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  Speed course rules, safety and courtesy
6/8/2009 11:11:11 AMMartin Waldron

One more scenario:

The Burrow beach speed course in Dublin has a section where the channel is only 100m wide. On Saturday I was sailing back up the course about 20m off the far shore thinking that leaving a good 80m off the leeward shore was enough for any sailor but another sailor chose to sail very broad off the wind into the channel as was his prerogative. The norm in sailing would be to head upwind of him but I felt in doing so I was heading between the sandbar and the sailor on the course which would be going against the general rules of speedsailing. I would also have been sailing in the flatter water had I done that.

My other choice was to go downwind of him and try to stay as far away as I could, which I did, resulting in a fairly aggressive response from him which I won't repeat.

What would you guys have done in this instance. I know that my preference would be for returning sailors to sail as far off the sandbank as possible leaving me clean water next to the sandbank.
6/8/2009 1:37:44 PMHoward Rowson

Interesting scenario Martin. I am very surprised you got an earful from a “fellow”? speedy.


The speed strip is defined as the first few metres of flat water to the lee of the sand bar / wall (as with WK).  As you were heading back up wind off the speed strip, your actions are fairly easy to predict, you are sailing tight to the wind as you can, in order to make your way back up to the start point. The speed sailor heading down the course who decides to bear off, away from the strip, the onus is on him / her to ensure that their projected path is clear of all other speedies, either heading down the course or heading back up. Only they know their projected path, you don’t. Bearing off is very unpredictable and usually happens when a big gust hits, all due care should be taken when conducting such a manoeuvre.  Also the likelihood of a big off is substantially increased.


You were left in no mans land, not knowing which way to go. When in that situation hold your line – you were correct to continue your course.


Steve Thorp at West Kirby is worth mentioning here. He loves, on the odd occasion to bear off and go deep, riding out the chop in pursuit of max speeds. I have never seen him do this whilst there is traffic heading back up the lake, “in his way”.  He will wait for a run down the course that is clear of returning speedies before going deep.


However, where ever we sail we will always encounter the “slip road to outside lane” type driver who blows his horn off because we were in his way.

6/8/2009 5:50:07 PMHans Kreisel

Hey Martin,

You did the good thing .
I mostly point in both directions to see wich way they want me to sail.
Those guys have a to big ego and no respect for other speeders.
Just ignore them or give them the finger ;)

6/9/2009 1:39:12 AMJohn Kenny

here lads I am the other speed sailor who gave Martin an ear full and I was on my run when Martin sailed back up the course I'd say at most 3 to 4 metesr down wind of me .I had to finish my run witch was 41.8 knot max so let's just say I was doing 75kph and if he was 30 knots witch is 55kph and just say i spin out and hit him it would be a head on crash at 130 kph and I'm 117kg's and Martin is 85kg's . So I am asking Martin to send his tracks to the Irish time to keeper ( Steve Flanagan ) so we can resolve this and learn from it because it sounds like your getting hard done by . P.S. Martin I have video of 3 of your runs and you no were near the sand bar but as I said if that is the way you think we all should sail that's fine with me
6/9/2009 2:08:43 AMJohn Kenny

here is a link to short video from Burrow beach and at low tide the water depth is only about 300mm so every one sails a bit out as you will see.

6/9/2009 4:44:43 AMChris Torckler

Martin...  where a sailor is in open water and not in a fixed course against a bank then the sailor bearing away at speed should be giving way...  no reason to get aggro as they have the ability to choose their path unlike a sailor beating back up wind further out!
I had just been writing up another  'unwritten set of rules' that should be applied and was going to email them out to all  NZ   kiters and windsurfers using the speed runs we have... but worth adding them here again...  
Every run is unique and has its own issues but  a generalised set of rules are worth having!

With the increase in traffic both kite and windsurf on our best speed runs it is  vital that every sailor understands and follows some basic rules and etiquette that allow safe and fast runs for all!  These basic rules can only apply if all sailors at that spot are speed sailing only!

When   freestylers are on the water,  standard sailing right of way must apply!

