ISAF trials radios and flags at World Cup in Weymouth

The ISAF Sailing World Cup is continuously striving to evolve and adapt to make the Olympic class races better for its competitors and spectators.

Something that is being trialled is the use of radios between competitors and race officials. This has been in use already in big boat events such as the Farr 40 and Melges Class Worlds, but the trial introduction into the 470 class at the ISAF Sailing World Cup could be the first step to introducing the concept to all the Olympic classes.

The use of radios has been introduced on the request of coaches and came to fruition through ISAF's cooperation with the event organisers. Put into action on day two in Weymouth and Portland it has allowed the race committee to communicate better with all boats and help with the starting procedures.

Head of ISAF Sailing World Cup John Craig said, “This is an idea is to increase communications prior to racing between the race committee and athletes. Once the race has started it will enable all competitors in that race to know who started early which has significant impact on the tactics used in that race. This type of communication to competitors has been utilised significantly in other areas of the sport, particularly in big boat sailing, but it is a first time introduction to the Sailing World Cup.”

The hope for Craig and everyone involved in the Event is that this extra communication will prevent any possible confusion.

In advance of their first use, Germany's Philipp Autenrieth thought that the introduction of radios would be a good thing saying, “It's quite nice to have the radios, especially for general recalls, and it has worked for big boats so why not the Olympic classes.”

Philipp's thoughts were confirmed by Australian Mat Belcher who said, “The radios were really great actually, especially pre-race. It was really good to have the information like nothing on the course, time delays and things like that. They said a couple of times it was all clear which was good to know I thought. The weight of the radios didn't matter either and it was really clear. It was on my crew's life jacket and he didn't notice it really, and anything I couldn't hear he would just relay to me.”

Belcher thought it was such a good idea that he even suggested using them for more sailor information other than just for the starting procedures, “Maybe they could even take it further, like dropping pumping flag would have been quite interesting or we are moving the mark to the right ten degrees, that kind of verbal information would have been helpful.”

The other change that has been introduced to all the classes at Weymouth and Portland are the numerical flag system for race starts.

It is quite simply a numbered flag system which gives competitors a countdown to the start of the races. An orange flag gives a three minute warning that the race officials are going to be beginning the countdown. A white flag with the number five indicates five minutes to the start, a blue with three indicates three minutes, a red two, a yellow one and finally a green to go.

Autenrieth believes the flag system has worked and is a good change from traditional flag system, “The flags are good, it definitely makes it easier for us, the public and the media.”

The public and the media were also factors in the changes being made to the Sailing World Cup. The changes aim to make the start easier to follow for everyone and will help stop confusion and will give the sailors a greater chance to focus on their tactics and race strategy which should make for stronger races.

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