The Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race The Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race: Racing to Save the Bay

Racing Rules and Sailing Instructions

Captains' Meeting and All Hands Briefing

Wednesday at 1300 Hours

Baltimore Marine Centers is sponsoring the use of GPS transponders provided by Kattack. The transponders will be distributed to captains and instructions for their use given. The captains of all vessels racing to Portsmouth must pick up and sign for a transponder at this time. Each captain must sign a Safety Statement, Waiver and Transponder Acceptance form acknowledging that they and their crew understand the safety statement, agree to the "hold harmless" statement and that they have received a transponder.

Your whole crew is encouraged to attend this meeting. Last-minute concerns about impending weather, measurements, rules, classing, sailing plans, etc. will be discussed. Race shirts and wristbands will be distributed. If you offered to take passengers along for the Parade of Sail, they will be assigned to you here. The parade procedure will also be discussed.

Mandatory Skippers' Meeting

Thursday at 0730 Hours

Attendance at this meeting is REQUIRED FOR ALL CAPTAINS. Schooners will be disqualified if not represented. Please bring your completed Crew List (if you didn't submit it in advance of the meeting). Let the committee know of any changes in your float plan. Last-minute changes in course, rules, etc. may be discussed. GPS time will be announced for synchronizing watches. All are welcome, but captains may not delegate attendance.

Safety Statement

This is meant to be a fun race; however, the safety of a vessel and her crew is the sole and inescapable responsibility of the captain, who must insure that the vessel is sound, seaworthy and manned by experienced crew who are physically fit. The captain must further ensure that all equipment is properly maintained and stowed, and that the crew knows its location and proper usage. It is also the sole and exclusive responsibility of the captain to decide whether or not to start or continue in the race. Vessels will be disqualified for unsafe operation or failure to have formal representation at the Skipper?s Meeting Thursday morning. The race involves sailing at night in an area busy with commercial traffic. All participating vessels must fly radar reflectors, maintain a radio watch and keep a good lookout at all times. Vessels unfamiliar with night sailing on the Chesapeake are encouraged to seek local knowledge and experienced crew before entering the event.

Signature Acknowledgement Required

I agree to abide by the regulations and sailing instructions for this event and, by signing below, confirm that I have read the Safety Statement and that my vessel conforms in all respects. I hereby agree that neither I nor any of my crew members shall hold the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race, Inc., or any of its personnel responsible for accidents, damage or injuries during the race or related activities; no crew member shall be aboard my vessel that has not consented to this waiver on his or her behalf. I understand that organizers may transfer to third parties the right to photograph, film or tape part of or the entire event for eventual license, sale or distribution, and agree that neither organizers nor such third party has any obligation to compensate entrants in any form.

Racing Rules and Sailing Instructions

Captains are responsible for knowing this information!

The Start

Starting Line

Muster just south of the Bay Bridge. Distance to the start is approximately 21 NM from Canton. The starting line will be anchored by two boats. The one flying the race flag will be the committee boat. The USCG Chock will be one of the two boats. Pay careful attention at the safety brief on Wednesday and the Skipper's Meeting on Thursday morning for any changes to the starting process. The race committee will announce any changes on VHF 01. A schooner has started when her BOW crosses the line. The alignment of the starting line is designed to assure a safe start for the dowagers in Class AA.

Starting Sequences

Each signal (displayed aboard the committee boat) shall be lowered one minute before hoisting the next signal. NOTE: There will be a ten-second verbal countdown prior to each warning, preparatory and starting gun, broadcast over VHF 01 by the race committee. Do not attempt to hail the race committee during the starting sequence.

First Start, Classes AA and A
1330 Warning Yellow Shape
1335 Preparatory Blue Shape
1340 Start Red Shape
Second Start, Classes B and C
1345 Preparatory Blue Shape
1350 Start Red Shape

Engine Use at Start

As a safety precaution, vessels may run their engines until after their start; however, your engine must be out of gear after your preparatory signal.

