The Triangle and the Sausage...

A few thoughts on courses set and my experience this year while sailing them.

At Sheboygan, Llandudno and South Daytona we sailed on a triangular course, two laps. Two triangles, no sausage involved. Assuming that the course is set perfectly into wind on the first beating leg, there will not be a perfect run if the triangle is somewhat equilateral. The third leg will be pretty close to a run though and as such the course is a good test of various points of sailing.

At Raleigh I sailed for the first time ever on a two bouy upwind and downwind course. Pure sausage.

There was one very obvious difference between the two and one worth considering in the light of many footy skippers being new to the rules or at best rather rusty. The two bouy sausage course produced many more ‘rule situations’ than the triangle course. I freely admit that although I have done a fair bit on Marblehead club level sailing, there were times when I was on the run that I did not have the time nor angle of view to determine what the beating boats coming straight at me were doing. So I did my best to sail around and between them solely to avoid contact. Quietly cursing my losing ground to a boat ahead or astern while I meandered with the best intentions.

My personal feeling is therefore that the triangle only course does help reduce ‘rule situations’ and leads to cleaner and simpler races for we average guys.

Interested to hear your thoughts while we plan next years events.


My impression from my S1M sailing is that crowded mark roundings are absolutely the least fun of all, what with the complexity of the rules, different angles of view, etc. Port/Stb tack and Windward/Leeward are easier to explain and simple drills, like keep saying to yourself “I’m on port, I’m on port” until it’s second nature carry novices through most situations, although determining what tack a Footy is on is probably a real challenge at a distance.

Spreading the field out can be a real challenge, especially if the course is short. Wing marks and triangular courses are one approach. I am becoming more and more in favor of gates, both at windward and leeward ends. These are two marks that the competitors must pass between, but they can round either one. Not only does this tend to split the field, but often slower competitors can arrive at a gate where one of the marks is being hotly contested by a raft of boats and gain significant advantage by slipping around the other one.

Then, of course, there are the pathological cases :-):



It was nice sailing with you at Raleigh this fall.

The reason why nearly all high level sailing, from America’s Cup and professional match racing to AMYA Nationals use windward - leeward courses is that it is very hard to pass a boat (especially non spinnaker boats like ours) on a reach. The reaching legs often just become parades. it is much more technically difficult to sail a run where there are gybing angles to consider as well as wind shifts to play, just like beating only backwards.

If the fleet isn’t well behaved at the windward mark, an offset mark can be used a few lengths to the left of the windward mark to separate the beating boats from those running.

The real fun comes at the leeward end when two marks are also used. These can be used as an offset just like at the windward end or can be used as a ‘gate’ where the boats have to pass between them and then can round to starboard or port. This really gives a trailing boat a chance to catch up by picking the right buoy to round.

Give windward - leeward racing a chance. You might come to like ‘sausages’!


I don’t have a real preference myself. I do have a preference for variety though. One of the reasons I picked a sausage was that the other Footy regattas used triangles. I don’t want to see Footys get stuck in any one course style.

The crossing traffic is another obstacle to overcome with a sausage. The reaches of the triangle might be more challenging withe Footys sensitivity to shifts and very localized wind channels. Let’s keep racing both.

windward leeward courses work, but only if the course and line are accurately set in clear water. The courses we set with throw marks close to the edge of the pond often channel boats to a favoured side and congestion results. If set accurately in clear wind and water, with long start lines, using either the line end marks as the leeward gate with finish downwind, or a mid course ‘closed line’ with sailing space around both ends, I like the ‘sausage’.

Windward-leewards courses are easier to set up, require less space, and have fewer rounding situations. That is good. On the other hand the slower boats/skippers will have grounds for bitching when the fast boats on the run blanket the slow boats on the wind. The running boats are burdened as mentioned in the original post.

Seems to me, a compromise might be affected by using an acute triangle with a very short reaching leg. One last thing…An anti barging mark at the start is well worth its additional installation effort. When there is sufficient water space and an ambitious course committee, a 5 pin round course can be fun and/or challenging depending on your point of view.

Hi Scott, yes it was fun racing at Raleigh certainly and good to meet you too. I think that maybe different backgrounds play into this. Racing in the UK at an average model yacht club, watching dinghy sailing (which is everywhere in the UK) etc. I have never even seen a windward/leeward two bouy course, let alone raced on one. So this was a new experience for me and as such I was bound to notice what different effects it had on the racing. The triangle or more sided course is the norm for the UK man on the street… or the reservoir, as it were.

I do agree with John that variety is best, certainly I was not suggesting we have one or the other. At model level I have always loved the reaching leg I must admit. A well trimmed boat can really show it’s paces on that leg. So different challenges at different venues is to be encouraged. My initial point was only that for the beginner (of whom the footy class may have more than most) the sausage may be more difficult to negotiate rules wise than the triangle. I may well be completely wrong :slight_smile: