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rc sailboat racing setting the course starting remote controlled sailboat racing

Tips on Racing RC Model Sailboats

(you can click on any of the following topics to scroll down to that section of the text)

Introduction / Where to Sail / When to Sail / Racing Marks / The Starting Line / Setting the Course / Starting the Race / Recording the Finishes / The Racing Rules / Chase Boat / Building an RC Racing Fleet


Racing model sailboats is very exciting and lots of fun. All of the tactics are the same as for sailing full size boats, but with model boats everything happens much more quickly. Many races can be run in a morning. There are lots of starts and lots of buoy roundings. When I think back to the time when we had our first rc sailboat race 20 years ago, we were just experimenting at that point and it took us some years to get it all right. Our T37 National Championship Regatta last year, hosted by the Seattle Yacht Club, was the smoothest running set of rc races we have ever run. 23 T37 RC model sailboats participated and everyone had a terrific time. The skippers included two Olympic Gold Medal winning skippers and a number of very competitive big boat skippers. When you get it right, it is fairly simple. Here are some of the tips we have learned over the years that will help guide you to having a terrific time racing your T37 with a fun group of fellow sailors.

Click here for pictures from a casual day of T37 racing at Lake Samish in Bellingham, Washington: RC Model Sailboat Racing at Lake Samish.

Where to Sail

The opening question before you can get started is “Where to sail?” What works best?

Ponds or lakes generally provide the easiest racing venues for rc sailboats.

A sailing pond can be a wonderful venue for racing model sailboats. The sailing pond in Seattle was recently built just for racing sailboats. The round pond is 110 feet across. This works quite nicely, although if I had my preferences or was designing an rc model sailing pond myself, I would make the pond about 200 feet across. At 110 feet, the pond gets pretty crowded for racing if there are more than 15 model sailboats hitting the starting line at once. In this case the size of the sailing pond limits how long a starting line can be set. It does not work to have the starting line as long as the first upwind leg because then from one end of the starting line you can lay the first mark without having to tack. There are several advantages to a model sailing pond. One big plus is that you don’t need any type of chase boat and the racing will never need to be interrupted to chase down a stray boat that is heading over the horizon. Another nice aspect of a sailing pond is if you can walk around the pond as you sail, you can be up close to your boat in the buoy roundings. Sailing ponds are also usually quite visible and centrally located in parks, so it is a great way to grow your group since the boats will inevitably get a lot of attention.

Generally the only constraint on pond use is not to schedule races on the same day at the same time as another group. If there is another local club, do some calling and talk to the Commodore of the club to make sure you are not going to conflict with any of their scheduled activities. Non-racing boats sometimes cause some minor disruptions during a race, but on a large pond this should not be a significant issue and, like floating weed in lakes, everyone is subject to the same random interference. In this case it works well not to take anything too seriously. With lots of throwouts, skippers can stay relaxed about stray boats coming onto the course and about glitches with their gear or switching batteries or even missing a race.

Lakes make excellent sailing locations as well. Small lakes are fun because the winds can be very shifty. When you learn to play those winds and tack on the shifts, you will have a chance to establish a dramatic lead over the rest of the fleet. Small lakes generally have fewer high powered ski boats racing around to create erratic wave patterns and random chop. The T37 and other boats this size will sail beautifully even when it seems there is virtually no wind as long as the water is flat. Add a constant random chop from big boat traffic and the rc boats will stop moving in extreme light air conditions.

Small lakes may erase the need for a chase boat if you can see across the lake easily. On very blustery days with a strong wind whipping in, the boats will do very well in the smaller lake handling amazing winds. The water will be ruffled as dark gusts whip across the surface, but large waves will not form. Take the same wind on a large lake and you may have two foot waves running and white caps and most likely won’t be sailing that day.

Large lakes often provide beautiful places to sail and race rc boats. Having a large expanse of water is always inspiring. The boats are able to handle quite open water very well. Random chop is a problem if there is only a very light wind. Left over waves tend to continue for longer on a large lake, whether these waves are left over from a wind that has now died out or from boat traffic. Often large lakes have slightly protected coves or arms which can be ideal sailing locations. Sometimes a point of land blocks the waves coming down a large lake and can allow good sailing in strong winds when the rest of the lake may be covered in white caps and rolling waves. There are more variables on large lakes than on small lakes, but large lakes can still make wonderful sailing locations!

Some lakes may make wonderful sailing locations in the spring and fall when the weather is cooler, but the parking may be impossible and the water crowded with swimmers when the weather warms up in the middle of the summer. If the available space is limited, it is always a little tricky competing with swimmers who may be oblivious to the racing rules – in fact I suppose swimmers have the right of way as being human powered craft.

In a situation where swimmers become involved, there is some inclination to start the interaction by shouting, “Get off our course!! Can’t you see we’re racing!!” But this is not usually such a good way to start. Real diplomacy is called for with swimmers. Sometimes enlisting their help to move a mark farther upwind or something of this nature is the best way to get them on your side. Remember that youngsters are naturally interested in model sailboats and can hardly resist getting close to them. It is nice that youngsters have this instinct even though it can be a little difficult to race with too many young bodies grouped around a boat. It is best to explain what you are doing, and maybe even let several of the youngsters try the controls for a few minutes between races. What otherwise might become a tense and irritating situation becomes a fun sharing moment and improves our image with the rest of the community. Overall it is best to avoid combining swimming activities with racing activities. They usually don’t go very well together. Often the swimmers will be accustomed to using a certain part of the lakefront and it is best to set up the race buoys farther down the shore where there is not likely to be interference. It is best to stay clear of fishermen as well. They will never appreciate anything that they think might spook the fish. If there is some factor that they can blame for the fish not biting, they will probably blame it!

Sailing in salt water works fine as well. Fresh water is best because it is easier on the electronics. Even if everything in your boat stays dry, the salt environment will eventually cause the end fittings on the cables to corrode and cause problems. Keeping all the connections sprayed down with Wd- 40 is a good starting point if you are going to be sailing in salt water. The RC gear has gotten pretty affordable in the last ten years, so if you have to spend $40 to replace everything in your boat after three years of frequent sailing in salt water, it is not too big a negative. Tippecanoe Boats has a 2 inch  wide removable waterproof sealing tape that will re-adhere indefinitely and never leaves any residue. $10 gets a 36 yard roll, basically a lifetime supply, since you can reuse each piece indefinitely. Seal up your cockpit hatch absolutely for salt water sailing on blustery days and you are ready for anything. Salt water sailing is fine if it is your best option.