Invalid Starts

Vessels which have crossed early or otherwise failed to have a valid start will be signaled by the race committee: one long blast of an air horn, raising the individual recall flag, and calling the premature starter on VHF 01 by boat name. Any vessel starting early must complete a 360-degree maneuver at the earliest opportunity after first clearing the starting area. The race committee reserves the right to levy additional penalties for egregious behavior.

The Race

Sailing Instructions

Leave Cove Point Light to starboard.
Leave Windmill Point Light to starboard.
Leave Thimble Shoal Light to starboard.

Checkpoints and Shortened Courses

If the course is shortened, the finish line for each class will be the furthest checkpoint reached by any vessel in that class. Captains are to record their times when the STERN crosses the following lines, extending shore to shore and easily recognized from a distance:

First Checkpoint (All Classes)
East-West line at Cove Point Light (~40nm): Lat. 38°23.2' N, Long. 76°22.9' W
Second Checkpoint (Classes A and AA)
East-West line at Windmill Point Light (~80nm): Lat. 37°35.8' N, Long. 76°14.02' W
Finish line for B and C.

Engine Use Underway

Safety is paramount. If traffic (or other emergency) forces you to use your engine or change your course while racing, please log all related actions, report such events and total time lost when you finish, and submit documentation to the race committee as early as possible.


Vessels abandoning the race must notify the Norfolk Rebel or a race committee representative on VHF 16 as early as possible, giving times at any checkpoints reached; if unable to raise the race committee by radio, please report times to the race committee, collect if necessary, at the earliest possible moment, at 757.477.4667 (leave a message at any hour).


The race committee requests that captains genuinely endeavor to avoid protesting another yacht, as the GCBSR considers yacht racing to be a Corinthian sport engaged in by honorable captains and crews. Should a serious rules infraction occur during the race that cannot be resolved between the captains in a gentlemanly or ladylike fashion, then a Protest Committee will be convened to hear the protest using the current Racing Rules of Sailing.


Safety Boats

Hail "Schooner Race Committee" or the Norfolk Rebel on VHF 16 or 13 while underway. The Norfolk Rebel is equipped with salvage pumps, divers, patches, tools, etc. to effect emergency repairs or to assist with fires, floods and other underway disasters or to give you a tow.

Race Committee Underway

The race committee stands by on VHF 16 and 13 at all times. If you have a question or concern, just hail "Schooner Race Committee" on VHF 16.

VHF Radio Watch Underway

All vessels are required to maintain a radio watch in accordance with FCC regulations. Since encounters with commercial vessels pose a potential risk during the race and commercial traffic communicates using channel 13, we recommend you monitor channel 13 when in the proximity of commercial traffic. It is suggested that vessels equipped with dual scan radios monitor both channel 16 and 13 at all times.

Required Hourly Position and Race Progress Log

The captain of each schooner shall ensure that an hourly position log recording the latitude and longitude of the schooner at each hour on the hour during the race is kept. In addition to the hourly position entries, the log shall also contain entries of the vessel?s position and the exact time at which it crosses the lines at Cove Point, Windmill Point and Thimble Shoal (if the schooner sails to Thimble Shoal).

If a schooner must start their engine to avoid shipping traffic, they shall record their position and the time they started their engine and subsequently record the time and position from which they resumed sailing in the race in this log.

If a schooner must start their engine or divert from their normal course to render emergency assistance to another vessel or person, they shall record their position and the time they diverted from their normal course and subsequently record the time and position from which they resumed sailing in the race in this log.

If a schooner retires from the race, they shall record the time and position at which they retired from the race.

A smooth copy of the hourly position log with all entries in chronological order, positions recorded in latitude and longitude, signed and dated by the captain, shall be turned in to the race committee upon arrival in Portsmouth.

The required signed smooth log shall not contain entries from before the start of the race or after the schooner has finished racing. A schooner has finished racing when they have completed the race at the last finish line on the course that applies to that schooner or the schooner has withdrawn from the race.

