Why Are You Watching Races from Shore?

It is no secret amongst St. Francis Yacht Club Members that yacht racing is in our Club’s DNA. Great racing and champion competitors feature prominently in our past and our present. Around 130 days a year there is top-level racing on our world-class venue, often including sailors from around the region and the world. There is no question that our racing program is among the world’s best. The only question is why aren’t you more involved in this exciting facet of your Club?

Q: I don’t race; I don’t even sail! How do I take part in our racing program?
A: World-class racing requires a world-class Race Committee team to organize and run events. There’s a spot on that team for any and all StFYC members.

Q: But I have never read the rulebook and don’t have a PhD, how can I run a yacht race?
A: The most important prerequisite for an RC volunteer is the ability to follow instructions. There are people on each RC team that have read the rulebook; know it pretty well in fact. They will let you know what to do and when to do it. If you can pay attention and follow directions, you are ready for race committee service.

Q: I see mention of a Race Committee meeting now and then. Do I need to attend those?
A: STFYC’s Executive Race Committee is a standing committee of the yacht club charged with planning and organizing our schedule of regattas and related activities, in concert with our Race Office staff.
For each regatta there is another group that serves as the Race Committee for that event. Like any “committee” they meet to plan and delegate tasks, but then get down to business—taking positions on the Race Deck or aboard our boats to set a racecourse, conduct races and post the scores. There’s a different Race Committee for every event and even for each day of an event, but many volunteers participate many times. These are the Race Committees you will start with.

Q: I cannot commit to 130 days of volunteering. The racing season is too much for me!
A: There are a handful of regular Race Committee stalwarts who carry heavy RC workloads, but most RC team members volunteer when they can. In our long racing season, there is bound to be a date and time that works for you. Even a single day of service is appreciated.

Q: I can understand why Members participate once or twice to support our racing program, but why do people keep volunteering season by season? Haven’t they done enough?
A: There is a real satisfaction in helping to make a great regatta happen, and in doing something challenging as a team. Race Committee is very much a team effort. Sailors thank the RC, saying, “it couldn’t happen without you.” That is true, of course, but the Race Committee is not out there through a sense of obligation to the sailors or the club; they are out there for the same reason the racing teams are—the fun, camaraderie and gratification of skilled teamwork.

Q: I’m a new StFYC Member. Can I learn more about racing while volunteering on Race Committee?
A: No better way! On a Race Committee you can observe top-level racing up close. Ask questions of your RC teammates and you will learn quickly. You will also meet sailors and crew and hear about their experiences firsthand and you will connect with other club Members. Top racers, long-time Members and Staff Commodores and other club leadership are regular RC volunteers.

Meeting the racers through Race Committee is a way to get into racing yourself. Several recent RC newbies are now skippering J/22s. Sofia O’Hara, who started with Race Committee several years ago, participated in the Transpac race to Hawaii this year. You never know where a day on Race Committee will take you!

Q: I do sail and race. Why should I also serve on Race Committee?
A: First, you can “give back” to this sport you love by supporting other racing classes and sailors, especially juniors and even Olympic hopefuls. Come out to support the next generation of champions!

Second, you will learn more about racing by participating behind-the-scenes and by watching races up close. Think of the committee boat as a classroom, where you can watch big fleet starts, observe brilliant moves and witness disastrous mistakes on the course.

Q: I’m a big-boat driver. I really don’t see myself working flags or hauling anchors. What can I contribute?
A: There are many different jobs and other ways to contribute. We need Members with racing backgrounds to serve as regatta chairs, leading the event organization process and participating in the trophy ceremonies with the Commodore at the post-race social. If you’re an expert on the rules you can serve on a jury. The Executive Race Committee has many sub-committees to explore.

Q: I’d like to try this; can I bring a friend who is not a Member?
A: Certainly! Many regular RC teammates are not StFYC members. Bring your friends, family, children (junior sailors especially, teens or older)—anyone eager to be a part of our great sport.

Q: I’m sold! How to I join Race Committee? Is there an application or a test?
A: Visit stfyc.com and go to Sailing > Race Committee, where you can find training videos and the CERVIS volunteer portal, where you can sign up for Race Committee service. We have training classes at various times, and monthly Intro to Race Committee sessions at the Clubhouse, but there are ways to get involved even before you take the classes. Contact the Race Office at racing@stfyc.com or 415-655-7756, or speak to one of the Race Committee members. Bring us your questions!