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Home / Sailing / Racing instructions / Race Officer resources / Race officer duties

Race officer duties

Frequently asked questions

... about race officer duties at Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club

1) What are race officer duties?

Dinghy racing is one of the core activities of the sailing club, and we need sailing members to help run this activity for the benefit of all sailors in the club. There are two different types of duty: race officer and assistant race officer. Race officers are members with some experience of racing and will have probably been involved with managing a race before. Assistant race officers can be any member and no experience is needed.

Being a race officer involves deciding on the course to be sailed, putting some flags up, blowing a whistle/sounding a horn, and writing down times. It helps to have knowledge of racing rules, and we usually organise training for race officers every year.

An assistant race officer is there to help the race officer and does not need any specific knowledge. You may be asked to hold a stopwatch and call out times, or to press the horn at a specific time.

2) Why do I need to volunteer?

No sailing club could operate without the help of its members, and DRSC is no exception. The club expects all members to volunteer for duties in some form and we are actively exploring this aspect to ensure there are duties that all members can help with, and their efforts are duly recognised. A formal volunteering policy is being drafted by the commodore and will be circulated soon.

The club recognises that many of our members pour a huge amount of their time and effort into the club, which is very much appreciated.

In previous days when members had to fill in a paper form to apply/renew their membership there was a box you needed to tick that said you agreed to perform duties. We are looking to see if this can be incorporated into the online membership form.

3) I'm not a sailor - why have I been asked to do this?

DRSC has a large membership with a wide variety of interests in water activities and sometimes it is difficult to identify what type of member someone is. One method is to use the categories that are listed on a member's profile. You can check these are correct and update your membership categories at

If you are not a sailor and do not own a boat, then you will not be expected to do race officer duties. Please get in touch at and let us know. And by updating your profile, you will avoid the possibility of the same thing happening again next year.

We are into looking at ways that windsurfers, swimmers, paddleboarders, etc. could volunteer for duties at the club. For example, you may be asked to do a duty on a safety boat or cut the grass. You may already volunteer your time for the club. More on this will be announced later.

4) Help - I have no idea how to be a race officer!

Don't worry, we will not ask you to do anything beyond your abilities. The first time you do a duty, you should be allocated to an assistant race officer role, for which no experience is necessary. To check the duties you have been allocated, head to If you think a mistake has been made please contact and we will sort it for you.

We have a dedicated Whatsapp group for new or less experienced race officers to get advice on running the race and setting the course. Please join by following this link a day or two before the race and your questions will be answered by experienced race officers.

The club occasionally organises training for race officers and any interested member is encouraged to attend these. If you are into racing or just getting started, you will probably find the experience enjoyable and instructive.

5) I am not physically able to do this duty - can I be exempted?

Yes, of course. We do not want anyone to be excluded from any activity at the club and would be keen to make alternative arrangements which would allow you to participate. If this is not possible then please let us know.

Please do not be offended if you are asked to do a duty you are not able to perform. It will be a generic message and we may not know your personal circumstances. Once you get in touch we will resolve it for you.

We have a number of veteran members who may not be as active in sailing as they once were. If you can help out the club by doing some race officer duties (for example from the Crow's Nest) then you will be much appreciated.

6) I live a long way from the club - can I be exempted?

Outport members (living more than 100 miles from the club) and shore-based members will not generally be asked to do a duty. However if you are able to help, you are more than welcome and it would be great to have you involved in club activities.

7) I have been asked to do a duty on a day when I'm not available - how can I swap?

At the start of the season, all sailing members are invited to select their duties from the list of dates on the calendar. You are encouraged to volunteer on a date which is convenient for you. After this all remaining duties are allocated randomly to members, and in that case you may find yourself with an unsuitable date.

Our website has a system which allows members to swap duties, and it works quite well as long as you can give as much notice as possible. Please visit and select the option to swap. You will then be able to select a number of members to request a swap - asking as many as possible will maximise the chance of success. Each selected member will then be sent an email asking them to swap and asking them to accept or decline. You will be notified of their response.

If a member declines a swap then your other choices will still be open, so please be patient. If you have tried to swap your duty and have not been successful then please contact and we will try to help out.

8) I have received a message asking me to swap a duty

We would ask you to accept the swap if you possibly can, as this makes the swapping system work as effectively as possible. If you are unable to swap then please log in to and decline the request. The swap request was likely sent to a number of people, so don't worry if you can't accept it.

9) I don't race - why am I asked to do a race officer duty?

Club racing is organised by the club for the benefit of all sailors in the club. It is one of our core activities and is also a major way in which we support juniors and novice sailors to develop their skills. We recognise that racing is not for everyone, but would still ask that you volunteer for one duty per year of your membership.

Even if you do not participate in racing, you will doubtless benefit from many other aspects of your club membership and this is a small way you can give something back to the club. Most people who help out find it an enjoyable experience, and we hope it might even arouse your interest to try out or return to racing.

Most other sailing clubs in the country will likewise expect all active members to volunteer for duties.

We recognise the some members put a huge amount of time into other areas of the club, and we are of course willing to take this into account. Please get in touch if you feel this applies to you.

10) My husband/wife/daughter/parent will do my duty in my place - can I transfer my duty to them?

Yes you can. On there is an option to transfer your duty to another member. They will need to log in to accept this, and then it will be removed from your duties.

11) What happens on the day?

We would ask that you arrive at the club at least an hour before the start of the first race. There are some guidelines for race officers on the website and the club's sailing instructions are well worth a read. If you need help getting set up, please ask a member of the sailing committee who will be glad to help out.

We have two methods of starting a race: from a committee boat or from the crow's nest. The quality of racing is generally better when a committee boat is used, so we encourage race officers to use it when possible. However it is well understood that when time is short on a Wednesday evening, sometimes the crow's nest will be preferred.


Thank you for your cooperation and for helping out at the sailing club. You are contributing to one of the activities that makes our club thrive. We hope you enjoy the experience!

Last updated 21:41 on 13 July 2024

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