A few factors that can complicate salt water sailing and may need to be taken into consideration. Low tide can make it hard to access the water unless you launch from a floating pier, and may even turn your sailing basin into mud flats. A slight current will not usually matter too much on a breezy day, but take a day where the wind comes in little puffs arriving only occasionally and all of the boats will end up getting swept down with the current and up against moored boats or between piers. A noticeable current and light winds won’t work well together – it is the same for racing big boats. Stray pieces of eel grass and other weed can drift in with the tide and wrap on keels or rudders virtually disabling the racing boats that get ensnared. We raced in the entrance to our marina once in Bellingham. When the tide turned and the current picked up, the weed came in. With almost no wind, even the lead boats were getting swept away in the lulls.

The rc gear on board is not affected by fresh water. A servo can be immersed in fresh water, and, although it will act wonky until it is dried out, put it in a warm spot overnight and by next day, it should be back to normal.  You could even open the case and things will dry out faster. Usually the receiver is the same and we have even had transmitters sink in shallow water and be resurrected by drying out. If any piece of radio control equipment does get immersed in salt water, immediately throw it in a big bucket of fresh water and do everything possible to wash all of the salt water out of the rc unit before letting it dry out. At a casual sailing event, we had a young skipper drop one of our transmitters into salt water off a floating pier. The Dad, with really fast reflexes, grabbed the transmitter as it was sinking. We opened it up, hosed it down with fresh water right away and the next day it was working normally again.

Some groups always meet at the same place for all of their sailing. The advantage of this is that there is no question of where the group will be sailing next. First Saturday of every month at the north end of Greenlake, that’s where we’ll be. Easy. And maybe that is the only place within 100 miles where it is possible to sail. If there are lots of good places to sail within 10 or 20 miles, it can be fun to move around and sail in all of the different lakes. The Seattle group sails in the South Lake Union Sailing Pond throughout the winter months in the frostbiting series. This is a fairly controlled setting and nobody ever has to venture out in a chase boat on waters that are too cold to risk falling into. It can be blowing a gale and the waves in the pond are barely one inch high. Come spring and summer, the group has a varied schedule sailing in 6 or 7 different places on different lakes around the area. Each lake presents its own conditions and allows skippers to develop different skills. Different skippers may sail better on different lakes, although the top skippers always seem to do well in all of the different locations. With email being so easy, the advantage of always sailing in the same place at the same time is hardly a factor any more. A google map can be saved for each sailing location with directions on how to get there. What could be easier than sending out a reminder by email where the next sailing event will be taking place with a map attached.

 When to Sail

Once you have one, or several, likely places picked out for your rc sailing events, the next question is when to sail. If everyone in your group is retired, a weekday may work fine. However, it is always nice to have younger people be a part of a group as well and this is less likely to happen if you are sailing during the week, unless you meet in the evenings. Is there wind in  the evenings where you plan to sail or does the wind always die around 5 pm? Weekends are often the best choice because more people are likely to be free to join the group. Sunday afternoon is a good option so as not to discourage skippers who plan on attending Sunday morning services. Saturday morning is probably going to be the most successful day for sailing and the day when the most skippers are available. The Seattle T37 skippers always meet at 10 am. Keeping to the same time makes it easier for everyone since you don’t have to check what time each event will begin. Usually by 10, the morning breeze has started to fill in and the wind is likely to continue until late afternoon. Parking is easier if you arrive at a park before 10 am. Another advantage of weekends is that there will be more spectators around to enjoy watching the rc sailboats racing around the pond or lake. Some of the spectators will become fascinated and will end up joining the group as new skippers.

If water stays fluid in your part of the world through the winter, it can be fun to schedule rc sailboat races in a frostbiting series. What else are you going to be doing during those months, and once you are outside it is always fun. In a wetter climate like Seattle and Portland it is a good idea to have a plastic covering for your transmitter as well as foul weather gear for yourself. The plastic transmitter cover can be as fancy as a fleece lined hand warming cover with a clear window, or as simple as a vegetable bag from the local supermarket. In a frostbiting series you won’t have to worry about swimmers!

Spring, Summer and Fall are natural months for holding rc model sailboat events. Events can be either spontaneous or planned far ahead – or a combination of both. As soon as you have two rc sailboats turn up, you will have great racing. All of the America’s Cup races have always been match races between two boats. Three or more rc sailboats is great as well. Sometimes it appears more successful if 10 or more rc sailboats turn up at an event, but it is not necessarily more fun than sailing with fewer boats.

If your rc model sailboat group is really organized, it works well to come up with a sailing calendar at the beginning of the year detailing all of the planned sailing events with locations and times. This can be emailed out to everyone on the mailing list in a Blind Copy (BCC). A reminder email sent out a week before each event is still important to nudge people’s memories and to let them know there have been no changes. Without the reminder note, attendance will tend to be slim even if the date is on the calendar. Additional rc model sailing events can be planned and announced by email so the calendar does not keep the group from getting together to sail on a whim. “I’ll be at the pond tomorrow at 10 am - is anyone free to join me?” or “Lake Samish T37 sailing Next weekend, Saturday February 2nd. Come on out for the fun and good company! Bring a snack. We will start at 10 am and sail until about 2 pm. Warm clothes are a good idea!” As a group gets more organized, a calendar created at the beginning of the year is a good idea. Initially just letting skippers know a week or two ahead of a sailing opportunity will work fine.

Racing Marks

If there are permanent marks out on the lake or pond, you may want to use these at first. If you want to use your own marks so as to be more flexible about how the course is set, it is simple to start with plastic soda bottles, bottled water bottles or even milk jugs with anything heavy tied on as an anchor. Often the line, after going down to the anchor, can lead back to shore so that when the racing is finished, the marks can be pulled in from the shore. On a sailing pond where you can walk all of the way around without any obstructions, it is very easy to throw marks out so they are right where you want them and they don't have to be very far from the edge. Dealing with any fluky air that you might get near the edges of the pond just adds to the skill of racing your rc model sailboat. A starting line can be set in the same way using two throwable marks.

One key for making quick and easy rc racing marks is to tie an intermediate weight at a depth of 14 inches below the floating mark. From this intermediate weight the anchor line continues down to the bottom of the pond where there is an anchor and then the line continues in to shore where it can be wrapped around something so the line will still be there when it is time to retrieve the marks. The line should be nylon line or some other line that is heavier than water so the line lies on the bottom instead of floating on the surface. A line can also be weighted with several squeeze-on fishing weights if the line tends to want to float. Nothing is worse than being the first boat to reach a mark and then to catch your keel on the mark's retrieval line and have the entire fleet round the mark and sail past you. A sinking retrieval line will keep this from happening. The role of the intermediate weight at the depth of 14 inches is to keep the anchor line hanging straight down from the mark so that in a close rounding you do not suffer the same torture of having your keel hung up on the anchor line and watching the whole fleet pass you! Total cost should be under $10 for a set of marks or even under $5 if you don't count the cost of the soda. One quart soda bottles work very nicely and are more visible than smaller bottles at a distance.

