Sailing Races are started by the display or “dropping” of flags on the Committee (Start) Boat. Each Display or Drop is accompanied by a sound signal to indicate to sailors that a change has been made. Sailors who race need to understand the signigicance of each flag and the message it conveys.
Banner Picture (taken at the 2017 Queensland Laser Championships at Mooloolaba -
From left - First Substitute - General Recall for previous fleet; Orange Flag - Alert Signal and End of Starting Line marker; Green Warning Flag for the Laser Radial Fleet; Blue/White Flag - Code Flag “P” - sets Start procedure (P = few restrictions); Jolly Roger - the Boat Provider’s Flag.
Orange Alert Flag (one Sound Signal)
This has two functions. -
When first displayed it alerts sailors that the Race Officer is about to Start a Race , or commence a sequence of Starts. Accurate timing to the next signal is not necessary, but an indication of time is usually advised in the Sailing Instructions.
The position of the Orange Alert Flag on the Start Boat marks the exact end of the Start Line.
Sailors should be wary of basing their on-water stopwatches on the Orange Flag as timing does not need to be exact - much better to be Alert and use the following Class/Fleet Warning Flag that begins an measured sequence.
Individual Recall (one Sound Signal)
The Individual Recall Flag advises sailors that one or more identified boats started prematurely and must return to the Start LIne to start correctly. If they continue to Race without re-Starting, they will be marked as On Course Side (OCS) of the Starting Line and will be disqualified or penalised according to the Sailing Instructions.
The Individual Recall Flag is flown until all boats in that Start have started correctly, or until 1 minute before the next fleet is to start.
Note that the Individual Recall Flag may apply to more than one boat, if they have been identified. Don’t assume it was only one boat who was OCS at the Starting signal - if in doubt, Restart!
General Recall (two Sound Signals)
The General Recall Flag advises sailors that many unidentified boats were On the Course Side of the Starting Line, the Start is therefore canceled and boats should prepare to RE-START.
Either of two procedures are then followed.
A If the General Recall is in the middle of a “rolling” sequence of Starts, it is common for the Race Officer to send the “naughty” fleet to the back of the line - ie the pre-determined “rolling” sequence continues, and the Replacement Start takes place after all scheduled starts as an extra start.
The General Recall Flag is displayed till 1 minute before the start of the next race in the sequence.
B. The Replacement Start may be carried out immediately -
a. Any start underway is “postponed” by the display of the “Postponement Flag” (Answering Pennant) with one sound signal)
b. The General Recall Flag and the AP Flag are “dropped” at the same time with one Sound Signal.
c. One Minute later, the Restart of the Recalled Race commences with the Class Flag.
The Orange “Alert” Flag is used only as an end-of-line marker during a General Recall and has no other role.
The Starting Procedure Flag used for a recalled Restart is often more restrictive than the “open” “P” Flag - move to “I”, “U” of even the Black Flack flag to force boats to be more cautious - depending upon the circumstances.
Race Officers must make note of the Incident, and the time/times (gaps), on the result sheet to assist the Scorer with correct calculation of results. Do not restart the Stopwatch!!