Friday, 29 August 2008

The Ollie Wallock Race Start Machine

In a post by Tillerman on August 27 (Wow) he linked to the Ollie Wallock Race Start Machine.
With a name like that, I had to tell you about it. This is what they write on the home page:
Do you still start your races with a shotgun, cannon, horn or whistle? How frightfully crude. Re-enter civilized society. Get yourself an Ollie Wallock Race Start Machine.
The OLLIE is the first name in automated race start timers. It has been around for fifteen years or so. The original idea of a completely enclosed and portable unit has never changed. Although the appearance hasn't changed much, the implementation of the idea has gone through several iterations in order to make the best possible OLLIE that I can make with off the shelf parts. My competitors ( PRO REGATTA GUN, AUTOHOOT, SAILTIMER etc. ) came later and the rest is history
I've browsed around to find out more and found some very positive testimonials by race officers and clubs, all very much impressed by the performance of this starting automaton.

I also have send an email to Ollie to inquire about world wide shipping, to ask if it is available in Europe and at what cost. I'll get back to you about that as soon as I've heard back.

This weekend I'm race officer for an annual club event with about 130 boats in 14 classes. For starting my brother has made a computer program for a laptop to give the starting sound signals. We've tried it for single class events and that works fine, now will be the "fire" test, with multiple classes in five minute intervals.


  1. Received an Email from Darryl from Princeton, New Jersey in which he commented on the use of the Ollie:


    We and the other clubs in our local sailing association all have and use Ollie boxes. Our is probably 5 years old now, and the club next to ours has three. They work great and make it easy to run races. They are automatic and reliable, and because they are automatic they keep us from making any timing mistakes.
    Three issues:
    1) they are loud. Some clubs have replaced the horns so they not so loud. Not good for little lakes, good for the open ocean.
    2) he will program three starts in the box for you. choose wisely. We mainly use only 2: rule 26 and Appendix Q. When we got ours we also have a Rule 26 with an additional 5 minute warning. Turns out we don't use this. In addition to the normal rule requirements, many Ollie boxes have a 5 blast unofficial warning built in. So there are five horn blasts, a pause, and then the single 5 minute horn with the class flag to start rule 26.
    3) After a general recall and postponement it is impossible to start the Ollie horn sequence exactly one minute after the drop of the AP or First Substitute, so we have to announce that you can not time your start off the drop of these flags, the next warning will be approximately one minute later, and official timing starts off the warning signal. For the same reasons, you can't do rolling starts.

    If you want an Ollie I'd be happy to hand deliver one.

    Take Care,

  2. Please check out
    I use their Sailing Event Controller.

    Mike Butterfield


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