If you know the depth of the pond that you are sailing in and the depth is fairly uniform, then you can tie the anchors onto the anchor lines in a fixed position leaving a little extra in case some corner of the pond is slightly deeper. If the pond or lake  varies widely in depth, then it is best to have anchors that slide on the anchor lines. This also improves the throwabilty of the marks because now you can start with the anchor right up near the mark, holding the mark, the intermediate weight and the anchor weight all together when you pitch the marks out onto the pond. The anchor weight will slide down the anchor line to rest on the bottom. Round fishing downrigger balls with brass eyes and weighing about 12 - 14 ounces work well and slide easily down a nylon cord anchor line. In a pinch a plastic sandwich bag filled with a few rocks or even sand will work fine both for the intermediate weight and for the anchor as long as you poke a few holes in the bag to let the air out. None of this equipment has to be high tech at first. Get the racing started and then you can build up to fancier racing marks that can be thrown more easily with spools to wind up the line, etc.

The rc racing marks that I like the best are marks with an upright tube and a float collar with the bottom of the tube weighted so the tube floats upright vertically in the water. The bottom of the tube where the anchor line ties on is far enough below the surface of the water so that the keel of a boat rounding the mark cannot hang up on the anchor line. With this style of mark, you do not need the intermediate weights 14 inches down the anchor line. At the top of the tube a brightly colored flag helps identify which marks are being used for the course and what order to round the marks in. The marks that Tippecanoe Boats offers were jointly developed with the Pacific Northwest Model Yacht Club (pnmyc.org). These are great throwing marks and can be thrown by hand as far as 30 yards. Great care must always be taken before pitching marks out into a lake to make certain that there are no swimmers or boaters anywhere in the vicinity. Even when you are more experienced, a mark will not always end up going exactly where you intended. Occasionally you will want to pull a mark in and throw it again to get it placed better.

A new system for setting marks utilises our T24 Tug which tows a simple mark setting barge carrying the racing mark out to where you want to set the racing mark. The retrieval line from the mark's anchor remians on shore while the tug is running the mark out. The spool holding the retrieval line spins easily and lets the line pay out. At the precise spot where you want the mark, a firm tug on the retrieval line deploys the mark and the anchor slides down the anchor line to sit on the bottom of the lake or bay. After racing it takes just a few minutes to wind the retrieval line back up on the spool, bringing the mark in to the shore or to the dock. Although the mark setting barge could be adapted for use with other marks, it is designed to work especially well with the set of 5 Tippecanoe Racing Marks. The same T24 Tug serves as a rescue/chase boat if a yacht has low batteries or gets stuck in the bushes along the shore or runs aground on a shallow patch.

Click here to read more about our RC Model Yacht Racing Marks and to see pictures.

Click here to learn more about our Radio Controlled T24 Tug Boat.

Click here to see the mark setting barge for deploying the course marks with retrieval lines on shore: RC tugboat and mark setting barge for rc sailboat racing

The Starting Line

The starting line can either be set using two marks, or sometimes it works just as well to have the starting line between a mark and the corner of the dock, or a post or some other nearby point such as the score board. The important part of setting the starting line is to have it close to where the skippers are standing. I always try to have at least one end of the starting line within 20 feet of where the skippers are standing, and ten feet is even better. If one end of the starting line is the corner of the dock where the skippers are standing that sometimes works great and brings the start right up close. It is exciting to have the starting line close and there will be fewer boats getting tangled up due to misjudging relative distances.

It is not necessary to have the starting line set so you can sight along the line. When this is possible to be able to sight along the starting line, it is great and makes for less guesswork to know if a boat is over early, but this is not a major consideration in determining how to set the starting line. If no one can sight along the line, you have to be more flexible in calling boats over early and only call boats over early when it is really obvious that they jumped the gun by a large margin. Usually the skipper knows better than anyone else if they were obviously over early.

The most important consideration in setting a good starting line is to have the line perpendicular to the wind direction. If the wind is blowing east to west, the line should be set running north to south. It is best to have upwind starts so you start across the line on a close reach heading upwind. If this is not possible, and sometimes it isn't, then still set the line perpendicular to the wind and have a downwind start. The importance of having the line perpendicular to the wind cannot be overemphasized because if the line is not at a right angle to the wind direction, starting at whichever end of the line is farther upwind puts your boat ahead by a significant amount in an upwind start and you will not have to sail as far to get to the upwind mark. If all the skippers are savvy to this fact, the favored end of the line will become a mellee with everyone jostling to be right at the mark at whichever end is favored. In the case of a downwind start, the advantage of starting at the favored end of the line is slightly less and there may also be a consideration of which end of the line is closer to the downwind mark, but it is still best to have the line perpendicular to the wind. In a shifty wind, you do your best in setting the line and one end might be favored for 30 seconds and then suddenly the other end of the line might become favored. This can add to the excitement and strategy of getting a good start. In this case a prudent skipper might choose to start in the middle of the line so as not to get caught at the wrong end of the line just as the starting signal is sounded.

If the starting line is going to be slightly skewed so one end is favored, it is best to have the port end, or what is considered the leeward end, slightly favored. On a perfectly square starting line, the best position to start in is right up against the starboard (or windward) mark. If you are in this position, starting the race on starboard tack, you are free to tack onto port tack whenever you choose since there are no boats to look out for on your starboard side. Being generally towards this end of the line is advantageous for this same reason since there may only be one or two boats to your starboard side to watch out for if you want to get onto port tack to clear your air or to pick up on a wind shift. If you start at the leeward end of the line, you can’t tack onto port tack without ducking or dodging every boat in the fleet, unless you wait until all of the other boats have gone over onto port tack. There is a strong incentive therefor to start at the starboard end of the line, all other factors being equal.

If everyone is trying to start at the same end of the starting line, it often results in some level of mayhem, so if the race committee is really on top of things, it is best to set the line not exactly perpendicular to the wind, but very slightly favoring the port end of the line. Now there is some advantage to starting at either end of the line and the fleet is more likely to be spread out evenly along the line instead of being all bunched up. The starts are more likely to go smoothly and all of the skippers are at least starting out more or less equal so it is not just the start which will determine who wins the race. When there are too many boats over early and boats are getting tangled up at the starting line it is often because the starting line has not been set in the best possible way. All of this being said, skippers are used to starting lines that are set really badly, too short, drastically skewed, no maneuvering space etc. so don’t worry too much if you don’t get it exactly right. Just get some races going – so what if the wind switches right after you get the perfect line set!

