HRYC members who have not read this season’s Sailing Instructions and Notices of Race might find themselves confounded by the array of flags flying on our race boat Lollipop. Here is a simple guide to what the flags mean.
The Blue Flag. Whenever the Committee Boat is on station – as a Start Mark, Windward Gate Mark or Finish Mark – the Blue Flag is flown. It’s a very classy artisan flag, possibly the classiest blue flag in any yacht club on the east coat – hand sown and hemmed by global fashion icon Helen Kaminski from a Coles Shopping Bag. The Blue Flag also marks the point on the committee boat that is one end of the finish and start lines – just what you need to know for those close finishes or judging very tight starts.
The Windward Gate. While on the topic of blue flags … remember that you MUST sail through the windward gate on every upwind leg in Windward Leeward Races featuring upwind finishes. Just as important , you MUST NOT sail through the gate on the downwind leg. You will be penalised 5 minutes if you fail to sail through the windward gate when sailing the upwind leg. And you will also be penalised 5 minutes if you sail through the windward gate on the downwind leg.
Course Flags. This season there is a wide variety of course options. These are described in the attachments to the NOR found in the Racing and Download Pages of the clubs website. Its a good idea to download these and laminate them so you have them on board for reference. Each course option has its unique combination of two Course Flags. For example there are 9 different windward leeward upwind finish courses. Code Flag W is displayed to indicate that the course is a Windward Leeward Course with upwind finish and a numeral pennant is flown underneath indicating which one of the 9 course options is flown.
The Course Flags are flown prior to the starting procedure. If you come to the start area and see the course flags flying you know that the start procedure has not begun. The course flags are lowered one minute before the starting procedure commences with the hoisting of the Division Pennant ( Numeral Pennant 1 – duh, we only have one division).
Code Flag I – a black dot set against a yellow background – is now flown in windward leeward races as the preparatory signal, four minutes before the start. This flag is then lowered one minute before the start. Previously the “Blue Peter” – Code Flag P – was flown as the preparatory signal. We now use Code Flag “I” because our Sailing Instructions for this season invoke Rule 31.1 — No boat to be on the course side of the line, or it’s extensions, within 60 seconds of the start signal. This is prescribed in the Racing Rules of Sailing. Of course most of us have failing memories, and just in case our start crew forgets this change and persists in using the Blue Peter, our sailing instructions modify the RRS so that even if the Blue Peter is flown, rule 31.1 is invoked. Confused? If so just stay on the pre start side of the start line