In extreme conditions following these basic rules will make your session faster and safer!     ( Speed run =  bearaway run down the length of the sand bar)

·        The sailor  on  a bear away speed run has absolute right of way.                  ( but  must never  intentionally endanger other sailors)                                                                            
·       Never overtake a sailor already on the speed run. (if the leading sailor suddenly gybes or pulls into bank you may not be able to avoid collision)

·       Never sail windward of another sailor standing in water while on speed run.   (loss of control could result in death or serious injury to that sailor)

If you crash or break gear in area of run either sail out of speed run or  move gear onshore as fast as possible.

If walking back up run make every effort to pull gear out of water and hold secure until  sailor on run has past. (forcing any sailor to veer downwind  to avoid a sailor or rig in water greatly reduces speed on that run)

Stop only at top or bottom of run to tune gear or chat, but move onshore clear of sailing line. If stopping partway down run  sail back up wind or move gear onshore as fast as possible.

Do not leave shore to sail back up wind  if any sailor has entered the run, wait until sailor passes.(your wake will slow that sailor down, worse on a square run)

If pulling or jibing out of a run  part way down track always check behind for approaching sailor.

If course is square,  direction with downwind bias has right of way; if sailing back up course   do so when course is clear and give way to any sailor coming down course.                                                                    (either sail well downwind of sailor on course or pull gear onshore)

STAY OUT OF COURSE AREA  UNLESS ENTERING AT TOP END TO START A RUN  (sand bar edge to approx 15m downwind of shoreline)


There will always be exceptions  but if courtesy and common sense prevail we will give everyone the opportunity to record top speeds! 



6/9/2009 5:46:17 AMMathew Robertson

Windsurfing Victoria has previously set up the following site, which indeed lists the "do's and dont's" of sailing there... in particular see the "code of conduct" page.

6/9/2009 9:20:08 AMHoward Rowson

Thats's a great speed spot you have there guys.

Upon reflection, having studied the video several times, most sailors appear to sail down the channel centrally, not particularly hugging the bank. The channel is pretty narrow certainly when the tide appears to be at it's lowest. The windflow looks pretty broad on the course with no dramatic bear offs, away from  the bar.

We sail at probably one of the most congested speed spots going - West Kirby, certainly when the free ride contingent are out for a blast, near misses are the norm, you really do have to sail with eyes in the back of your head.  Accidents did happen back in the late 80's with sailors actually being run / sailed over on the odd occassion with broken bones and severe gashes resulting.

The rules offered up by Chris and Mat are excellent and should form the basis for health and safety guidlines for any speed spot / event, the rules tweeked for individual spots / wind strength / direction.

In your case guys, with the wind pretty broad,  it lends itself to walking back up the bar, this usually is the practice at the majority of the top spots when the wind is broad (reading sailors comments).  Most speedies walk at least halfway back up at WK when the wind is broad, and choose an appropriate quiet time to set off and sail back up to the start point downwind of any one setting off on the course.  It works pretty well with all speedies sailing together without conflict or near misses.

This action does have it's hazards and it is of paramount importance that a low profile is maintained in order not to adversely disrupt the windflow over the course and more importantly hold onto your gear as if your life depended upon it. The last thing a speedy wants is a rig and board blowing out infront of him/her whilst making speed down the course. 

Great speeds guys - keep on it!
6/9/2009 11:11:42 AMMartin Waldron

My track will be over with Steve later today.

I agree a crash would have been very serious at the speeds involved.

I have to note that only on the previous run I had dragged my gear onto the edge of the sandbank and knelt on it to ensure the same sailor could sail as close to the bank as possible without any fear of me getting in the way.

In hindsight I feel that everyone should walk their gear out of the narrow section on this course before heading back up the course and I will be doing that in future.

Sail safe and have fun, that's all it's about.
6/9/2009 9:54:07 PMMartin Waldron

Steve looked over the tracks and it seems like I sailed the dangerous course and left the sandbank after JK was sailing along at full speed and he never altered his course.

I would normally be very aware of all sailors around me and quite critical of bad sailing so I can't really explain the mistake, but that's what it was. It certainly wasn't intentional.

As I did at the time, although I didn't realise I was in the wrong, I have apologised.
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