A guide for new members
The following is intended to be a general guide for people who may not have competed in any / many Traveller Events before. It is only a guide and cannot be exhaustive - but hopefully it will encourage you to get along to a TT and enjoy it by giving you an idea of what to expect!
Note: If you have not got the log book (measurement certificate) for your boat - do not worry, you can still use your boat at our Open Meetings. The only requirement is to be a Sprint 15 Association member.
Documents you need to read:
Notice of Race (NOR) - this is posted in advance on the Sprint 15 Association website. The NOR "announces" the traveller event and sets out the main format of the event and other useful information (including accommodation/food arrangements etc). Double check whether you are required to Register in advance (eg. Grafham in October or the Nationals) - most other events do not require this.
Sailing Instructions (SIs) - usually distributed when you register at the event. The SIs set out any specific instructions regarding the running of the event - eg, starts, courses, finishes, scoring etc. All events will run in accordance with the RYA Rules of Racing and the rules of the Sprint 15 Association - the SIs will specify if there any variations to those rules for this event. Make sure you have read the SIs before you go to the briefing - in case you have any questions.
Registration, Briefing and Signing On/Off:
You will need to register on the first day of the event in the Race Office / Reception. It is a good idea to register as early as you can to give yourself plenty of time.
You will need to complete an Entry Form confirming your details and that you (a) are a member of the Sprint 15 Association and (b) that you have adequate third party insurance. You will also need to pay an entry fee and be given a copy of the Sailing Instructions.
Briefing:This is usually scheduled about an hour before the first race start. Have your boat set up and ready to go before the briefing so you are not rushed - particularly as you may need to launch some time before the first race to get to the sailing area. You may also want to get changed before the briefing too.
The briefing will usually confirm the key points in the SIs - eg. sailing area, course, signing on/off processes and any other specific points of information. Note - the race management committee will assume that you have read the SIs so they won't cover everything but if you are not sure about something - you can either ask the question at the briefing or check with your fellow competitors.
Make sure you know what the signing on and off procedures are - they do vary between events. As you will usually be racing back to back races - make sure you sign on and off for all of them appropriately.
Rigging and Preparation:
- Assuming you are using a road trailer (rather than car-topping) - you will normally only need to take down your mast and remove loose equipment to trailer it to an event. You can usually leave your trampoline on.
- When you de-rig your boat - it is a good idea to record or mark how you had things set up - eg. mark on the forestay rope to show where it was tied. This will act as a good reference point when you set up again and will save loads of thinking time at the event.
- Trampoline - make sure you tighten it!
- Check you have everything on board - downhaul, righting line, rudders, tillerbar/extension, paddle, sail, mainsheet, traveller, hatch covers. It can be easy to forget something when you are not following your normal club racing routine! And don't forget your watch and setting it to the right start sequence.
- Back to back races - there will back to back races which means you can be on the water for some time and hanging around between races is when you are likely to get cold. So dress accordingly and consider taking some water and snacks out with you too.
Race area / course:
- The racing will usually take place from a committee boat start.
- The race area will be confirmed on the day and may be some distance from the club depending on the venue.
- The course will normally be a trapezoid course round four marks - leaving all four marks to port as set out below. You will also need to sail through the start/finish line on every lap so the Race Officer can shorten the course at the appropriate time.
- The start sequence will usually be 5,4,1 go although some clubs opt for 3,2,1 go so check the Sis.
- So a typical race course could look like this:
A few words on rules ...
It is important - particularly when racing in a larger fleet - that you have an understanding of the main rules that are likely to apply when you are in close proximity to other boats.
The Sprint 15s are all about good sailing and racing and do not bandy rules around unnecessarily. But - as with any racing or sailing - it is incumbent on each of us to understand our obligations to ensure good racing and, most importantly, ensure that we and our boats all get home in one piece. Plus - having a grasp of the main rules will mean you are much more confident when approaching another boat(s) - and know whether you can call for right of way or whether you need to avoid them.
Having said the above, it is perfectly reasonable, particularly if you are new to racing in a larger fleet, to choose to "play it safe" and steer clear of getting mixed in with other boats where possible. If that feels better for you - then adopt it as your strategy until you feel a bit more comfortable getting in amongst things. Reading the rules can feel a bit overwhelming - so if you are not sure - just ask!
And finally - the golden rule:
Sailing and racing should be enjoyable! Competing in a Traveller event can produce highs and lows no matter what your level of experience - but it will always provide valuable experience and learning which ultimately will help you sail better and gain more enjoyment.
The Sprint 15 fleet are competitive - but they are also very encouraging of people who are new to the fleet or to events - so never be afraid to ask for advice or help. The dinner and an evening in the bar can also provide great opportunities to chat about the racing and continue your learning off the water!
If you are unsure about anything, or need any help to get to you to, through and back from an event - do ask your fellow Sprint 15 sailors to help - we are only too happy to do so.
I hope to see you at future events!
Catbert - 2025