Schooners not providing the required hourly log will not be scored. Blank hourly logs will be available in Portsmouth.

Personal Emergencies

If a personal emergency ashore arises during the race, the race committee in Norfolk will get word to your vessel via the Marine Operator or greet you with a message upon docking, depending upon the urgency of the matter. Please make sure your shore side contacts know how to contact the committee. Don?t forget to monitor VHF 16.

Environmental Emergencies

U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center: 800.424.8802 (Please report all oil spills.)

Marine Operators
From Sea: Call on VHF 26 or 27
From Land: (VHF) 800.955.9025
High Seas: (SSB) 800.732.2255
Chesapeake Bay Coast Guard
There are a number of Coast Guard stations between Baltimore and Norfolk. Just shout on VHF 16 and the nearest one will answer. In Hampton Roads, SAR works on VHF 22A and the MSO works VHF 83A.

The Finish

The race committee may call a shortened course for your class if the weather is uncooperative. Please monitor VHF 16 at all times.

Special Note on Course Length: Class B and C vessels wishing to compete for a spot on the Perpetual Trophy (Best Corrected Time at Thimble Shoal) may continue racing to Thimble Shoal. "Bragging Rights Only" (BRO) apply to this finish, except as pertains to the Perpetual Trophy.

Finish Line (Class B and C)

East-West line at Windmill Point Light (~80 nm): Lat. 37°35.8' N, Long. 76°14.02' W.
The light must be kept to starboard.

Finish Line (Class AA and A)

East-West line at Thimble Shoal Light (127 nm): Lat. 37°00.9' N, Long. 76°14.4' W.
The light must be kept to starboard and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel to port. You must keep clear of Thimble Shoal Channel as you finish, and avoid the ruins of the old lighthouse immediately due east of the current structure. An up-to-date chart is essential here.

Finish Instructions

A schooner has finished when her STERN crosses the line. Record GPS time as you cross. At Thimble Shoal, contact the race committee by phone at 757.477.4667 and report your boat name, your class, your finishing time, and, if requested, your times at the earlier checkpoints. (Please don?t forget to adjust your GPS for Daylight Savings Time!) If unable to make contact, please keep trying. You must call on a phone, not by radio. Boats that secure from racing at Windmill Point may contact the race committee earlier than Thimble Shoal; all are asked not to delay reporting so that results can be computed in a timely fashion.

As you near the docking area, please hail ?Schooner Race Docking Committee? on VHF 16 (then switch channels as directed). Due to tall buildings, radio transmission is sketchy until the Portsmouth waterfront is close. You will be well up the Elizabeth River before the radio will be effective, almost to Downtown Norfolk and Portsmouth. Look for Nauticus and Downtown Norfolk on your port side, the Naval Hospital on your starboard side, and the cranes and dry dock of Norshipco straight ahead. Portsmouth will be on your starboard side.

You must turn in a smooth copy of your hourly position log and your transponder to the race committee after docking in Portsmouth in order to be scored. Captains should also verify that their time has been correctly entered on the master board. These times are the basis for the handicapping formula.

Vessels not able to complete the trip to Portsmouth must contact the race committee or deliver the smooth log and transponder by any appropriate means.

Time Limit

Schooners which have not called in a finish time before 1000 Saturday will be counted as "Did Not Finish" (DNF) in order that results may be computed in a timely fashion. Please end your racing in time to arrive at the docking area no later than 1200 Saturday. Operations team members will be on hand after you dock and on duty at the Portsmouth ops center. They will help meet your needs during your visit.

Parade of Sail


Board Members Captains' Comments Contact Us Education Program FAQs 2013 Fleet
History In the Press Rating & Handicapping Rules & Instructions Sponsors 2013 Sponsors
Teachers' Resources Time to Beat Volunteers 2013 Volunteers Web Links  
        Site Index Home

ŠThe Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race, Inc