Thursday, July 16, 2020

A Fresh Look at the Gate Start

It's been a while since I did any race committee; not being a member of any sailing club at present. I gather one of the issues with RC work during this pandemic and the need for social distancing is the amount of people needed on the main committe boat. It's all for the start.    You need a fair number of people to make sure the start goes well, most of them there to run flags, check time, watch the line. After that probably two people would suffice; the PRO to make decisions and someone to handle communication with the mark boats and rescue boats. I wonder if it's not time to revisit the gate start as a way to get the number of RC people off the main RC boat. The gate start is not a very popular option; I would venture to say, across the board, a very much unused starting option. Except for the 505 crowd, who love it and use it exclusively for their big events.

The very basic concept of a gate start is one of your competitors comes across on port tack, you duck his stern whilst sailing on starboard tack and you are off. I've done this basic start when out practicing with a group of us, but must admit I've never done gate starts in any regatta. Of course a proper gate start is somewhat more complicated than that but over the years the 505 crowd have done a good job of ironing out the wrinkles. I did locate online race instructions for the 505 gate start at the 2015 Buzzard Bay Regatta.

I do think the gate start is a good option for getting the RC crowd down to manageable proportions. As far as the argument that I've never learned how to do gate start, I can't do a gate start, file it under all the other "never done this" arguments that have been rapidly trashed in this pandemic.

Here is a video of the 505 pathfinder leading the way during the Europa Cup:

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