Guidelines for Willing Amateurs

Version 2 Draft Form at this stage – still being reviewed

  New Zealand Team Sailing Association

Team sailing is great fun, introducing fast action, team work and strategic thinking to the yachting skill mix.  It is also very labour intensive for the many parents and helpers, and a fair outcome is critically dependent on good administration and umpiring of events.  The following  are some guidelines to help the many willing amateurs out there that make it all happen.

 The boats

  1. Start boat
  2. Finish boat
  3. Mark boat and Laying courses
  4. Umpiring
  5. Running events including regional secondary school trials
  6. Safety Policy
  7. Coaching
  8. Standard NZTSA finish sheets
  9. Some draws for efficient regattas

 These guidelines are a work-in-progress.  Do feed back comments, criticisms and additions to the NZTSA committee or Tim Short (  The intention is to create a uniform standard for New Zealand events.
1.   The boats

 The NZTSA use 420 yachts, they are set up to be identical and always rotated when running events, to ensure that all boats are equal, and ‘the boat’ is not part of the winning equation.  Even in user-supplied boat events NZTSA recommends that boats are rotated. 

  • The 420 sails have had the clew raised 200mm to increase boom height, maintaining visibility to leeward and reducing risk of head injury during rapid manoeuvres. This has a negligible effect on speed.  There are single reef points in the luff and leach 300mm above the foot. Reefing is at the discretion of the race officer.
  • The following are standard rig settings
    • Mast step, aft face of mast at step 410(±5)mm in front of centre of centreboard bolt
    • Mast rake,  mast  tip to aft edge of stern 6000(±30)mm (to find tip, raise tape measure on halyard and cleat so measuring tape is 4900mm to top edge of black boom position band)
    • Spreaders raked back 256(±3)mm measured aft face of mast to a straight edge drawn between back of stays where they pass through the spreaders. (So that prebend is 30-40mm measured at the spreaders without a sail)
    • Side stay Rig tension 20 on Loos professional gauge (about 30 on standard Loos gauge –needs individual calibration to professional gauge), forestay tension not to be adjusted once set –put a mark on the mast.
    • No wind vanes
    • Jib tied as low as possible onto Deck
    • Bridle, length to pulley centre from corner where aluminium beam meets boat cockpit 560mm(±5) 
    • Main sail halyard tension, outhaul, downhaul, boom vang, centreboard position and chocks adjustable by user
    • Mast track stopper at top to prevent sail being pulled above black band
  • Do not adjust the rig on the water.  It can be penalised by umpires without a protest being made.

 2.   Start boat

 This is a tough job requiring hours of concentration due to the large number of races, do not talk when race sequence is underway.             

1.      You need two people to run a start boat, one keeps time, checks position and yachts, the other raises and lowers flags and also looks for yachts over at the start.

2.      Ensure pin and top mark are in correct position for wind direction and not drifting, do not adjust once a race sequence has begun. Small port bias on pin is best.

3.      Check wind speed, ideal is within 3-18 knots

4.      Start sequence

a.       Raise coloured team identity flags for two competing teams

b.      Optional whistle or hoot to alert competitors

c.       Ensure non-competing yachts are out of the start area

d.      Start 3 minute sequence –automated starter is best, or 3,2,1,0.5,0 min sound signals

e.       Lower coloured flags at one minute and hold

f.        Raise flag for colour of team when a boat is over at the start and hail colour(s) and number(s) of
boats over. There are no general recalls in teams racing
g.       Lower colours when all boats of that colour, that were over, have returned. Boats have returned
when all parts of the boat, equipment and crews are below the start line.
h.       If there is no wind or a major wind shift the start boat race officer may cancel the race up until
after the boats are just around the top mark.  After that the responsibility belongs to the chief
i.        Report boats that do not start, eg do not return to below start line when over at the start, to the
finish boat.

5.      Do not start next race sequence until boats are around top mark.

6.      An Automated starter box is almost essential to your sanity.  Two locally made models are available for
purchase.  One from Dave Pike,  Tel 09 
448 5287 or 021 1076537 and one from Tim Short Tel 0274
542464, (–or check teams sailing, centreboard division, sandspit yacht club
web site:

 3.         Finish boat 

This job requires two people and careful concentration, there will be a race finishing every 5 minutes when an efficient event gets underway. 

