Race Committee & Boats

Key contacts:
Nabeel Alsalam (Boats, RC Equipment, etc.):
nabeel.alsalam@gmail.com, 571 766-6164
Farley Will (RC people, NOR, SIs):
efw2j@virginia.edu, 434 579-5944
Tom Berlin (Boats):
tberlin12@gmail.com, 301 325-3412

Please send suggestions for making these pages more useful to Nabeel.

After each heading a key point or points are bulleted.  Click the heading to for more details.

Summary and Introduction

So, you have the job of running RC this Sunday... Thanks! Without volunteers like you there would be no sailboat racing. Below is a lot of important and useful information.  

Decision to Race - An Assessment of the Risk of Injury

Planning the Work

Priorities: Safety of People, Running Races, Rescuing Capsized Boats

How many people does it take to run the RC?

  • When using two skiffs, five is a good number

Who Is Scheduled to be on RC? 

  • See RC Assignments to see who is signed up already or to add your name.  
  • To be a good PRSA citizen, skippers of 3-person boats should fill 6 slots each season, skippers of 2-person boats should fill 4, and skippers of 1-person boats should fill 2.   Skippers should fill at least 1 slot personally.

Starting, Launching, and Operating the RC Boats

Most boat drivers use PRSA's boats only once or twice a year.   So it is critical that each boat driver review the instructions at the links below associated with the boat they will drive. If you have any problems with a boat call/contact Nabeel or Tom Berlin.

Where are the keys?  

This is not something we want to put on the web.  If you don't know then email Nabeel.

Care and Use of PRSA’s Larger Skiff

PRO: Please give the link to this document to the person who will be operating the boat.


  • If gas is above the black line on the built in tank under the center console, that is plenty.
  • This boat must be launched and retrieved using the ramp.  When retrieving the boat carefully center it so that the long rails on the trailer on both inside the long ribs on the bottom of the boat.

Care and Use of PRSA’s Smaller Skiff

PRO: Decide who will operate the skiff and give email him or her the link to this document.  


  • The motor uses premium gas.  If there is less than a half tank, remove it from boat and make a trip to a gas station in Alexandria.  Keep the receipt for reimbursement.
  • Turn the battery switch in the seat to Off at the end of the day.  Otherwise, the battery will be dead next week.
  • Lifting out the boat by crane is easier than using the ramp because getting the trailer rails in the right place is tricky when using the ramp.
  • Send an email to Nabeel with a report on how much gas is in the tank and anything else of significance.

Do the boats have gas?

  • The smaller skiff need premium gas.  If it’s portable tank is less than half full, take it to Alexandria and fill it up.

RC Equipment

Marks and Ground Tackle

  • The inflator should be in the seat of the large skiff.  It plugs into a cigarette lighter outlet on the right side of the center console.  
  • Inflate the marks at the dock and drag.
  • When deflating and storing the marks please keep the anchors away from the mark -- that is one way they get holes.

Ollie Race Start Machine

  • The Ollie should be in the seat of the larger skiff.  If someone took it home to be charged the vice-commodore should have emailed you who that was.

VHF Radios

  • Use channel 68
  • Use the lower power setting (the high power setting is broken on the larger skiff)
  • Turn the volume up high -- otherwise you may not be able to hear over the engine

Race Signals (Flags)

Running the Races

What the Sailors are Looking For

  • When doing your work, consider what the sailors are looking for.  It will help you set priorities.

Topics for the Skipper's Meeting

  • The PRO must hold a skipper’s meeting.
  • Describe the assessment of risk (see “Decision to Race” above).
  • Help out new skippers and guests.

Who Raced? Skipper name - Sail # Sheet

  • Skipper name - Sail # Sheet
  • Current PRSA skippers, their boats, and the sail numbers: Skippers and their boats 
  • If you don’t know who a skipper is, don’t be shy, ASK! Think of it as an opportunity to meet your fellow sailors, especially those in other fleets.  

Tradeoff in Running Races

Setting and Choosing a Course

Racing Rules of Sailing and Sailing Instructions

Starting a Race

The Course (Rule 27 and Sailing Instructions)

  • At PRSA we use a pair of flags, one with W, T, or O and a second with a 1, 2, or 3.  What they mean is described in the “courses and marks” attachment to the  sailing instructions.
  • The course must be signaled before the warning signal.    

Starting Races (Rule 26 or Appendix S)

  • A minimal set of flags need to start a race using rule 26 is a class flag and a preparatory flag, e.g. the P-flag which is a blue flag with a white square in the middle.
  • The Laser fleet uses Appendix S: Sound Signal Starting System of the US Sailing Prescriptions.  The Ollie Race Start machine has a switch on the inside that produces this starting system:  3-minute dinghy start.


Signaling 'Over Early' boats and General Recall

Recalls (Rule 29)

  • Two flags are needed: the over early flag (X-flag) -- white with a black cross -- and the general recall flag (2nd substitute) -- pennant blue and yellow.  

Starting Penalties (Rule 30)

  • Only needed when the racers are very aggressive and making it difficult to execute a fair start.  

Shortening Course

  • White flag with a blue square in the middle.  
  • Usually used when the wind dies or is dying and it is unlikely any sailor will finish in the time limit.
  • Course may be shortened when bad weather is coming or so that other scheduled races can be sailed.

Changing Course

  • Means changing the position of a mark.
  • This is very difficult to do properly (see rule 33) with multiple fleets and on short courses, as the courses on the river are, so I recommend you not attempt it with multiple fleets.
  • Properly means telling the sailors at the previous mark whether the related mark is left or right, closer or further than the where it was.
  • It means leaving the old mark in place if there are sailors that still need to sail around that mark
  • That then means the SIs need to be amended so that sailors can recognize the difference between the old and new marks.

Recording Finishes

Order of finish sheet

Other common scores include DNS (did not start), DNF (did not finish, e.g. capsized or withdrew), and DNC (did not compete).  Unless the SIs specify otherwise, these sailors get number of boats entered in the series + 1.

Time Limits and Scores (Rule 35 & Appendix A)

  • Record the time the race starts so that you can determine if the first boat finishes within the time limit.  If none does, the race is abandoned.  (Rule 35)
  • Record the time the first boat finishes so that you can determine if the remaining boats finish within the time allowed for them.
  • How boats that do not finish within the time allowed are scored depends on the sailing instructions.  For example, many SIs specify they be scored TLE (time limit expired) which is number of finishers within the time limit + 1.

Is the start line closed?  Is it an obstruction

After the Races


The skipper - sail no. sheet and the order of finish sheet for race need to get to the rear commodore -- currently Farely Will -- at rearcommodore@potomacriversailing.org. If you do not find him after the races, please scan and email them to him or her that evening.  Do NOT try to compile the results -- the scoring program will do that and doing so will just make the rear commodore’s work harder.

Boats and Equipments

Leave boats clean, covered, and tidy.  Leave keys, marks, Ollie, inflator in their designated spots.  See above.

Boat Issues

Please report problems, issues, etc. that you had to the vice commodore, currently Nabeel Alsalam, at vicecommodore@potomacriversailing.org.

Running a Protest Hearing (forthcoming)

Protest Form

Training for RC Management and Operating the PRSA Boats

For hands on training see the calendar.  If you don't see one, bug your PRSA officers or fleet captain to schedule one.

Appendix: Other Rarely Needed Forms

  • PRSA Insurance covers RC volunteers but...
  • All PRSA series races and regattas must have a Marine Event Permit, issued by the DC Metropolitan Police Department Harbor Patrol. The rear-commodore, currently Farley Will, applies for and has copies of these permits.