VSC504 Competent Keelboat Racing Crew

When is the best time to start racing?

Course Overview:

Focus on building the foundation of racing knowledge, seamanship and boat handling skills for racing keelboats 24 - 45 ft. This course includes 5 on-the- water skill building seminars and participation as crew in 5 Vancouver area races that demonstrate:

  • How a race is conducted
  • How to prepare a sailboat for racing
  • The duties and skills of the 7 sailing positions for Regatta and Distance Racing
  • The Racing Rules and differences to the cruiser's Rules of the Road (COLREGS)
  • Rig tuning fundamentals
  • Advanced sail handling and sail trim for Jib, Genoa, Mainsail, Spinnaker and Drifter
  • Sail trim for light air, moderate and heavy weather conditions
  • Strategies and Tactics for coastal long distance and regatta racing
  • Race Checklist- Strategy and Tactics

VSC504 Practice and Race Dates 2018 & 2019


VSC101 Qualified Crew, Whitesail 3, CYA Keelboat Crew or ASA 101

General Description:

The student participates and learns to be a competent crew member aboard a 2011 Beneteau First 36.7 One Design racer/cruiser competing in Vancouver based regattas and medium distance coastal races.

Students complete a pre-course study based on the text "Getting Started in Sailboat Racing" (Cort Stearns), 5 on-the-water seminars and 5 local races as an integral part of a crew. Successful candidates receive a VSC Competent Racing Crew certificate for completion.



  1. Complete races (minimum five (5)) as integral part of crew
  2. Demonstrate the seven racing crew positions- Bowman, Mast, Pit, Cockpit Trimmer, Cockpit Grinder, Main Trimmer, Helmsman
  3. Demonstrate proper sail trim for Close hauled, Close Reaching, Beam Reaching, Broad reaching and running and by- the- lee
  4. Demonstrate efficient genoa tacking, jibing and sail changes
  5. Demonstrate correct crew procedures for hoisting, setting, trimming, jibing, dousing and packing a spinnaker
  6. Describe sail shapes, genoa- mainsail interaction and crew communication ( the gears) for advanced sail trimming
  7. Demonstrate methods of achieving target boat speeds from Polar Diagram as helmsman and crew
  8. Describe the proper selection of sails on a J/24 and Beneteau First 36.7 for all wind and sea conditions
  9. Sail a compass course for 30 minutes
  10. Demonstrate successful Man Overboard (MOB ) recovery 
  11. Demonstrate how to call puffs, direct helmsman for emergency course changes and report competitor location, distance, point, speed and sail trim


  • Review PIYA Category 1 Safety Equipment Requirements
  • Describe the theory of true and apparent wind
  • Describe the theory of sailing using force diagrams.
  • Describe the reasons for preference of slight weather helm, sail selection (including full sails or reefed sails), mast position and mast rake.
  • Describe 3 sail making technologies and their application to racing sails
  • Describe the effects on sail shape when adjusting the following:

    Luff tension Outhaul Downhaul
    Leech line Boom vang Cunningham
    Backstay tension Jib fairleads Jib sheet tension
    Mainsheet Traveller Spinnaker Sheet Tweekers
    In-hauler Babystay tension Running backstays
    Fractionator Topping lift
  • Describe ISAF Fundamental Rules of Racing 2009-2013
  • Describe the basic strategies and tactics for starting, upwind leg, downwind leg, reaching legs, and the finish
  • Describe the foundation and elements of the Psychology of Winning and its application before and during a Race or Regatta


  • Demonstrate functions and operation of instruments displaying Speed, Depth, VMG, AWS, TWS, Compass, SOG, COG, CTS, CMG, waypoints and routes
  • Describe cirrus, cirrostratus, altocumulus, stratocumulus, cumulonimbus and cumulus clouds and the weather expected to be associated with each
  • Describe English Bay and Southern Straits (local weather) in relation to thermal and prevailing winds, and tidal currents.
  • Describe three sources of on-line weather and tidal information


  • Demonstrate tying the following knots blindfolded in less than ten seconds: Bowline (on clew ring, around waist, around boom), Sheet bend (joining  anchor line with jibsheet), 2 Turns with 2 Half Hitches ( tying dock rings and fenders), truckers hitch ( vang and cunningham), hangman's knot ( from lower spreader tip)
  • Demonstrate how to secure a boat to a dock and rafting to another boat
  • Demonstrate a safe procedure to climb to the masthead to clear and replace a halyard during moderate sailing conditions (climbing is optional)
  • Complete successful recovery of Man Overboard as skipper and crew
  • Recognize and treatment Hypothermia
  • Demonstrate putting on a PFD, safety harness and securing tether to jack-line in less than 30 seconds
  • Describe a layered system of clothing for coastal racing
  • Describe how to avoid and treat seasickness
  • Demonstrate heavy weather precautions including shortening sail, use of special equipment (safety harness, preventer, tweekers), doubling up of gear, special checks in areas liable to chafe, stowage of equipment (above and below decks), bilge monitoring, problems of fatigue and the need for at least three crew on- deck at all times.
  • Demonstrate how to take a depth sounding using two different methods.
  • Describe how the boat should be handled and what actions should be taken when the following emergencies occur:
    • A crew member is injured or ill
    • loss of forestay
    • loss of backstay
    • The boat is dismasted
    • The boat runs aground on a lee shore, windward shore, falling tide and rising tide
  • Describe the skipper's responsibilities and the crew's action for the following:
    • Tacking and Gybing
    • Clearing the START line
    • Windward mark rounding
    • Leeward mark rounding
    • lee-bow
    • Man Overboard
    • Offering assistance to yachtsmen in trouble
    • Permission to board
    • Permission to come alongside
    • Permission and entitlement to cross adjacent boats when rafted
    • Checking boat's appearance (shipshape & Bristol)


  • Year-round availability
  • $875 CDN includes 10 on-the-water sessions
  • Getting Started in Sailboat Racing - Cort,Stearns $25

Privacy Policy: The Vancouver Sailing Club and its employees respect your privacy. No information required  for VSC program registration, membership or entered in the above form will be sold or provided to another party without written permission.

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