Improving the Race Box 10 Sep 2013
Since Derek Corless took over the Corinthian racebox there has been a steady flow of improvements. All the equipment is now carefully stored without several trips to assemble it all, the sound signal is computerised and even the floor boasts carpet tiles.
However, the greatest improvement is easily visible and will do much for the comfort and safety of all his assistants. Ever since the Club opened in 1931 the course boards have been displayed on the top floor balcony railings. This entailed carrying the unwieldy boards from the racebox and down the spiral staircase – no mean feat in a high wind as the boards were inclined to take off! They are now displayed immediately outside the box- still visible and easily stored.
Now that Derek has had the experience of starting races from his box, he makes the following observations for all keen, racing helms.
A View from the Race Box
We recently have often experienced easterly winds and the last of the flood coinciding with our start times. The tactical place to start is in the area near the race box, between the pontoon and the line. The race officer has a viewpoint about 40′ above the competitors and those competitors who have ventured into the race box have been quite amazed by the view of the line the race officer has at this height. I must add that I have greatly enjoyed the spectacle of several boats jostling for position in this area.
The RCYC line now conforms to the Sailing Instructions with a transit on the south shore and a single triangle on the front of the race box. Starting in the area under consideration presents quite a problem from the helmsman’s point of view.
Consider first the use of the south shore transit. The helm’s position is about 500 yards (1500 feet) from the south shore triangles which are about 10 yards (30 feet) apart. If the boat’s bow is 1 yard OCS, the error in the alignment of the triangles will be about 3/4”, an angular error of 0.11 degree. Fine margins indeed. I find I have to walk three to four yards along the RCYC roof (upriver!) to discern a clear misalignment of the south shore triangles.
The north triangle when used as a guide presents another problem. The helmsman has to judge a vertical angle formed by the height of the triangle and the distance of the helmsman from the boats bow, in the case of a Dragon about 18 feet. The triangle is about 45 feet above the water so that if the bow is just touching the line the helm has to judge a vertical angle of about 22 degrees which is quite tricky.
The race officer is able to see the positions of boats relative to the line all too easily and appreciates the difficulties faced by the competitors. What advice is there for the helmsman using this area of the start line? Firstly, make sure that there is a favourable and discernible margin of error on the transit. One tip to bear in mind is that the line passes about a foot downriver of the greenheart pile near the ramp so keep your bow behind this guide line when starting very near the north shore. Lastly, If you have made a flyer of a start and there is an individual recall signal it is quite likely that you are the one OCS!