NEW TO RACING?
HAVE A BOAT YOU'D LIKE TO RACE, BUT YOU'VE NEVER TRIED IT?
Then you've come to the right place.
We'll try to delineate the steps here.
We're going to assume you DO know how to sail, and perhaps you've tried racing a time or two on Other People's Boats (OPBs). But now you are ready to try taking your boat out to the starting line.
The best place to start is:
• CLUB OR ASSOCIATION:
Figure out what's around you. Most likely there is a fleet already racing. Ask people on the dock, who are preparing to race, or under way out to the race course, what club they are racing under, e.g., what club or association is hosting the races. 99 to 1 they will be happy to engage you in conversation and give you full contact info.
For the most part, "clubs" will be private Yacht Clubs that have a formal initiation and dues structure that can sometimes be very expensive. They might even have a waiting list in order to apply for membership. For the beginning racer, a better bet might be to look for a local "sailing association" or "yacht association."
"Associations" are usually broader based "organizing authorities" for local sailboat racing comprised of boats from both clubs and individual racers who do not necessarily belong to a "yacht club." Assoications usually have fairly cheap memberships available and they allow you to participate in weeknight racing and some of the weekend racing, depending on the organization and what kinds of weekend racing they host.
We'll try to compile a list of Chesapeake clubs and associations soon, as the one we had on this site, prior, is no longer applicable. Better yet, email us at email@example.com and we'll get back to you quickly and give you some ideas on how, when and where to start racing!
• GET YOUR BOAT RATED
Unless you see a bunch of boats that look amazingly like yours headed out to the race course, (those would be One Design) you are going to need a handicap rating. There are some "rating" options now on the Chesapeake. For most weekenight racing, almost without exception, you will need to send an application to PHRF of the Chesapeake, along with a check for 25 dollars, to get a "valid rating certificate" for PHRF racing. Click for more about PHRF: here
For bay racing on the Chesapeake, in other words CBYRA races, you can also race in a class called CRCA, the Chesapeake Racer Cruiser Association. This is primarily, but not exclusively, for cruising boats, e.g., boats that do not have minimal or stripped-out interiors, but instead may carry all the creature comforts of yachting, e.g., air-conditioning, full galleys, and even sport a bimini or two. This class can assign a free "ARC" class rating for up to 2 races, but if you do a race or two and decide you like racing in CRCA events, then you are encouraged to head over to the Offshore Racing Rule website and apply for an ORR-Ez rating at: https://offshoreracingrule.org/orr-ez
Once you get a rating certificate, you should get in touch with your local association's race officer (usually you can find this on-line) and get your boat registered for racing. Fees are usually in the $65 - $100 range, depending on the association.
Oh, and a word about sail numbers: if you bought a used boat that someone may have raced at some point, then it probably already has sail numbers. Those are the large numbers, sometimes accompanied by letters, on your main sail, headsails and spinnaker (they should all match, too!). If there are no numbers, then contact CBYRA (firstname.lastname@example.org) and ask about getting numbers assigned to you, and you only. That's another thing that CBYRA does, e.g., keep track of, and assign, sail numbers.
• KNOW THE RULES (or at the very least, become acquainted with the basic ones)
The Racing Rules of Sailing are available on-line. Visit the ISAF and download the PDF file (link here). There is a shortened, condensed version which is basically all you'll need to know initially, at least enough to get you off the starting line without hitting or fouling anyone here (with a big thanks to BCYA for this file).
• GRAB A MENTOR
Still a little nervous about racing? Contact some of our folks on the CBYRA MENTOR LIST. These are experienced racers who will calmly get you through the starting sequence, mark roundings and the rest of the course. We won't guarantee you'll win, but you will have fun and learn a lot. We can promise you one thing: we will not hook you up with screamers!
• JOIN CBYRA
Once you've paid for your handicap rating certificate and paid the association/club rules, you are pretty much good to go, at least for weeknight racing. But we'd love it if you joined CBYRA, too.
Onganizing, scheduling and providing resources for racing on the Chesapeake takes up an enormous amount of volunteer hours, not to mention significant cash outlays. We only have one, part time, employee and the rest of us put in trememdous amounts of time so that boats can play on the bay. We need to be able to maintain an office, buy awards, host events and keep the lights and heat on. So please go here and join!
• JOIN US SAILING
Once you've become totally addicted to racing, or even as a beginner, you should consider joining USSailing. They do a tremendous amount for sailors in the U.S.A. and you can learn tons more about what they do here.
THANKS! Feel free to contact CBYRA if you have any questions! Email:
office staff: email@example.com
WE HOPE TO SEE YOU ON THE WATER SOON!