1.      Check finish pin frequently for good position, at right angles to wind.

2.      A boat has finished when any part of the boat, equipment or crew in their normal position crosses the
3.      Count in boats by colour and position. A score of ten or less wins for three on three boat teams sailing
–first=1 point, second=2 points etc. For a series win, when teams are tied, a countback procedure may
be required, then finishing positions within each race are important
4.      A boat that incurs a penalty on or after the finish must both, do either one or two turns as required,
        and return completely below the line to refinish. The turns do not need to be done on the course side
of the finish line. Observe refinishing boats very carefully!
5.      The finish boat also records damage, other misdemeanours and requests for off water protests  etc as
reported by umpires or competitors, please record information carefully including who the umpires and
competitors were and which race it pertains to. 

6.      Example


Race Teams Colours Finish order winner comments
1 Mahu Whang  BlackYellow B1,Y3,B3,B2,Y2,Y1 Black8 points B1 damage to port bow by Y2, umpire Derry (port/starbd)   

 4.   Mark Boat

 Smooth running of events requires a mark boat, their responsibilities are

Laying the course and checking frequently that it is in good alignment to the wind and of suitable length for an 8 – 10 minute average race time.  

  1. Never alter the leg of a course that the boats are on or about to be on, eg do not adjust pin or first mark when in start sequence (after 2 minute hoot), if necessary request a cancellation of the start to relay the course.
  2. First aid, very basic first aid gear such as sticking plaster and bandage for immediate care of an injured sailor should be carried.
  3. Carry basic repair equipment, rope, shackle key, pliers etc, water-proof adhesive tape, spare tiller extension, so that  minor gear failures can be dealt with promptly and on the water.
  4. Remember there is no redress for minor failures that may be foreseen or staged, such as a broken tiller extension universal joint or halyard, unless you have been alerted to the problem first. Crews are expected to inspect the running gear etc each time they take over command of a boat.
  5. Liase with start and finish boats re-race times and buoy positions.
  6. NZTRA uses a ‘starboard S course that takes about 8 minutes in average conditions for major events.  Length of course to first mark is critical, too short equals too many collisions, too long means fleet spreads out.


5. Umpiring 

There is a national shortage of suitably qualified umpires for Teams events and all parents, coaches and supporters with a basic knowledge of the rules may be required to help, to make events happen. Umpire courses are run once or twice a year, usually advertised via Yachting NZ, and willing amateurs are welcome to attend them.  The following are some pointers.  Good quality umpiring is essential to running a fair event.  It requires considerable practice to make consistent calls. 

  1. There is a call book for Teams umpires, it is available on the ISAF website as a PDF (  It is good for all skippers to have a copy to refer to also.
  2. The best way to umpire is two persons to a boat, three umpire boats to a race.
    1. Allocate a boat each from one colour (eg the colour of the right hand flag being flown during prestart from the back of the start boat.
    2. One umpire calls the rights and obligations of the allocated boat, the other umpire calls the rights and obligations of boats that come near it.(eg U1 – starboard, right of way boat, closehauled, U2 starboard, overlap to leeward, established from clear astern, keeping clear).
  3. Part 2 rules can only be penalised when a red flag is flown by one of the competitors.  The protested boat can either do a tack and gybe (in any order –known as a 360, but actually a 2700 turn) as soon as possible and clear of the other competing boats or wait for an umpire call.  Umpire red flags can be awarded to either boat involved in the protest and require two tacks and two gybes (–known as a 720).  Other contestants must not deliberately interfere with a boat completing turns.  If the penalty results in an unreasonable advantage to one team, additional turns may be requested to ensure equity is restored.
  4. Umpires can initiate a penalty without seeing a red flag for the following penalties
    1. Rule 42 (pumping)
    2. Rules 2,22 ,41(bad sportsmanship –swearing , bullying, deliberate false calls, interfering with other competitors, outside help)
    3. Rule 31, hitting a mark.
    4. Rule 14, Collisions between boats (If included in the Sailing Instructions -NZTRA policy is to prefer its inclusion). In the case of collisions between competitors, record the collision position and inspect and report any damage to the finish boat, at least one competitor must do a turn, even if they are members of the same team.
    5. Competitors can also request a penalty under these rules by raising a red flag
  5. Red flags must be flown so they can be seen by the umpire, competitors are encouraged to also hail and state the reason they are protesting, but a red flag must be flown.
  6. During NZTRA events umpires fly either a red flag for penalty or a green flag for no penalty and also blow an alerting whistle.  A Black flag is flown for a hearing off the water.


