New England Footy Regatta

Yo, Guys, this is a reminder that the Footy Regatta canceled on April 12 has been re-scheduled for Saturday, May 24 at the Needham Reservoir. This should be the biggest thing in New England Footydom (335 mm? :-), and everybody is invited.

Skipper’s meeting at 11 AM.

Please let me know if you’re planning to attend.

Jim Linville
Minuteman MYC
57 Edgewater Road
Hull, MA 02045

I have been looking forward to this regatta since I proposed it to Bill and Jim back in mid February. This should be a blast!

If we get the same 15 people we had listed to sail back in April to show (each with multiple boats)…it may be the biggest collection of different Footy hulls outside of Brett’s basement!

The only trouble is that we’ve got a US1M race the next day, and an Open regatta on the Holiday on Monday. I hope nobody decides to bail on the Footy race over those other two. Any out of town folks can make a weekend out of it!

I’d love to give getting up there another shot… I’ll have to check my schedule and see how things work out, but for the time being Jim, count me and two other boats “in”!

That’s right, there’s no doubt that we do a lot of sailing in Needham, and you’re all welcome.

With that said, you’re supposed to be a member of MmMYC to sail in our US One Meter series on Sunday, May 25, but we might make exceptions. Monday, May 26 is our Memorial Day Open. The only requirement is that you sail an AMYA sanctioned yacht and pay the $5 entry fee.

Jim Linville

Of course I’ll be back from my Sheboygan adventure and in Needham with one of my many attempts to design a good boat.

Since we passed the deadline for Brett’s internet competition, we will be doing fleet racing for the entire event.

Hope all who were going to attend the original will be there, and more!
Thanks to John for the idea, and to Jim for getting it organized. MmMYC is a good center of activity for Northeastern sailing, and I’d like a good turnout so we can have fun and encourage Jim to host more Footy events in the future.

See you there…Bill H

My son Paul and I intend to be there. See you all then.

I plan to attend.

Razor-II Hull # 331 - Spektrum radio (no channel)

AMYA 15771

Question, is there a campground nearby? I’d like to overnight close so I don’t have to drive so far in the morning. 2nd choice would be to ask the Needham PD if I can overnight in the parking lot.

Bill and/or anyone who wants to throw in their two cents:

Our sailing layout in Needham is probably too large for Footys (in a 6 mph wind it takes me at least 15 minutes to make it all the way around). Therefore, I’m planning to lay out a special Footy course for the May 24 regatta.

Does anybody care to give me some hints on the lengths of legs appropriate for Footy racing? My intent is to set-up a simple Olympic course, e.g., a triangle with a starting line half-way between the windward and leeward marks. My plan would be to sail a modified Olympic course (triangle, plus a windward - leeward - finish at the start line leg).

So… any ideas about how far we should sail from the start to the windward mark?

I know it’s my call, but your input will be appreciated.

Jim Linville

Well, if my memory serves me, the NZ postal course is 50 ft (50 boat lengths) long… I would venture to say that 30-50 boat lengths for each leg would be a reasonable footy course… twice around, and you’d have a decent little race that you could run several times during the day. I would venture to say that much more than 50 boat lengths might get long… at least if you are indeed going to run a modified Olympic course… Also, the shorter the course, the closer the boats will be to each other. I can’t speak to whether that is a good thing or a bad thing… it would put an emphasis on boat to boat tactics if the course is closer; anyone up for footy team-racing!!! (Actually, that could have the potential to be great fun…)

Anyhow, just my .02


Jim - Here is my two cents, adjusted for 39 years of model yacht racing inflation in larger classes.

The course length is somewhat dependent on turnout, fewer boats means less congestion at the windward mark and folks will want to sail more heats. That said, a rule of thumb is to provide for at least three tacks to fetch the windward mark from the start. Five tacks are better but approaches the upper limit of most folks patience. Having sailed the Postal course it was pretty obvious that the fastest way around the 50 foot line was one starboard tack and one port tack, or visa-versa. Both these legs felt short to me and are fine for single boat time trials, but in a fleet of five boats or more (particularly with a lot of new sailors) you will want more separation.

A shorter course layout puts the emphasis on winning the start. A longer course de-emphasizes the start and puts the focus on windward tactics and maintaining boatspeed. A paradox is that newbie sailors tend to want shorter courses and more heats even though they haven’t really a clue where they should be at the start and are therefore at a disadvantage. They would stand a better chance and learn more by sailing the longer course where they can overcome a bad start. Of course losing all the time is discouraging, so everyone else should be as nurturing as possible to help these folks with the basics.

I set a triangular course (modified Olympic) to match race my Bantams with a friend with the windward leg about 200 feet from the downwind marker. The start was further toward the leeward end of the course (dock location) and provided us with long first leg. We were both experienced sailors but the course felt tight and I wouldn’t have welcomed more than one or two other competitors. From start to finish averaged about 10 minutes in 8 mph winds. I think that an ideal course would have the middle boat in the fleet (of ten boats and up) be able to complete the course in 15 to 20 minutes in average conditions.

Another rule of thumb is to provide a starting line roughly equal to the lengths of all the boats that have entered plus two. This works with the larger classes but most Footies are wide bodied so you might want to make the line a little longer. I would probably set a line twice the length of all the boats that have entered.

If you do set a short course (200 feet or less) then I advise you to provide a gate rather than a plain buoy at the windward end of the course. The gate eases congestion at the windward marker by allowing the sailor to choose which end of the gate to round. If the buoy on one end is congested then round the buoy on the other end of the gate, the only requirement is that a sailor pass through the gate (between the buoys).

One last suggestion, at Central Park the course is restricted by the pond size. To race M Class, IOMs, or 36/600s we needed a longer course so we would have enough room to maneuver. Our solution was to have separate starting and finishing lines at opposite ends of the windward leg. This lengthens the first windward leg providing some separation by the first mark while still maintaining a course with a small overall footprint.

