Monday, 19 November 2007


At the Ladies Only Match Race 2007 in Hamburg, where I was participating as an umpire some weeks back, the Race Management tried something new.
On lake Alster, in the centre of the City, they have a lot of wind shifts. The saying at the Hamburg Sailing Club is: "When someone opens a window in one of the hotels along the shore, the direction of the wind will change"

To be able react quickly to each shift they laid out 3 top marks in different colours. (green, red and yellow). Together with the preparatory-signal a coloured flag was shown indicating which mark for that match, was to be rounded. They could change for each match without any time loss. The mark boat could even change the position of a mark without waiting, just by only towing the one which was not in use for that particular match. And a RC-boat could indicate a change of top mark at the gate, if needed.

The only disadvantage we experienced was that the sailors had something extra to remember. And of course sometimes they didn't and rounded the wrong one. But overall the sailors were very positive. Time loss between flights was less and no races had to be abandoned because of shifts.

I’ve seen systems with two top marks but never with three. Maybe something to consider for your next match race?

UPDATE: in this post


  1. Yes an excellent system but far from new.

    Multiple top marks have been used in Australia and New Zealand for over ten years with no real problems other than the occassional lapse of concentration by the umpires.

  2. Any more practical tips you guys from down under have for us, up here?

  3. used at the Women's MR Worlds in Auckland in April with 4 different marks - worked very well.

  4. The same system is used on Ledro lake, near Riva del Garda, Italy

  5. have seen a single "change" top mark with a black strip on a yellow background / if it is to be used a similar yellow flag with a black strip is flown from the committee vessel


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