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  Speed course rules, safety and courtesy

Hi guys,

A question requiring clarification and comment, which I am sure it will get plenty of.

What are the written or unwritten rules on a speed sailing course if any or should courtesy and not so common sense prevail?

In my humble view it seems to me the guy on the edge doing 40 plus knots or even someone less fast just going for a PB should have the right of way and everybody should do their best to stay clear.

This does not mean the speeder should not do all he can to avoid a collision if someone crashes or looses his sense of safety or courtesy but I believe the speeder should have the right of way, racecars are not expected to give way to the spectators!

Suggested guidelines.
Do not stop and stand in the middle of the track unless you and your gear are in water shallower than the fins that are being used.

Keep a low profile so as not to disturb the wind going onto the course.

Hold onto your rig very hard when a speeder is going by, if a gust catches your rig and blows in into the speeder someone will die, either the speeder or if the speeder does not die he will probably ensure the guy that let his rig go does.

Keeping your gear and yourself in shallow water allows people to run close and also defines the safe limit of depth so they can come even closer knowing that you and or your gear are in fin depth only water.

People should avoid sailing back up or across the track when someone is approaching or heading down the track. The wake is very upsetting to the speeder on the edge. The wake off a board lasts for quite some time and travels up the course for quite a distance so even if someone approaching the run in the distance do the right thing and wait until they have gone past.

Normally these issues only become evident when there are a lot of guys on the track however I have often seen one particular rider almost make a job of sailing in front of people every time they head down the run when there have only been 5 on the track.
6/3/2007Chris Torckler

Depends on the sailing spot a bit.. for us Shoal bay with a very short speed run into the beach is a nightmare... heaps of sailors plus kiters who travel at 10 knots then push hard upwind into the bar for a jump.. straight into the path of a windsurfer traveling at 35+knots... but as a beach open to all then you have to prepare to give way to all!
Lynfield is a different story!... its a specialised speed spot and the only sailors stupid enough to venture out there are intent on one purpose! "speed" .... therefore the sailor coming down the course has 'absolute right of way' .....If you cant understand that then you shouldnt be out there!!! every one wants a clean run ... this gets very hard when the course is square and I have been guilty myself of sailing back up as tight as poss... but try to pull in and beach until a sailor passes on the downwind run ....
My biggest gripe!!! I tend to sail very close(and I mean 'very' close) to shore at times... and many guys walk back up in knee deep water with rigs another 3 metres out.... thats where i want to sail ... if its knee deep then that is my track!! so get out of it please.... generally most guys out there are courteous enough to move inshore and huddle as a sailor passes...
But a sailor who stops /crashes on the course then stands around checking gps or taking a drink before heading back out ... should think again! Its only common courtesy to get off the track ie just deep enough for a fin to travel ... so the next sailor gets his run...
For a dedicated speed spot the rule has to be! sailor on the course has 'absolute' right of way!!!
6/3/2007Craig Loomes

Hi Chris, I agree with what the guest suggests and what you say just puts a finer point on it. I hope I am one of the ones that huddles in shallow water, please tell me if I am not far enough up the bank. I normally head into shallow water about ankle deep or less then, kneel and pull my rig and board in so that the fin is just touching the bottom. I have not sailed at shoal bay for quite sometime but I can see how the rules may need to differ there.
6/3/2007Andrew Daff

I agree totally with what these two wise sages advise.
I would add that one should always, ALWAYS, look behind before rounding up into the bank and finishing a run.
It is no fun to be bearing down at 40 knots+ on someone and see that they are slowing up but you can't tell if they are going to gybe or pull into the bank. There is only a spilt second to choose which side of them to go and if you choose the wrong one it will most definitely end in tears. At least if they look behind they will be aware of where you are and hopefully stay out of your way (preferably downwind).
I had a very hairy 'moment' last year when a sailor suddenly carved up into the bank well ahead of me but as I bumped across his wake seconds later my fin let go at 40 plus knots. Luckily, I had anticipated trouble just enough to be able to ride it out without a crash, but my heart rate hit a new high!
The same can happen when a sailor jumps on his board to sail upwind even as much as 100 meters ahead of you. Sometimes this one is hard to avoid of there are a lot of sailors coming down the course and you just have to take the largest gap to get going in, but it is important to be aware of minimising your start wake and wait until sailors pass where you can.
At Sandy Point, most of the issues come from recreational sailors who pull out of the course just where we are getting fully wound up. I have even sailed between such a sailor standing with his rig in knee deep water and the bank, praying that the water was deep enough for my fin. Both of us where sh**ing ourselves and neither of us would do that again by choice. :-)
6/3/2007Bruce Nicholson

totally agree with all this!
common sense eh
any one out there please do not be shy if you rekon I am doing the wrong thing on the course... TELL ME...I would hate if folks where bearing dark grudges against me for bad ettiquite
be safe
6/3/2007Chris Torckler

Bring back the good old pre gps days when I had the murky all to myself!... and not even wanting to mention that the last session I couldnt even get a park at Taunton Tce!!! what happened to my reserved spot... will have to get the reserved for geriatric stencil out and repaint my spot!
dont worry Bruce ... not one to hold a grudge.. but I may just consider sharpening the leading edge of my fin and trimming a few sails as I ride over them! :)
I think at Lynfield in particular sailors need to be aware that the bottom half of the course drops of pretty deep so it can be sailed within a metre of shore at times.....and while you can try and time your runs when the least number are walking that section there is a tendancy to congregate at that end a bit!
All said we have been lucky to have only 3 to 5 sailors out over the last few years and having 11+ means someone every 50 metres walking back up on a big day!.... maybe time to mention that 5m white pointer that broke off on a fisherman last week near channel marker number 4!
6/3/2007Glen Taylor

