Closed starting line

Thread starter #1
An issue came upon our weekly club sailing night concerning the start line. Normally it is closed after the start. This evening the RC said it was open. Someone got a little bent out of shape over it. We only had 5 boats out and no other boats on the lake. I didn't see any point in having a closed line either except to make the course a tiny bit harder. Isn't the main point of a closed line to make it easier to start another race after the first set of boats are off ? Is there a safety issue or something else? We were sailing simple windward/leewards with the start line in the middle.


Well-Known Member
I'm not totally sure what you mean by "open" and "closed" in this context. How do you "close" a starting line (besides blocking it physically somehow...)?



Just sailing
With a closed line, you can only cross the line during your start. When sailing other upwind or downwind legs of the race, you cannot cross through the line. The intent is to keep the line clear for other starts. For a open line, this is not a concern.

It only really make sense to use when the starting line is in the middle of the course and there are multiple starts. I agree with only five boats and I'm guessing one start, there is no reason for it.

Regardless, it should be specified in the NOR. Often it is up to the whim of the PRO.
Thread starter #6
Nobody got really P.O.ed but there were a couple of indignant frowns for sure. I wanted to be sure there wasn't some other obscure reason for a closed line known only by the ancients before discussing it with them. Thanks for your help..


Well-Known Member
Ok... so it might make sense to write a Sailing Instruction like "A boat may not cross the starting line when the line isn't a part of the leg the boat is sailing, unless all classes have started." Nobody should have a problem with that.


Former ISAF Laser Measurer
A few extra purposes of a closed line is to assist the race committee in identifying which boats are finishing and which boats have further to go around the course. Even with a single start, courses with 4+ laps or when the fleet rapidly spreads with the leaders lapping the slower boats, it can be an extremely useful tool for the race committee, they only need to track who is crossing the line. It can also be used in short course racing (10-20 min races) to add in a further tactical component, it splits the fleet.

It should never be at the whim of the PRO, it should be specified in the sailing instructions.
Further to Alan's comment and with respect to a finish line, our club finish is effectively 'closed' in that SI state that it cannot be crossed save on first beat or finishing. The finish is between the Club house and a mark off shore and the time keeper tells me she would prefer that it was fully 'closed' so that she knew a finisher in whatever division was a 'finisher'

To me that is wrong. If the time keeper is only using the fact that boat is crossing line as proof they are finishing then the job is not being done properly. When I have been race officer in the past, procedure was for boats to always go through the line on upwind leg and boat numbers logged each time. That way you know how many laps each boat has done so know when they are finishing. It is normal for boats on downwind leg to not be permitted to go through the line
Thread starter #12
CeeBee2, so basically you are making the starting line an upwind gate at mid-course. Would that be accurate? That would add an interesting twist to a racecourse also the benefit to the scorekeeper is obvious..We've never done it that way but it sounds interesting.


Just sailing
One thing I have seen is a closed line with a 50 boat fleet and a single start. That is a LONG line, forcing you to pick a side at the start of each leg and sticking with it regardless of what the wind does.


Former ISAF Laser Measurer
Longest line I've experienced was for 175 boats, 1km long with a mark half way down to assist the fleet in seeing the start line and the start boat was 200m to windward of the centre mark.

Recording the boats going throu the line each lap is impractical imo unless your dealing with 20 or less boats, far to many boats coming through simultaneously when the boats have only been racing for say 20 minutes, they already struggle in major regattas after 60+minutes of racing with 50 boats trying to accurately record the bow numbers let alone sail numbers.