The length of the starting line is also a key factor in having a good start to a race. Generally with the T37 it works best to have about 3 feet of starting line length for each boat that will be racing. If the boats all get bunched together and can't avoid collisions or are even getting tangled at the start, this is a clear indication that your starting line is too short and needs to be stretched out a bit. One boat length for each boat racing is a pretty good rule of thumb. If the line is exceptionally long, it will give the boats at the favored end of the line an even greater advantage since they will be starting farther upwind, so this is not a good idea. Also on a short course an excessively long starting line may make it so boats starting at one end of the line can lay the upwind mark without even tacking. If there is no tacking involved on the upwind leg, a race can sometimes turn into a follow the leader type of situation where the boats stay in the same order all of the way around the course all the way to the finish. This is generally less exciting than a race where good tactics on the upwind leg can bring you from a middle position to the front of the fleet.

One final consideration in setting the starting line is to have adequate room for boats to maneuver before crossing the line. We once set a starting line with what seemed like enough room for maneuvering, but found that there was a submerged pile of rocks just in the place where you wanted to be for a starboard tack approach to the line. The rocks made for a very difficult approach to the line and a number of boats lost some paint off the bottom of their keel casting. Remember in planning for enough room to maneuver that most boats will be approaching the line on the starboard tack so it is more important to have maneuvering room at the starboard end of the line. Less than 10 feet of clear room to maneuver in behind the line gets overly crowded and quite difficult. If the fleet is more than 15 boats, then it is necessary to have at least 20 feet for the boats to maneuver in before crossing the starting line.

Setting the Course

The length of the race course is also important and in different venues can vary greatly. In a smaller sailing pond, the size of the pond may dictate the size of the course, whereas in a large lake there may not be any limits other than the range of the radios. Although all of the radios should have pretty much the same range, there are variables on where the antennas are placed in the boats and also in how the antennas are oriented. There always seems to be one skipper who has trouble controlling their boat at a mark that is far out when the other skippers round the mark still easily within range. To avoid having anyone lose control it is best to keep the marks from being too far out even if you are sailing in a large lake. It also becomes difficult to tell if your boat or any other boat has rounded a mark or missed the mark and passed just short of it if the course is too big. There is no real advantage to having huge courses with long legs in between the marks. It just makes it more difficult for all of the skippers. Anyone with slight vision problems will probably feel like giving up if they can't see the marks clearly because the marks are so far away.

The best indication of the course being the right length for the conditions is actually the length of time a race takes from the start until when the first boat finishes. The ideal length of a race is between 5 and 7 minutes. This allows lots of races to be run in a morning. Sometimes as many as 20 races can be run back to back. You get all the excitement and practice of multiple starts and rounding the buoys; everything is happening quickly and it is fast and fun. To keep the races to this length when the winds are very light means setting a very short course. A short course would be with the legs about 60 - 100 feet long in a triangular course or in an upwind downwind course. Even with almost no wind this course will still be fun and exciting (no sculling allowed!) If the wind picks up and the races are only taking three or four minutes to complete, it is easy to race the same course but to go twice around for each race. If you know the winds are blowing more favorably in the 5 to 10 mph range, then it works well to set a slightly longer course with the legs 200 or even 250 feet long. Again, even with the longer course, if the races are taking less than 5 minutes it might be time to announce that the next race will be twice around. Sometimes three times around can also work, but people tend to lose track of how many times they have rounded the course if it is more than twice around. We can all count to three, but it is surprisingly easy to forget which lap you are on in any one race when you have already gone around the course in a series of other races. Usually it is best to keep the course to twice around rather than three times around.

There are a number of different course layouts that work well, anything from the casual, "Let's get the two boats level and then race out around that piling and back." When you get more boats racing together, it is best to have an actual starting line between two points. Usually two buoys are easiest. The starting line can either be at the bottom, (ie. downwind) end of the first leg, or halfway up the first leg. Both systems work well and which system you choose usually depends on the shape of the sailing area and the direction of the wind. The foremost considerations should be having the starting line as close as possible to where the skippers are standing and having the starting line perpendicular to the wind.

Generally if the starting line is in the middle of the upwind leg, this will mean that the upwind mark is slightly closer to where the skippers are standing. This is an advantage in that the skippers will have better visibility when rounding the upwind mark. Visibility when rounding the upwind mark is always an issue if there is a group of boats rounding at the same time. Often it is hard to see your own boat because the sails of the other boats are blocking your view of your own boat. This is one point at which having brightly colored sails that are distinctive and different from any of the other sail colors in the fleet becomes a big advantage. If you catch just a glimpse of that neon green sail between five other sails, you can get an idea of where your boat is relative to the mark.

The problems that occur when rounding the upwind mark on the first time around the course are compounded if the upwind leg is too short because there is not enough time for the boats to spread out as they beat up the upwind leg. A lot of boats may arrive at the mark at the same time making it hard for anyone to tell what is going on. If you are a skipper and see this situation developing, the best response is to go wide and leave the whole mess a wide berth. The chances are that you will leave all of these other boats behind as they struggle to round the mark in a tightly packed group. Make the upwind leg a medium length. Too long an upwind leg makes it hard to see what is happening at the upwind mark, too short an upwind leg means that the boats will still be bunched together as they try to round the upwind mark. The starting line might be better positioned just one third of the way up the upwind leg instead of half way up the upwind leg on some courses, especially with a large fleet of boats racing.

If the starting line is part of the way up the upwind leg, then you will need two marks for the starting line and will need a total of five marks to set a triangular course. If the starting line is at the downwind end of the upwind leg, then you can use the downwind rounding mark as one end of the starting line. This means that you need only 4 marks for a triangular course, or 3 marks for an upwind/downwind course.

Generally racing works best if you are sailing around the course in a counterclockwise direction with all marks left to port (all marks passed so they are on the left side of the boats as the boats round the mark). This means that at the upwind mark the boats approaching on starboard tack to round the mark on starboard tack have the clear right of way and will not have to tack onto port tack, the burdened tack, in order to round the mark. If you are sailing around the course in a clockwise direction, you will be rounding the marks on the starboard side. At the upwind mark you will have to go onto the port tack, the burdened tack, to round the mark. A lot of skippers are not entirely clear who has the right of way in this situation, a boat coming in on starboard tack or a boat halfway around the mark on port tack - in other words, it can get messy at the upwind mark.