Jim, it sounds to me like your course as is is fine, but whatever you decide to do I am sure you will host a fine event. You guys have always done so in the past.

A pretty nice heat time for an r/c yacht race is about 7min.
A typical 5 laps on the internet course takes that long for a footy.
The Internet course is 500feet in a straight line so I would say that for a triangle w/l type course a total course length of 500-600 feet would be good.

Of prime importance when racing footys though is visibility.Its important that everyone gets a good view especially at mark roundings.Allow the sailors to walk the course if you can.

I was thinking more about this at work yesterday. While I agree with Brett that visibility is a primary consideration I don’t think his recommendation for course length adequately addresses the realities of fleet racing. I don’t believe that just because Footies are small in size that everything related to Footies should be small as well.

On the visibility front, a walkable pit area that follows the windward leg is an imperative and is pretty much standard is US racing. Herman and I sailed from a fixed position on a dock to race on my course upstate which was doable but not desirable.

I would set the wing marker (reaching mark on a triangular course) closer than usual to the line between the windward and leeward buoys. Collapsing the triangle a bit would help with any depth perception problems that Footy’s short length only exacerbates.

I guess that I should elaborate on windward leg dynamics a bit more. The postal course measures 50 feet between the windward and leeward marks. The fastest way around the course is to sail the distance on two tacks, port and starboard. Footies point a little better than this but for the sake of argument lets say they tack through 90 degrees (that is sail 45 degrees to the wind). Then 25 feet is the farthest the ideal track around the course strays from the straight line between the two marks. When sailing a time trial alone the challenge is to pick the right place to tack because tacking takes time and costs boat-lengths. The same costs for tacking impact on boats in fleet racing as well. Thus a short windward leg will direct the fleet to act like like a single boat and try to tack only once. The distance is just to short for a boat to recover from the time and distance a second tack consumes.

The tendency in fleet racing is for the competitors to bunch up, particularly on the first windward leg. This is a cautious approach that is a natural reaction of everyone starting at the same time (most likely on the same tack) and as a group, being unsure of the best way around the course.

With all this in mind, a short windward leg, like that of the postal course has a major downside. As a group the fleet will head off on port tack and tack back onto starboard to fetch the mark pretty much at the same place on the course. It would just be follow the leader. With a fleet size of say ten boats all tacking together after sailing 35 feet (the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle with 25 foot legs) from the starting line is a race committee’s nightmare. There are bound to be collisions and protests.

As I mentioned before, fleet dynamics tend to be conservative. Lengthening the windward leg to 150 or 200 feet would place the one port tack- one starboard tack tacking location 75 to 100 feet off the straight line between the windward and leeward marks. I could see an individual boat pursuing this track but the fleet is less likely to venture that far out due to potential wind shifts and the depth perception issue. A longer windward leg would encourage multiple tacks to fetch the windward mark, thus breaking up the fleet, creating separation and reducing incidents of conflict. A longer windward leg reduces the imperative not to tack because the longer distance sailed and variations in wind speed will absorb some of the time and distance lost in tacking. It also inspires individual competitors to think strategically and not just follow the pack.

I hope this explanation is clear, I’ve tried to condense here what others have written whole books about.

Niel,I think you picked me up wrong.
I never recommended 50foot as a windward leg for fleet racing…only total course length to about 500-600feet.
The Internet course has10 legs,the courses Jim proposes has only 6 making the legs quite a bit longer than 50feet so his legs will be closer to 100feet long.
This is about right I believe from our experience racing these boats over here.

Anyone know if there is a campground near the reservoir?

There’s really no campgrounds nearby that I’m aware of…nothing within an hour. This is really the Boston Suburbs. Unfortunately I don’t even know of a Walmart parking lot nearby.

Jim might have some insights.

Have you tried the direct route, calling the local Needham town offices to ask if you can stay in the parking lot?

Going to try that now. I was waiting to see if there was anything close by.

Well, file this under the category of it’s better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission. Not only am I not allowed to overnight, they specifically told me not to even park there during the day.

So much for saving some of my 2-1/2 hour drive by overnighting in the RV.

That’s kind of disappointing.

Allan: Sorry that I haven’t checked in here for some time. I’ll get right on the camper thing. Back to you soon. --Jim

Allan: Here’s what one of our guys who lives in Needham had to say about parking your camper.

Hi Jim,

We can’t get a camper in our driveway. Also, Needham is brutal about overnight on-street parking… if that’s what you mean. I know there is a truck stop on 128 at Grove Street - one exit south of the Turnpike - there’s a McDonalds - trucks and campers park there, but I’m not sure if there’s any charge… not being a trucker. It’s 15 minutes from the pond maximum.

There are some quiet industrial parks tucked in the trees of Westwood - I don’t know if that’s a possibility. Maybe a call to the Needham police would allow them to park at the pond. I don’t know any cops. Just remember, the Memorial Day Soccer Tournament is this weekend, so the exit from the soccer fields will go past the pond, so the police may be less receptive this weekend.

Colin just mentioned Walmart. I think they let campers stay in their lot. There’s one on Route 1 in Walpole… maybe 15 minutes from here - on the left side before getting to Foxboro. Not very campy, but this is probably the best bet!

I hope this helps!


I’ll check with the Needham Police Dept. and get back to you this morning.


Allan: It seems that overnight parking in Needham is a “no-go.” Same in most of the surrounding communities. You can park it at my place (an hour from the pond), but with the price of gas being what it is I’m not sure how much you gain. The Wal-Mart in Walpole is probably your best shot. By the way, you CAN park it at the pond during the regatta.

Sorry, I wish I could be more helpful.