Sept 1-2, Christchurch
July 14-15, Rutland
Aug 11-17, Netherlands
Raceboard Rules

The International Raceboard Class rules are available on line here: rules

All racing takes place under ISAF Racing Rules. For a more human explanation of the Raceboard rules and how to start racing a raceboard in general, see below courtesy of legendary guitarist and windsurfer Rod Davis.....

Maybe the best way to start is just to turn up an an event near where you live and see what actually happens, chat to the sailors and the organisers and have a look at the equipment being used - see the UKWA website at http://www.ukwindsurfing.com/ for details of events and links to the regional events programmes.

The UK Windsurfing Association’s regional organisations are very happy to welcome beginners to take part in their events, which are a stepping stone to the UKWA National Series events. A special introductory fee of £25 for windsurfers new to the Association offers membership of the UKWA for one year and includes the essential THIRD PARTY INSURANCE which you need before you can take part in any racing.

The regional events will provide you with a good grounding in racing procedure and will prepare you for the more exacting National level events. Don’t be misled into thinking that you will only be competing with minnows, most of the top national raceboard sailors also sail in their local regional events so you will quickly come to appreciate how very good they are at the front of the fleet. However the regional events are more low-key and all the sailors are particularly helpful to newcomers and will even tell you how many minutes there are to the start and where the next mark is!

In addition to the third party insurance, all yau need to race is a board with a daggerboard and a sail, preferably with your official number on it which you would be given when you join the UKWA, but if you haven't got one yet you can usually buy a couple of temporary numbers when you sign on. You must ALWAYS bring a buoyancy aid as sometimes venues will insist on this, depending on local rules or weather conditions. ALL sailors under 18 MUST wear buoyancy at ALL times.

EQUIPMENT USED:
Raceboards:
In the Raceboard class the most commonly used boards are the Fanatic Cat and Mega Cat, the F2 380 Race and the Mistral Equipe II and Pan Am. They are all around the 3m80 mark in length and have a large carbon fibre daggerboard, a sliding mast track and loads of footstraps. Many of these boards are quite old, more than 10 years or so, but they have been lovingly repaired by their owners. These are getting scarce now but they can sometimes be picked up on Ebay or at windsurfing car boot sales for a couple of hundred quid! You should be able to get started in the raceboard fleet with reasonable secondhand equipment for change out of £500. Even old boards of the above makes, plus the F2 Lightning Race and the IMCO One Design can still be quite competitive but their lower volume is a disadvantage in lighter winds. Since late 2008 the new Starboard Phantom has appeared in the fleet and in 2009 we expect some of the new Mistral Equipe IIIs to join us and both should set new standards of excellence..
Sails and Rigs:
Most people use a 9.5 sail, which is the International Raceboard Association’s regulation limit for Men (Ladies is 8.5). The most popular sail types are the Demon RG5 9.5 and the Tushingham Lightning 9.4 although other types are used. In the average sailor’s hands the Demon seems to have an edge up to about 8 knots then as soon as the board starts to rail the Lightning gets back on even terms and as the wind increases remains more manageable than the Demon as it has a higher top end. The Lightnings can be picked up secondhand in the region of £200, the Demons are however more expensive in view of their higher initial cost, but they are very durable. They do however need a very long mast whereas with a Lightning you can use a 520 or even a 490 with an extension.

Tushingham have developed a new sail for the 2009 season, the XR Race, which is designed to have a better performance at the bottom end of the wind spectrum. For higher wind than force 4-5, you would be well advised to have a change-down sail, something between 7.5 and 8 or so.

The Demons use a shorter boom than the Lightnings, but whichever sail you use you will find that an adjustable outhaul system and downhaul system are very well worth fitting. Most people change their outhaul setting during a race, letting it out slightly when off the wind and tightening it up again for the beat. The adjustable downhaul is a godsend when you are on the start line and the wind starts to pick up, you don’t have to go ashore to put more downhaul on.

It is not necessary to have adjustable outhaul and downhaul right at the start of your racing career, but once you have gained some experience the advantages will become apparent and you can take steps to fit them.

Unlimited:
In the days when the maximum permitted sail size for the Raceboard class was 7.5 sq m, some sailors, especially the heavier guys, decided they would like to use bigger sails with no size limit whatsoever, which gave rise to the Unlimited class. However with the sail limit being increased to 9.5 there are now only a few diehards sailing Unlimited and with the possible introduction of weight classes for 9.5 sailors, the justification for the Unlimited class is being eroded. Unlimited class sailors are also permitted to use a Formula board (or indeed any other board) if they wish) but this is now quite a rare occurrence.

