish line moves back up the course with a horn blast using either the centre button on the timer or the wander lead, and note their position. Boats should not overtake another after the first horn is sounded.

To get in touch either send us an email or call into the club when we are running organised racing.