Despite these considerations, it can still work to have the course set up backwards with starboard roundings if you need to do this based on where the wind is coming from, especially if the racing is a more casual event, and not the National Championships. An alternative to having a triangular course with starboard roundings is to switch to a simple upwind/downwind course. You have the starting line, then sail upwind to round the first mark to port, downwind past the starting line to the downwind mark, rounding to port, and then back up to the starting line which is also the finish line. Twice around works fine, or one and a half times around can work equally well which gives you a downwind finish. Downwind starts are a little bit awkward and it is better to avoid a downwind starting setup when possible, but downwind finishes are perfectly fine and cause no problems at all.

In the not too distant past, most courses tended to be triangular courses with fast reaching legs. I think the reasoning was that most boats perform at their fastest and are the most fun to sail on a broad reach with the wind off the stern quarter and so a course with an upwind leg followed by two reaching legs and then a final upwind leg would provide the most fun and excitement. More recently you see many courses set up with just the windward, leeward legs, where you sail from the starting line to the upwind mark and then down to the downwind mark and back upwind to the finish line. The advantage of the upwind downwind course is that there is more tactical sailing involved when you are sailing straight downwind. If you are behind another boat you can try to cover the other boat and steal their wind so as to pass them. If you are ahead, you are trying to break free either by heading high or by heading low so the boats behind won't be able to cover you and take your wind. There are a great many tactical decisions on a downwind leg and boats often end up changing positions much more on a straight downwind leg than on a reaching leg. A reaching leg is often more or less a follow the leader situation until you round the downwind mark and get onto the final upwind leg where tactics once again play a major role.

One potential disadvantage of an upwind downwind course is that the first boats to round the upwind mark have to thread their way back through the rest of the fleet as the other boats approach the upwind mark. This can lead to a degree of confusion and possible collisions, especially if some of the fleet's skippers are less experienced and might steer the wrong direction with a collision imminent. It is always unfortunate if a trailing skipper who has less experience is unlucky enough to disable one of the leading skippers who is having a great race and counting on other boats to know and follow the right of way rules (rather than getting confused and pushing the rudder control stick the wrong way!). In a typical triangular course, the top skippers don't have to deal with encounters with less experienced skippers. As soon as the boats are off the starting line on a triangular course, the top skippers tend to pull away from the rest of the fleet and stay clear ahead through the rest of the race, unless of course a top skipper manages to lap a less experienced skipper!

When to move marks and set a new course is always a difficult decision. If there are multiple marks to choose from, the decision is easier because you can just call out a new course based on marks that are already in place. At the T37 National Championships hosted by the Seattle Yacht Club, we set ten marks in a large diameter circle. Typically the wind will start out in the south. If the wind swings to the west or further around to the north, we just call out a new mark for the upwind rounding mark as the wind clocks around. This is especially helpful in Portage Bay in front of the yacht club because every time you pull up a mark to reset the mark, you pull up a bunch of milfoil that drifts onto the course. Having a full circle of marks already set saves time and avoids disturbing the milfoil. For more casual events, this would be less practical to set out so many marks, so it is only if there are some permanent buoys or mooring buoys in the area that you might have the luxury of choosing a new mark for rounding without resetting marks.

If you are considering resetting marks to get back to a true upwind leg, the first consideration is whether the wind shift will hold or if the wind will swing back to its original direction after a few minutes. It is too easy to spend a bunch of time resetting a course, only to have the wind return to its original direction as soon as you have moved the last mark. Sometimes just resetting one end of the starting line will work and can give you a true starting line and make your first leg a better upwind leg at the same time. If the wind keeps switching directions, forget about resetting any marks and go ahead and race. Sometimes the second or the third leg becomes the upwind leg instead of the first leg. I would not usually set up a course this way, but if it happens by chance, it can work equally well. If the wind has shifted so there really is no upwind sailing involved at all in rounding the course and the wind seems to be steady in the new direction, then it might be worth taking the time to reset one or two marks to get an upwind leg. Courses with no upwind leg tend to be courses where all that matters is getting the best start and then it is just follow the leader after the start. Sailors know that wind shifts are inevitable and usually it is best to keep racing at least until the wind settles down and seems to be staying in the new direction. The worst case is where the race committee keeps trying to get the course perfect and hardly any races get sailed

Starting the Race

Starting the race is easy. Count down from either 3 minutes or two minutes or one minute. With just two or three boats racing, sometime it works fine to start a 30 second sequence when all of the boats are near the line. Three minutes usually seems too long and most skippers prefer a two minute start. With a more experienced fleet one minute starts may feel just right. The simplest system is just to have one of the skippers watching their watch and calling out the times counting 2 minutes, 1-1/2 minutes, 1 minute, 45 seconds, 30 seconds, 20 seconds, 15 seconds, 10, 9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1,Start! Although this works quite acceptably, it is surprisingly hard for the skipper who is calling out the times to keep maneuvering his boat effectively and call out the times accurately at the same time. If there is a close crossing with another boat, one of the counts in the sequence might get dropped. At the start the skipper really needs to be watching their boat and doing the final countdown without looking at the watch. The countdown tends to speed up if the counting skipper is approaching the line too early, not through intention, but more because of the adrenalin. Despite there being some variables, this system still works fine and requires no equipment other than a digital watch or a watch with a  second hand.

The next step up is to use a portable tape recorder that runs on batteries. Now you can record a starting tape to use or you can purchase a cassette tape from the AMYA with the official AMYA starting sequence countdown on the tape. The sequence is repeated ad infinitum until the end of the tape so you don’t need to rewind the tape after every start. You do still have to stop the tape after the start. How difficult can this be? Surprisingly difficult if you have just cleared the starting line and are trying to get into a good position. You end up fumbling with the tape recorder buttons behind your back, you can’t find the right button so you look away from your boat for a split second, punch the button on the tape recorder and when you look back at your boat, you are luffing up into the wind and almost completely stopped! If there is any kind of spectator standing by, draft this person in an imperious way and say, “You look like you are the time keeper!” Show them the buttons to push or if you are still calling out the times based on a watch, explain how to do this and emphasize how important it is to be loud and clear so everyone can hear, even those skippers who are standing way off to the side.

The final step in starting a race, which once you get there, you will inevitably wonder why you waited so long for this small luxury, is to have a starting timer! These remarkable electronic devices are so simple and so neat. You can set the device for two minute starts or one minute starts or 30 second starts simply by pushing the small black button to change from one sequence to the next. Now you are ready to start a new sequence. You push the big red button on the top. The sequence starts, goes through the entire countdown in a volume loud enough for everyone to hear clearly,  and then the device turns itself off. When you are ready for the next race, all you do is push the red button again and the device starts the next countdown sequence. It is great. The starting timer runs on size AA batteries so there always plenty of batteries around at an event, but you hardly ever have to replace these batteries.