Nice thoughts guys, fully agree with the comments said.
At our local (lake clearwater) quite often we are lucky enough to have the entire lake to just two or three sailors. On some occassions while others are on shore you can have the luxury of the lake to your self! What pisses me off is when some freeriders come up to the flatish water and try and follow you around to gauge themselves against you. They gotta understand that we are up there to do one thing- sail fast, Not race or cruise beside someone else!

But on another note, they have the same rights to use that same stretch of water for whateva they please as the rest of us do!!!.

So in that situation i guess it just comes down the genaral rules of sailing.

6/3/2007Tony Wynhoven

Hi all,
it seems like an eternity ago but my last session @ Sandy was very much effected by 3 guys breaking the suggested edicate. Just as the wind direction swung to "perfect", I was @ about the 150m mark of the course at full speed when a sailor walking back upwind decided to flip his sail and lost control of the rig. I saw this happening and slowed slightly as the top of his mast missed my knee by about 200mm. That run was my fastest for the day with a 46.3 max and I would have been doing that when it happened. Deperate to get another run in while the direction held in, I powered upwind and started another run. At EXACTLY the same place, a kitesurfer decided he was too overpowered to make a run and without looking at all, headed straight for the bank right in front of me. I had to pull up quickly and decided to stop and head back for another try. Sure enough at nearly the same place a fellow speedsailor pulled into the bank without looking and I had to pull out again! By now I was very pissed and headed back for another try. The wind had swung back to the west and the best of it was gone.
The worst part of someone pulling toward the bank or even slowing down is that you cant tell if the are actually stopping at the bank ( which is quite managable as you can just sail past in slightly choppier water) or if they are going to gybe without looking which is VERY bad.
The first two instances were caught by Cam on video and if I can figure out how to post them on this site, it is woth a watch to see just how close it was!
Unlike many guys out there, I have actually hit another sailor at full speed (around 40kn) as he hit the bottom and catapulted about 4 metres in front of me as I was passing him (eat bank Sandy). Needless to say it was no ones fault but it does hurt (he missed the rest of the event and spent a while in hospital). Once you've had a crash like that you tend to be more "aware" of the others around you and that is the key to it all.
Use common sense and ALWAYS look before making any direction or speed changes. Regardless of how fast you are, there can always be someone coming down the course faster and the last thing he or she needs to be doing is trying to read your mind!
Anyway, just my thoughts. If anyone has an idea of how to upload this video, I'll do it.
cheers Tony.
6/4/2007Ian Knight

Even on a busy day Sandy Point is not crowded compared to a lot of other places. But here's some input from a less speedier sailor who gets to Sandy point occasionally and would hate to get in the way at the critical time.

The unresolved problem is the faster sailor coming up behind a slower one. Over many years on lake BG I've noticed that although we all look before gybing, we're human and sometimes don't see, there's a lot of blind spot. And I've never seen anyone look in the appropriate direction before tacking - you'd need eyes in the back of your head. But collisions here are rare, following sailors allow for human error.

How to solve this on the speed course?

Indicate tack or gybe intentions to a potentially following sailor? At a place like SP could you mandate one or the other at the bottom of the course?

Or during a crowded event day each sailor could nominate to pull up on the bank or gybe at the bottom of the course and stick to it. A colour coded streamer on the clew say?

Would an assembly point flag at the top end of the course help?
I've sometimes entered the course low down from the east bank, I have a real good look to make sure the course is empty but have wondered whether that gets in the way of the better speedsters about to launch on a good gust?

If everyone launched at the one spot Tony could call out "this ones mine 46.3" unless you can outbid with your display max..he's got it. I've just done the sums if he allows 15-20 secs for a slower sailor just gone, catch up should then be not a problem.

But anyway as Bruce says let us know, if we do the wrong thing. Looking directly behind at the bottom of the SP course in the whoop d doos only 10 metres off the bank ain't gunna be easy. And if I do see Tony right on my hammer - what do I do?
6/4/2007Andrew Daff

Ian, most of the problems happen in the start to middle area of the speed course where it is easy to look behind, especially if you are stopping or turning.
If you are hammering through the chop at the end of the course at 40 knots you are usually not in anyones sights. It is relatively easy to look behind near the start of the run to see if there is any potential for someone catching up to you and be aware if it. We would always expect a sailor at this point (way off the wind at the end of the course) to be pulling into the bank anyhow unless he very clearly indicated otherwise. The only hassle here is stopping and getting to the bank quickly so as not to get in the way of someone else who is on a good one and going a bit longer close to the bank.
Speedsailing at Sandy Point is a very egalitarian pursuit. I believe we tend to take the view that anyone who is making the effort has just as much right to go for it as anyone else, regardless of how fast their last run was. The main thing s that we all do it as safely and as considerately as possible.

Quote: "And if I do see Tony right on my hammer - what do I do?

Answer: Try not to be nervous and fall off in front of him, and be afraid, very afraid.... :-)
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