A few sailors still stick to the 7.5 limit, especially the older guys and those starting racing who do not yet want to invest in 9.5 sails, so this could be a particularly inexpensive way to gain some racing experience.

What happens on a Race Day:
Taking what happens at a London Region event as typical, most people turn up by 9.30 am to give themselves time to rig up and sign on as briefing is at 10.30 and first race at 11.00. In the London Region the Entry Fee is currently £10.00 for Adults and the Youths and Juniors fee is £5 for a One-day Summer Series event (Two-day Events are charged differently), Under 18’s will need a parental signature. You need to sign on and pay your entry fee at the Registration Desk. Weather permitting, there are 4 races, two before lunch and two after. Your best three races count towards the day’s results and also count towards the series results. The day ends around 5pm. Other regions’ procedures will differ in detail - check out their websites for information and phone the organisers who will be very happy to answer your questions.

Briefing:
At the Briefing you will find out about the course and the location of the marks will be pointed out to you. Races usually last about 30 minutes. Some regions set a fixed number of laps for their races, say two or three, other regions use a “Grand Prix Finish” system, so that even if you complete only one lap you still get a finishing position. The starting sequence will also be explained. When you are first starting racing you will probably want to keep clear of the line itself and cross after the main bunch has started as it can be a bit intimidating, but you’ll soon be mixing it with the rest of them!

There will be an extra “Beginners’ Briefing” if requested to answer any further questions you might have. The rest of the fleet will be warned you are a beginner and will be asked to be especially kind and helpful to you, even to the extent of pointing out where the next mark is or telling what the flags mean!

WARNING: Please don’t be put off by all these flags and stuff, if you are confused, just ask another sailor before the start or even during a race, they’ll be glad to help if they know you’re a beginner!

The Start Sequence:

The standard international ISAF start sequence is based on “5-4-1-GO” as follows but note that a different flag may be used instead of the “R” Flag, but this will be explained at the Briefing.

at 5 minutes

at 4 minutes

at 3 minutes

at 2 minutes

at 1 minute

at start

flag “R” is raised

flag “I” is raised

NOTHING HAPPENS

NOTHING HAPPENS

flag “I” is lowered

flag “R” is lowered

In addition to the start flags, there are a few more you should be aware of!

INDIVIDUAL RECALL FLAG:
If one or more boards are over the line at the start and their numbers have been taken, this flag is flown with ONE sound signal and the individual boards must go round the end of the line and start again or be disqualified.

GENERAL RECALL FLAG:
If boards are over the line at the start and their numbers have NOT been taken, this flag is flown with TWO sound signals and ALL the fleet must restart the race. One minute after this flag is lowered the sequence restarts with the 5 minute flag.

A couple of Rules you MUST observe:
You to need obey the port/starboard rule, ie if you are on starboard tack you have right of way (if your RIGHT hand is nearest the mast) and you should shout “Starboard” loudly at a board on Port tack who looks as though he is going to collide with you. The board on Port tack you must give way to those on starboard tack and take evasive action. This is especially important when approaching the windward mark. If you hit anybody they will probably shout "360" at you whereupon you must turn your board round through 360 degrees (one complete rotation) at the earliest convenient place, before continuing the race. But keep well clear of other boards when you do your 360! Note that even if you are on Starboard tack you should nevertheless do your best to avoid an actual collision.

You must be aware of the upwind/downwind rule, any board upwind of another MUST give way to a downwind board. This is particularly important when one person is sailing upwind and the other is sailing downwind, as the one sailing downwind can see better and must give way. This does not apply when rounding marks.

When you are approaching a mark of the course, if another board gets there before you, you have to keep out of his way and not try to dodge round inside him -this is a simplification of the situation but should keep you out of trouble for the time being!

On the start line you must not be over the line within the last minute or you must "sail round the end" of either end of the line and recross the line. If you don’t do this you will be disqualified.

This is just about all you need to know, after that it's just practice!

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If you need some gear, check out the “Sales & Wants” pages on the windsurfing websites, try EBay and your local sailing club noticeboards, go to an event chat up the sailors, they are always buying and selling kit! There is a Windsurfing Car Boot Sale at Hayling Island on the last Sunday morning in each month where you might be lucky and find some raceboard gear.

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