Melbourne Yacht Club Rum Race Instructions


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MYC Rum Race Race Instructions
Updated 03-August-2012

pdf printable instructions

Entry Form (doc) (pdf)

Start Times

Rum Races are for FUN. Rum Races are held every other Sunday afternoon during Standard Time, and every other Friday evening during Daylight Savings Time (see MYC schedule for actual dates). These races are conducted under the current USSA rules, except as amended by these Instructions.

The Rum Race area is located south of the Melbourne Causeway. In this area, there are four 6.6 NM courses, using the following marks:

MYC Mark "S" - located just SE of Melbourne Harbor Channel Mark G1.
MYC Mark "A" - located due E of Mark S, and due S of Fisherman's point,
                       on the east side of the Indian River.
MYC Mark "B" - located SW of Melbourne Beach Pier

Channel Markers G9 and R8

See a picture of the course


Triangle Defined By

Used in Wind Directions

"A" Course

S - A - G9 - R8 - S
(all marks to stbd, except R8)

"A" Course
Counter Clockwise

S - R8 - G9 - A - S
(all marks to port, except R8)

"B" Course

S - B - G9 - R8 - S
(all marks to stbd, except R8)

"B" Course
Counter Clockwise

S - R8 - G9 - B - S
(all marks to port, except R8)

· Channel Marker "R8" is a mark of the course, and must be passed to the east, on all courses.

· All courses require the completion of 2 triangles.

· The start/finish line is a line drawn through Mark "S", perpendicular to the course being sailed, within 2 boatlengths of Mark "S", on the appropriate side.

· The course will be chosen by the Rum Race Chairman (or his designee) at least one half hour before the designated start time. The selected course will be posted on the flagpole at MYC by one half hour before the start time).

The Race Start time is approximately 2:00pm, for the Sunday races, and 6:00pm, for the Friday races. Each boat's actual start time depends on the boat's handicap rating. Slower boats start first, and the fastest boat starts last. The actual start time for each boat is based on the boat's PHRF Rating, with appropriate MYC adjustments, as published by the Rum Race Chairman. Starting at the appropriate time is on the honor system. If you are over early, you must restart yourself, just as in a normal race. Your watch should be set to the correct time, as determined by calling 853-3333, or, or using the atomic clock in the MYC bar.

Both Racers and Cruisers may sail using spinnakers or not as they prefer, BUT the election to sail Spinnaker or Non-Spinnaker can only be made once for a race series. Boats  must use their correct (Spinnaker or Non-Spinnaker) rating and start time. Boats sailing Non Spinnaker may not use more than one jib at a time, except for a brief time when changing jibs.

A grounded boat may use their engine to get off the sandbar without penalty. The engine should be turned off again as soon as the boat is sailing free.

This is an informal race, and all boats are strongly encouraged to minimize the chance of causing a protest situation. However, should a protest situation occur, the 720° rule is in effect... Protestors shall fly their red protest flag and hail the protested boat. Protests that are not exonerated by the 720° turn must be submitted to the race chairman within 30 minutes after the last boat finishes the race. Protests involving damage must be submitted to the race chairman, regardless of the 720° rule.   If you bump a mark, you must do a 360° turn to absolve yourself.

The first boat to finish is strongly encouraged to stay at the finish line, lined up with the mark, to help resolve finish issues, and record boats finishing. However, all racers are responsible for reporting their own finish to the Rum Race Chairman at the whiteboard in the bar after the race. If you are not sure your exact place, report your relative place among the boats finishing with you. For example "behind Keladi, in front of Skimmer".

Scoring for each series is done on a high point system, in two classes, Racing and Cruising.  Points are awarded as follows:

1st Place – 10 points
2nd Place - 9 points

10th Place and below - 1 point (including DNF)

If less than 10 boats race, the scoring is the same.  Assignment of boats to classes is based on many factors, and is wholly at the discretion of the Rum Race Chairman.  Skippers who disagree with their assignment can petition for a re-evaluation at any time.

When sailing in this informal series each skipper/owner is responsible for the safety of their boat and crew regardless of weather forecast or actual weather conditions experienced. It is the skipper/owner's sole responsibility whether or not to start, continue and/or finish a race, and therefore the MYC bears no responsibility or liability for accidents, damage or injuries.

