One of the proposed changes in the racing format for the 2019 season will be the possibility of the occasional night race. Should this actually come to pass, there are a few new wrinkles to consider. Remember, first and foremost we are going to be SAFE.
Let’s begin with personal safety. EVERY crew member must wear a personal light on their PFD. These are battery powered, relatively inexpensive and require them to be twisted past a locking pin to illuminate. Wear something of a light color with as much reflective material as possible on it.
On the boats, have at least one tested flashlight easily and quickly accessible as possible. If someone should go overboard, whoever saw them go MUST point at them and NEVER look away from the person in the water. Someone else will hand that person the flashlight as their line of sight to that person must never be interrupted during the entire rescue. The crew must be familiar with what actions need be taken at the helm to get back to that crew member in the water as quickly as possible and what must be done to get them on board. That will be a topic for a future installment.
Lights at night will be the necessary item that comes up next. First the buoys that we will be using to mark our course. Know that the start/finish line at buoy 33 has a green light that flashes every 4 seconds. Buoy 31 flashes green every 6 seconds and has a gong. Buoy 29 is a quick flashing green and 27 flashes green every 2.5 seconds. I should think that we would not use 35A for any night course as it is unlighted.
The boats themselves need to be equipped with flares visible at night. Red, green and white lights must be used at all times with the white light being the stern light ONLY when under sail. When the boat is under power a steaming light (that is the one on the mast shining forward up near the spreaders) must be illuminated whether the sails are up or down. This indicates you are a powerboat at that point and must observe the rules for such a vessel and not the privileges afforded to a sailboat over a powerboat.
I will talk more on lights at night in future installments. For now, absorb these lessons and have fun in what will be a very new racing environment this coming season.
Sail Safe, Commodore Bruce