All members scheduled to serve as Duty Officer should become familiar with the following suggestions:
1. Fishermen at our reservoir have a boring life. All they do is stare at the water. Try to make their life more interesting by setting the start line as close as you can to their line. Fishermen love to watch the boats sailing nearby and to chat to the sailors.
2. In light winds, make sure you set very, very long courses. If you don't, you'll only have to run more races making for unnecessary work.
3. Most sailors hate to tack. Try and set the first leg of the course so that they can reach the first mark without tacking.
4. Most sailors find it really hard to work out which is the upwind end of the start line. Help them out by setting a start line so that they have to beat to get to one end. Then it is so much easier for the sailors to identify the favoured end.
5. Start sequences can be very boring for the sailors. Try livening things up by stopping a 5 -minute sequence at any time and restarting it without warning. Another option is to make 2-minute and 1-minute signals at some random interval after the 3 minute signal. This keeps the sailors on their toes.
6. Don't bother to call any boats that are over the start line. It's not really your job. Alternatively call out a few sail numbers that are over and add "and those other boats that I can't see". Keeps everyone guessing and that is a lot of fun for everyone.
7. Have a good rest while the sailors are racing. You have earned it. Chat to the sailors that showed up late for the race. Don't bother to watch the racers. The first boat will always give you a shout when he or she is about to finish.
8. Set a really long finish line. Don't worry if it is so long that you can't read the sail numbers at the other end of the line. You can always ask the sailors to shout out their numbers when they know they have crossed the line.
10. If any guests or potential new fleet members show up to race, remind them that the races are for members only and that they should keep clear of the racecourse. This is especially important if the newcomers are juniors, because kids need to be put in their place.
11. Remember when you are race officer, you are always right. Do not be distracted by advice and comments from any of the sailors. If a sailor persists in telling you how to do your job, it is OK to teach him or her some new nautical terms that may not be in the dictionary.
12. If its windy and not all the boats are ready to start at the published time - it is perfectly alright to wait. It gives those who made the effort to be there at the right time some extra practise and so will have an advantage.
13. When the wind is really blowing from the southwest move the Dam gybe mark to a position about 1 meter from the overflow. Watch the faces of the racers when they realise how little room they have. ( always a firm favourite )
14. Position the finish line about 5 meters from and at right angles to the shore. Watch the look of surprise on the asymmetric sailors faces when they realise how little space they have to get their gennakers down as they fly across the line.
15. When you have a strong westerly, make the first beat end around the area of the boat sheds and then take them on a reach up to church under the trees. All that shifty wind will really sort the men from the boys.
16. Always position 'A' well up the end of the lake so that the next reach to C causes most boats to run aground on the sand bar. This really can cheer up a boring duty.
17. Swap around the buoys a bit so that G is next to the dam and middle is by the clubhouse and don’t tell anyone. At the end of the race take great pleasure in telling everyone that they are all disqualified. This also means that as duty officer you won’t have moved down the series leader board by not sailing.
18. My personal favourite, in very light winds position the committee boat at the far end on the lake. When most boats have arrived in your vicinity then move the committee boat up to the other end of the lake. Wait 15 minutes till all the boats have struggled up the lake to the new starting position then move the committee boat back to the other end of the lake again. You can never have too much light wind sailing practice.
19. If you are expecting 20 boats to start the race, make the start line long enough for 10, always entertaining.