Racing course explanation
The P Course
Basically, the principle is that dinghies sail for the same period of time, generally experiencing the same wind conditions, and , based on the distance they sail during that period, their times are adjusted to represent the times they would have taken to sail the same distance as the fastest dinghy. These adjusted times are then corrected using the appropriate Portsmouth Numbers.
In practice, little change is needed from sailing a normal handicap race. The course needs to be set so that every lap is the same. ( See P Course Diagram ).
This is essential otherwise it is impossible to apply the adjustments fairly. The course needs to be planned as if it was being set for a three or four lap level race for the slowest class. The start and finish are the same. The committee boat does not move during the race, but sits approximately one third of the way up the longest beat. The competitors need to pass through the start/finish line on each lap. The mark X ensures that dinghies on the beat are kept clear of boats rounding mark 3 and also keeps them nearer to the committee boat for lap checking and finishing purposes.
The start is a conventional line start. However the finish is a different story. There are no predefined number of laps to be completed. Dinghies keep on racing until they are finished. A suitable time for the race would be 50mins + one lap for the leading boat. An accurate lap count needs to be made for each competitor. A sound signal will be made to denote that the leader has one lap to go and the Blue flag will be flown. Thereafter every dinghy will finish the race when they next pass through the line at the end of their current lap.
The results are fair with everyone sailing in the same conditions. For both the competitors and the officials the event runs to planned times. Everyone has approximately the same time on the water.
The dinghies spread out quickly round the course and the Race Officers have to keep a constant watch to ensure everyone is correctly lap counted.
In normal handicap race you time yourself and key competitors at the marks and assess your relative positions, but with the average lap race this is more difficult.
Windward Leeward Course
In recent years the club has adopted the policy of running two courses simultaneously for club racing on Sundays.
This is to cater for the more modern Skiff style dinghy’s which suit the windward leeward style courses better than the P course. The courses share the same marks, the same start and the same finish line to help the race officials.
The upwind leg from the start ( 3 To CB) is represented in black and will obviously, in practice, be a series of tacks not a straight line.
The downwind leg is represented here by the blue and red lines which show two possible routes to the leeward mark, the red one minimising the number of gybes required, the blue one showing a far greater number of qybes.
It is also possible, as you round the windward mark (1) to immediately gybe and launch your spinnaker and head off to the other side of the course.
As you can see there is no actually right course to sail, it is all about tactics based on wind conditions observed on various parts of the course, the tides effect and where your opponents are.