Recording the Finishes

Recording the finishes seems simple enough, but this step is easy to get confused. We have tried a number of different systems. Recording the finishes directly onto a laptop – total failure. Recording the finishes onto a white board with a list of skippers already listed down one side of the board and a grid with columns for each race - relatively successful for a small fleet up to 10 boats, especially if all of the skippers know each other by name and recognize each of the other boats. Writing the finishes down on a pad in order as they finish and then transcribing the finishes onto a white board or onto a laptop – totally successful if the person writing down the finishes is alert and ready. Almost any spectator can get this right if they are standing by watching the races and again it is a simple matter to draft anyone by explaining that no matter how badly they may do, it will still be more accurate than one of the skippers trying to do the job.

Now for all of these systems, the key is for each skipper to call out either his name of his sail number loudly and clearly as he crosses the finish line. Then the person recording the finishes must repeat the name or sail number. Until you hear your own name or sail number repeated to you, you can assume that you have not finished even if you have crossed the finish line. Some people are just not going to call out their name loud enough to be heard over the wind and so it is important for them to know they need to keep calling out until they get an answering call back with their name or sail number.

There is often a debate whether to record the finishes by skipper’s name or by the sail number. My personal preference is to use the skipper’s first name, because I think it helps everyone remember the names of the other members in the club. I like to use first names and if there are two skippers with the same first name, one can be John K. and one can be John M. it does often seem more official to use sail numbers and so some people prefer this system, so our group goes back and forth depending on who is running the races on a certain day. Name tags can also be a good assist in helping skippers remember and learn each other’s names. After all this is as much a social occasion as a racing occasion, and although skippers come at first because they are excited about the racing, they start to find that they are enjoying the camaraderie and good company as much after a while as they are enjoying the racing. And as you race more, you enjoy the racing more and more because you keep improving your skills and, as you get to know the other skippers over time, you enjoy the good friendships more and more. You begin to realize that this is a sport that attracts a unique, diverse and wonderful group of interesting people – some of the best people in the world!

For big events it is best to have two separate people each with pad and pencil recording all of the finishes. At the end of each race the results can be compared and any discrepancies sorted out. If four boats cross the finish line almost simultaneously it can be hard to get all four finishes recorded accurately and having two records is invaluable. If there is still a question, usually the skippers who finished in that close group of boats will remember right after the race what order they finished in. If the question is not addressed until later, nobody will remember clearly what happened. For more casual racing, it works well to draft a bystander and say, “Oh, you look like the score keeper. Here’s the pad and pencil, just write down the names as the skippers call out their name. Remember to shout out the name as you hear it so the skipper knows they have been recorded.” If there are no spectators to draft, then it is up to the first person finishing to set down their controller, grab up the pad and pencil or the erasable marker if you are using a white board, and to record the other finishes, once again shouting out each name or number as you hear the skipper shout it out.

When using the pad and pencil system, it is best not to have the skippers listed on the paper beforehand. It is easiest and fastest to write down the name or number as it is called out. It is much harder and slower to scan down a list of skippers and pick out the correct one and write the finishing place next to the name. Often there end up being two skippers who have been recorded with 8th place, whereas when the skippers are just written down in the order as they finish, there can be no confusion. It is also helpful to use a new sheet on the pad of paper for each race, although this is not necessary. There can be consecutive numbers down one side of the pad next to which you write the skippers names in order as they finish. Recording the finishes accurately is surprisingly hard and it really depends on each skipper shouting out very loudly their name or number upon finishing. This takes a lot of encouraging and emphasis, otherwise it is very hard for the scorekeeper to keep track of what is happening.

In all scoring the low point system is always the easiest to use. If you finish 1st, 3rd, 2nd and 5th, your total score would be 11 points. That would beat a skipper who had accumulated 12 points.

Throw outs are really a good idea in any regatta. It is important to specify how many throwouts there will be based on the number of races that get sailed. A very generous number of throwouts would be one throwout for every three races sailed. I prefer to have no throwouts for three races, 1 throwout for 4 – 5 races, 2 throwouts for 6 to 8 races, 3 throwouts for 9 to 12 races, 4 throwouts for 13 to 15 races, and 5 throwouts for 16 to 20 races.

This may seem like a lot of throwouts, but it actually works much better to have this many throwouts. It keeps the racing moving along very quickly if you have more throwouts. Without throwouts, skippers are very anxious not to miss any races and so you end up “just waiting a minute” while someone switches batteries, or rerigs a sheet. Meanwhile someone else starts retuning and needs a minute and it gets hard to get any races off. With a lot of throwouts, skippers don’t fret if you go ahead and start a race without them and they are ready to sail again by the next race. Throwouts also balance out the unpredictable factors, like picking up weed on your keel, getting tangled up with a less experienced skipper who has surprised you by doing exactly the opposite of what they meant to do, or just getting a disappointingly bad start for whatever reason. Interestingly enough, the final places after the throwouts are removed are usually almost the same as the scores would be when computed without any throwouts. Throwouts keep everyone more relaxed and end up by making the day more fun. I know I like thinking when a race doesn’t go well, especially if it is because of some other boat fouling me accidentally when I had the right of way, “oh well that’s just a throwout.” After all, having fun is what it is all about - at the same time as perfecting our sailing skills and forming great friendships with a bunch of fun, friendly and like minded people!

The Racing Rules

Sailing by the racing rules is always the most fun. Generally it is a good idea to remind the skippers that everyone is sailing for the fun of the sport and nothing should be taken so seriously that it is no longer fun. Inevitably skippers will make mistakes and sometime it is not clear exactly what happened, which boat had overtaken, which boat in a cluster of boats failed to give buoy room, etc. The point is to be out there racing and having a good time, not to be knitpicking the rules. At the same time, nobody wants to be sailing in a bumper boat derby, it just gets frustrating, boats get tangled up and have to be rescued and everything is delayed. “Let’s sail by the rules.

If you know you have fouled somebody else do your circle. A penalty turn is just one 360 so you can do it very quickly and be back in the race.

The obvious fouls are port tack and starboard tack. If you are the port tack boat and fail to avoid a starboard tack boat, do a circle. Windard/ leeward – if you are the windward boat of two boats on the same tack, remember you can’t sail below your proper course if the other boat has overtaken from astern. If you are the windward boat and you have overtaken the other boat from clear astern, you have to keep clear of them - they are the right of way boat in every situation as long as the two boats are overlapped. Remember if you are the right of way boat, you still have to give the other boat room and opportunity to keep clear before you change course. Buoy room - if there is an overlap that exists when the bow of the leading boat is four boat lengths away from a mark, the inside boat must be given buoy room. If there is no overlap at this point, then the inside boat cannot claim buoy room.” Keep it simple. As time progresses, some of the finer points of the rules can be brought up and discussed.

