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I think I can understand the rules, now what other information do I need to go racing?

All races have at least two documents which need to be obtained and read to know where, when and how the races will be conducted.:   The “Notice of Race” and the “Sailing Instructions”.


The “Notice of Race” also called the NOR, provides essential information for you to determine if you might be able to race and where to sign up for the race.  The basic sections for this document would include:


ORGANIZING AUTHORITY AND DATES — Who is responsible for managing the races.  Several yacht clubs and organizations manage the races throughout the Chicago area. This section identifies who is responsible for a race or series of races.

RULES — This section identifies the rules governing the race, usually The Racing Rules of Sailing, (currently the 2017-2020 edition) (see previous article on the basics)

ELIGIBILITY AND ENTRY — Defines what types of boats can participate in the race length, type of boat (monohull, multihull, sportboat, one design class) and any special characteristics.  Identifies how and where to obtain the entry form which must be completed prior to competing in the race or races.

FEES — How much will it cost.  Sail boat races are usually not free, however, this year several “casual races will be offered for no cost.

SCHEDULE — What time will the races start.

MEASUREMENT AND RATINGS -What rating rule will be used or what one design organization.  Rating rules will be discussed in a subsequent article.

SAILING INSTRUCTIONS – Sailing Instructions provide additional details concerning the conduct of each race. This section identifies where the details for each race can be obtained or found.

VENUE AND COURSES — In what general area will the races be held?

PRIZES – How many prizes will be awarded for race winners.

Other sections are frequently also included such as









The second document needed if you decide to race after reading the NOR would be the “Sailing Instructions” referenced in the NOR.


“Sailing Instructions” are also called SI’s or may sometimes be called General Sailing Instructions (GSI’s).  This document provides additional information needed to race and would usually include:


NOTICES TO COMPETITORS – Identifies where and how any last-minute information will be provided to race participants.

CHANGES TO SAILING INSTRUCTIONS -Describes how any last-minute changes to the Sailing Instructions will be communicated to registered racers, eg, emails, text, VHF radio channel

SIGNALS MADE ASHORE – Provides location of any on shore signals to indicate changes in the start of the race, usually related to weather delays.

SCHEDULE OF RACES – Information on the starting time of the races and how many races.

RACING AREAS – Provides exact location of the staring location for the race.  This would usually include GPS coordinates and some local landmarks to guide races to the starting area for the race.

CHECK-IN/CHECK-OUT-describes the action needed to inform the race committee of your participation or when you may decide to stop racing.

THE COURSES – This section provides details of the course.  Buoy races would provide diagrams of the types of courses (windward/leeward, triangle, trapezoid) and long distance races would indicate the approximate course heading(s) and distances.  The types of courses for buoy races will be discussed in a future article.

MARKS – Describes the types of marks (color and shape) which will be encountered during the race and how you must go around the mark (marks to Starboard or Port).  Usually course marks will have a different color for the starting mark, course marks and finish marks.

THE START – Description of the starting line, including the color of the starting line flag on the committee boat and located on what side of the committee boat

CHANGE OF THE NEXT LEG OF THE COURSE – Sometimes a shift/change in the wind during a race may occur.  This section describes the procedure to be used to signal the change to competitors.

THE FINISH – Provides details of the finish line, color of the flag and which side of the committee boat you should pass when finishing (In first of course!!)


There are other sections which may also be included such as:






So now you know what you are looking for to enter a race and understand the type of race and where it will take place.  A list of the sites for accessing the NOR’s and Si’s will be discussed in a future listing of all the various websites needed to begin racing.


See you on the 12 May to answer any questions and help you complete the forms needed for your participation in the Wednesday Night Races.  We will also discuss the NOR and SI’s for these races.  It is easy to understand the language of racing.  NOR and GSI and SI can be added to your racing vocabulary.


Many boats are in the harbor.  Will you be out there on 24 May for the Tune-up race?


STARBOARD! Why are they yelling at me?

STARBOARD!!!!!   Why are they yelling at me??????

Do I need a lawyer or a politician to interpret why this is happening?

Most sailing occurs as we head out to open water, hoping to catch the sunset later in the day and occasionally encountering another boat heading in the same direction or crossing tacks.  No problem as we change course and wave to the other boat, continuing to relax and talk about the freedom of sailing offshore.  No yelling here.



Weather Forecast

Tomorrow is forecast to be Warmer than today. Windy, afternoon showers and thunderstorms.
Tuesday 06/27 0%
A few clouds. Lows overnight in the low 60s.
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Wednesday 06/28 40%
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Mostly cloudy in the morning then windy with a few scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon. High 81F. Winds S at 20 to 30 mph. Chance of rain 40%.
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Thursday 06/29 40%
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Scattered thunderstorms developing during the afternoon. High 87F. Winds SW at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 40%.


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