6.   Running Events 

What team sailors really enjoy is lots of good fair racing.

An economical way to run a local contest is that all teams bring three boats and an umpire boat with an umpire in it !   

Running Secondary School Teams Trials 

There have been too many attempts to arrange affairs to the advantage of a favoured team. This is destructive to the sport. NZTSA is not obliged to accept regional nominations for the Nationals when they do not believe a fair contest has been held.

It is essential that independent umpires that are acceptable to all parties are found for these events.  Post-secondary school teams sailors are often ideal.  Parents with close involvement with one team are not usually suitable umpires.

Always share the start and finish boat jobs between schools if independent officers cannot be found.

For the Nationals, mimimum combined crew weight is 110kg –with up to 5kg of weight allowed to bring crews up to weight.

Always rotate the boats regularly

Always check all boats are rigged to the same settings

Always try and ensure the contest is decided on the water

We recommend a minimum of best of seven races, especially when there are only two or three teams competing.

7.   Safety Policy 

    • NZTSA safety policy is to follow the policies of Yachting New Zealand, the Maritime Safety Authority and Local Yacht club policies. 
    • All umpire boats and the mark boats are regarded as patrol boats for the purposes of this policy and should carry appropriate VHF and tow rope if the 420’s are not fitted with a tow rope as required under class rules. The mark boat should in addition carry basic first aid and repair equipment. 
    • One person must be delegated as in control of racing, this is usually the race officer on the start boat or the chief umpire, they have the right to abandon racing for safety reasons. 
    • In severe conditions umpires may also abandon umpiring a race to render immediate assistance to competitors. They may request cancellation of a race to the race officer. 
    • Umpires must wear approved life jackets at all times, inflatable type jackets are suitable

8.         Coaching 

The following are some exercises that any willing parent can run to help with team preparation.  Remember if you start well and sail fast you should do well.  Spend plenty of time on sail trimming and boat speed work –maybe not so necessary if you are coaching experienced fleet sailors. 


            Basic boat speed –paired sailing, long tacks and runs etc

            Practice your 360’s and 720’s eg on the whistle

            Practice tacks and jibes on the whistle            

Starting practice

            Lots of starts, try ‘random’ starts and structured starts, eg, from luffed on the line or timing the
approach to the line at speed.  Position the crews –eg Y1 at start boat, Y2 middle, Y3 pin and
rotate to improve their accuracy and timing.



            The best exercise is “take-outs” around the course –first boat at top mark takes out second boat
to let third boat through, same at No2, 3, 4 marks.  On the run second boat may try to
slow/distract first boat to let through the third boat.  On final beat first boat should cover second
boat to let third boat through, etc…
            If you have six boats, lots of racing, with an emphasis on strategic thinking and taking calculated
risks, rather than winning the race.

            Very short courses, triangular courses and box courses are good for handling practice.

            Running a mini match racing regatta is good for paired work and pre-start practice.


            Use the ‘spare’ sailors as umpires, and to observe others racing.

            Give the sailors the call book and test their knowledge regularly in all situations. 


            It is often the case that crews are more junior sailors and keep quiet.  They should be encouraged
to talk throughout the race –eg time to start, position of other boats, rights and obligations of their
boat, when two boat lengths of a mark is reached, when overlaps are made and broken, whether
overlapped at two boat lengths any wind shifts or puffs coming etc, so that the skipper can focus
on boat speed and positioning without spending too much time looking around. This is also a
good way to learn rules and tactics.


            Essential –consult a general yachting text !



  EVENT:                                       Page No:
  Venue:                               Date:       Races:
        Fin. Time                       Finishing Orders  Penalties: Fin. Time   Results:              
  Race No.    Colours 1st Boat 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th     Last Boat   Points:   Win Radioed.   Comments    



9.         Standard NZTSA Finish Sheets


Event…………………………………………….… Date……………… Time………..………..




Flight/Race Teams Colours Finish order Winner Comments

Some Draws


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