Here are three versions of the International Yacht Racing Rules: 1. Very brief summary highlighting the major points of the Yacht Racing Rules for sailing rc model sailboats; 2: Short summary with explanations of all the right of way rules for racing yachts and the racing rules for rc model sailboats; 3. Complete text of the Racing Rules for Sailing for full sized yachts plus appendix E for racing rc model sailing boats, Yacht Racing Rules for 2013 thru 2016 from the IYRU Official Rule book.


Remind everyone that “We are all sailing in the Corinthian spirit of sailing, where fairness and adherence to the rules makes everything go smoothly for all of us.” I have not experienced any situations where skippers are intentionally violating the rules to get a competitive advantage. That is just not in the nature of the groups. Everyone makes mistakes and misjudges situations on occasion. It is good to keep in mind that the best way to win races is to keep clear of other boats, whether you are in the right of way position or not, it does not help if you get tangled up with another boat!

 One final note on racing by the rules. It is so hard to accurately call mark touchings, that in our Seattle fleet we have altered the rules to say that touching a mark is fine as long as your boat rounds the mark on the correct side. There is ample incentive not to touch a mark in rounding because sliding along a mark really slows your boat down. Also if you are cutting so close to a mark that you actually touch the mark, there will be times when you end up on the wrong side of the mark and have to double back to round it on the correct side.

Chase Boat

A chase boat can be an important piece of equipment in a large lake. Frequently I will have a chase boat in my van and never get it out, or I will have a kayak on top of my car and I will never untie it. On those occasions when you really need a chase boat, then it is important to have some plan in place. If you are sailing on a lake at a public park, there may be rental boats that you could borrow for a quick retrieval. A ranger will usually okay you for just a quick retrieval without insisting on a formal rental being engaged in. If there is a lot of recreational boating on the lake, a casual hail to a passing boat with arms waving and pointing may do the trick. Boaters after all are not on any schedule and a rescue is always more exciting than just randomly paddling or motoring along the shore. People in general like to help out whenever it is possible without undergoing too much risk or inconvenience. Rescuing the model sailboat that has escaped might be the most exciting part of their day and something to talk about at the dinner table. A friendly neighbor’s motorboat tied up at the next dock over, might be enough to be able to rely on, if this neighbor is home.

A small, radio controlled chase boat can be convenient and save having to resort to a bigger boat. Tippecanoe Boats has a powerful 24 inch tug boat with a stainless steel retrieval arm that extends out to the side of the boat to hook onto the forestay of a non-responsive yacht. Once the arm is hooked onto the forestay, the arm swings back to tow the boat directly behind the tug. This works very well if the sailboat is disabled due to the batteries on board running down, the rudder or keel becoming fouled with a mass of weed, or the sailboat getting caught in the bushes or on a buoyed swim line. The remote controlled tug option will not be adequate if a skipper gets distracted and then looks up to realize his boat has become a small speck on the horizon, far beyond the range of any transmitters. For more information on our T24 Tug rescue systems click here: Radio Controlled Tugboat rescue and retrieval systems for RC sailboats

Different types of chase boats include small one person rowing dinghies that can be launched easily, kayaks, canoes, motorized dinghies or rubber rafts. The type of toy rubber raft that you see swimmers using will not usually be effective in trying to catch up with a boat that is making for the far side of a large lake. This is when you wish your boat did not balance so well and sail itself so nicely.

 It is always a luxury to have a boat to use for setting the course marks. You can frequently set a good course by throwing out marks for the starting line from the shore and then choosing permanent buoys or mooring balls for your course, or in other cases throwing out all the marks for the course from shore, but setting the marks from a boat frequently gives you the best course.

Building an RC Racing Fleet

It takes about 30 minutes to enter all the names and email addresses of skippers in your area into an email group in your mail system. After that it takes about 3 minutes to send out an email BCC (blind copy) to all of the skippers on your list to let them know the next time you are planning on being at the pond. It is important if the plan changes due to weather or unforeseen circumstances to send out an email letting people know of any changes. Often the weather looks a little questionable and then when you arrive the pond, it clears right up and turns out to be fine conditions, so generally it is best not to cancel due to weather conditions. Hard water is the one situation that there is no good solution for if you are having a frostbiting series!

It works really well to have a Commodore and a Vice Commodore, but even if the group starts with just one leader, it still requires very little time to get some great sailing and racing going. Once a group starts racing, you will be amazed how quickly the group grows as people and friends hear about the activity, casual passersby see the racing and stop to ask about the boats and then get involved. At about $350 for a full out racing kit for the T37 Racing Sloop, this has to be one of the least expensive hobbies a person can take up and it is easily within reach of most people. The Seattle fleet has grown from just five or ten boats a few years ago to over 350 T37s today! There are an average of 15 boats turning up at every event, even the frostbiting events all through the winter! The bigger events always have over 20 boats showing up.

How many boats can race at one time? This depends a little bit on how big the sailing area is. In a smaller sailing pond with a short course. More than 15 boats tends to be a bit crowded. At this point it is best to divide the fleet into the more experienced skippers and the less experienced skippers. This actually give the less experienced skippers a better chance to win races which is always fun. On more open water where the starting line can be longer and the course legs longer, it can work fine to have twenty or even as many as twenty-five boats racing together in one heat.

More than twenty-five boats really becomes difficult and the number of collisions and jam ups at the upwind mark multiply exponentially. With over 20 boats it is often a good idea to split the fleet into two groups based on how experienced the skippers are. It also can work well to use the odd/even system for splitting the fleet in each race. For the first race divide the skippers into two groups by listing them alphabetically and cutting the group in half A-H in group one, I – Z in group two, or however it works out so there are an equal number of boats in each group. The first group races and then the second group races.

If you finished in 1st, 3rd , 5th place etc in your first race, for your second race you are in the odd numbers group. If you finished 2nd, 4th, 6th etc. in your first race then you are in the even numbers group for your second race. The odd race is sailed first and then the even race is sailed, and again after these races the groups are reshuffled based on whether a skipper finished in an odd or even place and the next pair of races is run. After each pair of races the skippers are reshuffled based on their odd or even finish in the previous race. This keeps going until the day is over. Scoring is by the low point scoring system. Each skippers score is their total point score after the throw outs have been eliminated. Everyone should have ended up racing against everyone else by the end of the day and this system of scoring works out very fairly.

