MYC Race Committee
Strong Wind Abandonment Guidelines
They MYC rules for abandoning a race due to strong winds is given in the sailing instructions for each race in the “Safety Regulations” section. Typically it states that a race will not be started if in the opinion of the Race Committee the maximum wind gust average over 3 seconds exceeds some value (normally 20kn for Juniors, 25kn for Centerboards and 30kn for all other classes). The Race Committee must always check the specific sailing instructions rather than rely on any limits quoted here or assumed from previous experience.
The 3 second average used in MYC sailing instructions is also used by the BOMs observations when reporting gusts (see http://www.bom.gov.au/catalogue/observations/about-weather-observations.shtml). The BOM warns that wind gusts can be 40 percent higher than average wind speeds, so 14kn average wind speed can produce 20kn gusts, 18kn average can produce 25 kn gusts and 22 kn average can produce 30kn gusts.
When considering abandonment, the RC should first consult the BOM weather warnings at http://www.bom.gov.au/nsw/warnings/marinewind.shtml. If on the morning of the race there is a Gale Warning (34 to 47 knots) for Sydney Closed Waters, then decision should almost always be to abandon. With a Strong Wind Warning ( 26 to 33 knots ), then the decisions will mostly be to abandon if there indications are that the forecast is accurate.
If there is no gale warning, then the expected wind speeds can be obtained from theBOM forecasts at http://www.bom.gov.au/forecasts/graphical/marine/nsw/sydney.php. A race should seldom be abandoned purely on the basis of a forecast, rather the forecast should be used to better interpret the observations of the day. For example, if there are stronger winds predicted after the race or geographically close to the race, then additional caution should be used as weather may arrive early or change location.
The ultimate authority when judging abandonment is the observations of actual average wind speed and gusts obtained either from the BOM http://www.bom.gov.au/nsw/observations/coastal.shtml or from instruments on the committee boat (or similar). As well as local observations, more distant observations up and down the coast can used to make a judgement about accuracy or otherwise of the forecast and to see what weather is coming.
While it is considerate to abandon races early (specially for boats coming through the Spit Bridge), the race committee should make reasonable effort to hold a race. Conversely, just because a race has not been abandoned before contestants have arrived at the course is not a reason to not abandon. Safety is the only consideration and a race may be abandoned even after the start if the conditions deteriorate.
Race Committee can discuss the conditions and forecast with the Race Director, Principal Race Officer, Principal Race Director, Commodore or any other experienced sailors. Race Directors should ensure that race committees have the correct details at hand.
If MYC abandons a race, it is typically for the remainder of the day so the N flag should be flown over the A flag and 3 sounds signals made. There is a large N flag in the office with the burgees. Abandonment should also be communicated over VHF and/or by SMS.