A Rum Race is automatically over at 4:00 PM (for Sunday races) or 8:00 PM (for Friday races) on the watch that you started the race with. Yachts who have competed two laps of the course are finished normally.  Yachts who have not completed the course by 8:00 PM shall be considered to have finished in whatever place that they are in at 8:00.  Please make note of the boats around you at that time.  It is dark out. Also, as it gets dark, the closer you stick to the boats around you, the easier it will be to sort out who is ahead.  

Hasty's Rum Race Reminders

Once upon a time, when I was a senior in high school, I was the regular crew for Jim Orr on his Snipe, and Jim was the man to beat in Snipes anywhere in Central Florida.  One day, we were racing on Lake Conway in Orlando.  We were about to round the leeward mark in first place, and I had taken down the whisker pole.  I passed it back to Jim, who jerked it back quickly to grab it about in the middle, to stow the 7-foot whisker pole under the bow deck.  But he missed his grab, and the pole landed in the water behind the boat.  We were just about to tack around to pick up the whisker pole (you have to finish with all of the equipment that you started with) when the guy in second place reached down and picked it up.  He said “Here, Jim,” and tossed us the whisker pole, effectively keeping us in first place. Jim thanked him and continued the race.  I was thrilled at this display of fine sportsmanship, as we would have lost many places picking that pole up out of the middle of the fleet.  But Jim, when we returned to shore, disqualified himself for receiving help during a race.  I was impressed at this display of sportsmanship, even though the result was not as happy.  Until the race committee refused to accept Jim’s voluntary disqualification, and they were backed up by the rest of the fleet!  We were given first place.

I expect no less sportsmanship from everyone who participates in a Rum Race.

The first rule of sportsmanship is: Don’t interfere with people that you are not competing with.  Racers:  pass to leeward of Cruisers if you can.  Don’t deliberately block their wind.  Cruisers:  Don’t luff up a Racer trying to pass.  The second rule of sportsmanship is: We have a very mixed fleet out there.  Some folks are just getting started in racing and are just trying to get the boat around the course without hitting anyone, and some folks have been racing for years and know the Rules forwards and backwards.  You folks who don’t know the rules, try and learn them.  You folks who do know the rules, have fun playing rules games with one another.  When you come across someone that you think is not fully up to speed on the rules, try not to interfere with them.  The appropriate thing then is to approach them at the bar later and say “You remember when you crossed me in the second windward leg….” And try to educate them on the Rules.

There are two situations where sportsmanship is routinely brought into play: at mark roundings and when passing.

At mark roundings, the Rules are complex, the tactical situation changes from second to second and is frequently unclear (“I had an overlap!”  “No you didn’t!”) and the potential for damage is very high, especially around Marker 9, which is HARD.  If someone is rounding ahead of you and you even suspect that there might be a problem, GO AROUND THE OUTSIDE!  These boats are not Sunfish or Lasers, and they don’t bounce off of one another.  KEEP CLEAR!  If you find that you have fouled someone, DO YOUR TURNS!  It is part of the game of racing.

No one likes to be passed, and everyone thinks “If he tries to pass me, I am going to luff him to Melbourne Beach!”  But ask yourself “Is he in my class?”  “Will slowing him down improve my position, or will he get by me eventually, and all I have accomplished will be to slow him (and possibly myself) down?”  If you finish seventh, and you have knocked the probable winner from first to second, does that make you feel good?  WHY?

Rule 17.2 is frequently violated on the long reaching legs of our rum Races.  It states “Except on a beat to windward, while a boat is less than two of her hull lengths from a leeward boat clear astern steering a course to leeward of her, she shall not sail below her proper course unless she gybes.”  The bone of contention here is proper course

Proper Course  “A course a boat would sail to finish as soon as possible in the absence of the other boats referred to in the rule using the term.  A boat has no proper course before her starting signal.”

Rule 17.2 basically means that you can’t sail down on top of a passing boat to block their wind to prevent them from passing.  While a careful reading of the rule discloses some limitations, that is the gist of it.

A couple of people have requested that since this is a “Pursuit Race” and there is a lot of passing, perhaps we need some special rules to make passing easier.  We might, for example, require the passee to genuflect to the passer.  I don’t think so.  After all, any race where you are not the lead boat is a Pursuit Race, and it is much easier to pass a slow boat than one of your own class, as with Sunfish, Lasers and L-28s.  So choosing passing lanes and strategies in Rum Races is good practice for passing other boats in fleet racing.  But by the same token, keeping others from passing by unsportsmanlike (and sometimes illegal) tactics spoils the fun for everyone. 

Play nice!  Have fun!

Hasty Miller


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                         Last modified on 08/05/2014