Another system for dividing a large fleet is to have a series of 4 to 6 preliminary races with the entire fleet racing together. These races are scored and then the fleet is divided in half into a gold fleet of the top finishers and a silver fleet of the remaining skippers. The final races are more serious with the top skippers racing in very focused atmosphere against other excellent skippers, while the less experienced skippers get to develop their skills while racing with other less experienced skippers.

Why are we all so relaxed about sailing the boats. Can’t the boats get damaged in a race. And some of the boats are so gorgeous! That is where bow bumpers come in. It is a good idea for everyone racing to have a bow bumper in place. Removable bow bumpers are simple to attach and only cost $5. They can be used for many years of racing. For display the bow bumper can be removed between races. Now with your bow bumper in place, when you sail full tilt into another boat broadside the two boats will spin around and separate with no damage to either boat. This sure beats big boat racing if there is a collision between two 40 foot boats! The stress of learning to race is gone when you know that the boats can’t be damaged. You can really focus on perfecting your racing skills.

Racing Radio Controlled boats uses all of the same skills as racing big boats. All of the tactics are the same, the racing rules are the same, the sailing skills are the same. Tuning the boat for maximum performance in different conditions is the same. Achieving good starts, skillful buoy roundings, all the skills are the same. And when do big boats get to sail 20 races in one morning! What could be better practice or more fun. One amazing factor in how quickly new skippers pick up racing skills. One reason for this is  that you can always see the big picture when racing model boats. You can see exactly what the lead boats have done to get in the lead and soon you are doing the same thing. Each race is like a seminar in racing. You can learn so much so quickly. Often a new skipper will start at the back of the fleet and then by his second or third time out, he will be moving up into the middle of the fleet and before long he may win a race. What a thrill! Some skippers get so excited that they have commented how tired their hands are at the end of a race because they have been gripping their transmitter so tightly. One skipper is always leaning so far in the direction his boat is sailing that it constantly seems he is about to fall over. Another skipper was so intent upon the race, that he stepped off the edge of the pond into knee deep water by mistake, but didn’t miss a beat and continued to finish the race in first place. He happens to be an Olympic Gold Medal winning skipper and did not lose his focus or concentration for even a split second. That is a winning formula!

Get racing! Start a group! It’s easy to do and you will have a lot of fun – guaranteed! The downside, you might have one or two marginally embarrassing moments when you realize you were actually on port tack when you were thinking you were starboard tack and you just nailed another boat broadside – oh well no harm done and everyone including you will end up laughing about it. That is what sailing with friends is all about. Whether you are an Olympic Gold Medal winning skipper or just beginning, we all have a great time sailing together, and the more people sailing, the more fun it is for everyone.

Once you get a few boats racing as a group, or even two boats, other people will see them and take an interest. It helps to have an 8-1/2 by 5-1/2 inch half sheet handout with contact information for people who want more information. Once you name your club, it is very helpful to create some form of web site with more information. If the name of your club is easy to remember and can also be used as the url address with a .org after it, then interested people will be able to get in touch with you easily, rather than having to wait until they happen to see you at the pond again. Tippecanoe Boats will send you a list of the other T37 or T27 skippers in your state so you can pick out those who live nearby. Contacting these owners by email is one of the easiest ways to get your group launched. Invite your friends and neighbors to come out and try your boat. Once people have gotten to sail a boat for a few minutes and find out how responsive and fun the boats are to sail, they frequently get involved.

Affiliations with local big boat yacht clubs can also be very effective. These people love boats and many of them already know how to sail. For a yacht club, building a fleet of T37s is a terrific experience and brings members of all ages together in a shared activity that everyone can enjoy. In the Puget Sound region, the Seattle Yacht Club members have 15 of the T37s, the Port Madison Yacht Club members have over 30 of the T37s, the Port Townsend Yacht Club has 16 T37s, the Port Ludlow Yacht Club has 6 T37s, the Corinthian Yacht Club in Seattle has 8 of the T37’s, the Shilshole Bay Yacht Club in Seattle has 5 of the T37s, the Bellingham Yacht Club has 5 of the T37s, the West Vancouver Yacht Club has over 30 of the T37s.  At the T37 National Championships, in addition to competing individually, there is also a yacht club team challenge, where the final places for the top three finishers from any one yacht club have their finishes added together for their yacht club score. The winning yacht club is awarded the T37 Yacht Club Team Perpetual Trophy Plaque to display in the clubhouse for a year. The Seattle Yacht Club is currently displaying the plaque, having won it at last year’s T37 National Championships.

Yacht Clubs are always looking for fun activities for the members. Sailing and racing the T37s is affordable for everyone, accessible to everyone and provides a very sociable way for members to get together and have fun. For skippers who are finding they are less active with big boats due to physical limitations that accompany age, T37 racing allows them to continue to be actively involved in racing and sailing. It is a win, win situation. Yacht clubs usually have a variety of small boats that can be drafted for setting marks or for using as a chase boat. For yacht clubs, hosting a T37 event can also be a great way to introduce new people to the club and some of these new people may become interested in joining the club.

Newspapers and television crews are always looking for fun community stories with a positive slant. Although news is often dominated with troubling news stories, papers are also on the lookout for feel good stories with good picture opportunities. The local paper will often take an interest in covering a local group that is sailing model sailboats. A full page, color spread can really help to broadcast your group’s activities and help to get more people involved.

Over the last 15 years, the Seattle T37 group, the Pacific Northwest Model yacht Club, has become a terrific success. There are now over 350 T37 owners on the pnmyc email list. Hundreds of people have been introduced to the exciting sport of RC sailing and have had hours and hours of enjoyment and good companionship. Many of the members own and race their own big boats and yet find the camaraderie and good fellowship of model racing a real draw, as well as the excitement and fast pace of racing model sailing boats. Alternate weekends will find some of the T37 skippers racing against each other on phenomenal 40 foot carbon fiber racing sloops. Other skippers who join the group may have only sailed once before in their lives, but have always been fascinated by sailing. RC sailing is a sport that almost anyone can enjoy and become part of.

I used to wonder how all of the T37 skippers could be such nice and interesting people. How come it seems like all of our customers are also good friends and people I enjoy spending time with. Now after all these years I like to think of it as being a highly refined example of natural selection. After all, what type of person is going to get interested in a model sailboat, and in the case of the T37, a wooden model sailboat that you build yourself. That is a good starting point, it rules out most lazy or boring people. Those people who would rather be sitting on a couch in front of a tv screen, just won’t be out at the pond on a frostbiting Saturday, and they won’t even be at the pond on a warm springlike morning with a lovely breeze rippling the surface of the water. We are a unique group! Hurrah!

 Happy Sailing,

Call me when you have any questions. I will be delighted to do anything I can to help your group get started! 1-800-206-0006 or fun@modelsailboat.com

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