Pursuit Racing

Photo: Will Yallop

Pursuit racing is when the slowest boats of the race fleet start in order of low handicap followed by the increasingly faster boats until the fastest handicap boat starts last. The advantages of this are that there is no pre-start melée which often puts off new racers, a yacht always knows its position during the race, it gives a new dynamic to the sport such as hunter and hunted.

Times are worked out and adjusted on a regular basis to try and get the fleet to finish as close as possible at the end of the given time. The course is designed to be longer than the fleet can sail in that time. The winner is the yacht that is closest to the rhumb line to the next mark and ahead when the time is up.

A few helpful hints on pursuit racing

You should have a timepiece synchronised to GMT – watch or mobile telephone.

You should also have some type of electronic chart, Navionics or the like, this helps when using GPS stated marks.

Engines not in gear 4 minutes before your time to cross the start line.

Be on the line at your given time, but rather be 4-5 seconds late than 1 second early. It takes longer to recross the line than 5 seconds.

Watch the boats ahead for wind shifts and act accordingly. Watch the boats behind for building breeze and be prepared to get the best from it.

As the finish time approaches, try to be on the rhumb line to the next mark. This gives you the advantage over someone ahead but out to the side of the course.

Note your position, who is directly in front of you and who is directly behind you and let the race officer know.

Listen out on the chosen VHF channel for the signal to end the race.

Tony Freeth

Hon. Sailing Secretary (Joint)