Yacht Racing - Laying Courses, Setting Marks, Etc.
( Originally Published 1911 )
IN laying out the courses you must bear in mind that draft of water is essential, and there should be at least fifteen feet of water everywhere, if possible, so the boat can sail freely and not drag bottom. Shoal water is quickly discovered, because the displacement wave is very greatly increased and the boat seems to suck and not run freely. Eel-grass and growth of any sort must be avoided, as sailing in these conditions is unfair to the keel boats compared with the centerboards. Points of land projecting into the course, or islands, should be avoided, for if they are in the way it comes down to the most daring skipper getting the advantage on account of being willing to take chances by going in nearer the land, trusting to luck that he will not strike.
The courses are always given on the sailing circular, and the person who sets the marks must be careful to follow the compass direction given, and also be sure to get the length of each leg as close as possible to the pre-scribed distance, for if it should become necessary to sail by compass, the skipper must feel sure of the position of his marks.
Never take a small ledge of rocks as a turning mark, as is very often done. Each mark should be discernible from the other with glasses, and should be substantially moored so that neither wind nor current can move it.
A bright cone that flashes the sun's rays is an excellent device for marks. This, placed on the top of a ten-foot pole, can be seen at a great distance. The other kind of marks in common use are flag marks, barrels, small boats, lattice triangles, etc., the cone being superior to any other.