Getting Started Racing on Bow Lake

Bow Lake is an excellent place to try out sailboat racing.  We have boats of all sizes, from Sunfish to keelboats, and sailors of all abilities, from people who have never sailed before to lifelong sailors.

We race every Sunday in July and August at noon, and are usually done with racing by 3pm.  The best part is that everyone involved is supportive and helpful and would be happy to help you get out and race!

How to get out there

If you’re intimidated about showing up in your boat, there’s a couple ways to see what it’s like first.

  • You can ride along with the Race Committee, who hang out in a powerboat in the middle of the race course.  Or ride along with a support boat, which motor around the course supervising and assisting participants.
  • You can crew for an existing racer.  Most Sundays, skippers are looking for crew members of any experience to fill in, and they’re happy to tell new crew members what to do.
  • Or you can just join the racers for drinks and snacks after racing.  Most weeks one of the racers hosts a small get together to discuss the day and trash talk.

Post on our Bow Lake Sailing Facebook group to be part of any of these.

How to race

Just show up!  On Sunday around noon you’ll see our committee boat (usually a deck boat or a float boat) anchored near a yellow start buoy in the middle of the lake.  Here’s what to do:

  • Check in with the race committee.  They’ll need to know you’re racing, and they’ll take your name so you’ll show up in the results.  (See more on race committee.)
  • Wait for the first warning horn from Race Committee.  They’ll put up a flag with a Lightning bolt on it when they sound the first horn.  Start a 5 minute timer: the race starts exactly 5 minutes after that first horn.  (See more about the start.)
  • There will be 2 more warning horns at 4 minutes before the start and 1 minute before the start.  You need to be to leeward of the starting line when the start horn sounds.  (See more about the start.)  If your’e unsure about interactions with other boats, stay clear; see more about the rules.
  • Sail upwind to the orange windward mark.  When you get there, go around it counter clockwise, keeping it to your left.  (See more about the course.)
  • Sail downwind back towards the start/finish.  Unless you’re sailing a Lightning or a catamaran, pass through the finish line (same as the start line) sailing downwind to finish the race.  Race Committee will sound a horn for each finisher, and record your finish.  See more about the course, and where to see results.

There’s lots more information in the FAQ.  Come out and sail with us!

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